A few years ago, something strange started to happen. My clothes were shrinking. I interrogated my wife about any change in laundry detergent or procedures. She reminded me that I wash my own clothes. I asked my kids if they were pranking me with some kind of gizmo that shrinks things, like in that old Rick Moranis movie. They said “Ok, boomer.”
Eventually, I got around to asking my trusty bathroom scale. I had met the enemy, and it was me. I had always kept a consistent weight, but like everyone else, it became harder as I got older.
Your metabolism changes, you get busy with work, kids, life. As my life became more complicated and hectic, I had stopped paying attention to my health. I found myself more easily winded. It took a gentle nudge from my doctor to wake me up.
How does this relate to personal finance? I’ll get to that in a minute. Hang in there with me!
Let’s stop here for a moment. A healthy weight is a subjective thing. Everyone’s body and metabolism are different, and they change with age. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. What’s right for you is what makes you happy and healthy.
I was tempted to fix the problem by “buying stuff,” quick fixes. Maybe expensive exercise equipment, gym memberships, classes. Perhaps a special hat I could wear, or a special procedure or cream to slather on myself that would melt it all away?
Being financially responsible, I crossed those off the list. I wasn’t going to trade one problem for another. Besides, earlier in life I’d done that thing where you buy expensive exercise equipment and then use it for a clothes rack.
I fixed the problem by paying attention. I came up with a super-simple weight loss solution that involves just a few steps!
I step on the scale prior to my shower every week (just kidding, every day…almost). If my weight is above my target, I eat a little less and exercise a little more. My exercise consists of simple things like walking. I park at the farthest end of the parking lot. That’s it. That’s what works. I just paid attention.
Ok, you’ve been patient. Now to the personal finance part.
When you’re not where you want to be financially, it’s tempting to accept it as how things will be. You imagine years of sacrifice to get to reach your goals, and it can be daunting. It’s hard when you’re at the bottom of a mountain and looking up.
But if you take just a few steps, then a few more, you can turn and look back and see your progress. You’ve gotten somewhere better than where you were. You’re closer to where you want to be!
It doesn’t take a lot of work, and maybe not as much time as you thought. Why? Because as you climb, you become stronger, and more confident. You don’t have to climb that mountain in a day. You don’t need a lot of expensive gear.
Here’s the personal finance correlation to the simple weight loss routine. Before the start of the month, use an app, a spreadsheet, or pad of paper to write down how much net income you expect that month. Then divvy it up between your expected expenses. Try to allocate anything extra toward debt payments.
While you’re there, think about ways to cut back, things you can sell, ways to make a few bucks on the side.
Then each day of the month, spend a few minutes updating each category for your spending that day. Try to stay on track. Just by paying attention, you make better, faster progress. It’s like a pay raise! Many of the apps make this simple.
So that’s it. Low effort, easy peasy. After a month or so, it’s habit, and you won’t be able to imagine not doing it! Paying attention, and spending just a few minutes a day to stay on top of your progress, is the simple key to achieving your financial goals.
If you need that gentle nudge or guidance, I’m here for you. I’m your money doctor. I’ll fast-path you through it all. I feel like a superhero every time I help someone toward their dreams.