5 Frugal Health and Wellness Purchases

man with glasses and money

Frugality isn’t about being cheap, it’s about carefully thinking through purchases so that you save money over the long term. Being cheap sometimes costs you more money than buying a useful product or service, because you don’t get to reap the very real benefits that the product or service offers.

Take health and wellness purchases, for example. While it’s certainly easy to spend way too much money on fad diets and gizmos, not all health related purchases are a bad deal. Identify your health concerns and needs, figure out how to address these needs in a way that fits your budget, and then invest in the equipment or services necessary to help you meet your goals.

Here are some health and wellness products and services that can help you get off to a great start with a frugal and healthy lifestyle:


1. Nutrient Count and Food Log Apps

Accountability is a key component of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Many weight-loss programs require weekly weigh-ins and meetings with either a support group or counselor to help you stay on track. Unfortunately, participation in weight loss programs can be pricey. Yes, some insurance companies provide discounts on weight loss programs, but many don’t, making this option unaffordable for those on modest incomes.

However, there is another way of staying accountable: Record your daily food intake using one of the many free low-cost food logging and nutrient count apps that are available. These apps work with just about any diet and nutritional strategy, including calorie-controlled, high-protein, low-carb or low-fat diets. A popular free option is MyFitnessPal, which lets you set your weight and nutrition goals and then add foods consumed throughout the day. MyFitnessPal keeps track of your food intake and exercise, letting you know how many calories you can still consume and stay on your weight loss (or maintenance) plan. You can even participate in MyFitnessPal discussion boards for tips, motivation and support.


2. Good Walking Shoes

Walking and running are effective exercises that are free to do: Just step out of your front door and get moving. Still, neither exercise is without risk: Slips and falls, along with strain on your joints, can derail your walking/running routine quickly. By investing in quality footwear, you’ll stay healthy and comfortable, making it easier to stick with your exercise program and meet your wellness goals.


3. Zenni Eyeglasses and Sunglasses

Wearing quality eyewear is important. Not only do eyeglasses help you see better, but wearing the right prescription can help you avoid the symptoms of eye strain, which include neck and shoulder pain, headaches and eye redness. Even if you don’t need prescription lenses, sunglasses and goggles protect your eyes against injury or damage caused by UV radiation.

While you could spend a lot of money on designer eyewear, Zenni offers you an alternative. You can get stylish, high-performance eyewear for a fraction of the cost of what you’ll find in stores.


4. Stationary Bicycle

Make no mistake: Walking and running are a great way to get aerobic exercise for free, but if you live in an area where bad weather makes regular outdoor workouts difficult, you are going to have rethink your exercise strategy. Gym memberships are great if you can both afford them and have the time and ability to get to the gym regularly. If monthly dues are too much for you, or your work schedule makes it hard to regularly schedule workouts, you’ll have to figure out how to get your exercise at home.

One option is a stationary bicycle, Unlike treadmills or at-home stair climbers, quality stationary bikes don’t have to be expensive, with many models starting at less than $150. Even better, they don’t use electricity, don’t have motors that can break down and don’t typically require a lot of maintenance. There are even some models that fold up for easy storage, something that stair-step machines and treadmills can’t do.


5. Cooking Classes

It turns out that your most frugal dining option, cooking for yourself instead of eating prepared food or going out to eat, is likely your healthiest. When you cook your own meals, you control what goes into them. You also control portion sizes. If you don’t feel confident in the kitchen, sign up for a cooking class in your area. Professional instruction can save you money by teaching you how to shop as well as preparation and cooking tips that allow you to cook delicious food quickly. Looking for inexpensive cooking classes? Park districts, grocery stores and specialty gourmet shops are typically good bets.


What are some of your favorite frugal health purchases?