Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Debt/Weight Loss Connection

I remember a long time ago an article I read. Basically it said that many people with debt had weight issues as well. I don’t think it was trying to say that if you aren’t good with money that you aren’t good with food. I think it was more along the lines of you are in debt and are turning to food in response. However, I find it funny that I see these things linked up quite often.

Take Total Money Makeover for example. Dave Ramsey spends an entire chapter comparing someone trying to get out of debt and someone trying to lose weight. It really is striking how similar the two processes are.

Denial. I think this is the chapter in which Ramsey first talks about the comparison. It really is true. Weight denial usually comes in the form of, “Well, it is only 3 pounds. I just won’t gain any more.” Debt denial is very similar. “Well, just one more outfit charged to my card won’t hurt.” You have to get passed the denial in both situations before you can do anything. That small amount of denial about your situation just builds on itself, until the pounds are up to 30 and the debt is thirty grand.

Obstacles. The next thing is getting to know your obstacles. For weight loss, if you keep buying cookies for “your kids”, you know you won’t be able to resist and you will blow your diet. (I use this example because…. Fine, I bought cookies this week!) Think of the obstacles with debt. If you keep your credit cards around when you are not 100% sure you can live without them you are going to use them. Identifying the things that will cause you to fail is key because what you don’t know WILL hurt you.

As a side note, this was my major problem to stopping debt spending. I really believed we could not make it a month without some help from my credit card. It took me cutting them up to realize that we could. Try it!

Planning. With Total Money Makeover you use baby steps and a debt snowball to fix your finances. For weight loss, you obviously must cut calories and then start exercising. I like to think about snacks now as how I am “spending” my calories for that day. If I go over budget, so does my waistline!! Exercising is kind of like saving. You are in essence banking calories that can be used later. No exercise, no room for extra spending. The exercise in your finances is working out those debts. Until they are gone you have no room for extra spending with real money either.

Goals. Financial goals and weight loss goals are easy to write down and track. However your goals have to have a deeper meaning. The end result should actually be a healthier lifestyle physically and financially. It takes commitment and putting what works in practice consistently. If you stop taking care of yourself or your finances you are bound to wind up right back where you started. That is the key.

I have started using some of the TMM ideas toward getting in shape… if you can’t already tell. It helps me feel like I am doing something while trying to get my finances in order. One thing that has finally become clear to me is the final step I talked about. This is a lifestyle change. It is not just a process you go through once and you are done. Weight loss for it to be permanent must work the same way.

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