Going cold and hungry to keep bills low keeps debt at bay but if it costs us our health, is it worth it? Jeff Mitchell explores ways to balance health with wealth
A shocking four in ten Quids in! readers are skipping meals and one in two people are turning off the heating despite being cold. We applaud people who curb debt but going without can affect our health.
Three in ten readers feel money fears affect their physical health and a staggering five in ten people are on the road to mental ill-health. Our wellbeing is undermined by money worries but there are cheap ways to boost our health, even if we’re struggling to make ends meet.
Without good nourishment, the immune system will be starved of fuel and illness can follow
TAKE REGULAR EXERCISE
Half an hour a day working up a sweat walking or doing the house work kick starts your body’s response to unwanted nasties. People doing this most days are sick half as often as others. Sunlight also helps
IT’S TRUE, AN APPLE A DAY…
Fresh fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and whole grains will help. You can grow some yourself, scrump them in the woods or seek out offers in the shops. Nuts are cheaper in the baking aisle
KNOW YOUR ABC
Vitamin C and zinc boost your immune system and, if you’re skipping meals, the 11p a day for a tablet might make all the difference. A healthy, balanced diet is even better
SLEEP ON IT
People with money worries don’t sleep well but a good night’s sleep is a must. Watch the caffeine, alcohol and sugar, especially late in the day, as they keep you buzzing
Check out WebMD’s guide to keeping your immune system healthy.
FEELING SOUND OF MIND
Being anxious, angry or upset all the time can be a sign of mental health troubles. It also affects your physical health
LAUGH IN THE FACE OF IT
A good laugh with friends can be a real tonic, as can spending time with family. Having a wide circle of friends is reported to make as big a difference as not smoking
WATCH THE BOOZE
A couple of drinks can make life a little easier, relieving stress and, of course, it’s a big part of a social life. Alcohol is a chemical, though, and too much can lead to mental and physical health issues
Just stop and do nothing for a few minutes a day. Think of your brain like an overworked machine: Switch it off and on again
POSITIVE MENTAL OUTLOOK
For people stuck inside mental ill-health, this can feel like rotten advice, but try to stay positive. If it feels the world’s against you, maybe you’re overwhelmed. Try to think of reasons, not excuses, for why things or relationships might not be going well. Maybe it’s you or maybe you need to talk to someone
MAKE A PLAN
Make a list of all things you have on your plate. Once it’s in black and white, it’s easier to see it for what it is. Then tackle each item one at a time, finding help if you need it
Check out advice from mental health charity Mind.
Looking after yourself is the key, and that includes finding ways to afford to stay warm all winter
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Many people fear bills. Unopened letters get tucked away and debts grow. Maybe switching off the heating when we’re cold is not so different. We need warmth. Facing up to a shock bill won’t kill us and there is loads of help on hand when it comes to it
KEEP COLD AT BAY
Heat only rooms you use. Keep doors and windows shut. Use thick curtains and go old school, making draft excluders to seal you inside. Layer clothes. Clear radiators to heat the room, not the washing or furniture covering them
PAY JUST FOR WHAT YOU HAVE TO USE
Boil only the water you need and use lids on pots so they boil faster. Only do full loads of washing, turning down the machine temperature. Fold clothes as they dry and iron damp to speed things up. Never use a tumble dryer. Shower at speed to use less water and electricity
Low energy means lower bills – check your landlord or council to see if free light bulbs are available. Unplug everything. Chargers and items left on standby still cost you. Don’t open fridge or freezer doors too long and never put anything warm inside, let it cool down first
MAKE LIKE SQUIRRELS
We cannot sleep through the Winter but we can take some tips from our furry friends on stocking the nest
MULTI-TASK WITHOUT WORKING HARDER
Bulk up hearty dishes with cheaper veg. Make enough for multiple meals and freeze as much as possible. Check out cheap recipes and watch the portion control – resist seconds
STAPLES KEEP THINGS TOGETHER
Eggs, tinned tomatoes, beans, potatoes, pasta and rice are all versatile staples, while onions, garlic and chilli powder can spice things up, even used sparingly
SHOP SO YOU DON’T DROP
Write and stick to a shopping list to keep costs down. Resist offers except on things you’d buy anyway. Frozen often means cheaper and not unhealthy, as people think. If you’re on a budget, trade down to the store’s own brand goods and save almost a third