A tighter budget may prompt you to sacrifice certain luxuries, but your natural lifestyle musts shouldn’t be among them. With a touch of innovation and a little help from your friends, you can save precious dollars and emerge from any financial crunch healthier than ever.
Save on food …
Shop small grocery stores and independent markets in the evening, just before closing time; ask the manager if he plans to throw out any produce that’s about to max out its shelf life. He may slash prices or even toss you a few free tomatoes.
Grow a variety of herbs and salad greens indoors year-round. The automated, no-mess AeroGarden ($150; aerogrow.com) often yields more than you need, so swap extra arugula for a friend’s thyme, or chop up bonus basil and freeze it in ice-cube trays to make pesto later.
Substitute organic powdered milk for the liquid stuff when cooking and baking. Powder’s cheaper and lasts much longer.
Save on exercise …
Start an exercise-DVD club: Each member buys one aerobic, yoga, or Pilates DVD; then everyone swaps each month. Or rent workout DVDs from Netflix for as little as $9 per month and return them when finished.
Head to your neighborhood playground or school jungle gym after the kids go home, and use the monkey bars, slide, ladders, and sand or gravel to perform pull-ups, ab crunches, and jump squats.
Save on self-care …
Recruit a pal and learn acupressure together. Read instruction books at home and schedule biweekly dates to practice on each other.
Ask your massage therapist if she offers prepay multivisit packages—like 10 rubdowns for the price of eight.
Look for alternative-therapy practitioners who’ve recently finished school or moved to town and want to build business—they often charge less for their services.