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In this episode, Chelsea lets us in on all her secrets for saving on things that feel like they should be expensive — from weight-loss strategies, to learning a new language, to ~luxury~ travel via credit card points.

Reasons people skip their workout:

Married couples & exercise survey:

Customer loyalty programs:

Keeping a food diary:

Living car-free:

Scott's Cheap Flights:

DIY upgrades:

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here:

The Financial Diet site:

Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is brought to you by Lingoda.

And this week I wanted to talk about some of the creative, efficient, and, most importantly, extremely affordable solutions that I've found to problems that used to feel like they would potentially cost me a ton of money. I'm someone who likes to live a life that feels kind of lux, and I'm also someone who tends to be really kind of bad with things like accountability. So solutions to problems that can often be very expensive-- think things like a personal trainer-- can almost start to feel like a necessity if I want to achieve my goals.

But as someone who has no college degree and who has found a lot of workarounds and shortcuts in her professional and personal lives, I can definitely say that usually when it seems like the only answer is a really expensive one, there's probably a cheaper solution. And now, without further ado, seven of the most cost-effective solutions I've found to potentially expensive problems. Number one is accountability groups for finally becoming one of those people who works out.

So I'm one of those people who probably had a pretty typical journey through life when it comes to physical fitness slash exercise. When I was in high school and college, I did a lot of activities that were pretty effortlessly physical. I was dancing.

I did ballroom dance, specifically swing dance. I taught that. I ran a club for that.

In college, I did a lot of theater, including a lot of musical theater, basically all of my life up until 22. And I had other activities in my life that just made it so that I was constantly working out without really trying, and I also had jobs that were always on my feet all day, things like retail and food service. So up until, like, 22, getting regular physical exercise was just a natural part of my life and never really something that I had to think about.

Then from, like, 22 through my late 20's, I got a desk job. I didn't have a very long commute. I took a lot of public transport.

I wasn't driving, but I also wasn't walking a ton. And really, really quickly, without ever noticing it, my physical activity level went pew and basically went to nothing. And for a while, it sort of seemed a little weird to me because I always felt like, well, isn't working out just something that naturally happens?

And then I would go to workout classes, and they would be brutal, and I'd be like, this is terrible. When did this happen to me that I can't even run a mile without feeling like I'm going to die? And so for a long time, it felt like there was never going to be a way to get into regular physical activity that didn't feel like it sucked.

And I had a lot of false starts. I got an expensive gym membership because I thought that was going to be the thing that motivated me to work out because I wanted to make use of the money I was spending. Spoiler alert-- didn't.

I just didn't go to the gym. I also paid for a few sessions with a trainer. That was a waste of money because I just never ended up following up with any of the guides they gave me.

The only time using a one-on-one ever ended up being kind of useful was when I did it for the first few sessions to learn Pilates basics before I started joining group classes because I wanted to, like, honestly, not look like an idiot. But for the most part, most of the expensive solutions-- buying cute workout clothes, getting a ton of home equipment-- none of it really worked for me. And I started to wonder, well, is it something wrong with me, because I used to be able to exercise without even really trying.

But I realized in doing some research that this is extremely common. In fact, the number one reason that people quit on their exercise goals is because there are no real consequences for their inaction, which is often the result of not having anyone to whom you're accountable. And one study from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University surveyed married couples who joined health clubs together, and found that couples who worked out separately had a 43% dropout rate over the course of a year.

Those who went to the gym together, regardless of whether or not they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 6.3% dropout rate. Now, listen, it is extremely not my journey to be the kind of person who goes to the gym with her husband. I love my husband.

He works out. I work out. We don't need to do that together.

But I do like to work out with other people. And I realize looking back that the reason it always felt so, quote, unquote, "effortless" to get a lot of exercise earlier in my life is because these were things that I were doing with other people. If I didn't show up to rehearsals, I would get kicked out of the play and everyone would hate me.

If I didn't come to the club where I was leading classes, everyone would be like, what the hell? So in my day-to-day pre-'rona activity life, I built in a lot of accountability. I got to know my instructors really well in my group classes.

Of course, finding group classes that worked for me was a big help. But I got to know my instructors. I got to know other people in the class who would notice if I wasn't there.

I found people with whom I could go to class. Usually at least once a week I had someone that I was going with. And now-- I'm filming this during social distancing for what it's worth.

