I’ve noticed that some people like to compare the two concepts of losing weight to saving money. In some sense it is a good comparison as it does take some effort to change your habits and there is that satisfaction when you finally reach your goal. Where the comparison often goes wrong is when people compare using a diet to savings.
A diet is often involves looking at what you are not eating. You don’t eat junk food, you don’t have dessert, and you don’t buy that square for snack. There becomes a almost excessive focus on what you are not eating. So often people then start to feel deprived and by the time their are done their diet they load up on all those missing things only to put back on the very weight they lost. This causes another round of dieting and the cycle continues.
The very same cycle often occurs for people around debt and savings. We often create these overly restrictive budgets with little to now room for extras so your life becomes one large exercise in what you are not buying. We focus on not buying that coffee each day or not buying that new shirt or DVD. Yet the reality is to be a good long term saver you need to focus on what you are working towards, not about what you are missing.
Life doesn’t mean you have to never have any fun or never eat anything that tastes great. It’s about being moderate in those choices that do cost a lot of money or calories. I still buy things I really don’t need, but I do want them. I know that I don’t need them, but I occasionally will buy a new DVD that I really enjoy watching or I go out for supper and only eat appetizers and dessert. Strictly speaking neither is particularly required, but I do enjoy doing it once in a while. It only becomes a problem if you are doing it every week or daily.
So I choose to enjoy those things I do buy and sleep well at night knowing I’m still working towards my long term goals. Life is often a balance of things. It’s just a lot of work to find your own sweet spot where you are happy with both your long term savings and your short term spending. Yet getting there can be worth it because you never feel like your on a diet.
So do you diet or do very restrictive budgets? Does it work for you? If so, how? If not, what was your downfall?