Getting healthy while saving money doesn’t mean starving yourself by not eating—it simply means making the right choices, not only in the food you eat but also by what you do. We all have financial obligations and monthly bills we must meet but if you regularly shop around and Compare the Market to ensure you’re getting the best deals, you’ll save money and be able to afford a few treats. Visits to nice restaurants, for example, or that holiday with the kids you’ve always wanted.

There are actually many ways to avoid unnecessary expenses in our daily lives and keep ourselves healthy. For parents, it’s important to set an example to our children, too: if we lead an active, healthy lifestyle, the chances are they will naturally follow suit. Here are five ways to save a few dollars and stay in shape, too.

Bring your own bottle

How many times have you bought a can of soda or given in to a takeout coffee because you were thirsty and didn’t have anything else with you? Make it a habit to fill up your water bottle every time you leave the house. This way, you can avoid carb-filled drinks and build a healthy, inexpensive habit at the same time. You can also avoid buying food outside when you pack your own. Making your own sandwich means you’ll have total control over what you want in it, and how much. Let’s face it, if you’re making a packed lunch for the kids to take to school anyway, how much harder is it to knock up something for yourself?

Hit the bike

If you live close enough to work, ditch the car and cycle to work, saving fuel and keeping trim at the same time. If you absolutely must drive to and from the office, or workplace, make a concerted effort to get the bike out in the evenings or weekends. Don’t make it a chore, make it fun – cycling is a brilliant activity to enjoy with the kids. Take an hour after work and school to bike around together, or build it into a weekend, when you can spend a little more time and perhaps even incorporate a picnic. For Dads, cycling with your kids can provide valuable bonding time.

Get gardening and grow your own

Gardening – kids love it. The more time we can all spend outdoors, in the fresh air, the better, and a few hours of gardening provides double benefits. As well as garden maintenance, create an area where you can plant seeds and cultivate your own produce; separate off some of that and encourage your kids to ‘own’ their section. Plant herbs, peppers, tomatoes and other produce you can use in sandwiches and salads. The growing experience will be fulfilling, and using food you’ve developed yourself will save money. More tips for eating well and cheaply here.

Eat healthily and have fun

Healthy eating should just mean scoffing the types of food that usually put an immediate downer on your mood – healthy doesn’t always mean diet. Instead, think of the foods you love, and try ways of making them better for you. Take pizzas, for example. Ditch the takeaway versions, delicious though they are, and make your own. Again, this is a great way to engage with your kids. Get them involved. Buy some dough – you can buy stuff ideal for pizzas that just needs water adding – mix and roll out, and then add whatever toppings you like. Put olives, pepperoni, grated cheese, ham and whatever else you like in little bowls, and get the kids to put handfuls of whatever they love on top of the pizzas. Then bake for 10-15 minutes. You’ve saved money, and the homemade pizzas will be healthier than anything you’d buy in the supermarket, or from a takeaway. I have ‘Pizza Saturday’ once a month with my two children, and they absolutely love it.

Wash the car, DIY style

Yes, we know – taking the car to the garage and paying someone or, something (those expensive machine washers) to keep the motor clean is temptingly easy. But it’s the lazy and pricey option. Instead, do it yourself. Even better, enlist some little helpers – kids can’t resist the chance to fool around and get soaking wet!
Make sure you have as many sponges as volunteer car washers, then just fill a large bucket with warm water and car shampoo and go for it! Spending an hour or so thoroughly washing a car is surprisingly decent exercise, really good fun – you’ll get splashed, Dad – and costs close to nothing. Do it.

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