Cheap ways for preventing and fighting off the cold and flu

Once September rolls around, it seems as if almost everyone battles the cold or flu, especially if they work with or have kids. Some admit to being a bit lax with preventative measures since the summer, but once the cold or flu is in the system it can be a pain to get rid of - not to mention costly. There are several inexpensive ways to prevent the cold and flu or fight it off if it strikes you out of nowhere.

Teach your kids sanitary rules

I can't tell you how many parents I've heard say that they don't teach kids all the sanitary rules because the kids are going to learn them in school. The sooner you teach your kids proper sanitary rules, the less of a chance you, your kids and everyone around your children have of getting sick. Some of the best sanitary techniques to teach your kids include sneezing into their elbow, washing their hands for at least twenty seconds and never putting their hands in their mouth.

Wash your hands

I've seen women stick their hands under water for a few seconds, put a dollop of soap on, then immediately wash it off and call it washing their hands. This doesn't do much in terms of cleanliness. It only takes about twenty seconds and a good lather to properly clean your hands and help reduce your risk of getting sick.

Use hand sanitizer

Did you know that the flu virus stays on money for about an hour? Any time I touch money, the pole on the train or any other especially germy surface, I use hand sanitizer if I know I don't have the opportunity to wash my hands. Hand sanitizer can be effective for reducing the chances of getting sick, so carry a travel size bottle with you at all times. To save money, buy a large bottle as well and keep refilling the travel size.

Wash your belongings

Think about everywhere your cell phone and purse end up. Your germy hands are all over your phone, your purse ends up on the floor of your car, restaurant or train station and it's completely covered with stuff you don't even want to imagine. Your computer keyboard isn't much better. Use antibacterial wipes on your belongings at least once a week to reduce your risk of getting sick. A travel pack is inexpensive and fits right into your purse.

Drink hot tea

Tea reportedly helps ease congestion and other cold symptoms, but it can also provide you with antioxidants that can help prevent you from getting sick in the first place. Having one or two cups of hot tea per day may give you some major health benefits. You can get an entire box of tea bags for less than a few dollars at a grocery store, but if you want even more of a discount, check out the dollar store.

Take extra precautions during your menstrual cycle

On top of feeling absolutely miserable during our menstrual cycle, we're also have a higher risk of getting sick. It's important to take extra precautions to ensure you don't catch something and feel even worse. For example, consider driving to work instead of taking the bus and up your intake of immunity boosting foods.

Change your diet

During cold and flu season, you want to make sure you change up your diet to include even more foods that are good for you, can help you fight colds and can boost your immunity. Foods such as fish, garlic, citrus, yogurt, dark leafy greens and dark chocolate have incredible health benefits and are excellent additions to your diet.

Get out in fresh air

It's no secret that being around sick people can increase your chances of catching something yourself. Although you may be inclined to hibernate at home during chilly weather, get out in the fresh air for a little while each day. Walk to where you need to go instead of taking public transportation or driving (which also helps you save money) and go for a walk at lunch instead of sitting in the cafeteria. In addition to helping you avoid some germy people, it can also revitalize you and boost your spirits.

Get enough rest

Sleep is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick as well as fight against the cold or flu should it happen. Getting between seven and eight hours per night can do wonders. Some consider it a hassle and waste of time to get so much sleep, but it can be a much better (and cheaper) option than catching a bug.

Gargle with salt water

Rather than reaching for lozenges or cold medicine if you start to feel your throat getting a bit scratchy, grab the salt water. It's one of my favorite ways to combat throat soreness during cold and flu season and it's much less expensive than grabbing medicine from the drug store.

With all the fun there is to be had during fall and winter, the last thing you want to do is find yourself getting sick and paying hundreds of dollars between medicine and doctor or hospital visits to get it taken care of. It's even worse if you don't have insurance or you don't get paid for days you take off. Practicing preventative measures as well as taking better care of yourself if you get sick can help you save a huge amount of money along with avoiding the hassle and pain of getting sick.

More from Lauren R:

Tips for saving money on ski vacations

7 things you should never try to save money on

Tips for saving money on doctor bills