This has actually been a time in my life where I work out more than I ever have before because I have a regular group of people with whom I work out three times a week, and I generally will do one on my own per week. That's four times a week that I'm doing Pilates. Plus, I'm going out for as many walks as I can because mama's trying to get some vitamin D.

I'm getting scurvy being in my apartment all day. I should also say that we're doing this on Zoom. It's not as if I'm inviting a bunch of people into my apartment every week.

Point being, the missing ingredient was having people to whom I was accountable and having some real valuable stakes around whether or not I actually got the exercise. And surprise, surprise, getting together with some friends who will actually give a shit if you don't show up to something-- totally free. Number two is apps, digital classes, and meet-up groups for immersing myself in language.

I know I may be a little bit of a broken record about this, but being bilingual has been one of the biggest confidence boosters and opportunity creators that I've ever had in my life. [SPEAKING FRENCH] And I remember that when I was still in the learning phase, it always felt to me that becoming truly proficient in French would be out of my reach until I could afford to go live in a French-speaking country or immerse myself in some really, really expensive college program. But I often found that the tools at my disposal, which were very frequently free or quite cheap-- things like meet-up groups, apps, digital classes, et cetera-- could totally fake the experience of being immersed and hold me accountable to being so. And using those strategies got me to a degree of fluency that I ended up moving to a French-speaking country purely for the opportunities it provided me and not at all really to learn the language because I was already good on that front.

And it was so much more attainable than I thought. And one of the best tools to learn or perfect a new language is Lingoda, an online language-learning platform that is currently offering a truly amazing deal, a 100% cash back guarantee for students who finished their Super Sprint classes. Basically when you sign up for Lingoda, you'll start their daily classes, taken whenever you have time-- the schedule is flexible-- and potentially earn cash back.

If you attend one class every day for three months and follow all the rules for their Super Sprint program, you will get 100% cashback, or if you complete the Sprint program successfully and attend 15 classes a month for three months, you'll receive 50% cash back. Lingoda is affordable to begin with. And with this incredible new deal, you basically pay yourself for doing the thing that you already wanted to do in learning a new language.

I'm going to be doing Lingoda to finally get my Spanish on track this summer, and I highly recommend you do the same, especially because that cash back deal means extra accountability, something I personally always need. Check out Lingoda at the link in our description and get an $11 discount on your deposit today. Number three is using customer loyalty programs to my advantage.

Now, I want to start off this point by saying that up front the cost of being loyal to a particular brand or participating in their loyalty programs can be a little higher than simply shopping around always for the lowest price on a particular item, product, service, et cetera. But depending on how often you use the service or shop at the store, over a long enough time scale, the savings represented by being part of a customer loyalty program and racking up rewards and cash backs and discounts can pay themselves off in that longer run. Again, this is one of those times where that cost-per-use metric that we tend to talk about is really important to keep in mind.

And it's also important to think about the missed opportunity cost of potentially contributing toward one of those loyalty programs. An easy way to think about it, for example, is those punch cards that you get at various restaurants or coffee shops. Every time you're not using that punch card, you're missing an easy opportunity.

And yes, they're not always quite so literal and sometimes there is a higher upfront cost of what you need to spend or buy in order to qualify. But, again, if this is something that you're frequently using, think about it in the longer term. For me personally, a very good example-- again, in the pre-'rona days, although I'm hopeful that travel will come back at some point.

For me, becoming loyal to a single airline over the course of a few years ended up representing thousands and thousands of dollars of free travel or discounted tickets and upgrades or various other perks that made the flying experience so much better. I'm personally loyal to Delta, mostly originally because they partner with Air France, and I obviously fly back and forth to France quite a bit. So it was an obvious choice for us.

Plus, they have a lot of really good partnerships with American Express, which I use for both my personal and professional spending. But I became pretty diligent about only buying Delta tickets because I knew that would go directly to my rewards-- and if I was buying it through the Delta card, I would get even more miles-- as well as funneling purchases through those cards when possible to rack up more miles. And yes, at the beginning, it was more expensive sometimes.

There would be to ticket options, one on a really cheapo airline and one on Delta, and the Delta one was more. But then when you look over the course of several years at all of the hundreds of thousands of miles that I've racked up as well as many of the free perks that I'm now offered as a Gold Medallion member-- yes, I know. No autographs please-- it's no competition and represents a real savings in the longer term.

