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As we arc into the second quarter of 2010, pretty much everyone I know is feeling overworked, underfunded or a little bit of both. Despite this, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how few folks I see pulling back from their healthy rituals and routines.

If anything, I think more of us are realizing that we actually need to invest a little more in the way of time and resources to help keep ourselves strong and resilient through challenging times.

The key, of course, is return on investment. To that end, I share with you my own top five favorite healthy bargains. These are goods and experiences that generally cost less than $50 (in some cases, they’re free), that are time-efficient, and that I can wholeheartedly recommend to almost anyone.

5 Healthy Bargains

1) Detox-Bath Cinema: A favorite for putting a tough day behind me, this ritual requires a laptop or other portable DVD-playing device that you can perch safely on a dry, stable surface (any risk of electrocution will substantially reduce your relaxation potential). Other than that, all you need is a couple cups of Epsom salts or baking soda to mix into a tub of hot-as-you-can-stand-it water, and a good, stress-free film or TV show on DVD. Set the DVD to play, climb into the tub with a rolled up washcloth to tuck behind your neck, then soak and watch to your heart’s content. It feels like a giant indulgence, but costs only pennies. I add a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil to the bath and feel like I’m on full retreat.

2) Decluttering: There is no better bargain on the planet, I am convinced, than clearing your space (and thus your head) of all the junk that is currently crowding your daily life. Decluttering your kitchen makes it easier and more fun to cook healthy meals. Decluttering your living room gives you room to put down a yoga mat for a daily routine. Decluttering your bedroom helps you sleep more restfully and rise more optimistically. Decluttering your closet can boost your self-esteem and — if you get rid of unflattering clothes — your body confidence. When you’re too broke or tightly budgeted to buy anything new, decluttering can give you a rush of satisfaction no shopping spree can deliver.

3) Healthy-Learning Downloads: I love that you can now get all kinds of health-promoting, life-improving wisdom at the click of a button, often at little or no cost. Some of my freebie favorites (like Brian Johnson’s PhilosophersNotes TV episodes and Gay and Katie Hendricks’s video series, One-Minute Relationship Miracles) are available in our Healthy Learning area. Full disclosure: We do have affiliate relationships with some of our Healthy Learning partners — because it allows us to give our readers special discounts and gifts — but I’d be singing their praises either way, and if you check them out, I think you’ll see why.

4) VitaMix: OK, technically, this is not an under-$50 item. In fact, it’s a several-hundred-dollar item, but it’s the most kick-butt blender I’ve ever used, and I’ve been using mine since 2001. This takes the cost down to less than $50 a year, or about 15 cents a day, which is still great-bargain territory in my book. Given the uber-fantastic smoothies it turns out in seconds, and the fact that it helps me get at least three of my nine servings of veggies and fruits (plus nuts, seeds, EFAs and protein) into my body before I leave the house in the morning, I feel I am definitely getting my money’s worth. You can get a less pricey blender, but it’s hard to find one that works as well or as consistently, or that proves as cost-effective over a decade.

5) Experience Life’s Free E-Newsletter: Yes, I’m shilling for our own publication here. But for folks who can’t afford (or don’t want) a subscription to the print or digital edition of the magazine, I would humbly suggest that this is a super-easy way to see a lot of each issue at a glance and to get a regular supply of cutting-edge, practical advice that inspires you to make healthier choices. It’s available to everyone and — hello! — it’s free. Check it out and sign up at

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