Latest Frugal Hobby: Gym

When it comes to pursuing financial independence, nothing can secure our route more so than having a healthy level of frugality in our lives. To help everyone in that effort, I’ve been documenting my frugal hobbies and this is the latest in my series. This post will focus on my latest frugal hobby, the gym, and the 4 money benefits you can gain from any gym.

As the great blogger and early retiree, Mr. Money Mustache, described his approach to Staying Fit with No Gym in Site, our brain and our body have a nasty way of linking together.

A comforting thought would be to think our brain is separate from our body, capable of stepping up and beyond the myriad of confusing emotions our body experiences.

We are intelligent and enlightened and can think clearly…………..right?

Well, the evidence out there suggests our bodies and our minds are much more connected than many believe.

From a primal point of view, our brain is being influenced by the foods we eat, the places we go, and the activities we engage in. Watching television for 6-8 hours like the average American will yield a much different financial result than spending that amount of time reading a money book.

4 Money Benefits from any Gym

Going to the gym is one of those things many of us can agree is good for us, but likely, fail to implement. I count myself in this group, despite having competed in a half dozen triathlons. I still find it a challenge, especially during Chicago winters.

One benefit is coupling gym time with audiobooks – this approach has netted me at least 50 books in my lifetime, so I highly encourage it on days where you don’t need music.

To gain the benefits of reading in the gym, I often link audiobooks up to my phone and listen while in the gym. In the past, I’ve even picked up $1 audiobooks and listened via cassettes. Old school!

Another great frugal benefit of the gym is it acts as a form of preventative healthcare.

Fortune is a cruel mistress, capable of striking us down at any moment. To push back against many negative future events, we can strengthen our bodies. Bonus: by strengthening our bodies, we are also strengthening our minds.

The third, and possibly most obvious, is the gym keeps us from spending. Of course we need some basic gear such as shoes and socks, but if we stick with the basics, we can eliminate impulsive purchases.

A common “hack,” I would use early in my life would be to squeeze in a work out after work on a Friday when everyone else went to Happy Hour.

I would skip the initial meet up time at happy hour and arrive to join the party an hour or 90 minutes later. Barely anyone noticed and I actually was often complimented for working so late at the office on a Friday. 😉

The last big benefit to being in the gym is the simple benefit of hard work.

With our bodies, we tend to see results after many, many days of repetitive activity. We will not become sluggish overnight if we slam our first pizza of the year. Similarly, we will not instantly be healthy if we opt for a salad instead of a cheeseburger after a single meal.

These decisions take time to compound, but they do compound. The small 0.0001% change we make today on our body will put us in a slightly better position tomorrow. In time, the changes become noticeable and eventually, remarkable.

Being in the gym has refocused my efforts towards optimizing my financial lifestyle along with my overall lifestyle.

Does the gym play into your financial plan? Do you consider the gym as one of your frugal hobbies?


9 comments… add one
  • Steveark Jun 25, 2017, 10:28 am

    Can’t argue that exercise isn’t good for you. I’ve logged over 20,000 miles running and countless competitive tennis matches over the last few decades in addition to hiking and aggressive skiing. However I’m not sure it cut my healthcare costs at all. I can tie almost every injury and emergency room visit or surgical procedure I’ve had to a sports injury. Broken bones, concussions, torn tendons, ligaments and muscles including some really weird stuff nobody had ever heard of. Apart from sports injuries and repetitive movement and overuse disorders I’m not sure I’ve ever had to seek medical treatment. And I don’t think I’m that much of an aberration, almost every fit person who exercises I know has had a serious injury requiring expensive medical intervention. But I also think we will generally live longer if we don’t kill ourselves working out!

  • Jay Jun 25, 2017, 10:51 am

    Totally agree with this Matt! Exercise pays in so many great ways. I am a big runner for exactly the reasons you’ve described: I love listening to educational podcasts and audiobooks, it takes up a lot of time in a productive and low-cost way and it makes me healthier overall to better enjoy the rest of my life.

    Love the frugal habits series idea too! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  • Diligent Dividend Jun 25, 2017, 11:16 am

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. I spend on average 5-8 hours per week at the gym and it puts me in such a good mood. It keeps me from spending money on sully things also. Plus the beget of health and physical fulfilment. Win win all around.

  • Ryan @ JustAnotherDollar Jun 25, 2017, 2:09 pm

    We definitely utilize the gym provided at our apartment community during the winter months, but in the summer we try to spend as much of our active time outside. We set aside time for 30-60 minutes a day to walk around the neighborhood at the very least. I’ve found that staying active is my key to being motivated. If I take a week off without breaking a sweat, I basically end up worthless.

  • Counting Quarters Jun 25, 2017, 4:35 pm

    Going to the gym (in my case the boxing gym) has a relaxing effect. Its hard to put it into words but it not only helps me de-stress but helps me focus my thoughts. It is also a lot cheaper than most of the gyms in my area. And there is just something so satisfying about punching something.

  • Brad - Maximize Your Money Jun 26, 2017, 6:41 am

    This is a great reminder! I set a 2017 goal of hitting the gym at least 3/week and I’m closer to 2x (some weeks just once :<). I need to buckle down and hold myself accountable to getting there more consistently. My podcast list is growing faster than I'm listening to them for sure. Thanks for the nudge.

  • Dividend Diplomats Jun 26, 2017, 6:02 pm

    DD –

    Hands down it does. Love listening to podcasts, and it allows you to really focus in how you are mentally and physically doing. You’re energy levels are that much better, as well, throughout the day and week – allowing you to tackle more financial projects that will yield even more results. I agree, it plays in, big time.


  • Rethink Retired Jun 27, 2017, 8:07 am

    Used to go to the gym all the time, now after work the first thing I do is throw on my shoes and go for a walk with my wife. Usually put on 4-5 miles and it’s a great way to catch up on the day and get moving at the same time.

  • Lance @ My Strategic Dollar Jun 29, 2017, 7:20 am

    Definitely agree here! I work out pretty frequently and would never throw away my gym membership. This doesn’t apply to everyone – if you have a membership but aren’t going, either start going or get rid of it!

Leave a Comment

View the Best Finance Blogs