So if it's possible for you to start finding areas of your life in which you could possibly highly benefit from customer loyalty programs, you should definitely check it out. And do remember that not all customer loyalty programs are strictly focused on cash back and perks, like, for example, Sephora's Beauty Insider program. For example, the shoe brand Toms offers a program where, "with every purchase, customers earn the non-monetary incentive of creating change through various initiatives like the One For One shoe donation and profit-sharing with causes like the Wildlife Conservation Society," or the outdoor apparel REI's program, "takes customers back to their humble beginnings as a co-op-- a company owned by their customers.

For $20, customers can become a lifetime co-op member. And once they join, customers gain access to serious value like 10% back on all purchases or steeply discounted 'garage sales' and discounts on experiences like adventure classes." Not every customer loyalty program is going to be right for you. But if there is an area of your life in which you are frequently spending, try and do a little bit of research and maybe even a tiny bit of math to see where some of these programs and maybe even associated points-related credit cards could really work to your benefit in the long term.

Number four, using food journaling rather than fad diets. Now, I'm just going to start this point with a big, old, fat disclaimer, because any time I talk about anything related to food, there are some inevitable comments about how either this is a form of disordered eating or could easily lead to disordered eating. I would like to say that if you are someone who has had problems in the past with being overly aware of the food that you consume or restricting that food or having generally an unhealthy relationship with micromanaging things that go into your mouth, I would highly recommend that you not do food journaling as for many it could represent a spiral into more dangerous behaviors.

But I also ask that we give each other the good faith and the space to say that something that may not work for one person could work really well for another person. With that out of the way, I think it's worth repeating, as I've said on previous videos, that I'm someone who used to do a fair amount of fad dieting in order to attempt to lose weight. Everyone is different in their relationship to the weight that their body is, but I personally was in a weight that for me felt uncomfortable, especially because basically the rest of my life prior to that time-- we're talking about my mid 20's here-- I had always been much slimmer, again, without really trying because I lived a much more active lifestyle and was eating less kind of by nature.

For some people, the weight that I was could have been a great weight for them to be at. But for me, I knew I wanted to lose it, so I cycled through several different fad diets, some of which necessitated a total overhaul of my kitchen. I did Vegan till 6.

I did Weight Watchers. I did kind of a version of keto. I was buying protein bars and shakes and supplements.

You named it, I tried it. And sometimes it was rather expensive, and none of it really worked. As you guys have probably heard before on this channel, I started intermittent fasting several years ago and found that that was very, very helpful.

But ultimately what intermittent fasting did for me was give me a really intuitive and honestly quite flexible version of calorie restriction. I know roughly how many calories I need to consume in a day if I'm not working out a ton. And honestly, if I'm dividing that amount of calories over three square meals, it's not a lot of really fun meals in my life.

And I like to eat a fun meal. I like dessert, love a glass of wine, love bread. I just don't want to have to really think that much about what I'm eating for dinner.

So it works for me. But beyond that, I found that the most effective habit that I've taken up-- honestly all the more so in quarantine because what the hell else do I have to do but assess all of my various body feelings and habits and what I'm doing in the confines of my own apartment. Food journaling I found to be not only an effective way of monitoring the general amount of calories I'm taking in and burning on a given day, but also a really nice way to kind of combine with intuitive eating and start to understand how certain foods make me feel.

Now, of course, some of this is not a huge surprise. Like, I eat sugar, I generally don't feel good. Still going to eat sugar.

Sorry, body. But there are other things that I sort of knew but wasn't really a stricken by until I saw it written day after day in an actual journal. For example, if I do not eat carbs or eat as few carbs as possible at lunch, I generally find myself much less hungry throughout the day.

I don't get tired after the meal. And I have better mental clarity and energy throughout the rest of the afternoon. I love a sandwich.

But, to me, seeing that information day after day in the journal is a really good way of knowing that it may not be worth it to have the sandwich at lunch. Have the sandwich for dinner. I stand a sandwich for dinner.

The point is, I used to think so much that imposing these outward restrictions on the kind of food I was eating or radically changing my diet or getting all these fancy schmancy supplements and prepackaged meals would be the key to getting control over how I felt in my body. But the truth is our bodies are pretty good at talking to us if we take the time to listen to them. And when we pay attention to the rough amounts of how much we're eating versus how much we're expending in energy, it starts to become pretty damn intuitive.

