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  • Writer's pictureZach

Substituting Your Way to Health and Wealth

Updated: May 29, 2019

A healthy burger? What is this sorcery???

Every Saturday evening I find a recipe I want to cook.  I go to the store to buy ingredients (or order them in, because it's Dubai, and that's how we roll).  Then, I make the food, and enjoy it for dinner throughout the week.  Sometimes I'll have friends over and they'll eat too.  It's the same process, each week.  Routine is comforting.  

Can you tell from that if I bought expensive ingredients or cheaper ones?  Healthier or health damaging ones?  No, you can't.  The process is value neutral, as it takes the same amount of work to buy and cook healthy, cheap ingredients as it does expensive, fattening ones.  This is why when I recently switched to a vegetarian diet, it was easy.  I just switched the recipes and ingredients.  In the end, I got healthier, cheaper food without any extra effort on my part.  Consequently, I've lost 10 centimeters off my pant size in two months, and it was no work at all.  

no work, but a whole lotta' this!

When I go to work I leave my apartment and go to the parking garage, where I get in my car and start it up.  My stereo picks up the podcast I’m listening to on my phone automatically through my Bluetooth setup.  My reversing camera helps make sure I don’t run into anything behind me.  My car flawlessly accelerates and has cruise control to keep me efficiently and safely driving without tickets or delay.  

Do I drive a BMW or a Kia?  Can you tell?  (It’s actually a Nissan, but the point is the same). My car could have cost me 30,000 AED or 300,000 AED ($8,000 or $80,0000) and it would still do the same thing, get me where I need to go in comfort.  By purchasing a cheaper, but still perfectly functional and reliable car, I have WAY more money to buy income producing assets like stocks, bonds, and real estate, that will passively create income for the rest of my life (or until I sell them for even more money).  I don’t lose anything by going with the cheaper substitute. 

We are often faced with a choice between two things, one healthy the other less so, one financially beneficial, the other harmful but expedient. It often takes no extra work to choose the thing that will benefit our lives in the long run.  Sometimes, the cheaper, healthier option can even be LESS work!    

We often avoid substitutes with less social cachet even though they work just as well.  We think that others will look down on us if we don’t have the latest iPhone, fashion, handbag, or Range Rover.  That attitude keeps us from looking for other options that will allow us to have better money and health outcomes because we are worried about what others may think.  However, the odds are that people are looking so closely at themselves that they don’t have the time to give us a passing thought.  Examine your own thoughts, how much time and effort do you spend thinking about yourself and how you appear to others?  Odds are it’s way more time than you spend thinking about and judging others.  This applies to pretty much everyone.  We are so self absorbed that our worries about the thoughts of others are usually misguided and a waste of time.


There are plenty of other ways to use substitutes as well in our lives.  My Android phone is half the price and better than my old iPhone.  Thrift stores and Dubizzle allow us to buy all sorts of previously used items like furniture, household goods, and clothes for less than half the cost of new. Store brand groceries and cleaning products are often the exact same as the “famous” ones, but just in a different container and way cheaper. 

I’m not saying that you should always buy the cheapest thing.  Often the cheapest option is one that is poorly made and will break, which can be dangerous or inconvenient.  But in our choice-saturated world, there are many options that are well-built but still less expensive than a branded or brand new item.  You need to be an informed consumer, and in today’s world, that is easier than ever with item reviews all over the internet, especially on YouTube! 

The beauty of this is that by going with a cheaper or more healthy substitute, you don’t lose anything. You’re still fed, clothed, and transported.  You may even be thinner, with less heart disease, diabetes, and joint pain.  You will certainly have more money.  In my book, intelligent substitution is a win-win, and there’s no substitute for that! 

If you liked this post, come join the discussion over at The Happiest Teacher Facebook Group! I would love to have your voice added to the discussion! Also, if you're into that Twitter life, come follow me!

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