Harris: Being Smart With Your Heart and Your Money
By: Charlestien Harris
February is known as the month for matters of the heart. When you think about it, your heart is an organ that keeps you alive and is the very life-sustaining organ that pumps the blood necessary to keep your body functioning properly. Your heart needs to be healthy and strong so that you can live a long time.
Your money is just as vital to your financial survival when it comes to being financially healthy. You should want your money to help you live and enjoy your life to well into retirement. Just like you visit your physician to assess the physical condition of your body’s heart, you should think about routinely giving your finances a heart checkup as well. You can help your physical heart as well as your financial heart by making a few simple adjustments to your diet as well as your finances. Here are a few suggestions to help you.
- For your heart health, try changing your diet.
Eating healthy can seem expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Fruits and vegetables may cost a bit more upfront, but with a consistently healthy diet, you won’t have to spend as much money on visits to the doctor and you will find that eating the proper foods will keep you healthier longer. You just might give yourself fewer reasons to buy those snacks that can drive up your food bill. To keep your wallet in good shape you can also develop a meal plan. A meal plan can also limit the items you buy that don’t fit in the meals you have already created.
- Try switching what you drink.
Water is cheaper than most carbonated or sugary drinks, and is better for your heart. Now you might ask, how can I save money by choosing water? You can purchase a reusable water bottle that will save you quite a bit of money when you’re out and about. Public water fountains can be found in many locations, so you can fill up on the go without spending any money. Another way you can save is to order water when you go to a restaurant – it’s always free. Drinking water also helps you feel full faster and eat less, which is good for your heart health as well as your financial health, because you might not order as much food while deciding what to eat.
- Start comparing food labels for healthier choices.
By comparing the Nutrition Facts data on the labels, you can make a healthier choice that’s low in both fat and sugar without spending more. You can also try purchasing in-store brands. They are often several cents cheaper and can be comparable to name-brand foods. This move could be both healthier for your heart and help you to stay within your meal plan and food budget. Saving money is a vital step in keeping your finances in a healthy state. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. You’ll be less tempted by junk food and make impulse buys like fragrant bakery items or the handy snacks at the cash register.
- Pack your lunch.
Taking your lunch is cheaper and can be more nutritious. When it comes to eating healthy for your heart, preparing your own lunch can have enormous benefits for your wallet as well as your heart. You can control how your food is prepared, how it is seasoned, and the portion size. Ready-to-eat foods can be more expensive and contain less nutritive value. You should consider not buying processed foods. Most pre-packaged foods are loaded with added salt and sugar which can be bad for your heart health. Having more money in your wallet is definitely much healthier for your finances!
- Try your hand at growing a garden.
This heart-healthy move can possibly save you big bucks! It can also have a big effect on your finances. If you can grow your own fruits and vegetables, it is a great way to save money and have fresh produce readily available. Even if you don’t have a yard to grow a garden, many fruits, vegetables, and herbs can grow in pots on patios or balconies. Having a constant supply of fresh produce at home can save you money at the store. It may not be possible to grow a “money tree” in your garden, but it’ll feel like you did with the extra money you’ll be saving. Fresh fruits and vegetables are better for your heart, too.
- Start paying for purchases with cash.
One way to keep your money healthy is to consider purchasing items with cash. Using cash or a debit card can help you avoid overspending or making impulse purchases –plus, you eliminate any extra fees that may apply when paying with a credit card. You should also have a clear understanding of how much is going out versus what is coming in every week or month. This is one I use quite often. I have a set amount I am going to spend when I enter the grocery store. When I start to get close to the amount of cash I have in my hand, I start to calculate the total cost of the items along with the taxes. If I have gone over the amount, I begin to return items that are not necessary so I can stay within my budget. It really works!
- Focus on eating lean meat or consider some alternatives.
Beans and eggs can be cheaper alternatives to meat, while still offering you the nutrition you need. These substitute items are often better buys and have great health benefits for your heart, and more! Lean meats are those with a relatively low fat content. Skinless chicken, turkey, and red meat, such as pork chops, with the fat trimmed off are examples of lean meat. These meats are often cheaper to purchase, better for your heart, and easier on your budget.
I hope you take into consideration the options I mentioned above to stay heart-healthy while remaining financially healthy at the same time. Becoming heart-healthy can coincide with being financially healthy and can have tremendous benefits well into your retirement years. It can become a win-win situation that can have lasting benefits for your body and your wallet!
For more information on this and other financial topics, visit www.banksouthern.com/blog, email me at Charlestien.Harris@banksouthern.com, or call me at 662-624-5776.
Until next week – stay financially fit!
Charlestien Harris is a financial contributor to DeSoto County News. She is a financial expert with Southern Bancorp Community Partners whose articles are seen in a number of publications around the region. You’ll be seeing her columns weekly on the DeSoto County News website and our social media channels.