Why the Frugal Get Fit: How Fitness Can Help You Save Big

Photo Credit: thephotagraphymuse

This is a guest post written by Pam Greene.

Bob was overweight as a child. He continued to gain weight throughout his life until he weighed almost four hundred pounds. When he was in his early 60s, he caught a cold. The cold turned into pneumonia and from there his health took a deathly downward spiral. His kidneys started shutting down. He had congestive heart failure. For a week, he was on death’s door in the intensive care unit in the hospital. Doctors worked feverishly to save his life. Miraculously, they did. Bob never regained his full health. He couldn’t return to work. Because he had so many medical bills, his wife was forced to take a job working as a clerk in a grocery store.

The Economic Research Service, a research institution for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, held a workshop in 2004 where people from various organizations and universities presented studies and research about obesity. Their report, The Economics of Obesity, stated that the number of overweight children and adolescents has tripled since the 1970s and almost two out of three adults are overweight or obese. This statistic is alarming. We are becoming an overweight nation! The report goes on to say that medical costs related to disease and illnesses caused by obesity are $10,000 higher than for those who are not obese. This is a huge impact on the budget and finances of a family with obese members.

Losing weight and getting in a good physical condition is not only good for your health it is also good for your pocketbook. Those who are within a normal weight range do not suffer from illnesses and diseases that beset obese people. This means they pay less money on medication and doctor and hospital bills – giving them more money in their pocket.

Frugal people are motivated to get fit and stay fit because they realize the financial benefits of being in shape. Who wouldn’t like to have $10,000 in their checking or savings account instead of paying it out in obesity related medical bills! Frugal people realize the expense of obesity and are highly motivated to get in shape. When thinking about the financial costs of obesity, people generally think about medical costs. But there are additional areas that impact a family’s budget and finances:

  • Driving
  • The more you weigh, the bigger the load your car has to carry. Because of the extra weight, your car uses more gas per mile. You get fewer miles per gallon, which means that you will have to gas up your car more often. Overweight people spend more money at the gas pump than those who weigh less. It is estimated that they use an average of 30% more gasoline which adds up to over $500 a year. Overweight individuals also tend to drive their car more for short local trips. They will not walk or ride a bike for these short trips. There goes more money spent at the gas pump.

  • Clothing
  • Buying clothing for obese people significantly impacts the family budget. Plus-sized clothing is more expensive than regular sizes because more material is used to make the garments. Overweight people have a tendency to continually gain weight. An expanding waistline means there is a need to frequently purchase larger sized clothing. Frugal people know that they have more money in the bank because their clothing expenditures are less than that of obese people.

  • Food
  • Another way that frugal people are fit is by eating out less at fast food places and not buying snacks from vending machines. One young man eliminated getting snacks from a vending machine at work and reduced the number of times he ate at fast food places. In one year, he had better health and had saved over $400! Overweight people spend more money at the grocery store. They eat more prepared foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. They spend more money on snacks, chips, pop, donuts, and other types of goodies. Frugal people are fit because they spend significantly less money at the grocery store on high-calorie foods.

Studies have found that obesity is a family problem. If one individual is overweight, chances are several other family members are also overweight. How does this impact the family finances? If two family members are overweight, there are double the expenses on medical bills, gas, groceries, and clothing. Can you imagine the expenses for a family of four overweight individuals?

People who are frugal understand the financial benefits from getting in shape and staying in shape. Getting fit can be one of the wisest financial decisions a person can make. Instead of putting out money for the costs mentioned here, fit people will have more discretionary money to save. They will have more to put into their 401K, a Roth account, into savings, or CDs.

Be frugal. Be fit. Don’t be like Bob whose body was a wreck because he was obese and whose financial affairs were a wreck because of his medical bills.

Pam Greene’s own journey to health and fitness started when a friend suffered through some health challenges. Realizing this was a wake up call to her to focus on her own health, she started learning about Fitness, Nutrition and Healthy Weight Loss. Pam now works for Beachbody, which provides Home Fitness Programs and Work Out Dvds including the well known P90X exercise program. Pam is passionate about sharing tips to help others eat better and exercise for better health.

