Some weight loss plans can set you back nearly $500 a year. Here's how to slim down without eating the cost.
This post by Frugal Foodie comes from partner site Mint.
Results may vary when you pick a paid diet plan, but one kind of weight loss is more certain – your wallet will surely be a bit thinner.
A recent assessment by GoBankingRates.com found some popular weight loss plans can set you back as much as $42.95 per month or even $488 per year (for Jenny Craig).
And that’s just for the advice.
With some programs, you still have to pay for special food, specific program-geared books and tools, and make adjustments to your grocery list.
But there’s no need to fall off the resolution wagon because you can’t afford it. We asked experts how to cut the costs of weight loss plans.
Here are six tricks to try:
1. Shop at daily-deal sites
You might be able to get a deal for 50 percent or better off some plans. GiltCity.com has 60 percent off a week of healthy meal-delivery plan The Fresh Diet. That’s $168 instead of $420.
The deals are usually for first-time subscribers only. Make sure you check the restrictions before buying a deal you can’t use – or get a refund for.
2. Seek out free options
There may be no need to pay, says Jon Lal, founder of deals website BeFrugal.com. “Take advantage of free tools like Sparkpeople.com or the free MyFitnessPal app, both of which provide calorie tracking,” he says.
Some diet programs also offer free resources. Taste of Home magazine has a free week of its Comfort Food Diet menu online if you’re not ready to purchase the whole book.
3. Ask your insurer
Plenty offer discounts on specific weight management programs. Aetna clients, for example, may get 25 percent off eDiets meal delivery plans, 12 percent off Nutrisystem 28-day meal plans and 25 percent off Jenny premium plans.
If your employer offers a pre-tax flexible-spending account, co-pays to visit, say, a nutritionist may also be eligible for reimbursement.
4. Consider online programs
“If weight loss counseling is out of your budget, consider joining an online support group,” says Jeannette Pavini, consumer savings expert at Coupons.com.
They can be just as motivating, especially if you’re active in the community forums and talk to fellow dieters.
It can also be cheaper. Robin Long, a Pilates instructor who runs TheBalancedLifeOnline.com, charges $297 for her six-week online program of videos and diet plans.
In person, she says, the same amount of class time and support costs more than $3,220.
5. Hunt for coupon codes
They can yield substantial savings, says Lal. BeFrugal.com currently has a code for 30 percent off a first month’s pass to Weight Watchers, plus $10 cash back.
Check favorite coupon sites, and Google the diet name and “coupon code” as a catchall.
6. Utilize smart prep
If the diet entails you making your own food, use smart strategies like shopping sales and clipping coupons to cut your bill.
“When you’re buying a lot of fresh produce, it’s also a good idea to shake off water before bagging to avoid paying extra for that water weight,” says Pavini.
Some produce may even be cheaper in bulk, like multi-packs of avocados.
Plus, Frugal Foodie is a big fan of frozen fruits and vegetables – a 32-ounce bag of frozen blueberries is $10 at her supermarket, while one fresh 12-ounce pint is $4.