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If you ate too much — and spent too much — over the holidays and into the beginning of the new year, you’re probably staring at two frustratingly large numbers: one on your credit card statement and another on your bathroom scale.
Why not tackle both of them together? Here are some great ways to reduce your credit card balance and your waistline at the same time.
1. Reward yourself with extra credit card payments instead of calories
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Repurpose the money you have been spending on fast food. Let’s say, for example, that you currently spend $6 every morning getting a latte and a muffin at Starbucks.
Obviously, that’s not food that you need. Depending on the size of the latte and what you put in it — and your choice of muffin — you could easily consume 600 calories with that little “snack” on your way to work. And there are better uses for that $6.
A better choice: Make yourself a coffee at home and grab a piece of fruit that you can eat in the car. Even if your homemade coffee and snack costs you $1, that’s a savings of $5 a day — or $25 a week — that you can put toward paying off your credit card.
2. Work out at the local community center — or in your own living room
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You don’t need an expensive gym membership to work out.
Drop-in fees for working out at the gym at your local community center are often fairly inexpensive. They can get even cheaper if you buy monthly or quarterly passes.
Even better, you can work out at home. For ideas, check out “7 Free Apps for Better Health in 2019.”
You then can take the money you didn’t spend on a gym membership and apply that to your credit card balance.
3. Look good, feel better, save money
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One of the tricks when losing weight is not to walk around in baggy clothes when you’ve lost your first 10, 15 or 20 pounds. You’ve done the hard work to look and feel better. You deserve clothes that show off your hard work.
But you also want to stay on track to getting rid of your financial holiday season baggage. The answer: Shop at second-hand clothing stores to get “new to you” clothes that will look and feel good. And use the money you’ve saved to pay down debt.
4. Work your way to a fitter you
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There are a lot of things that need to get done around the average house that could burn off calories and make you a bit of money. These jobs include mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, shoveling snow in winter or doing that big spring clean-out of the garage.
You no longer have to pay the kid next door to do any of those jobs for you. You can do them yourself, work up a sweat, and use the money that you save to get your credit card balance back to zero faster.
5. Eat less, pay less
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Weigh and track what you eat: These are instructions you’ll get from pretty much every weight-loss program, including the one that your doctor will give you when he or she tells you that you need to lose weight.
It may seem counterintuitive, but one great way to do this is to buy food from bulk bins — precisely because it is not pre-weighed or measured for you. It will force you to do the work of weighing and measuring all the food you buy, while creating a level of mindfulness that you likely won’t have if you eat a lot of pre-measured and pre-packaged food.
Buying in bulk at a warehouse store will also save you money on top of what you save by eating less. Just make sure that you buy the right things in bulk. Some more healthful foods, like fresh produce, tend to go bad faster than their processed counterparts.
6. Walk everywhere you can
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Cars, buses and taxis cost you money — and they don’t provide you with a whole lot of exercise.
If you change the routine so your daily commute involves more walking and cut back on your costs at the same time, you will reach both your financial and fitness goals a lot faster. Just make sure you have good, comfortable shoes before setting out on this journey.