2022 cost of living crisis – 10 ways to protect your health and cash

6th July, 2022 • 13 min read

The 2022 cost of living crisis is hitting hard in the US and the UK with rising food and fuel prices.

Healthily has practical tips and know-how to help you stay healthy and save money and beat the high cost of living.

3 tips for staying healthy during the cost of living crisis

DISCLAIMER: The content of this video is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is for informational purpose only. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen on this video.

1. Ditch takeaways

Whether it’s a cheese crust pizza or a Chinese takeout, fast foods are usually high in calories, fat and salt – and they’re expensive, too.

UK spending on takeaways hit an average of £641 per person in 2021, a 42% increase in 2 years. In the US, the average spending per household on food prepared away from home has hit $2,375 a year.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • cook healthier meals from scratch. That way you can control the amount of fat, salt and sugar you use, and save money by not paying someone else’s overheads and delivery costs. Follow
    7 healthy dinner ideas for 2
    and
    Eat Well for Less 20 tips for inspiration on how to cook healthy
    , tasty meals on a budget
  • need healthy meals inspiration or cost-saving tips? Why not join the
    Healthily community
    ?
  • good food doesn’t need to be expensive. Stock up on tins of sardines or mackerel, which are high in omega-3 fats to keep your heart healthy. They have a long shelf-life, quick and easy to eat and are less expensive than ready meals
  • if you’re time-poor or don’t enjoy cooking, use the prep time to listen to your favourite music or podcast or catch up with your partner’s day so you’re multitasking

2. Make savings on your gym membership

Gym memberships are expensive especially if, like many people, you don’t use them enough – with busy working days it can be hard to squeeze in sessions or remember to book a class.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • shop around – budget gyms offer flexible payment methods, or swap to an off-peak package for a pay-as-you-go deal
  • with the cost of living so high, get outside for a walk or run… you’ll burn calories, improve your mood, relieve stress and reduce your risk of heart disease – without any expense. Read more about
    running
    and
    how to get fit for free
  • sign up for a weekly
    Parkrun UK
    or
    Parkrun US
    – a free 5K event that you can walk or run and get support and encouragement from your local community. Or join 5 million others and sign up to the
    NHS Couch to 5K programme
    , a popular way to get started
  • research in 2018 from
    STRAVA
    (the online running and cycling network) found 94% of those who set a goal were active 9 months later. For a small subscription (£29.99 per year or £5.99 per month) the
    Healthily Self Care App
    provides 28-day exercise plans, goal setting tools and trackers. Try it free for 7 days
  • following our
    tips for ways to exercise, even if you’re too busy

Find more information on how to stay healthy during the cost of living crisis with our

complete Guide
.

3. Save money on medicines

Buying household self-care products can be expensive, particularly if you have a chronic condition, but you can stay well stocked-up for less if you get savvy and find drugs with identical ingredients, in many cases at much cheaper prices.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • ask your pharmacist about cheaper generics to branded drugs (this just means the original drug company’s patent has expired and other companies can compete to make the same drug for less)
  • compare active ingredient labels (these are the ones that matter) on painkillers, antihistamines and other self-care basics. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save by opting for own-label products
  • find out more about the
    essentials to stock in your home medicine cabinet
  • buy a season ticket for prescriptions – in the UK, NHS prescription charges are now £9.35 per item in England, so costs can soon rack up, especially if you have a chronic health condition and are on several different types of medication. A prescription prepayment certificate can save you money. It costs £30.25 for 3 months and £108.10 for 12 months, and can be bought online from pharmacies
  • ask the pharmacist if the drug you’ve been prescribed is cheaper to buy than the prescription charge (some items are)

4. Save on sanitary products

Period poverty is real – 137,700 schoolgirls missed school in 2021 because their families couldn’t afford to buy sanitary products. Over 50% of girls in the UK said they couldn’t afford sanitary protection at some point during the last year.

The problem is the same in the US. One study in Missouri, conducted in 2019, found nearly two thirds (64%) of women couldn’t afford menstrual products, with many of those saying they had to use rags or paper towels from public toilets instead.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • choose a reusable product such as
    period pants, menstrual cups or washable pads
    . One commentator said a menstrual cup can save you more than $1,000 (£815) over 10 years and you’ll be helping to protect the environment, too
  • see if you can get products for free. There are schemes giving sanitary products away through schools and universities in the UK, plus supermarkets like Morrisons and Lidl are now offering free period products if you need them when you’re out and about. Food banks can also supply them. For example, the US city of Dallas has introduced a programme to supply free period products in deprived areas via public recreation facilities, libraries and community centres

5. Make car journeys shorter

Fuel costs are rocketing – gas prices are breaking records in the US and, in the UK, it now costs almost £100 to fill up your car. It’s making many of us think twice about driving, especially for short trips to the shops, school or work.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • walking daily in 10-minute blocks can help stop you developing long-term conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. Walking briskly can also help build up your stamina, burn calories and make your heart healthier
  • walk the kids to school. There are badge incentive schemes to encourage children to walk to school run by the charity
    Living Streets in the UK
    . Or set up / join a walking bus school group, where adults volunteer to accompany a
    walking crocodile of kids
    . Both also help cut air pollution from fuel emissions, another hazard to our health
  • cycling regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as boost your mood and improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. In the UK, you can ask about employer cycle-to-work schemes, which offer interest-free loans to buy a bike, or tax incentives if you cycle
  • set up a car sharing group/ carpool to share lifts and costs with neighbours.
    Community car share
    schemes cost from £5 an hour
  • do the math – if you only use your car for a weekly trip to the supermarket you may be better off paying for an online delivery or using a taxi/cab

6. Cut out smoking and manage drinking alcohol

It’s a no-brainer – smoking causes lung cancer and a whole host of other health problems, and it costs a fortune, too. After quitting, any coughing, wheezing or breathing problems will be improving within 3 to 9 months as your lung function increases by up to 10%. After 1 year, your risk of a heart attack will have halved compared with a smoker.

