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How To Achieve A Financially And Physically Fit Future

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Today’s guest post comes from Dough Roller. He blogs all about “investing, real estate, debt, retirement and anything else about money.” This article touches upon two things close to me – financial health and physical health. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

How To Achieve A Financially And Physically Fit Future

At various times in my life, I’ve been fat and broke. I’m neither today, thankfully. But knowing what it’s like to go from one budgeting gimmick to another and one diet fad to another has helped me realize the common threads running through both saving and dieting. The fact is that what keeps some of us from staying financially fit also keeps some of us from staying physically fit. This article looks at the common causes of both problems, and than offers five tips to help us break the habits that are holding us back.

What Keeps Us From Being Financially and Physically Fit?

For many of us, the inability to save regularly and eat healthy results from five common problems:

1. Inability to Delay Gratification: Saving and dieting both require us to put off current desires for long-term gains. We Americans aren’t so good at that. We want things now. Life is short—You can’t take it with you—Live life to the fullest. These sayings are fine in context, but we must balance our current wants with our future needs, and that’s difficult for many of us.

2. Not Seeing the Future: Saving and dieting don’t produce immediate benefits. You can avoid the candy bar at work in the afternoon, but you won’t lose any weight, at least not right away. And saving $100 per month is great, but it takes time for it to add up to anything significant. This is one of the biggest challenges to financial and physical fitness. If the benefits were instantaneous, we’d all be a lot wealthier and thinner.

3. Caving to External Pressures: Although you may feel like you’re the only one having a hard time controlling your savings or diet, you’re not. And those around you may have stopped trying to fight the financially and physically unhealthy impulses. Do you ever notice that some of those folks want to bring you down with them? Now I don’t mean they are malicious; they’re just looking for company. And sometimes it’s your own spouse!

4. Not Understanding Our Emotions: You’ve probably heard of emotionally eating. There’s also emotionally spending. You’ve had a bad day at the office, and so you deal with those emotions by downing a quart of ice cream or buying some new clothes. The fact is that stress, if not addressed properly, can lead to unhealthy spending and eating.

5. Slippery Slope Syndrome: If you do manage to save some money or lose some weight, it’s deceptively easy to return to your evil ways. You’ve saved a $1,000, but now you want a new TV. It’s only $500 and you deserve it. So you dip into savings. Or you’ve lost 20 pounds and now what that ice cream. After all, you won’t gain weight by having just one cone. And before you know it, you’re fat and broke, again. This is why so many people repeatedly go through cycles of saving and spending money or losing and gaining weight.

Five Tips For A Financially and Physically Fit Future

So what’s the solution? Well, here are five suggestions that may help you on your way to physically and financially fit future.

1. Identify the Problem: Identifying the problem really does go a long way to resolving it. If you are having trouble saving or eating right, you need to recognize why before you can address the problem. In reviewing the list above, you may find two or more issues that are causing you problems. The point is, you must first determine the root cause. If you’re having trouble identifying the problem, it may help to keep track of what and when you eat or spend for one month. Looking back at this information will help you identify patterns in your spending and eating habits that can help you identify the root cause.

2. Avoid Temptation: Once you’ve identified the root cause(s) of your problem, you need to remove yourself from situations that lead you down the wrong path. If you regularly overspend when you go to the mall, don’t go to the mall. Or go to the mall with a limited amount of cash and no credit cards. If you don’t eat right at lunch, start packing your lunch. You’ll save money and eat better at the same time. If a friend or co-worker motivates you to spend or eat like there’s no tomorrow, re-evaluate how, when and where you spend time with them. The point is, avoid situations that encourage you to make bad eating and spending choices.

3. Automate the Solution: You’ve probably heard about automating your finances by having 401(k) savings deducted from your paycheck. Well, you can automate your eating, too. The first step is keep unhealthy food out of your house. Having a quart of ice cream in the freezer is just asking for trouble. Second, plan your meals in advance. It’s much easier to choose healthy foods when you’re not craving a pizza. Last minute meal planning can lead to disastrous results. And back to the 401(k), if you haven’t automated your finances yet, there’s no time like the present. It’s a great way to begin investing, and eventually you won’t even miss the money.

4. Find a Buddy: Accountability is key. You need somebody that can help you in those dark, quite moments of temptation. Now this somebody can’t be your eating or spending buddy. It must be somebody you can rely on when you’re about to liquidate your 401(k). Online accountability can be one resource at your disposal. If you’re about to do something stupid, e-mail me or Tricia, and we’ll do our best to talk you in off the ledge.

5. Lighten Up (no pun intended): We all make mistakes. You’re going to have days when you spend or eat your way into oblivion. This should not be the time to give up. Recognize that you made a mistake. Understand why you made it. Learn from it. And then move on. I’ve made plenty of financial and fitness mistakes, and you just need to pick yourself back up and keep fighting.

And here’s a bonus tip. The beginning is always the toughest. That first day on a diet or spending plan seems like it lasts about 50 hours. What I’ve found, though, is that once you start to see your savings grow or your pounds diminish, your motivation starts to build. After 15 years of investing, I’m more motivated today than ever to save and invest more because I now appreciate the long term benefits of a regular savings plan.

Here’s to a healthy, richer you!

Thanks Dough Roller for the article!


3 Comments

  • Reply StaciCarsten |

    That’s an interesting connection to make. I’m a healthy weight, but every time I think “I’m a healthy weight I don’t have to work at it anymore” — suddenly, I gain. I suppose financially is the same — when you’re doing well, you need to be mindful to continue in that vein, or suddenly you’ll find you’re not doing so well anymore.

So, what do you think ?