10 Healthy Foods That Are Easy on Your Budget

When it comes to eating healthy food, most of the pros are now advising to eat clean, which, in short, means to bring food back to the basics. By eliminating convenience foods, such as processed or premade food items, the health factor tends to increase and a common perception is the price does too.

Dietitians also recommend eating a variety of foods. A plate containing clean, nutrient-dense foods from various food groups and of multiple colors, is key when it comes to improving health. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy foods does not require you to spend hundreds of dollars at boutique supermarkets. There are plenty of healthy, budget-friendly foods across each of the major food groups.

Brown Rice

Carbohydrates and starches tend to get a bad reputation when it comes to healthy eating and dieting. While certain carbohydrates are better choices than others, some of the best choices are easiest on the wallet. Brown rice is one of the top whole grain choices, costing approximately 18 cents per serving. Its high fiber content has been proven to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Quinoa

Quinoa, which costs about 66 cents per serving, is another budget-friendly and health-conscious choice as far as whole grains go. Like brown rice, it is high in fiber. It is also gluten- and wheat-free, making it easily digestible – a big bonus for those with gastrointestinal illness or sensitivity.

Eggs

While meat is one of the most widely obtained sources of protein, it is not the sole option. Eggs tend to wind up with a bad reputation because of the fat and cholesterol content in the yolks. However, many nutritionists argue that this fat is a good fat and is necessary for optimal health. Eggs, while dense in nutrients and packed with protein, are also light on the wallet, costing about 22 cents each.

Chicken

Another budget-friendly protein option is chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cost approximately 83 cents per serving. While most dietitians recommend purchasing organic chicken to minimize ingestion of antibiotics, it does raise the price to around $1 per serving.

Spinach

People try different ways to consume the recommended servings of vegetables every day. Spinach contains extensive amounts of vitamins K and A, as well as B vitamins. It increases energy and improves the condition of the blood. All of those benefits come at around only 85 cents per serving.

Sweet Potatoes

Vegetables don’t always have to be green. Sweet potatoes have been touted as one of the healthiest foods in existence. They are a good source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, as well as vitamin C, fiber and potassium, and they only cost about 50 cents each.

Bananas

Fruit tends to be one of the food groups that gets pushed to the side. While it isn’t a main source of sustenance of a meal, fruit is easy to incorporate into other foods or have alone as a snack. Bananas, costing approximately 20 cents each, are some of the most versatile fruits. You can eat them on their own, you can freeze them, you can blend them into smoothies or you can mix them into other things, such as yogurt or oatmeal. Bananas are a great source of potassium and can provide some natural energy.

Oranges

Oranges, costing around 36 cents each, are also a great fruit option. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in oranges help to calm inflammation and strengthen immunity.

Yogurt

Dietitians recommend avoiding sugars, sugar substitutes and syrups that tend to be in flavored yogurt. Plain yogurt, costing around 59 cents per serving, is a better buy. Take it up a notch and choose plain Greek yogurt – it’s a bit more expensive, but it packs a ton of protein. The probiotic content in yogurt is high, and it aids in digestion and gastrointestinal health.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is also a good source of protein, as well as vitamins A and D. It typically costs around 50 cents per serving, and, as with yogurt, it is less expensive when purchased in bulk containers rather than individual portion-sized cups.

Reasons Renting Is Better Than Buying

A lifelong goal many citizens strive to achieve is homeownership. While many people in North America own their own homes today, this wasn’t always the case. Historically, families either needed to build their own homes or rent a home from someone else. While both renting and buying have their own sets of financial advantages, renting does appear to have an edge when the economy is poor. There are tremendous financial benefits to renting as opposed to buying a house of your own. Here is a look at ten reasons why renters can have the better financial deal than homeowners.

No Maintenance Costs or Repair Bills

A definite advantage renters have over homeowners is that they have no maintenance costs or repair bills to pay off. When you rent a property, your landlord is responsible for all maintenance and repair costs. If an appliance stops working or your roof starts to leak, you do not have any financial responsibility to have these things fixed. Homeowners, on the other hand, are responsible for all of their own repair, maintenance and renovation costs. Depending on what the repair is, these costs can be quite extensive.

Access to Amenities

Another financial benefit to renting, over buying a house of your own is having access to amenities that would otherwise be an enormous expense. Luxuries such as an in-ground pool or a fitness center come standard at many midscale to upscale apartment complexes with no additional charge to tenants. If a homeowner wants to match these amenities, he or she can expect to pay thousands of dollars in installation and maintenance costs. Similarly, condo-owners need to pay monthly fees to pay for access to these amenities.

