Spending money to lose weight … is it worth the investment?

photo by nataliej

All over the blogosphere, I’ve been reading posts with very helpful ideas for frugal weight loss. I’ve even written on the topic myself (basic budgeting can help you lose weight without spending money). I once lost 40 pounds without a gym membership or any special equipment (though I did spend a fortune on convenient diet foods at the grocery store, but that’s another story). I absolutely agree that it’s not necessary to spend money to lose weight.

In the past few weeks, though, I’ve made a few investments in my health to make it easier for me to get in shape. I joined a gym, bought new running shoes, and added healthy snacks to my grocery list.

All of these decisions were pretty tough for me. The last thing I want to do is spend extra money if it’s not necessary. At the same time, getting back in shape is important for my health and my happiness.

When it comes to weight loss and frugality, everyone is different. Back when I had more free time, less stress, and a faster metabolism, these types of investments weren’t necessary to help me lose weight. The past 6 months have been a struggle for me, though, as I battle time constraints, a slowing metabolism, and the absence of expensive diet foods. I made the decision that if I was going to meet my fitness goals, I’d need a little help.

A little over a week into my fitness resolution, I’ve lost 3 pounds. I’m feeling healthier, working out every single night after work (with no painful blisters on my feed), and making healthier decisions about what I eat. I absolutely believe that the investments I made have made all the difference.

If you live far away from your support network, maybe joining a weight loss support group like Weight Watchers would be helpful for you. Maybe you work long shifts and investing in some convenience foods would help you eat healthier. You may have to make some sacrifices in other discretionary spending to balance your budget and reach your financial goals, but you can make it work. With planning and budgeting, it really is possible to have it all.

I’ve been careful not to go overboard, though. We haven’t dipped into our emergency fund to purchase fancy exercise equipment or spent a ton of money on a “get thin fast” diet plan. We also haven’t reduced our debt and savings contributions every month.

So far I’ve spent $20 for the first month of my gym membership, $40 on new shoes, and about $10 extra on groceries for the week (I’m working on reducing that). The shoes were a one-time investment, and I’m wearing them only to the gym to increase their lifespan.

Frugality is as much about balance as it is about budgeting. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided it was worth it to me to spend $30 a month on my health. I also determined that with a few cuts here and there, it doesn’t have to delay our savings and debt goals.

The bottom line is that you have to do what works for you in your budget. If there’s absolutely no room in your budget for diet aids, then you have to improvise. We have a little wiggle room, and I’d rather invest a little money in my health now so I’ll be more likely to live long enough to enjoy the money I’m saving for retirement. :)

6 thoughts on “Spending money to lose weight … is it worth the investment?

  1. J. Money

    I’m just impressed hearing that people are WORKING on getting better in shape – i love it :) i know too many people personally who just give up living their unhealthy ways w/out a care in the world. So for all those working on it, KEEP IT UP!

  2. BB

    I thought this was a great post because sometimes, spending a little money on something like health, is more of an investment because the overall payoff will be worth it. Of course going overboard and spending hundreds of dollars on a treadmill that you will never use is a horrible idea, but making small investments on things like work out shoes are a great starter investment and a motivation tool. Congratulations on losing three pounds and keep working out and enjoy the gym and new shoes!

  3. Miss M

    I think you can make an argument that spending money to improve your health is a frugal choice. The savings won’t be realized for years, but later on when you don’t need expensive blood pressure medication or cholesterol lowering drugs, you’ll be happy you took care of yourself. I loathe spending money but decided the gym was a good investment, if I value my health why wouldn’t I spend money on it.

    Miss M’s last blog post..Free Money from Reverse Arbitrage

  4. The Passive Dad

    I have actually calculated that we spend less as a family on food when we go consistently to the gym. How? We eat less soda, and drink more water. We eat out less, since we are focused on staying in shape, and we snack less. All ways to save money on food. Our gym also offers child care, so my wife and I can workout. We can also take the kids to the gym and play basketball or swim in the pool. It’s been great on some of these cold days.

    The Passive Dad’s last blog post..2009 Bill Proposed For New Car Tax Deduction Up To $7,500

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