We have all heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement and we’re going to unpack part of it today. Wealth and health both depend upon a lot of the same character traits and self-awareness. Many of the principles you have been applying to your finances should also be applied to your health.
Remember in How to Create a Budget that Works when I talked about the simple equation that can be applied to both finances and weight? Here it is again in case you missed it:
Amount In – Amount Out = Gains or Losses
Just like with your finances, weight is a numbers game: calories in and calories out. I refer to this equation as “simple” because it is an easy-to-understand concept, not because it is an easy process. We all know it isn’t. Budgeting and weight management are challenging. Here are some of the required attitudes you will need for your health journey that you’ve hopefully already been exercising with your budget.
Ah, delayed gratification. We all have a love-hate relationship with this one. Cut back now to have more later. It hurts in the “now” part, but the “later” is totally worth it. If you’re putting money in savings or depositing in your 401(k), you’re already living this principle. The good part about it is that it’s not all that difficult to apply this same attitude to your weight and health. You have to focus on the end result and remind yourself what you’re working toward throughout the every day decisions. When you’re staring down the barrel of a bottomless Christmas popcorn tin, it’s hardly the time to ask yourself what your long-term goals are. Set aside some time to really consider that question and come up with some concrete, achievable goals for both your finances and your health in the coming year. Apply the same strategies to both to keep yourself on track. Make a vision board, frame inspirational quotes and hang them in your office, reassess your progress on a regular basis, or leave yourself notes around the house to keep focused. Do whatever you need to that will keep you mindful of your end goal.
Budgeting requires a lot of self restraint. We have to say “no” to some things so that we can say “yes” to better things. We have to cut back sometimes in order to spend more at another time. The same applies to health. Refuse to grab fast food for lunch so that you can enjoy the food at a dinner party later. Set your alarm a little earlier so you can squeeze in a morning workout to help you start your day being mindful of your health. Self restraint is one of those great virtues that is strengthened by practice. The more you do it, the more mature you become about your every day decision making and the easier it is to repeat next time.
Disciplining yourself in one area of your life very quickly transfers to other areas. Once you recognize that you will not surely die from sticking to your budget, you begin to realize that it is extremely rewarding. You are able to attain goals that you thought were unachievable. You really start to believe in yourself and your abilities and you begin to look for other aspects of life that you can also improve. Improving your financial situation and improving your health builds self-esteem and confidence. With those two character traits, you’ll become unstoppable!
Appreciation for Indulgences
It’s funny how something that used to be a luxury begins to feel like an expectation when it’s a common occurrence. I love getting a massage. I usually get a gift certificate for one a few times a year at holidays and I relish the luxury. After I started my first job as a PA, I began scheduling a massage once a week. Suddenly, it was a chore to figure out how I was going to balance the appointment with all of my other obligations on my days off. Not only was I spending more money, I no longer appreciated it as much. The same goes for healthy habits. When you indulge in something delicious, it’s a real treat, but when you do it all the time, it loses its specialness. When you take a much-needed rest day from your exercise routine, it’s rejuvenating, but if you string too many together in a row, you start feeling restless and lazy.
In order to really appreciate indulgences in life, you have to treat them as such. They should be reserved for occasions when you need a reward or a pick-me-up and then you can treat yourself guilt-free knowing that you earned it. You worked hard for that gift to yourself. This kind of lifestyle teaches contentment and gratitude. You learn to really appreciate the little things and that is vital to living simply and happily. You can read more about my thoughts on this in my post about the key to budgeting success.
A money minded person is constantly trying to balance spending and saving. You want to save, but you don’t want to be greedy. You want to make more money, but you don’t want to neglect your family. You want to give generously, but you also want to give wisely. It’s a constant give and take. It becomes easier with time to figure out when you should loosen the purse strings and when you should not. This same balancing act applies to your health and it, too, requires practice to master. When you are mindful of your health, you learn what your body needs to feel its best. I know I need a good amount of sleep so I keep the super late nights to a minimum. I also know that I feel best when I maintain a modest exercise routine and a well-balanced diet. When I have lazy spells and stop exercising, I can feel it after several days. I become more irritable and I have trouble falling asleep at night. The same with food. When I eat too much and forget to drink lots of water (like around the holidays), I have no energy. I’m constantly working to find a happy medium. This has become such a part of my regular routine for both my finances and my health, that it requires very little focus anymore. It’s become a lifestyle instead of an obsession.
As with all areas of life, it’s easy to allow things to get completely out of balance. You can ignore the early warning signs that you’re shifting too far one way or another and let things slide into the realm of obsession. This can be just as damaging as carelessness. Greed is a thief of happiness as is excessive concern about your weight. Don’t let yourself become consumed with these things. Find your balance, do the best you can, and live your life to the fullest.
There are a lot of ways that being health-conscious can save you money. Empty calorie snacks are so expensive, especially when you consider that they have no nutritive content and the bag is half full of air. In contrast, seasonal produce is often an absolute steal. When you replace your high calorie snacks with healthy fruits and vegetables, you will eat less because the fiber keeps you feeling full longer. You can also save money by skipping fast food and packing lunches and snacks from home. Or by cutting out sodas and juice and drinking water. Skip the cocktails when you’re in restaurants and you’ll be down 150+ calories and saving at least $5. I love a good latte, but those drinks are loaded with sugar and at $4 each, I treat them like a splurge for both my health and my budget.
I know many people present the argument that “health” foods are more expensive. To that I say yes and no. If you want to go to Whole Foods and purchase all organic, gluten-free specialty items then you will find it very difficult to keep your grocery budget at an affordable level. Whether or not to eat organic foods is a personal preference and I won’t speak to that other than to say organic foods are almost always more expensive unless you can grow them yourself. Here’s a great article on how inexpensively start a garden. I plan to give it a try this year myself. My thoughts are that non-organic fruits and vegetables are better than sweets and empty calorie snacks. Don’t allow the pressure to buy expensive, organic foods keep you from making the switch to healthier habits. Take baby steps, keep it affordable, and improve when you have the opportunity. Be sure to check out my articles on grocery savings.
What kinds of overlapping lifestyle changes have you found to improve your wealth and health? Feel free to share in the Comments below!
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