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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Live Healthy on a Retirement Budget

By Mary Jo DiLonardo
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

You don't have to worry about keeping your healthy habits if you're on a retirement budget. You can eat well and stay fit without breaking the bank.

Eating Well at a Low Cost

Healthy eating isn't expensive, says AARP savings expert Jeff Yeager, author of How to Retire the Cheapskate Way.

"Many of the healthiest foods we should be eating happen to cost the least on a per-pound basis, like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables," Yeager says. He tries to spend less than $1 per pound on most of the foods he eats.  

Do this at the grocery store:

  • Base your weekly menus on the sale items.
  • Check the store's ads. The best deals are usually on the front page, Yeager says.
  • Shop the frozen food aisles. Frozen vegetables are as healthy as fresh, and they're cheaper and last longer.
  • Seafood isn't usually cheap. Try less popular, but very healthy types of fish such as mackerel and sardines. They're rich in good-for-you omega-3s.
  • Shop on days when grocery stores give seniors extra discounts.


Keep Active for Free

You don't need a gym to exercise and stay fit. Walking is a great, free way to stay active.

Walk with friends around your neighborhood or in the mall if the weather isn't great. You'll motivate each other, says Tiffany Hughes, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, an expert on aging. "Make it a social event, which can have benefits for your overall health and your brain health," she says.

If you'd rather go to a class or a group workout, call around. Many gyms have lower rates for seniors. Some community centers, churches, and universities offer inexpensive fitness classes for people in their 50s and older.

Save on Drugs

Never stop taking medication because you want to cut your bills.

Talk to your doctor to see if there are generic or less expensive versions of prescription medicines that you can take. And always ask for free samples when you visit your doctor.

If you don't have insurance and can't afford your prescriptions, you can apply for help from drug companies that offer free medications through patient assistance programs.

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