Taking care of your health means more than making your monthly healthcare premiums. In fact, that’s often the very basic, bare bones approach to healthcare and yet many Americans struggle with building that foundation. If you really want to optimize your health, you need to make room in your budget for add-ons, which ultimately will lead to less illnesses (and cost savings down the road). However, when you’re on a shoestring how does it work?
Whether you need a new mask for your CPAP machine or would really benefit from chiropractic care in addition to seeing a general physician, it’s time to get creative with your budget. Just like you need water, electricity and maybe gas, you need to allocate monthly funds towards your well-being. Here’s how to get started:
1. Track every dollar for one month
There are many apps that track your budget for free (try one of the recommended apps from Daily Worth), and this is going to be a huge eye opener. You’ll be shocked by how much you spend on impulse purchases. Try tracking for a full 30 days without consciously making any changes at this point. This is your reality check, and 30 more days of poor budgeting isn’t going to make a huge difference.
2. Put a budget in writing
You can make a simple budget in Excel or use an app or website for budgeting. No matter which route you choose, just make sure it’s in writing. Input all your revenue each month after taxes. Next, go through your previous months spending log and calculate what the difference is. If you’re operating in the red, it’s time to start cutting back where you can (most likely on entertainment and food, which you can usually get for cheaper).
3. Make a list of healthcare needs
There are many benefits to alternative care outlined by Everyday Health, and many times healthcare is actually more of a “need” than a “want.” After all, you “need” to address your mild sleep apnea because it can be deadly if left untreated. Put your health on the same level as your energy bills (not your television bill).
4. Shop around for better coverage
As 2014 comes to a close, it’s your opportunity to shop for better healthcare coverage that meets your needs. This can be a time consuming process, so carve out an hour each day for research. Read the fine print and don’t be afraid of checking out smaller, boutique providers that might be just what you’re looking for.