Getting Healthy Shouldn’t Be Expensive: 3 Ways Seniors Can Boost Their Health On A Budget

*guest post by Jason Lewis

Looking at fitness classes, meal delivery services, and other health-related products, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that a healthy lifestyle is unaffordable. But the truth is, living well doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you want to improve your health but are worried about the expense, try these three strategies for staying healthy on a budget.

Avoid Sticker Shock at the Doctor

Out-of-pocket medical bills are disastrous for your budget. Not only is healthcare expensive, but most of the time you don’t know what a procedure costs until you get the bill.

Original Medicare comes with significant cost-sharing requirements. Without supplemental coverage, Medicare beneficiaries spend an average of $5,374 on out-of-pocket medical costs (not including premiums) every year. Seniors with high medical needs and no supplemental coverage spend more than $7,000 on out-of-pocket costs.

Supplemental coverage reduces out-of-pocket costs so your medical spending is more predictable and easier to budget around. Instead of getting hit with a big bill after a hospital visit, you pay premiums for a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan that reduces your cost-sharing requirements. If you have high medical needs, Medigap is likely the better choice for you. Otherwise, you can see greater savings with a Medicare Advantage plan like those from Humana. Medicare Advantage plans vary by state, so you’ll want to comparison shop and crunch numbers to find the most cost-effective plan for you.

Supplement Your Workout at Home

Staying active saves you thousands in healthcare costs, but if you’re only paying attention to your health while you’re at the gym, you’re not getting the most bang for your buck. Healthy habits at home — especially those focused on your mental health — can exponentially improve the health benefits you see from just working out alone. 

From speeding up physical recovery to making workouts more enjoyable, incorporating self-care into your life boast a slew of benefits. However, many people don’t make it a priority because they erroneously think taking care of themselves means long massages, expensive vacations, or other costly, time-consuming activities. 

Fortunately, that’s not the case. There are plenty of budget-friendly self-care tactics you can incorporate into your daily routine. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, daily meditation, a relaxing bath, and an earlier bedtime are just a few examples of how you can prioritize your own well-being without breaking the bank. 

Eat Healthy on a Budget

Are you convinced that eating healthy is too expensive? There’s no question that healthy foods can be costly, but they don’t have to be. If you shop all organic from a high-end grocer and eat out several times a week, a dietary shift could double your grocery bill. But there are plenty of ways to eat well without spending a fortune.

Instead of buying everything organic, stick to the dirty dozen for your organic produce and buy conventional for the rest. You should also eat smaller servings of free-range and grass-fed meat, getting more of your protein from plant sources instead. Rather than buying processed foods that hike up your grocery bill without providing much nutritional value, stick to whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fresh meat and fish. Buying from the bulk section is another great call: When producers don’t have to pay for packaging, those savings are passed along to you. Just pay attention to price, because while most things are cheaper in bulk, some bulk products could be more expensive.

There’s no shortage of products promising better health in exchange for your hard-earned money, but good health doesn’t come from a miracle cure or any other quick-fix solution. If you really want to enjoy your best health, start with the basics: good healthcare, an active lifestyle, and a healthy diet. These simple steps don’t cost a lot and will save you thousands in health problems throughout your senior years.

“Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–taking these steps can help us all.

*This post was written by guest blogger Jason Lewis. Jason is a personal trainer and the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He created StrongWell.org and enjoys curating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.

Looking Out For Those Who Looked Out For You

One of my favorite financial columnist, Michelle Singletary recently wrote another great article.  This time the topic was about the scamming of our seniors. This is a subject that is something that I have lived through with my paternal grandmother who at the time was being taken advantage of by several solicitors.

My mother who was her daughter-in-law lived in the same town, and started to notice things were not normal, at least not normal for my grandmother.  The bank even called one day and said that my grandmother was writing checks that were not normal for her.  You may say that the teller was being nosey, but I say she was being very helpful. My grandmother always tried to go to the same teller each time she went into the bank because they would have this little conversation.

When I got to town, and checked her account, I could see that she was taking money out, and supposedly helping someone out. Both my mother and I were extremely grateful to the teller.  My grandmother was not a wealthy person, she was the type of person who stilled believed in saving certain items of clothing to wear to church and so on. I became the person who looked after her finances.

In the article Michelle talks about telephone scams, and yes most seniors still have land lines. They talk, even hold conversations with the scammers. Can you image getting a call from the IRS saying they are going to audit your account?  We, or at least we should know that this is a scam, but most seniors truly believe that they are being audited, and they want to do what is right.

Take a look at the article, and be aware of the financial activities of the seniors in your life.  Talk with them, if possible and you are close enough, take a look at bank statements?  Ask questions–why are there so many cash withdrawals?  Start a conversation and keep it going.

The link to the article is: http://www.telegram.com/article/20160412/NEWS/160419752. 

In my mind, I know that we all will get to this point in life (we will be seniors), so let’s take care of our seniors, and hope we have someone to watch out for us.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–look out for those who looked out for you.

You can follow Michelle Singletary on Twitter: @SingletaryM.