Hello everyone. Today’s article is a guest post from Chris who is a financial blogger at moneysupermarket.com. He works in the insurance industry but specialises in life insurance, and can often be found either halfway up or halfway down a hill on a bike, panicking or sweating (depending on which way he’s going).
I’m not that special to look at, really.
I’m a couple of stone (at least) overweight, I drive a slightly knackered 8 year old car with dodgy fuel consumption and an engine warning light illuminated and I live in a shared house with three friends.
I’m hardly Hugh Heffner, Johnny Depp or Richard Branson.
I am, however, in far better shape both financially and physically than I was six months ago, when I was probably eight stone overweight and lived in a house that was subsiding so badly that if you dropped a pen on the floor, it would roll away.
You see, over the last few months I’ve been on a diet, both financially and physically. It’s been hard work, I don’t mind admitting – but it’s been totally worth it.
So, what have I done to achieve this? Settle down and I’ll tell you.
First of all, I started eating properly. My old diet used to consist of sauces from jars, food from takeaways and microwaved things from plastic trays, none of which are fantastic for you. Now, I eat loads of fruit, loads of veg, lots of calcium and lots of fibre, whilst keeping my fat and my sugar intake right down – it’s the Slimming World diet and I wholeheartedly recommend you try it: It’s helped me lose 74lbs in less than 5 months.
I coupled that with hitting the exercise bike, and hard: I was racking up in excess of 40 miles a week at one point– and that made a huge difference to both my weight loss and also my general health. No more panting after climbing a flight of stairs for example – at one time taking my socks off was more effort than it should have been!
The social and personal benefits can’t go unmentioned either – I’m far more confident in myself now, even though I still sometimes surprise myself at spaces I can fit through! I’ve also got a new girlfriend who has been instrumental in making me feel better about myself, mainly by shouting at me every time I get a bit down on myself or call myself a mountain ogre (which I do often).
So, that’s 77 pounds of weight shifted, what have I done to save the pennies?
In honesty, my diet has proven to be a great way to save money on its own – instead of spending 2 or 3 pounds on a microwave meal you can buy enough fresh, raw ingredients to make 3 or 4 days worth of sauce to have with pasta or noodles, and supermarkets quite often do special offers on fruit that make getting your 5 a day a lot cheaper than you’d think.
Cutting down smoking and drinking can make a huge difference to your pocket as well – when you consider that a pint and 20 Marlboro can easily cost you in excess of £10 nowadays, the amount you could save by knocking that on the head is incredible. I’ve quit both, and to be honest I don’t miss them one bit.
I’m saving money on petrol now as well by walking or cycling places when I get the opportunity – short journeys are the ones that really hurt your car’s fuel consumption, so if I’m only going a mile or two then I go by feet or by pedal power.
The amount of little things you’d never think of are almost innumerable: I no longer have to buy from expensive “Big and Tall” shops or specially order outsize things online: I can shop in the same cheap fashion stores as everyone else.
Obviously, working for moneysupermarket.com I was very aware of the affect that my weight would have on life insurance as well – and I have also discovered while my old BMI would have meant that I would have struggled to get life insurance from anywhere but specialist high risk companies, my new BMI would mean that my premiums would not even be loaded now – at least not on account of my weight (The fact that I am a reasonably new ex-smoker would still affect the costs).
Even taking into account the fact that I pay to go to Slimming World, I estimate that I’m probably £200 a month better off – and when you consider that I won’t have to keep buying new clothes when I finish my diet, that number can only go up!
I’ve got to be honest; the impetus for me doing all this was my life largely falling apart around me and as such I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone – but if you can use the lessons I learned and apply them to your life believe me, you’ll soon be far better off, both financially and physically!