How to Save Over $1,500 a Year and Improve Your Health

Last Updated Jan 11, 2011 6:25 PM EST

I've previously written about how to improve the odds of sticking to your New Year's resolutions when it comes to saving more for retirement and improving your eating habits. Now let's put together these two topics together for a win-win idea.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average household spends about $6,133 on food each year. So what if we simply started spending less money on food by eating less and socking that savings away for retirement? Stay with me while I explain just how easy this can be.

According to various sources, the average daily caloric intake for Americans ranges from 2,475 to 2,618 for men, and from 1,833 to 1,877 for women. Other sources show far higher numbers -- over 3,700 per day -- although it's unclear if these numbers also include food that was produced but never consumed (i.e. wasted food).

The recommended caloric intake for men and women also varies depending on who's providing the information. For men, the numbers seem to range between 1,800 and 2,200 calories per day for men, and between 1,200 and 1,600 calories per day for women.

Whichever set of numbers you decide to use, though, it's safe to say that Americans are eating way too much food. And our obesity statistics -- more than two-thirds of the population of the U.S. are overweight -- back up this conclusion.

So what if you simply consumed 25 percent fewer calories? Doing so would shave more than $1,500 off your annual food budget, money you could then save for retirement.

And the savings wouldn't stop there. By eating less food, you would most likely avoid becoming obese and hopefully avoid many of the medical problems associated with obesity, including heart disease and diabetes. By taking better care of yourself, you'd probably spend a lot less money on medical bills over your lifetime as well.

Need a few ideas about how to trim your food bill? Review my prior post on New Year's resolutions to eat better.

Hopefully these insights help you stick to your New Year's resolutions to save more for retirement and improve your eating habits. Make these habits stick, and you'll live long and prosper!

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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Retirement Game-Changers: Strategies for a Healthy, Financially Secure and Fulfilling Long Life and Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck.