Recently I have started working hard on budgeting. I have mostly been one of those types of people who **TRIES** not to spend too much money. And yet lately, at the end of the month I was left wondering where my money had gone. I hadn’t done anything lavish or extravagant and I certainly had enough money coming in so why was I SO broke.
I was fed up with myself, so I made it my mission to figure out where my money was going and put myself in a better place financially. I started googling “how to budget” and that’s when I stumbled across Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover.” Dave preaches common sense personal finance. It might not be the most sophisticated plan, and it might not be a get rich quick scheme, but it works, and his millions of followers are testament to that.
What I found surprising about the book, however, is that he compared getting financially fit to getting physically fit. I could relate to that metaphor. I spend a lot of time trying to help my clients get physically fit and the parallels are uncanny.
The just of his teachings are this: budget, get out of debt, save 15% of your income and invest in mutual funds. Pretty basic, right? But the principles for getting fit are arguably even more simple when you get down to it: Exercise most days of the week 30 min per day, Burn as many calories as you eat, eat mostly whole, minimally processed foods.
The thing is though, being physically fit comes easily to me. That made the financial fitness metaphor really work for me. I simply applied the focus and discipline I exercise around fitness and nutrition toward finances.
What I realized, through Dave’s teachings, is that the most important Catalyst for change both for getting financially fit and physically fit is having a reason. Being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Being in a state where the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
I’ve counseled many people who make their fitness and nutrition a priority for a few weeks, then lose focus and fall off the bandwagon. I have also helped many people who have completely turned their life around and made the focus on health a core value. So what’s the difference? What makes some people change and some people revert back to old habits. The answer is complicated.
What made me splurge today on a $20 uber to the airport when I could have taken a $7 bus? Did I feel like I deserved a splurge, was I too tired to be inconvenienced by riding on a bus? These are very similar feelings to what people experience when they struggle with what to eat or when to exercise.
Impulses are easy, they feel good in the short term, they offer immediate gratification. But the thing is, the long term pain caused by immediate gratification is not always gratifying, in fact it is sometimes worse than the pain you experience in the short term. For example, when your daily donut makes you feel good when you’re eating it, but ultimately results in a sugar crash and self-loathing.
While I’m trying to work off my last few pounds of debt, I hope I can inspire you to look a little harder at the choices you make with your finances, with your fitness and really in all aspects of your life. Personal growth requires a commitment to self observation, discipline and persistence.