The first thing we need to do is agree that some of the things in this article are not going to be more fun. When I write, “Improve Your Life” I mean in a healthy way, not in a binge drinking frat party way. The real key to this article is if follow all of these things, you should save many thousands of dollars per year and also be healthier and happier.
Next I want to say I got this information from all over. We reference some things, in other cases you can do a search and find different numbers from different sources. This is not a scientific research paper – just an interesting article on how to save money while improving your life.
Your first reaction might be “Hell no!” but give me a moment. There are a lot of people that swear by cold (or colder) showers because they have significant benefits and they save you money. Cold showers have been associated with increases Alertness, Refines Hair and Skin, Improves Immunity and Circulation, Stimulating Weight Loss, Speeding Up Muscle Soreness and Recovery, Easing Stress and Relieving Depression. I have also heard that taking a cold shower when you cannot go to sleep and getting in bed right away will put you in a great, deep sleep if you have trouble with that kind of thing.
So fine, it is good for you if you can hack it. But does it save you a lot of money? I found a calculator for shower costs online here. I did an example where I did a colder, shorter shower and a longer, hotter shower and compared the cost. Turns out a family of 4 would save $478.50 in a year. Not bad – and good for you.
Well, this is already starting to sound really sucky. Take cold showers and stop drinking. But in 2018 more evidence has been steadily coming out that the whole 1-2 drinks a day are good for you thing is not really true. Women should have much less than that and even men should only be have a couple a week. I found another calculator that will help you see how much you are spending weekly on alcohol. And remember, it is not as good for you as you have been lead to believe.
In this very reasonable example, I have used this calculator and estimated a $1,872 annual expense per person. If you live in a big city and like to go out with friends or coworkers a lot you are spending a lot more than this in fact.
The average American consumes more than 3,600 calories daily. This is a 24% increase from 1961, when the average was just 2,880 calories. A man needs around 2,500kcal a day to maintain his weight with a healthy , balanced diet. Woman need around 2,000kcal a day. These values can vary depending on age, metabolism and physical activity, among other things. Body builders and professional swimmers should not try this at home.
With all of this in mind, we simply eat too much – and food costs money. We eat 37.5% too much food to be exactish.
How much money does the average person spend on food per month? This figure varies based on age and income level. Assuming you are middle class and a fairly young adult, it is $173 per week times 52 weeks which equals $8,996 in annual food costs. Now if we cut that back by 37.5%, we would be saving $3373.50 per year per person. And you would also save money on health care as it would reduce the likelihood of many weight related diseases.
This gets even crazier when you consider Forty percent of food in the United States is never eaten, amounting to $165 billion a year in wasted food, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. This would figure that you might be throwing away 40% of the groceries. If you are someone throwing away a lot of food, plus eating 37% more calories than you need, it means 75% of your groceries could be wasted or eaten when they should not be.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the average American household spent $2,787 on restaurant meals and takeout, compared to $3,971 on groceries. But in 2015, the average amount spent on restaurants and takeout jumped $221 to $3,008. Grocery spending, by contrast, increased just $44 per household to $4,015.
We all know that restaurant food tastes great. It is higher in sodium, bacon fat, fried breading and slathered in butter or some delicious sauce. If you learn to make good, healthy meals at home and cut the restaurants, you can save money and be healthier very easily. Going out no more than once a week should cut that restaurant bill in half or less, saving approximately $1,500 a year and
Walk or Bike More Short Trips
In 2017, the average household made 1.5 trips per week to grocery store. Most likely these were done driving. As mentioned above in the article, chances are you have too much food in your home already so going 6 times a month is too much. But instead of saying “You can’t go” let’s say you can only go on bike or walking unless you are going for a big run that should only happen 2-3 times per month.
Walking and biking are great exercise and if you really want something, just make yourself go on foot. Chances are the craving will not be worth it if you have to walk there.
By using this strategy you will help yourself cut down on those food and alcohol expenses mentioned above while also saving gas and car maintenance. AAA estimates that it costs 58 cents per mile to operate a car. Of that 58 cents, only around 11 cents is in gas. The other 47 cents goes for expenses like, maintenance, insurance and depreciation.
So if you cut down on short trips by walking or riding your bike more, you could save several dollars on each trip and get better fit and buy less crap. Putting a savings tag on this is harder but let’s say you cut $5 a week in car expenses plus another $10 per week in stuff you do not buy on a whim. That is small but would add up to $780 saved in a year.
All told, all of these things would make you healthier. And I certainly do not mean to imply to never take a hot shower or have a glass of wine again. But the little daily things add up to huge savings and health benefits. Let’s recap.
In one year, a family of 4 average people can save the following:
- Cold Showers: $478.50
- 2 Adults In Family Cut Drinking: $3,774
- Eating Only Recommended Calories for Family of 4: $13,494
- Eating Out Maximum 1 time per week: $1,500
- Walking more and driving less: $780
This is all based on averages, different sources and fuzzy math. We are just having fun here. But this would suggest these changes could save an average family of four $20,026.50 per year. Your results will vary. But that is a lot of savings and health benefit.
If this all seems a little extreme, remember to start small and no one says you have to go to this level. Shorter showers and less restaurants alone could save you some cash. Make it work for you. This is just an example of how you can imagine a different life.