Food journaling and I guess intermittent fasting has done for me what all the expensive fad diets never could. Number five is giving up on the entire concept of having a car. So anyone who is watching this who knew me when I was driving, I would just to formally apologize if you ever had to be in my car because I can only imagine the life flashing before your eyes kind of experience that that was.

I wrecked several cars. And I know this sounds crazy to say, but I genuinely don't even know how many cars I totaled between the ages of 18 and 22. And I should say here that all of these were terrible cars.

In fact, I once-- because I had no money during this time but kept ruining my cars because I was a terrible, skittish, panicky driver, I once bought a truck, a pickup truck, a 1981 Toyota pickup truck for, like, $800. And my then boyfriend, who he and his father were, like-- they worked on cars, and they were very handy. He refurbished old BMWs as a hobby.

He drove it back. Probably it took, like, 40 miles to drive the car back from where we bought it in it's really, really janky farm land of South County, Maryland. He drove it back and only realized once we had gotten maybe halfway back to where I lived in Annapolis that-- if you were, like-- if the car was in a certain angle, the brakes didn't work.

He had to physically stand up to get the brakes to actually work. It was the most-- you could not imagine a worse car. I only actually ever drove manual transmission cars.

I never drove automatic. And so that added a whole other layer of hilarity to this. Not only did that truck in question stall out constantly, it also would just randomly go back into neutral on the highway.

The level of chaos that my cars were is truly-- like, I can't even explain it. I can't do it justice. I also-- here, you guys can see it, another car of mine, my '92 sea foam green Toyota Tercel was burned down in front of same boyfriend actually's house in College Park.

I just got a cursed history with cars, let's put it that way, a cursed, cursed history. And obviously I racked up moving violations and parking tickets, and I had a terrible experience with cars. So when I moved to France at 22, I was like, OK, well, this is just a chance to live a car-free life.

It's very amenable over there to have a car-free life. Let's just see how it goes. And then from Paris, I moved to New York, another place where you don't really need a car.

So it just became a thing where I guess I'm just not the kind of person who has a car anymore. And honestly, for so many reasons, I can say that I'm very grateful to not have a car. Would I like to get my license back up to date so that I could drive in case of emergency?

Sure. But I can genuinely say that not having a car on my day-to-day life has been a huge, huge source of many different benefits and also way reduced costs on many fronts. And obviously, there are places in the country where it is less realistic to not own a car.

But I would challenge that there are still many ways to be less reliant on a car than you probably currently are even in those areas. As one writer put it, "Just because you own a car, no one is forcing you to drive everywhere instead of walking or biking. But the truth is, if I owned a car, I would drive on a lot of the errands that I currently do on my bike.

I would procrastinate leaving the house until it's too late to bike or I would drive because it looks like rain or because the kids don't want to ride in the bike trailer, and I don't have the energy to argue with them. Not having the option to drive forces you to organize your life in a way that you have time to get everywhere without driving. For me that has meant more exercise and better weight management results than I got from even belonging to a gym." It's no surprise obviously that not having a car will force you to walk or bike more.

It will reduce your carbon footprint. It will eliminate tons of recurring expenses, like your insurance, the car's maintenance itself, the car payment, the parking, tolls, et cetera. But even if you're not necessarily ready to give up cars in general, if you're a multi-car household like millions of Americans, try simply giving up one of your cars.

Simply having to share a car will make you more judicious about how you're using it. And now, quite frankly, with so many different ridesharing apps available as well as car rentals, it's easier than ever to not constantly have access to multiple cars. Not everyone is going to have as fraught a relationship to car ownership as Chelsea Fagan or, let's be honest, Chelsea Hunt because I was not using my middle name at that time.

Chelsea Hunt was a much darker person, let's be honest. But you can at least certainly stop taking for granted just how big a role they play in your life. Number six, following flight and hotel hacking accounts for dirt cheap travel options.

Another thing that we often feel is this invariably expensive and really luxury thing is being the kind of person who frequently travels. And obviously, as I'm filming this, we are all very much immersed in the 'rona and feel like we will never, ever be traveling again. But, trust me, the zombie that is the tourism industry will not be killed with a simple shot to the head.

