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How to stay in great shape without spending a lot

Getting fit doesn’t have to be expensive.

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I reject all budget-related excuses for not staying fit. You don't need a lot of money.

Confession: I pay full freight for a YMCA membership every year. But you don't have to spend nearly that much. There's a lot of cheap exercise equipment you can buy to use at home, including balance balls, jump ropes and something called a Bulgarian bag. You can also try making your own weights (full water bottles and juice jugs) and scooping up equipment at garage sales.

If you prefer to belong to a gym, there are ways to keep your costs low. For example, be sure to use free trial periods at your local gyms. Wherever you work out, you'll need to decide what exercises work for you. Here are some exercises recommended by fitness experts that don't require any equipment (squats, pushups and more).

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The challenge of budgeting for fitness can be about time as well as money. If you're time-challenged, check out these really short workouts posted on the New York Times website. I've tried a couple of them and they're great.

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These funds are a one-stop investing solution

Low-cost balanced mutual funds are well worth a look if you want a simple way to invest your money. Here are four funds to research further. I own one of them, Mawer Balanced.

Cheap travel for what's left of summer

If you're planning a last-minute summer vacation, check out this list of destinations in Canada, the United States and Europe. The cost of flying to these cities is down as much 36 per cent from peak summer levels.

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Why there's no toothpaste in hotel rooms

Hotels are offering ever more fancy toiletries to guests, but never toothpaste. Here's why.

Do you love money too much?

All about how being greedy can be a wealth destroyer.

Money lessons from seven books

A blogger highlights what she's learned from seven personal finance and investing books, including my latest, How Not to Move Back in with Your Parents.

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How to teach your kids about money

I've seen dozens of these lists over the years and this is one of the better ones. I like the idea of bringing your child to the bank to open an account.

Today's featured financial tool

Trying to find the right exchange-traded fund for your portfolio? Try this interactive ETF screener.

Ask Rob

The question: "Why have you not suggested to young people they borrow to get their [house] down payment? If you had done this three or four years ago, many would be swimming in equity."

My reply: Borrowing a down payment is bad personal finance. If you can't save a down payment, you haven't shown the discipline needed to financially carry a house. People who bought houses several years ago in a few select cities would almost certainly be swimming in equity now if they borrowed their down payment. But that equity could vanish if the housing market turns down. If you put no money of your own into a house, it's not hard to end up under water (owing more than your house is worth).

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video

Find out how pensions in Canada compare to the rest of the world.

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998.Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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