I was thinking lately about how a lot of the tactics I put into losing weight are fairly similar to how I’m handling my debt payoff. There’s been a few bloggers who have written about the correlation between keeping both physically and financially fit, and most recently Cash Rebel wrote about the positive feedback cycle from keeping track of both, so I thought I’d put in my two cents on the topic:
1) Treating food, and money, as fuel – I tend to have an addictive personality, and much like I emotionally ate, I also emotionally spent in excess. However, when that “light bulb” moment came when I decided to lose weight, I started letting go of my emotional attachments to food, and started to view it as fuel. And although I still obtain enjoyment from it since I have the Biggest Sweet Tooth This Side of the Mississippi(tm), I predominantly still view food to help me improve my physical being and health. The same can be said with money – after I stopped my emotional codependence to shopping, I started to view it as fuel to help me obtain necessities in life. Sure, I’ll still like some nice things once in awhile, but overall I am (starting) to view it as a mere commodity to help me sustain or improve my quality of life (and not inflate it).
2) Making food, and money, work for you – Mr. 1500 recently wrote a post about making money work for you. Hopefully I don’t botch up his premise, but he’s essentially stating that with one dollar, you can either spend it on something fleeting, or you can invest it and give it a chance to grow and work for you. I agree with this notion, and slowly implementing it in my daily actions, and feel it’s the same way with food/calories. You can either eat something with empty calories and have it do nothing for you (or perhaps even be a disservice), or you can eat healthful foods that work for you so that you build muscle, improve your circulation or skin, and keep you lean.
3) Drinking “free calories” and finding free stuff to do – a popular weight-loss notion is that if you’re considering eating something, to drink some water first because you might just be thirsty. Since learning this, I drink a lot of water and more often than not it fills me up just fine. The best part is that it’s free, and it helps with my skin tone and activities since I’m well hydrated. I kind of feel it’s the same with finding free activities – there’s a lot of simple pleasures out there that are free, whether it be a nice hike or reading a book, and it’s a good feeling to know that you didn’t pay for said simple pleasures, and that you still feel overall satisfied.
4) Eat Less/Move More, Spend Less/Make More – pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re trying to lose weight, there really is no magical formula other than eat less (and below your “maintenance” range) and move more. Well, if you’re trying to pay off debt, it’s the same thing – spend below your means and try to think of extra ways to make money. With the former, I suppose you have to strike a balance since you don’t want to go to any extreme, but for the most part that principle rings true in both cases.
5) Getting a realistic view of what you really need in life, both in calories and money – when I got serious about losing weight, I signed up to join Weight Watchers, and it gave me an idea of what portion sizes are/looked like and educated me on calorically dense foods, but didn’t frown upon the occasional taco so long as I kept at the calorie range (or “points”) for the day. It was during those few months when I realized – you really don’t need to eat a lot, and restaurants these days have made portion sizes so out of control that “true” sizes look miniscule in comparison. After unlearning disproportionate portions, and re-learning what true sizes actually are, I was able to lose weight a lot quicker since it clicked that I’m still eating full meals, just not gigantic ones where I’m overeating. I think it’s the same with money – before, I always seemed to feel that I never had “enough” money which is why I was always in debt. But now, since I’ve unlearned that I don’t need to do all this out of control spending to keep up with the Joneses, I can get a better grasp of what I actually need versus what I think I did. The result is that I’m learning to live within or below my means since I’ve actualized what the portion size of my expenses really are, and paying off my debt quicker by doing so.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m human and still enjoy gluttonous splurges. A strategy that’s really helped me out is the 80%/20% rule, in that I eat clean and keep fit 80% of the time, but allow a 20% “free pass” to eat sweets/savories or take some down time. Well, I think the same can be said for personal finance once I’m relieved of my debt – to live below my means and invest 80% of the time, but allow for splurges that are important to me, like travel and clothes, for 20% of the time (Hrm, maybe 90%/10%, since I can’t wait to throw more money into investing).
Are there other times when you think they’re similar?