As university students, we are not the most wealthy population in the world. While some students maintain part time jobs or temporary paid-internships, most of us simply go to school. This means money is a factor in our everyday lives.

We try to be careful where we spend each and every hard earned dollar, so sometimes sacrifices are made. However, your kitchen and your body should not be included in the sacrifice.

A popular belief is that it takes a significant amount of money in order to eat and live healthy. This, however, is a myth.

Did you know you can live a healthy lifestyle while still being broke as joke? That is right. For $20, you can eat fresh vegetables, fruit, real meat and side dishes all week long. Did you know you can receive similar, if not better, results from exercising in your home or outdoors versus a gym?How is all that possible? The key is educate yourself about your surroundings and grab opportunities as they come.

For example, have you traveled to your local Dollar Tree lately? This is not the store that we traveled to as children in order to get copious amounts of toys and candy. The Dollar Tree has expanded tremendously over the past ten years, especially when it comes to their food options. Not only do they carry name-brand nonperishables and bread, but they also have a freezer section stocked full of frozen veggies, frozen fruits, dairy milk, eggs, microwave meals, ice cream and frozen meat such as steak, fish and chicken. Yes, they are all one dollar each. What a steal.

Carry $20 into the Dollar Tree and you can leave with ingredients for morning smoothies, a loaf of whole wheat bread and a can of tuna for lunch, frozen salmon and green beans for dinner, and almonds and pretzels for snacking for the whole week.

Taking adavntage of those grocery store loyalty cards is also a great way to save money. Store chains such as Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods and Harris Teeter provide generous weekly discounts for those who check out with the store’s card. Get your fresh vegetables and fruits from these places, especially when they are on sale. Fresh produce are much healthier than frozen produce and a lot more healthier than canned produce.

Harris Teeter even has a promotion where you can hook up your student id card with your VIC card and receive 5 percent off every time you shop.

One tip that I suggest is giving your favorite grocery store your email so you can receive a weekly newsletter about the different sales going on locally. Become aware of the discounts on your favorite fresh vegetables, fruits, or meat. Then, when there is a good sale, stock up. For example, Anjou Pears are on sale for $1.49 per pound this week at Food Lion. Instead of grabbing a two or three fruits for the week, buy two or three pounds. Freeze the remaining of what you will not eat this week, and you’ll have pears for several weeks.

So now you have a refrigerator full of healthy and nutrious foods and you are thinking: “Well I have not broken the bank yet, but this gym membership is sure to do it!” Wrong! Sure, we all know gym memberships can cost $100 and more on a monthly basis, but there are plenty of other ways to workout without paying for a gym.

The outdoors are completely free. Yes, this is common sense, but many people do not realize the outdoor resources that is provided for them. Public parks are a wonderful place to get in a workout. Many parks have paved trails or tracks that are measured by the quarter, half, or full mile so you know how far you have walked or ran.

park run
Reedy Creek Park has great trails for running, including this one with a view of Dragonfly Pond. FILE PHOTO


After you have warmed up on the trail, do not be afraid to venture into the actual play area of the park. If the monkey bars were not a challenging arm exercise, why would the military ultilize them so much? Believe it or not, swinging on swing provides a serious leg workout. Pump your legs to go higher and faster for 15 minutes, then try walking normal. You will feel the difference. Also, climbing up the fireman’s pole is a full body workout in itself. one of the best resources for online exercise material so you can workout in the privacy of your own living room. The BeFit channel is very popular because celebrity trainers like Jilian Michaels provide free workouts every week day. These exercises range from strength training, plyometrics, bootcamp, dance aerobics and yoga.

Syd Vicious is a dance choreographer that has her own channel where she teaches hip hop cardio to a variety of high energy and new radio hits such as Anaconda by Nicki Minaj and Look at Me Now by Chris Brown. Subscribe to her channel if you want to learn some dance moves in preparation for a night out clubbing or if you want a fun, sweaty workout.

Spark People also has a channel that are targeted specifically to those on weight loss journey. The unqiue aspect of this channel is that it contains a wide range of videos from workouts for pregnant women to workouts done entirely in a chair.

And for those people that have no motivation to workout unless they are in a gym, the YMCA have great rates if you do not want to use your school’s gym. College students, 22 years old and under, only pay around $30 a month. Families and single parents have cheaper rates as well. Work a job? Many companies provide scholarship or discounts for their employees monthly payments.

It does not take much money to eat a nutrious breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. As well as, $100 gym passes are in the past. Being healthy does take effort to ultilize your resources. Remember to read the weekly sales paper, visit your local Dollar Tree and take a stroll at your local park and your health and fitness goals will reap the benefits.