Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota just completed a study that found that people who go to the gym at least eight times a month have significantly lower health costs than those who don't. You can get those same benefits by going for a brisk walk, running or riding a bike or by spending less than the cost of a monthly gym membership on a pair of dumbbells.

Some cuts are fine—generic drugs instead of name brand, for instance. But skipping doctor visits is a bad idea, and so is cancelling your insurance.

"I've seen so many people go through horrendous financial nightmares and even bankruptcy because they don't have health insurance. This is just not one you want to mess with," said Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy.

Giving to others can make you feel better about yourself and your situation. If money is tight, donate items you no longer use, give canned goods, shop at thrift stores that benefit a charity or share some of your time.

Jean's 5 steps to secure your financial future


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