No Real Estate Taxes

An obvious benefit that renters have over homeowners is that they do not have to pay real estate taxes. Real estate taxes can be a hefty burden for homeowners and vary by county. Although property tax calculations can be complex, they are determined based on the estimated property value of your house. With houses getting larger and larger, property taxes can be a significant financial burden.

No Big Down Payment

Another area where renters have the better financial deal is upon signing. When purchasing a house with a mortgage, you’re required to have a sizable downpayment, ideally 20%.

However, you do not have to have a huge down payment saved up to move into a rental property. While the exact amount you need to move in varies from case to case, the total amount is significantly less than you would need to buy a house.

According to a graph released by the New York Times, many landlords require a rental deposit equal to the amount of one month’s rent while a down payment for a house is much higher. For example, with a 5% deposit on a house that has a market value of $175,000 your move-in costs start at $8,750, which is much more than the average one-month rent rate. Also, those buying will want to save up much more than 5% for their initial down payment because the bigger the down payment, the better. In short, bigger down payments can save you thousands of dollars in interest.

Shaky Market Creating More Renters

While many experts claim the U.S. Housing market is making a full recovery, others aren’t so sure. An article written by International Business Times claims that the market is just now stabilizing and the word ‘recovery’ is unwarranted. As foreclosures continue, many citizens are scared off of buying altogether. By renting, citizens are avoiding potentially owing a mortgage that is more than the house’s worth.

Decreasing Property Value

Property values go up and down, and while this may affect homeowners in a big way, it affects renters substantially less if at all. Home value determines the amount of property taxes you pay, the amount of your mortgage and more. In a rocky housing market, renters are not as adversely affected.

Flexibility to Downsize

In today’s economy, many people struggle to make ends meet. By renting, citizens have the option to downgrade into a more affordable living space at the end of their lease. When you are a homeowner, it is much more difficult to break free of an expensive house because of the fees involved with buying and selling a home.

Fixed Rent Amount

Rent amounts are fixed for the span of the lease agreement. While landlords can raise the rent with notice, you can budget more efficiently since you know the amount of rent you are required to pay. Meanwhile, mortgages and the amount of the property tax can fluctuate.

Lower Insurance Costs

While homeowners need to maintain a homeowner’s insurance policy, renters would be wise to invest in a renter’s insurance policy. Luckily for renters, renter’s insurance is much cheaper, and it covers quite a lot. The average cost of renter’s insurance is just $12 per month, according to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. Meanwhile, the average homeowner’s insurance policy cost ranges between $25 to $80 per month.

Lower Utility Costs

With homes getting larger and larger, it is often much more affordable to heat and power an apartment or small rental home as opposed to a larger home. Rental properties typically have a more compact floor plan, and renters can expect lower utility costs.

The Bottom Line

While owning a home may be beneficial for citizens over a long period, for many people renting is the better option. There are plenty of examples that show how renting can save consumers a considerable amount of money. The choice of whether to rent or buy your own home is a personal one. Before making a hasty move, review the details and make the financial decision that is right for you and your family.

Should you Pay Off your Mortgage Early?

A few years ago, my wife and I paid off our mortgage early.

This is the first we’ve broadly shared it.

We purchased our home for $185K and made a 25% down payment (effectively allowing us to avoid PMI). That left us with a 15-year mortgage of about $140K. The interest rate on the balance at the time we took out the loan was 5.83%.

We could have gone with the standard 30-year mortgage, maximizing the overrated mortgage tax deduction we all hear about.

pay off mortgage earlyWe could have re-financed once or more, at the cost of a few thousand dollars each time, to lower our interest rate.

And we could have done as most others do and “up-sized” to another home after a few years (on the contrary, we had already done the opposite and down-sized after buying too big of a home the first go-round.)

Thankfully, we did none of those things. Instead, we executed a mortgage payoff with 11 years remaining. Let’s call it the “4-year mortgage”.

Here’s why we did it:

1. Paying Off your Mortgage Early Results in Guaranteed Returns

Guaranteed returns, even if small, are still guaranteed.

If we had kept our mortgage for the full length of the loan, we would have averaged 5.83% in interest payments per year (or about 3.25% if we had paid the fees to go the refi route).

That’s far better than the near zero interest rate returns we’ve seen on CD’s, savings accounts, and money market accounts.

