Even in a world where questions about menstrual cups and the ins and outs of sex are completely (and blessedly) normal, somehow the ever-ubiquitous use of money remains a touchy subject for many. People want to live their healthiest life ever, but—#realtalk—it can add up. Have you ever wondered how your colleague who makes less than you do (or so you think) can afford to buy a $5 matcha and a $12 chopped salad every day? Or how your friend's budget allows her to hit up $34 fitness classes three times a week? It's enough to make anyone want to ask, "Ummm, excuse me. How do you afford that?!?"
Last year, we asked five women with salaries ranging between $30,000 and $250,000 exactly what they spend on wellness ,and their responses showed that no matter your income, it's possible to cultivate healthy habits that work within your budget. To keep spreading the transparency, and hopefully providing some inspo that's possible to copy, we're launching Checks + Balanced, a series featuring women who open their wellness-wallet habits to us. So keep checking back. (Want to be featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Here, a 30-year-old digital marketer shares her wellness spending habits.
Kaeli Sweigard, 30, digital marketer, Toronto
Rent: $800/month. I live with my boyfriend. Our total rent is $2,000—he pays $1,200.
Other big expenditures: In Toronto, parking is really expensive, so I don't have a car but spend $50 a month on public transportation. I spend $400 a month on student loans, and $400 a month on career coaching—which is definitely a splurge I prioritize and budget for. I don't know everything about making the best moves for my career, so it's helpful to have a mentor's opinion.
I spend $3,000 per year on conferences and travel. The conferences are for my own professional development and learning, such as a messenger-marketing conference in Austin, Texas, this past September. I also have a vacation to Brazil coming up next month with several girlfriends from my Brazilian jiu jitsu classes. We will be training in Brazil, and I can't wait.
Food: I have a few secrets to keeping my food budget so low, at $150 per month. One is that I very rarely eat out. Also, I buy things in bulk at Costco, specifically frozen fruit and frozen vegetables, but I get fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat weekly from a local supermarket. I don't follow any specific eating plan, but getting enough protein, fruit, and vegetables is a priority for me, and I do a decent amount of cooking from scratch. A healthy diet really does not have to be super expensive if you're willing to put in some time to cook a meal yourself.
Fitness: I spend about $50 per month here. I do judo once a week at a mixed martial arts gym, and also do Brazilian jiu jitsu several times a week at a different gym where I'm not currently being asked to pay because they are buying out my membership from a different gym. In a few months I will start paying $90 a month.
Athleisure: Judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu require a a kimono-like garment called a gi, which typically costs between $100 and $200. I only buy new gear when I need it, maybe once a year.
Other wellness habits: I spend $160 a month at Float Toronto, a center with sensory-deprivation tanks that allow you to float on saltwater. The experience is meant to elevate your meditation or even just help you relax. I also spend $30 a month on guided at-home meditations; investing in meditation helps me perform my best and feel really alive. I never wake up feeling groggy or with my mind feeling cloudy. Lastly, I consider books a wellness expense, and I buy a new one maybe once every month or two.
The bottom line: Wellness is fundamental to my life, and I don't have a problem investing in myself, my serenity, and my growth. Whatever funds I invest in wellness come back to me tenfold in many ways, including more money. I say this because I really credit my float sessions and meditation ritual to being able to have a clear mind and come up with ideas that wouldn't come to me if I weren't feeling good. Taking time out for physical exercise like jiu jitsu helps me continue to feel (and look!) youthful. Honestly, it feels good to feel good—that's why I do it.
Want to be featured in Checks+Balanced? Email email@example.com. And if you're committed to living your healthiest life ever but aren't exactly rolling in bills, check out these superfood smoothie recipes for under $2 and these free at-home workouts.
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