6 Tips to Better Deal With Food and Money
I often find myself describing how our relationship to food and money are often very similar – both are areas that, in general, we all know what to do, but for a wide variety of reasons, we choose not to do it. Those reasons usually have to do with emotions and how we relate to food or money, although sometimes it’s due to circumstance (you might compromise your diet because you’re traveling all week and have no choice but to eat in restaurants or you might find yourself in debt because you couldn’t postpone your cat’s surgery and you didn’t have the money in savings). Either way, here are 6 tips that I often hear related to dieting that also work for budgeting:
- Write it down – Food journaling is the key to calorie counting and reduction. Likewise, it is key to budgeting. The best way to keep your spending in check is to know exactly where your money is going. Writing down every penny you spend makes you think twice before impulse-spending.
- Find your daily dose – Dieting apps tell us how many calories we should stick to each day. Likewise, if you have a savings goal in mind, set a date to achieve it then break it down to a daily dollar amount. Let’s say you want to book a $3,000 vacation a year from now. That equates to roughly $10/day. Each time you’re confronted with a decision of whether or not to spend, think in your mind how many days that spending decision will push your vacation into the future.
- Sweat the small stuff – Every bite counts. So does every expenditure. And the changes add up to big results. Any financial habit change, debt reduction plan or savings goal takes time for you to see results because it usually starts with something small like saving an additional $50 per paycheck. The small changes add up though, and before you know it, you’ll have $500 in the bank.
- Don’t go cold turkey – It’s unrealistic to think that another carb won’t pass your lips until you’ve shed that 20 pounds. The key is moderation. If you tell yourself you’re going to go a whole month without spending anything, chances are the following month you’ll only end up spending twice as much. Instead of completely cutting out unnecessary spending to fix your budget, look at one or two changes this month you might make and see how that feels. Again, it all adds up.
- Identify your triggers – I know that I make poor food choices when I get hungry or when I munch after dinner so I try to eat before I get hungry and close the kitchen after dinner. Think about the times that you find yourself spending recklessly and connect that to what else is going on in your life. Do you shop after a bad day? When you’re bored? When you’re wanting to celebrate? Find another way to deal with your feelings that doesn’t involve compromising your budget or your diet.
- Celebrate milestones – Reaching your dieting or financial goal is a reward in itself, but don’t forget to set a few benchmarks along the way to recognize your hard work. You’ll be more likely to stick to it if you break it down into smaller goals.
Reframe your money attitude away from, “I can’t…” because you can and you already know what you should be doing. Instead figure out why you don’t then take the steps to change the habits toward financial security.