And it looks even better when you consider interest versus principle payments for the first half of the loan. Amortization schedules lead to you paying nearly one-third (15-year mortgage) or two-thirds (30-year mortgage) of your monthly payments towards interest instead of principle for a number of years. Banks win, you lose.

2. No Mortgage Payoff Penalty

Many mortgage lenders will pre-emptively try to block you from paying off a mortgage early by putting in a penalty-clause for early mortgage pay-down. This can be negotiated away by simply saying, “I won’t sign if all mortgage payoff penalties are not removed from the contract”. We did, and removing this negative reinforcement penalty freed (and motivated) us to pay off our mortgage as early as we could.

3. Enhanced Cash Flow Brings New Opportunity

By making the move, we were strengthening our balance sheet considerably. Paying off the mortgage early effectively wiped out almost half of our expenses. This allowed us to save more than ever before. This went a long ways towards my wife being able to quit her job and go back to school to become a nurse.

We had already known how tough things can get when you unexpectedly lose a job. If one of us had lost a job after paying off our mortgage? We’d have gotten by just fine with the enhanced cash flow. It’s a game changer. And a huge stress reliever.

4. It Helped Prevent Lifestyle Creep

If we had ever had the urge to “upgrade” and move in to a bigger, nicer, sexier home, it would have come at a big expense – going from zero mortgage back to a mortgage. We rather liked our new less-burdensome lives. Paying off our mortgage early created a massive disincentive to get sucked in by lifestyle creep.

5. Freedom!

Last, but definitely not least, paying off our largest debt was an incredible weight off our shoulders. The liberation in doing so is hard to describe in words.

Note: many financial gurus will encourage you not to make this move, and invest your savings instead. In hindsight, if I had instead invested 100% of what I put into paying off the balance, I would have financially come out ahead. But there were no guarantees that would be the case. And if I had gone that route, I would have missed out on all of the lifestyle improvements highlighted here. So, crunch the numbers for your own analysis and factor that in to your personal decision – we have to choose what is best for us individually.

Related Posts:

3 Problems Stunting Entrepreneurship Across the U.S.

Entrepreneurship seems to be on the rise. The rate of new entrepreneurs has increased by more than 15 percent in the last two years, and the proportion of new entrepreneurs driven primarily by opportunity (rather than need) reached 84 percent in 2015. But if this last election has taught us anything, it’s that the opportunity and promise of the American dream isn’t reaching everyone. Large numbers of Americans, including rural populations, those with limited education opportunities and minorities, are simply being skipped over.

The President is a man who seems fascinated and driven by the idea of legacy, not to mention someone who prides himself on his entrepreneurial journey. While his total potential term may be eight years, he could create a foundation for entrepreneurialism and job growth that extends far beyond any factory deal with Carrier or Intel.

To do that, this administration should recognize the problems impacting the very Americans who put them in power, and put policies in place to correct them.

Related: How Student Loans Are Crushing Millennial Entrepreneurialism

1. Affordable education solves obsolescence

The great jobs boogeyman in the U.S. isn’t an immigrant, it’s a robot. According to a White House report, 83 percent of the jobs where people make less than $20 per hour will be subject to automation or replacement.

We need to educate unskilled workers to succeed at tasks that aren’t quickly disappearing. We should be thinking of contextual, interpersonal and creative skills, not to mention many new and developing skillsets around the automation ecosystem itself. Additionally, graduates should tap into the realistic opportunities available while also getting an education on running a business.

By developing curriculum around how to run a business effectively, budding entrepreneurs will not only build more businesses themselves, but also tap the talents of others — the class of graduates that are self-employed as freelancers or soloprenuers.

Related: How Changes to Net Neutrality Laws Could Affect Small Businesses

2. Millions lack internet access.

For some American would-be entrepreneurs, there’s still a substantial hurdle to overcome, and it’s something almost anyone reading this takes for granted; internet access.

In 1977, more than two out of every ten U.S. startups were in rural areas. Today, when high-speed internet service is a business essential, that ratio is just over one in ten. The reality is that 39 percent of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to broadband internet speeds. Rural areas often receive “hand me down” equipment after it has been used in larger urban areas, which means rural internet service is forever behind the times.

Joel Young runs his video and animation business out of his rural Ohio home where he struggles with unreliable connectivity and speeds a fraction of what urban and suburban communities get. Joel’s is the exact kind of business that could flourish in a rural area, pulling in customers from a global marketplace without relying on local demand, but without reliable access and equal speed, businesses like Joel’s struggle to ever get off the ground and simply don’t have the same chances to succeed.

