Sunday 6 January 2013

Why Saving and Dieting have a lot in common

I weigh more than I should (or want) to, and I also have less wealth than I want (need for retirement?). I have been trying to address both issues for many years, with a mix of some successes and some failures. So, while I'm neither a nutitionist nor a financial advisor, I do have some personal experience and have slowly worked out what works (for me) and want doesn't.

One thing I've noticed is that saving and investing have a lot in common with dieting. In both endevours 'fad' diets or savings techniques can provide a brief boost, but in the long term the key to success is to make a lifestyle change that results in slow and steady progress towards one's goal. While you can achieve some goals (such as avoiding the dangers of binge drinking or smoking) by completely eliminating the source of the problem, one has to eat and one has to also spend some money (at least while living a conventional lifestyle, rather than moving to a barter-based commune!), so its more a question of self-control after deciding what the optimimum levels of caloric and economic consumption are. Each persons situation will be a bit different.

I find that keeping a detailed record is very helpful for both activities, as it helps avoid the 'snacking' and spur-of-the-moment spending that can otherwise derail the most carefully laid out plans. Tracking actual spending and eating against a plan or 'budget' provides a tool to identify when one goes 'off the rails' and catch any problems early on, when they are easily fixed.

It also allows one to check that the plan is realistic - as cutting back spending or eating too drastically can have adverse effects (eg. malnutrition or eliminating necessary but discretionary spending eg. key insurance), so the initial plan may need some tweaking to achieve the best long-term outcome.

Anyway, the start of 2013 provides yet another opportunity for me to implement my food and spending budgets.

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