Decluttering *Everything*

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Postby pf101 » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:42 am

brad wrote:I know that obesity is a very complex issue with many contributing causes, but for some people it does boil down to changing long-held habits. And I think changing those habits in a gradual way, so it's not an immediate disruption that takes the body by surprise, could be one of the keys to success.

In my classes I often compare personal finance to being on a diet. Typically when people choose to lose weight they make a snap decision and then try to change everything all at once. That can last for a little while but eventually you give in to your long-held habits and binge and blow the diet/fitness plan. However, if you make slow changes - park at the far end of the parking lot instead of next to the door, get the low-fat yogurt instead of full-fat, get the ground turkey instead of ground beef, etc. those are slow changes that don't have a major, immediate impact so you're more likely to continue them.

This is the same with personal finance. Most people who go on a crash personal finance plan "I'm going to never eat out, track every penny and cancel all of my technology" fall off the wagon. It's too much too soon and you end up feeling deprived and you splurge. If you're trying to break a life-long habit of eating out every day for lunch it's better to start slow by bringing lunch once/week for a while just to start getting into the new, better habit. Same with cutting back on other treats like coffee, drinking pop with meals out, etc. Just think about it. If you eat 2 meals out a day and get a pop each time at $2 each, that's $4 (plus tax and tip) that you could save/day just by drinking water instead. That's a pretty painless way to cut back but at the end of the year you've saved almost $1500. Not to shabby.

So basically the key to making any lasting change in your life, diet or financial, is to do it slowly and with a plan instead of just jumping in with both feet and hoping you will be able to swim.

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Postby alicia » Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:43 pm

I agree with both of you, and I think we're all getting at the same thing to varying degrees: There's FAR more to long-term weight loss than just forcing yourself to do it. I'm convinced that a person with lifelong weight problems--a chronically fat person, if you will--has a much larger mental battle while losing weight than a physical one. And willpower is only a side effect.

Mandy, your post made me realize that my financial turnaround was caused by the revelation that being irresponsible is more tiring than being responsible. For example, I noticed how much time I spent worrying about money, and decided it'd actually be easier to spend less and be financially prepared. That's what convinced me to start making the lasting changes you're talking about.

It's the same with weight loss. Once the benefits of losing clearly outweigh the benefits of staying fat, people do it with little trouble. (There are emotional benefits to being fat, even if you hate your weight. Built-in excuses for failure, a barrier to protect you from the world, that sort of thing.)

BTW, it should be obvious at this point, but I'm really only talking about people who have long-term issues surrounding food and their weight. The ex-college athlete who gains during his first desk job isn't part of that group. Neither is a new mom with baby weight, or a freshman-15 victim, or anyone else who spent most of their life thin and then gained during a certain period of their life for one reason or another. Those folks have different dynamics. To that end, I'd be curious to know who participated in that NPR study.

Here's the Yodlee report of my spending from June 5 to 12:

Business Expenses: $74.95 (deductible)
Groceries: $51.67
Restaurants/Dining: $37.11
ATM/Cash Withdrawals: $20.00 (it's still in my wallet)
General Merchandise: $9.59
Total: $193.32

WAY less than it used to be.

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Postby alicia » Mon Jul 02, 2007 9:20 pm

It's been a big few weeks for me. I met about half of my June money goals. My net worth held steady and I paid off a couple large chunks of credit card.

In fact, tomorrow morning I'm going to make a credit card payment that will bring my total CC debt below $10,000. I'm so excited I can hardly wait for the bank to open.

But most important of all, a few sweet projects came my way. I earned more in June 2007 than any other month of my life--and most of it was in the second half of the month. Those projects are still going, which means this month will easily be a very, very profitable month. And if things keep moving into August, I'll be able to pay off all my credit cards before Labor Day.

It's really amazing the difference this money is making in my life. I feel really different about myself. I believe in myself more. Not because of the money itself, but because I earned the money through my writing. Things that come out of my head are apparently valuable to some very large and important companies. That's a big boost in confidence.

These projects mean my free time is really limited. I spend a lot of that time trying to rebuild my energy, keep up with my garden, and spend time with my family. I can't spend much time reading online, and I won't be on GRS forums very much til it's time for my next update. But I hope everyone is doing well, enjoying the summer, and paying stuff off. Cheers.

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