The Obama Administration introduced the National Broadband Plan in 2010, following the example of previous generations that brought electricity and telephone connectivity to every home in the country. They understood universal access is crucial for the development of the country. While President Trump and Congressional leaders have made statements around infrastructure spending, the FCC is killing a program to bring high-speed internet to low-income households with children. You could argue the administration is working against expanding crucial infrastructure.

Related: Repealing Obamacare Will be a Disaster for Freelancers and Entrepreneurs Who Rely on Them

3. Packing a backup chute.

Providing the education and the internet access for budding entrepreneurs creates opportunity, but what about stability? Fiftyfive million Americans work independently and another 23 million are self employed entrepreneurs already. President Trump and his administration need to create a foundation that allows for the new ways people work.

That means looking beyond just health insurance to create options for new entrepreneurs and non-employer businesses to reach their potential without sacrificing their well-being. A 2008 Harvard study revealed that 11 million Americans were in “job lock,” meaning they kept their jobs only for fear of losing health coverage if they quit. The iron bond between your job and your health insurance stunts entrepreneursh and undermines the dynamism of the U.S, reducing the number of startups that hire workers and boost the economy.

As an Israeli, I often hear people refer to the book Startup Nation. It’s a good book, but it’s more of a history lesson than anything else at this point. The dynamics of economies simply move too fast, and the landscape has already changed. Updating curriculum that can adapt to future work demands, delivering internet access throughout the U.S. and shifting the safety net to be in line with the ways people are actually working should be major building blocks to create long term job growth in the United States. Not just for individual families, businesses and entrepreneurs, but for the entire country.

This absolutely requires great political courage and capital to carry out, and it won’t be easy. But then again, isn’t that the exact stuff legacy is made out of?

Top of Mind: 6 Ways to Find Pure, Uninterrupted Flow

Commit to finding focus and achieving your best work.
6 Ways to Find Pure, Uninterrupted Flow
Every morning I create a daily design, which is an outline of my upcoming day. I write down exactly how I want it to unfold. I email my daily design to a group of close friends who help me stay accountable for what I’m creating. At night I go back through my design and tell the truth about what actually happened in the day versus what I said would happen. Creating a daily design allows me to be the source of my day’s creation instead of simply acting in response to it.—Lauren Zander, co-founder of The Handel Group, author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap. Face Your Fears. Love Your Life.

Meditation and journaling. I’ve been meditating for years but have consistently practiced for only the last two years or so. Journaling is something I started doing again after being prompted on one of our wellness tours, and it really opened up my creativity.

—Linden Schaffer, founder and director of Pravassa, author of Living Well on the Road

Prioritization is critical for achieving flow in my workday. There will always be unplanned interruptions, so it is important to look at your to-do’s first thing in the morning, and make sure you accomplish the musts even with each last-minute emergency that arises. I use Trello to view and prioritize my daily tasks to achieve this.

—Candice Lu, co-founder, OnPrem Solution Partners

To ensure a positive workflow on a daily basis, I schedule group meetings on specific days of the week to ensure the bulk of information is shared at once, allowing for the rest of meetings to be quick, ad-hoc ones that happen sporadically. So that I don’t interrupt myself for smaller, less time-sensitive items, I set aside dedicated time to check and reply to emails instead of answering them as they come in, and use a note-taking app to jot down quick ideas that pop up throughout the day.

—Hongwei Liu, CEO, co-founder of mappedin

I try to get a good night’s sleep and not skip out on breakfast in the morning. It’s important to have a to-do list of what your priorities are. There are always so many things to get done that it’s a good idea to set deadlines for yourself.

—Jake Kassan, CEO, co-founder of MVMT Watches

I start my day early and have become comfortable with owning that even if it might raise some eyebrows—and by early, I mean 3 a.m. When I start in that quiet, still time of the day, I get all of my most challenging work done by 6 a.m., which gives me the rest of the day to be more creative, think about new flavors and marketing ideas, spend time keeping abreast of new trends in the beverage industry, and observe customers engaging with my product in the grocery store. This way, I can ensure I have afternoons free to spend with my kids when school gets out.

—Bella Hughes, president, co-founder of Shaka Tea

Related: Flow Makes Life Better—So Go with It (Here’s How)

 

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

 

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