About Brad Chaffee

21 Responses to “Why the Frugal Get Fit: How Fitness Can Help You Save Big”

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  1. Marty says:

    Struggling with this one every day. Thanks for the motivation.

  2. Shannon says:

    This is a highly biased article… I’m not sure even 100 additional pounds would affect your gas mileage. At most stores plus sized clothes are $2 more per item and if you are frugal person you are buying on clearance (at the same cost or cheaper then the “healthy” size.

    You also assume a heavy person is a lazy cook (fast food) or an eater. Many Fat people actually eat very little, in fact a lot of people in the 300lb range consume only about 1200 calories a day. While that does kill their metabolism and add to their health concerns it would actually save them money opposed to a fit chicky who only eats farm fresh organics…

    I know some of my arguments are fool hardy but your article is fluff. your readers are here for financial advise, stick to what your good at!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Shannon I didn’t write this article, but I certainly understand your concerns. You cannot deny though, that there is a huge correlation between weight loss and finance, especially when it comes to getting out of debt or losing weight.

      While I agree with you on the amount of gas you would buy being largely due to your weight, this article is still very relevant to finance. I do disagree with you on the calorie intake of most overweight people. While I am sure there are some overweight people who eat 1200 calories a day (an amount that is extremely low ESPECIALLY for an overweight person mainly because it causes your body to think it is being starved and stores the calories instead of burning them off.) I am overweight and about 300 pounds and I can tell you from my own experience that I definitely consume too many calories each and every single day. Most overweight people do too, which is the reason why they are overweight. Just like a budget, if you eat more calories than you burn (spend more than you earn), you are going to gain weight. If you spend less than you make, or eat less calories than you burn, it is nearly impossible to be in debt or gain weight. That’s a fact with a few, VERY FEW, possible exceptions where people have genetic reasons for weight gain.

      You chose a couple points that could be argued either way and decided to debunk the entire article because of it. We are here for the conversation and debate related to finance and even though it sounds like you disagree with that, being overweight and unhealthy effects your finances!! You seemed to even admit that your argument was faulty.

      I am on blood pressure medicine, high cholesterol medicine, have more doctor visits, have largely increased chances of something BIG happening to me and my health. I respect your opinion and am glad you shared it, but I think your response is emotionally charged. This is Enemy of Debt, where behavior meets reality, and although you may disagree, I posted this article because there is a relationship between being overweight and being financially savvy — although I agree that the one does not always mean the other will be true. As far as it being biased, I suppose you could make that argument since the author writes and motivates people for beachbody, but didn’t the author also write from experience, even mentioning her own realizations which changed how she lived from there on out?

      The one problem I did have with the article is that the writer seems to assume that you cannot be frugal and overweight. If that were true I would have never got out of debt and fixed my finances, but I don’t think that is what she intended. You don’t have to agree with someone 100% all of the time. I will be writing about my own weight loss in an attempt to motivate people who are getting out of debt to use the same principles and ideas. Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box and this finance stuff is mostly psychological, which means it deals with behaviors that affect us in other areas of our life. While I want to keep this blog mostly about finance and debt, I refuse to pin myself down to NOT writing about or introducing new ideas that can help people in all areas of life.

    • JoeTaxpayer says:

      There is an energy requirement to keep one’s body alive and warm. The Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR for a 40 yr old 300 lb’er requires 2500+ calories. This is to sit or lie down, a bit of walking and you’re at 3000 or more.
      Sorry, I don’t believe for a minute that a 300 lb person can eat 1200 calories per day and maintain their weight. I have 15 lbs I want to lose. That’s about 45000 calories I can burn running (about 310 mi) eating less (150/day will do) or some combination.

      • Brad Chaffee says:

        Exactly Joe! A 300 pound person who ate 1200 calories would most likely cause more serious health problems for himself.

        I think Shannon took the post personally instead of seeing the big picture. Nothing against her, but we cannot change the outcome until we see the big picture without getting offended. The truth is that being overweight and unhealthy has a direct impact on your wallet, even if some of the examples in the post were, as Dustin called it, a stretch. The point was that in order to maximize ones frugality, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. ๐Ÿ˜€

        Thanks for stopping by my friend!