It's going to come back again and again and again, likely stronger than ever with all of these various subsidies and bailouts. So I think it's probably safe to say that sometime over the next year or so you're going to want to start traveling again. And for many of us, that's not the kind of thing that you can do without really weighing the cost against other things in your budget.

But I think often the way we think about travel tends to be a little bit backward. I'll link you guys to a video in the description where we talk about some of the best ways to travel for cheap. But one of the most important things to consider is a paradigm shift where you're not necessarily picking a destination and then figuring out how to go there.

You're keeping an eye out for what destinations are affordable, maybe off season, offering a really good package, or could generally fit better into your budget, and then going backward from there. I'm someone who has been following Scott's Cheap Flights-- they also share hotel deals all the time-- for a long, long time and have found several amazing deals through it that I never would have found otherwise. And when you combine that with airline slash hotel point hacking, which we discussed earlier, you can find a way to finance vacations basically for free.

Now, it's not technically free if you're talking about things like credit card churning or cash back or loyalty programs. But if they're miles and points you're accruing for money you already would have been spending, it basically is. There are tons of bloggers who write about their experiences of cobbling together entire trips for basically no money through those methods.

And one of the best ways to start is by following these accounts so you can really start to get a good idea of when certain areas are offering certain deals. And honey, time to learn to travel a little bit on the off season because trust me when I say that Italy is way better in, like, October than it is in, like, July. I went to Sicily and Calabria in August, and I enjoyed it, and that was the time we had vacation.

But mama doesn't want to be one of a million tourists. It was so hot. Also, it was so hot.

It was, Like, 110 degrees. All those Sicilian people just smoking on the beach in 110-degree weather-- I was like, you guys. I will say, though, that I highly recommend the town of Tropea in Calabria.

Add that to your list, honeys. And don't forget, when it comes to travel and making it feel a little less frivolous, it can be one of the most amazing incentives for learning a language. You spend a whole year learning a language-- let's say, German.

And then at the end of the year, you get to go to Germany. Love that for you. Lastly, number seven is learning to DIY and not be so scared of tools.

I used to think that I was living that kind of girl in the city lifestyle that whenever I needed something done that required a little bit of manual labor know-how that I was either going to have to rely on the hub store or, in many cases, outsource it to a professional who would cost me a lot of money. And no one was more disappointed in this than my mother who is basically her own general contractor on all of the home redos that she engages in and also has always been extremely handy and DIY savvy since, I don't know, I've been born. And finally, after a long time, I decided I was tired of being the person who didn't know how to do a lot of basic things when it came to tools or measuring or painting or redoing furniture in basic ways.

I wanted to be knowledgeable because I wanted to know that if I wanted to make a change I could do it myself and not have to factor in the cost of paying someone else to do it. So I had my mother come up, and she taught me a lot of really good things. She taught me basic tips for stripping, sanding, and repainting or staining wood.

She taught me how to drill things into a wall and mount things and use a stud finder and a level and all those great tools. She taught me really useful paint techniques for wall painting as well as how to use basically all of the tools in my tool box to make minor repairs and aesthetic slash superficial changes on a lot of the furniture items that I was either buying and they weren't exactly what I wanted or I wanted to go with a different room or a changed room. I'll link you guys in the description to some of the best DIY channels here on YouTube, but I think the most important mental shift for us all to make is to go from feeling like these things are just too difficult-- and who are we, Aiden Shaw?

Like, I'm not going to be out here stripping wood-- to realizing that most of these things are quite easy when it comes down to it. And especially when it comes to stuff like assembling furniture or hanging things properly, it's really more tedious than difficult. Familiarizing yourself with a few basic tools and techniques can take you from the kind of person who feels at a loss in your own home to someone who can see something that they like and know basically how they can recreate it in their own home, which over the course of a lifetime can easily represent thousands if not tens of thousands in potential savings.

Getting a little handy? It's the chic thing to do. When it comes to the cheaper and sometimes more effective way of doing things, often all it takes is a little bit of creativity and a little bit of accountability.

And don't forget that if, like me, one of your goals has been to learn a new language, some of the best tools for doing it are right here at your fingertips, including Lingoda, which you can check out right now and get your $11 discount on the deposit at the link in our description. As always, guys, thank you for watching, and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Goodbye.