Physical & Financial Health Habits: You Won’t Believe the Similarities

by Sean Bryant on August 31, 2016

Physical & Financial Health Habits: You Won’t Believe the Similarities

You want to lose weight, so you decide to diet. You spend an afternoon reading about the latest fad (Sirtfood, anyone?) and determine that green juices packed with sirtuins are the way to go. You stock up on all the ingredients and equipment you need (kale, arugula, green tea, a juicer) and soar on the high that you’re committed to something great.

But then you don’t make it to day three of 14. The expensive blender is tucked away into a kitchen cabinet and you pretend like the whole thing didn’t happen. Does this sounds familiar?

Now, think about the last time you looked at your finances and decided you really wanted to get out of debt, buy that big new item or save for retirement. You determined that making a budget was the way to do it. You made a spreadsheet and downloaded an app and then … what? You felt discouraged when an unexpected expense popped up? You caved in and went back to your old spending habits a few days later?

So why didn’t the diet stick? Why couldn’t you live on a budget? It’s not just because kale is disgusting (#truth) or saving money is impossible. It’s because you liked the idea of losing weight or saving money, not because you were committed to the follow through of doing either.

Making a Change

A lifestyle change doesn’t mean you buy a salad when everyone else gets pizza one time. It means you already packed a lunch that was made from healthy ingredients you bought at the store after making a healthy meal plan.

The same idea applies to your budget. To make a change, you have to plan ahead and make fiscally smart decisions before you’re inevitably tempted with budget-breaking options. Here’s what you can do to improve your financial health and make your habits hold:

  • Plan Ahead: Why do you eat out 10 times a week? Probably because you forgot to pack a lunch or didn’t have food in your fridge. Change that by meal planning before you go to the grocery store. Instead of wandering aimlessly and adding random food items into your cart, you’ll know exactly what ingredients you need to make a week’s worth of meals and how much they cost. There are plenty of apps that help you design and customize a meal plan, such as MealPlan Meal and Grocery Planner (great for beginners) and Pepper Plate.
  • Spend Less & Save More: Planning ahead is the key to saving money in small ways. For example, a prepped meal may only cost $1.50 instead of the $10.50 it costs to eat out. If $10 doesn’t sound like a lot, multiple it by 10 (times a week) and then four (weeks a month) to get a grand total of $400 a month. By planning ahead you can cut that number at least in half. Put aside $200 for your grocery budget and then you have $200 you can add to your savings account.
  • Earn More: Easier said than done, right? Actually, wrong. In the past you may have had to work nights or weekends to pick up another source of income, but that’s not the case anymore. With freelance opportunities and entrepreneurial gigs like Fiverr, Amyway and TaskRabbit, you can make extra money however you want. With these platforms you can sell online services, start your own business or even make moola moving someone’s couch.

Living a New Lifestyle

Financial adviser Dave Ramsey is known for saying that money is a mirror that reflects our strengths and weaknesses with amazing clarity. Even though we focused on food in this article, there are many others that come to mind. Is yours alcohol? Shoes? Sporting goods? Online shopping? If you want to make a change, you have to be committed to a new lifestyle. This means you may have to deny yourself instant gratification now for long-term happiness later.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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