  3. Jason Stieler says:

    Two things I wanted to say;
    1) I never thought of the “how much my car weighs” side of things before. That’s pretty unique, and I be that added weight adds up quite a bit over time!
    2) I wanted to remind people that when getting fit, it not only has to do with what you eat, but how much you eat! When I was in Europe a few months ago, their portion control is so much better than over here in the US. We tend to be served way too much food at once… Just a thought…

    jason Stieler

  4. Jobi says:

    While I agree with your comment when it comes to fuel consumption I wanted to add that obese people do not tend to drive Prius or a compact vehicle. I don’t mean to generalize but majority of obese folks tend to drive SUVs and those gas guzzlers will make a big dent in anyones wallet.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      One could definitely argue that obese people might be more likely to buy an SUV because of their size, for room’s sake. Whether obese people really do drive SUV’s more so than compact cars, I’m not sure. And yes SUV’s can definitely cost more as far as gas consumption, regardless of a persons size. I definitely agree with the author of this post that over the long haul, being overweight could definitely contribute to getting less efficient fuel mileage, even if the number was minuscule, regardless of what they drive. BUT, as someone who has been overweight, by around 80-100 pounds for the last 7-8 years, I’ve driven a CRX, and have never owned an SUV, but I definitely get your point. I think, in general, more people drive SUV’s, so it would be hard to say one way or the other.

  5. I have to say the correlation between the driver’s weight and their fuel economy is a *real* stretch. The difference in a payload of 100 lbs would have to be negligle given that 12 gallons of gas would weigh almost that much.

    That said, I am a big proponent of the idea that fitness can help aid in frugality. This mostly comes into play in our food choices, our health bills and our level of productivity. It’s also one reason we advocate at-home workouts over at Fit Marriage…for reasons of money, time and convenience.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree Dustin. It would likely take much more than 100 pounds to really notice a difference, BUT every extra pound, even gas, can make a difference in terms of fuel efficiency. Still I agree that it’s the weakest of arguments for getting in shape to help save money. ๐Ÿ˜€

      This is a great conversation! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Slackerjo says:

    I have a very strict budget for food. I eat reasonably healthy. There is no junk food in the house and meals include vegetables and fruit. Definitely no fried food and the majority of meals are cooked from scratch. I think I have ordered take out pizza twice in the last 10 years. Because I am so strict with my food budget, I am able to control my weight (trust me I am not perfect, I need to lose 25lbs) which prevents me from having to replace clothes that no longer fit. I am seldom absent at work due to illness and I do not have to take expensive medication to control blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol.

    So yeah, weight control and fitness can help you save.

    The fact of the matter is that we have fallen into the trap of complacency. It’s easier to drive than to walk. Clothing and food are cheap so let’s just buy a bigger t-shirt and some yummy-oh’s when we are at the Big Box Store. I’ll work out tomorrow! Let’s blame genetics! Really, this is not rocket science! It’s just denial and laziness.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I agree with everything you said slackerjoe, with exception to the very last statement. I don’t think it’s laziness as much as it is a lack of discipline, organization, and poor time management, and you could throw in there a number of emotional reasons people over eat. The psychological reasons people eat too much are very real. People can be busy and make poor decisions. People can be busy and just choose the wrong choices about what they put in their body. I for one, exercise all the time, which would disprove your laziness theory, but I agree that it’s up to the individual to take control. Thanks for the great comment!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. Brad, I think your correlation between weight loss (and health maintenance in general) and finances. Both require discipline, both require self-denial, and both hold that the end result–better health and better finances–are worth sacrificing for in the short run.

    They’re both about exchanging short term pain for long term gain. I think if you can master one, you’re in a better frame of mind to take on the other.

  8. Travis @DebtChronicles says:

    As my wife and I have been conciously trying to eat better in 2011, exercise, and lose weight we have found that we are getting smaller, and our checkbook is getting fatter. We eat out less (because we have no idea how the food was prepared, so we don’t know how to “count” the food in our food journals), and we buy less groceries. Before I read your article, I was seriously going to tweet the following to Twitter, “I just discovered the secret to losing weight and saving $ – stop shoving unnecessary things in your piehole”

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