However, in our

Healthily Cost of living survey
just 6% of our UK respondents and 9% of US respondents said they’d cut back on smoking, whereas 10% in the UK and 32% in the US said that worryinging about the cost of living had meant they were actually smoking more.

Alcoholic drinks also eat up a fair slice of household spending. In the US, the amount spent on alcohol per head is $671 per year. In the UK, average household spending is £17.60 a week – nearly £1,000 annually.

In our survey, British women reported cutting back on alcohol (16% compared to 12% in the US) whereas 20% of American women said they were drinking more.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • quit smoking and put the money you’d spend on cigarettes in a savings pot – at the end of the year, you’ll have enough for a holiday or to help pay off a credit card. If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day at £12 a pack, this will cost you £42 a week, £180 a month or £2,190 a year. Find out more about ways to get support when you give up in our article on
    coping with cigarette cravings
  • in America, if you are having 2 alcoholic drinks 5 days a week, you’ll save approx $2,600 a year if you stop. In the UK, even if you’re drinking within healthy guidelines, buying 6 glasses of wine from a pub will cost you around £24 a week (£1,248 a year). If you drink at home, the same amount will cost you £8.40 a week or £436 a year. Double this figure if your partner drinks, too
  • if you binge drink, not only will your costs shoot up but it’s bad for your health. Excessive drinking can affect your mood and memory and has been linked to long-term health problems including becoming dependent on alcohol, alcohol-related cancer and heart disease. Read this article for
    tips on how to cut down

7. Get on top of bad sleep

Sleeping better will improve your mental health and help you cope with the pressures of balancing your budget. If, like 64% of women we spoke to in our Cost of Living survey, worrying about paying the bills is keeping you awake at night, break the cycle with some simple self-help tips.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

8. Shop around for private healthcare

The cost of private healthcare is rising along with everything else, and millions who pay for some or all of their medical care are footing the bill.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • Sesame
    , the US-based health supestore for healthcare, provides convenient, high quality full scope medical care at affordable prices. The platform can help you find the best price with great doctors near you in the US
  • in the UK, use
    price comparison sites
    to get different health insurance quotes for top-up private care to the NHS. Private medical insurance can cover planned operations, consultations and operations

9. Swap salon stressbusters for DIY mood boosters

Salon treatments such as massages and reiki, booked as an antidote to stress, can help you chill and recharge – but can also make a serious dent in your finances.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • for inspiration for your own DIY spa experience, check out
    6 ways to live a calmer life
    and
    8 ways to quickly relieve stress
  • exercise in green space for a positive effect on your mental health, say mental health experts Mind. It can have many benefits including improving your mood, reducing feelings of stress, help you relax you and help improve your confidence and self-esteem. Try a walk in the park to soothe your stress. Some GP surgeries also run free walking groups you can join
  • gardening is good exercise, gets you out in nature and is a mindful task that helps distract you from stress. Research has shown that people who garden everyday have wellbeing scores 6.6% higher and stress levels 4.2% lower than people who don’t garden at all. An added bonus is you can grow your own fruit and veg to help reduce your food bills. If you haven’t got a garden, why not join a community gardening project, apply for an allotment or offer to help out an elderly friend or neighbour?

10. Get free eye tests and dental care

It’s recommended that most of us should have our eyes tested every 2 years (more frequently for certain groups). Dental check ups should also be done every 6 months to 2 years, depending on the health of your teeth and gums. Yet in our Cost of Living survey, around half of women polled in both the US and UK said they were cutting back on visits to the dentist to save money.

Healthy cash-savers

Beat the 2022 cost of living increase

  • check if you can get a free eye test. In England, if you are under 16 (or 19 if you’re in full-time education), over 60, or have certain medical conditions which affect your eyes including diabetes or glaucoma, you can get a free test. Eye tests are free to everyone in Scotland. In the US there are a number of national programmes that offer free or low cost eye tests including
    Eye Care America
    , which offers free eye tests to over 65s at risk of glaucoma. Another is
    Vision USA
    .
    Lions Club International
    may also be able to help and
    Medicaid
    may cover some costs
  • ask your employer to pay for an eye test. If you work with computers or visual display units, UK Health and Safety Executive regulations mean you could be eligible for an eye test paid for by your employer and also a contribution towards the cost of glasses
  • some opticians also offer free eye tests – check online for offers
  • if you’re in the UK, check if you can get free dental care on the
    NHS
    . To find out more about how to access free and low-cost dental care in the US, check out this advice for details of community-funded health centres

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.