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Finding a Balance When ‘Faster and Simpler’ Means ‘Less Healthy and More Expensive’

A little extra time spent on the basics can help you to destress, save money and actually be healthier.

Work is an important part of life, not just because it provides financial support, but also because it can provide a sense of purpose. However, when you love your work, or are just particularly dedicated to it, you risk letting your job take over your personal life as well. There are a fixed number of hours in the day and, when you only have a few to yourself at home, it can be easy to slip into habits that save time but end up costing you more in terms of money and health.

It can be challenging to create a balance between your work and personal life, but by doing so, you can reduce your stress, as well as invest in your time in other valuable activities. Here are some simple ways to incorporate healthier, money-saving habits into your busy life.

Don’t Just Drive, Bike or Walk When You Have the Time

Driving can be a necessity, depending on where you live, but owning a car is quite expensive, and sitting in one for hours each week isn’t particularly healthy. Gas prices have been high, reaching a peak in May that hasn’t been seen since 2015, so reducing your drive time can reduce your fuel costs. And auto insurance rates, an average of $907 per year, can drop as well as you reduce the number of miles you drive annually.

If you live in a city with good public transportation, or if you live close to your job, alternating between walking, biking and driving to work is a simple way to get more exercise and cut down costs. Alternatively, if you need to drive to work, you can try cutting down the number of miles you drive on the weekends, or to social activities in the evening. Instead, try more local restaurants and events that you can reach without spending hours sitting behind the wheel.

Besides saving you money, research has shown that walking just an hour each day reduces your risk of death by 39%. And, if you go walking with friends or colleagues, you can use that extra time spent commuting or getting around to socialize.

Cook Yourself a Meal Instead of Getting Delivery or Takeout

When you get home after dark, often the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cooking a full meal, and delivery or takeout can be incredibly tempting alternatives. Getting a $10 salad delivered isn’t too bad, right?

It is when you do it frequently and can be very bad for your health, depending on what type of food you order. The average household spends over $3,000 on restaurant food every year, a figure that is climbing quickly. And, when you look at the nutritional information for premade meal, the health costs quickly make the time savings less valuable. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that 92% of restaurant meals exceed the recommended calories for a single meal, and in many restaurants there are menu items that exceed a person’s recommended calories per day.

If time during the week is an issue, one way to cut down food prep is by having groceries delivered to your home, or you can simply stock up on the weekends. Unfortunately, there’s no simple fix to feel less tired after 10 or more hours at work. But you can prepare a list of quick recipes and ingredients for yourself ahead of time; there are hundreds of 20- or 30-minute recipes online, so you’ll know that all the ingredients are at home and what steps are needed.

Try a DIY Fix Before Throwing Things Out

The items in your house will break at some point and, while the simplest solution may seem to be “toss it and buy a new one,” you may be able to extend the life of your possessions, and learn some new skills, by fixing them yourself. Now, this option isn’t always available—rewiring your refrigerator is probably best left to a professional—but many objects like a bookcase, coffee table or chair can be repaired with simple tools. It can take a bit of reading or watching how-to videos before you’re comfortable making repairs, but learning a skill is a simple way to relax. And, when you know that you can extend the life of your possessions, it actually means that you can invest in higher-quality things, like end tables or displays, when you do go shopping.

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