Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1086143

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 29, 2014

Cut stress,save money with small steps to health and wealth

By Washington County Extension Service | Nov 27, 2013

The approaching holiday season doesn’t have to mean extra stress, expense and calories. With a few small changes, Iowans can be on their way to healthier lives and financial security, says Jan Monahan, a family finance specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Even simplifying a recipe — making green beans with a touch of olive oil rather than green bean casserole — could cut some calories, save a little money and ease a lot of stress. When guests offer to bring something to your holiday gathering, take them up on their offer. Be ready with a list of dishes they could bring or rolls from the bakery or some type of beverage,” Monahan said.

“Cutting back on discretionary expenses — those expenses that you can control — can add up over time as well,” Monahan continued. “Small steps can improve your overall health and financial picture. But you have to take action. Health and wealth are strongly related and changes in one area can have positive effects upon the other.”

In today’s economy many people wonder how they can afford to save more for retirement. According to Monahan, taking some small steps can make a big difference.

“Take a look at your discretionary spending,” Monahan said. “By ‘stepping down’ the expenses you can control, you can use that money to ‘ramp up’ your savings.”

Monahan suggests calculating the potential weekly and annual financial savings of improving some health behaviors. For example, eating two fewer meals away from home each week could save $10 per week or $520 per year. Saving $3 per day, rather than spending the money on fast food or alcohol, yields $21 per week — more than $1,000 per year. Quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit would save at least $35 per week or more than $1,800 in a year.

“Seeing the numbers that are possible may be just the right incentive to make positive changes,” she said.

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