Disclosure: Huge thanks to Capital One for sponsoring this post about money coaching for health and wealth. As always, all opinions are my own.
It seems like this time of year often becomes focused on consumerism – the “buy, buy, buy!” messages of the season. I know I can be susceptible to it. There’s always an interesting juxtaposition of the spending rush of Christmas season compared to the focus on savings once New Year’s hits. It parallels the overeating that often occurs for many people this month compared to the clean eating and weight loss resolutions that take over on January 1st.
And while I love New Year’s resolutions because they feel like a fresh start, it’s often better to just get started working towards our goals now. The timing may not be “perfect” and you may not have a “perfect plan,” but taking small steps towards your big goals – health and wealth related – can start anytime, now included.[Tweet “Don’t wait for the “perfect” time to work on your financial or health goals – just start now!”]
I’m taking my own advice and getting started on one of my goals…
I decided to take one step towards my financial goals this week by taking advantage of a money coaching session at Capital One. Yep, that’s right – select Capital One Café locations, including the Harvard Square location in Cambridge, offer FREE 1-1 money coaching sessions. You can check out the available locations and schedule an appointment for yourself right on their website.
The sessions take place in Capital One’s Cafés, which are just cool in and of themselves. Why not sip on a hot herbal tea at your banking location? It’s such a neat concept, and definitely a reimagined spin on banking. I feel like it just opens the door to a more relaxed (read – not stuffy) conversation about money. The Boston area Cafés have been open for about two years now, and three new locations will be opening soon in Hingham, Lynnfield and the Seaport. If you’re not local, there are also Café locations in select states, including California, Colorado, Washington, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
But wait – why do finances matter to your wellness journey?
You might be wondering why I’m talking about my finances on a food & fitness blog. SO many times financial wellness issues intermingle with our exercise and eating habits. Health and wealth can totally be related.
Just think about it from a food perspective. For example, you might be someone that’s struggling financially and you’re on a very tight budget for groceries. But with some creative meal planning and a defined spending plan, you could still feel proud giving your family a healthy & nutritious diet.
Or maybe you really value organic food, so you spend the extra to purchase those items – yet you frequently run late from work and end up ordering takeout on your way home. You might feel frustrated about wasted money on takeout that doesn’t align with your health goals.
Heck, even just feeling stressed about money can impact your hormones and sleep, which definitely affects your health, hunger hormones, and energy to workout.
So in line with trying to take care of all aspects of my family’s wellness, I wanted to see what this money coaching thing was all about. The session really impacted me because I realized money is about so much more than just the numbers – there’s a lot of emotion behind the decisions we make (so many parallels to eating here!). I wanted to share some of my own takeaways with you, as well as share some of my best tips for you when it comes to saving money around food & fitness.
My money coaching session recap!
The session with my coach, Ayla, started with an overview of the process followed by a survey that asked questions about your money and lifestyle beliefs. She explained that money coaching isn’t therapy or financial advising. Instead, it’s a judgement-free process towards helping you better understand your relationship and habits when it comes to your money.
We discussed some of my answers to survey questions and talked about my “today” vs. my ideal “future” – when it comes to being, doing, and having. It definitely got me thinking about the ways money is intertwined in all areas of my life.
From there, Ayla suggested a few tools that we could use. We started with “Clear Your Path.” I wrote down all of the beliefs I tell myself about money. We chose a limiting belief and worked backwards towards figuring out how to address that. That was definitely an enlightening process.
Side note – it was actually really interesting for me to be the participant in this session, because I recognized so many of the tools and coaching language from my work as an RD. Definitely a lot of cross over when it comes to motivation and goal setting. The belief strategy in particular is one that I use with a lot of people when they’re struggling to meet a wellness goal.
After we talked about beliefs, we also did an exercise that helped me identify my core values, and rate how each of these are in my life right now. It drove home how intermingled these different dimensions of wellness are. For example, “health” was one of the 8 core values I chose. So when I’m creating a budget, it makes sense that I’m going to want to make sure I allocate money towards the things that make me feel fulfilled in that area – namely a few race entries, my gym membership, and a food budget that works for my family.
