Budgeting

7 Good Habits That Will Save Your Money and Health

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Joanne Poh

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Health is wealth, quite literally when you consider the cost of private healthcare in Singapore. The government’s stance has been to place the bulk the responsibility for maintaining your health on Singaporeans.

If you behave irresponsibly and lead an unhealthy lifestyle, you must bear the consequences in the form of hefty healthcare bills. Even health insurance usually includes a co-payment component so you will need to fork out some money even when making a claim.

Here are seven good habits that will not only improve your health, but also save you money in the long run.

Cook at home

One of the biggest reasons Singapore has such a high diabetes rate is the fact that people eat out so frequently. No matter how much you nag the hawker to add less oil or salt to your dish, you can bet it’s not going to make much of a difference. And you’d probably get a heart attack if you could see some of the things happening in restaurant kitchens. Cooking at home gives you control over what you put into your body, which can protect you from most diet-related ailments. It’s also the cheapest way to eat healthily in Singapore, which many believe to be expensive.

Limit your drinking

At the end of a long, discouraging day at work, the only thing that can make it all better is a glass of whatever the bartender can whip up for you. But imbibing excessive alcohol, while it may make the world seem like less miserable place for a few hours, will not only destroy your health, but also burn a hole on your wallet, since Singapore has some of the world’s highest alcohol prices.

So reign in your alcoholic tendencies and institute a limit on the number of drinks you’ll allow yourself to buy at each outing, leaving your credit cards at home if necessary.

Practise a sport, dance or other physical activity regularly

Even if the memory of secondary school PE lessons makes you break out into a cold sweat, that’s no reason not to find a sport, dance or other physical activity that you like right now. You’re no longer forced by your teachers to run on the track or, worse, do the Great Singapore Workout. So experiment with trial classes until you find something you like. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to a spike in diabetes and rising obesity, amongst other things. Whether you’re into ballet or Crossfit, just find something you like and do it regularly.

Choose something you can learn and practise for free if you don’t want to spend too much money, such as longboarding or cycling. You’ll more than make back the cost of your initial investment in equipment in saved medical bills later on in life, so long as you don’t pick a sport that’s too dangerous.

Spend time outdoors

Blame it on the weather, but Singaporeans are always hiding indoors. But going out and being in nature actual has multiple benefits. Not only does it reduce stress, it also improves your cardiovascular health as you walk and explore. You also get a much-needed dose of Vitamin D courtesy of the hot sun.

And for those with myopia, being in nature also enables you to look far, or at least farther than the neighbouring block, which is most people’s view from their window. Best of all, a trip to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or HSBC Treetop Walk, which are free to visit, is certainly cheaper than hanging out at hipster cafes.

Prioritise your mental health

Singapore has the highest depression rate in Asia according to a 2015 survey. All too often, we get so caught up in the rat race that we unwittingly sacrifice our mental health in the pursuit of money and status, like the many young professionals who’ve been suffering from burnout.

We might all benefit from prioritising our mental health, because even if we don’t end up at IMH, chronic stress can raise your risk of a whole host of physical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Other than practising mental health-boosting activities like meditation and exercising regularly, we might need to readjust unrealistic expectations of how much we can do in a day and how much we can achieve.

Go for regular screenings and physical and dental checkups

I know some people who go to the dentist once every ten years, and who would rather avoid going for health screening because they don’t want to receive a potential death sentence. Getting your body and teeth checked regularly and going for screenings at the appropriate age might cost you a bit of money, but they can save you from having to incur much higher medical costs later on.

Get adequate sleep

Singaporeans are some of the world’s most sleep-deprived people. Other than making us grumpy, being constantly sleep-deprived also makes us spend extra money. When you wake up late for work, you’re that much more likely to take Grab or Uber rather than the MRT to the office.

When you’re about to fall asleep every few seconds, you’re more likely to spend money on multiple coffees. What’s more, constant sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your immune system and makes you more likely to all ill. So exercise some discipline, put away that smartphone and force yourself to get the sleep you need. Your body and wallet will thank you for it.

Which of the following habits do you practice? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.