Around the start of the year, when we’re all making those rash, doomed resolutions, we often think about what our worst habits are costing us. Bad food, wild nights out, smoking and missing sleep can all shave years off your life, we’re told. That’s really a very pint-glass-half-empty way of looking at it though, isn’t it? What about approaching from a more optimistic angle instead, by looking at what making better health choices can save you?

We’re not just talking about clocking up a couple of extra “golden years” on the back end of your life, either. There are real, tangible benefits to staying healthy that you can start cashing in straight away. That’s right; we said cash – because losing a few pounds off the scales can mean gaining many more in your pocket.

A few years back, a study in the US put a monetary figure on watching your physical one. Lack of fitness costs the world’s overall economy close to $70 billion a year – or about $10 for every man, woman and child alive. All it takes to drop those numbers is to meet the recommended activity guidelines with a 30 minute walk 5 times a week. Yes, half an hour of moving about on weekdays is worth around £2,000 in health related expenses. Taking care of yourself can be its own reward – but that doesn’t mean it’s the only reward on offer.

How does shedding the pounds save the pounds?

Take something as simple as what you wear. How often do you find yourself splashing out on new clothes because that pair of jeans from last year “must’ve shrunk in the wash”?

How much cheaper would your yearly transportation bills be if you didn’t pass out from even looking at that disused bicycle in the shed? Thousands of pounds get wasted every year on public transport, petrol and parking fees when getting where you’re going could be costing you nothing at all. We’re not saying you could do without your car altogether, particularly if you travel for work. Do you really need it just to get to a post office that’s only a 20-minute walk away, though? As for driving to the gym, well..

There’s also the simple fact that getting fit means you’ll be spending less on food. Don’t be fooled by quick-fix shakes and celebrity meal plans. Good food choices are cheap, and eating healthy is more about rocket lettuce than rocket science. You don’t need a personal trainer and dietician to stay in shape, and you don’t need to look like a Marvel movie poster to be healthy. Just check your food labels (price tag included) and play a little safer with your body. The same goes when you’re eating out or ordering in. Fast food and restaurant prices tend look a lot less appealing when you see how little it costs to eat well.

And what about those coffees? Those supersized, supersweet coffees you grab on the way to work could be damaging waistline as well as your wallet. Some of them can contain more than 500 calories, over 70g of sugar and half of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat and could be costing you around £900 a year.

We haven’t really even talked about cigarettes yet. Most tobacco lovers spend over £2,500 a year feeding their addiction. That’s serious money literally going up in smoke! Add to that the additional costs that come from long-term illnesses like heart disease, strokes and cancer. If the health warnings don’t scare you off, then the rate you’re burning through your wallet certainly should.

Be a good workout wingman

We’ve talked before about the value of having a “gym buddy” looking out for you. Being a good workout wingman is about more than just stepping in when you can’t finish that last bench press. It’s about helping you make the very best of yourself. That’s the secret to the RIFT Method for Financial Fitness.

Just as your health and exercise decisions affect your bottom line, so do your financial choices. Getting the right help makes all the difference, so get in touch with your tax questions, worries or problems. We’ll keep your finances in the best shape of your life – and that’s why you’re always better off with RIFT.

Our free and easy to use tax rebate calculator gives you an instant estimate of how much cash you could be owed back from HMRC.  RIFT are the UK's leading tax refund and tax return experts, who've been in the tax industry since 1999.