Is health a core value in your budget planning too?
If you’re reading this blog, I’d guess that health and wellness is probably a core value for you. And to help with that when it comes to your finances, I wanted to share some of my own tips for saving money on food and fitness.[Tweet “Check out these 20 ways to save money on healthy food and fitness activities!”]
Here are 20 ways that you can save on food and fitness:
- Plan meals. This is so underrated but so helpful! Not only does it save money, but it saves time during the week and reduces stress (no more “what’s for dinner?” hassles at 6pm).
- Almost everyone knows to compare name brand vs. store brand. But one thing people miss is to also compare to other brands located in specialty sections of the grocery store, like the natural aisle or the ethnic foods aisle. The other day I was looking for coconut flour and was surprised that the brand in the natural section was considerably cheaper than the brand in the regular baking section.
- Shop seasonal. It’s simple, when fruits and veggies are in season they tend to be cheaper and fresher.
- Or shop frozen for produce. Fruits and vegetables are frozen at their peak of ripeness, so they are just as nutritious as fresh. Just avoid the ones with heavy sauces or added sugar.
- Weigh convenience versus cost. You may find that spending a little extra for pre-chopped veggies or a cooked rotisserie chicken makes sense for your budget; others may fare better preparing everything from scratch. Think about what makes sense for you and what will help you to eat at home.
- Check the reduced baked goods section. Of course I want ya to avoid those cookies and donuts! 😉 But you can stock up on extra whole wheat breads and flatbreads to use that night or freeze for later.
- Stock up on frugal staples. Ingredients like beans, eggs, brown rice, and frozen vegetables can be transformed into many different types of dishes.
- Look for coupons for your favorite brands. A lot of times these are posted on social media or on the brand’s website.
- Consider CSAs to support your local economy and stock up on quality produce. In the Northeast, there are a few early winter ones, but you can find many more in the summer/fall.
- Look online for specialty items. If you need certain allergen-friendly foods or there’s a specialty food brand that is expensive in stores, consider online retailers. The savings may be worth it for a small shipping cost, and you get everything delivered right to your door.
- Take advantage of (basically) free fitness activities. Waking and running only really require a good pair of shoes, and can be done pretty much anywhere.
- Love classes? Look for inexpensive gym memberships that offer classes as part of your membership package. Or look for class bundles on sites like Groupon or LivingSocial to be able to save on them.
- Follow your favorite studios and gyms on social media so that you can scoop up a good deal if one is offered.
- Grab a few pieces of inexpensive equipment that you can use anytime, including while traveling. You can easily put together complete workouts with a jump rope and some resistance bands!
- Consider online workouts and training options. I previously put together a list of some of my favorite free youtube channels, and you can also find some of my own workouts. But there are tons of fitness blogs out there besides mine that have resources too.
- If you’re in a certain sports scene (I know I’ve got a lot of triathlete readers here!) and you’re getting wrapped up in gear, take a step back. Does it fit your budget and values? If so, great. If not, think about how you can trim the financial impact in that area. What’s essential to your performance? Are there any good deals you can find during sales? What about purchasing used gear that other athletes are getting rid of? Or do you have old gear lying around that you could sell to partially fund a new purchase?
- Look into free classes offered at fitness stores (Lululemon and Athleta are two stores that I know of which offer free classes) or through the community (the city of Boston offers a ton of free fitness classes in the summer months).
- Use your library. Many libraries carry fitness DVDs that you can check out for free. Some libraries also offer gentle fitness classes – for example, ours out in Shrewsbury offers a yoga class.
- Read up on your health insurance policy to see if they offer a fitness reimbursement. My family is able to submit our payment receipts to our policy provider to back $150/year.
- If you’re a fellow fitness instructor or personal trainer, check out some of the professional discounts offered by major fitness brands that can help you save on gear!