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Where Money Really Does Grow on Trees
Derek Allen
Derek Allen
Jan 28, 2010


Less Consumption

Perhaps the most common way these two processes are related is by consuming less. The basic fundamental associated with both involves using less. The first step to saving more money is to identify places where you can cut back spending. One needs to eliminate any unnecessary spending from their budget in order to create a good source of funding for a savings account. It is simple mathematics. Spending less than your earnings will result in surplus you can save. And spending more than you earn will create a deficit that will put you into debt. It seems simple enough, but unfortunately it is often not that easy to accomplish. It involves breaking a natural habit of spending that has been shoved down our throats through marketing and advertising our entire lives.

The first step to losing weight is cutting out foods that are negatively impacting your diet. Cut out fats, sweets, greasy food, and sugary drinks. It is the same principle as before. Taking in less calories than you burn will help you lose those pounds. But, eating more calories than you use will increase your weight. Just as with spending money, it is a habit you have to break. Consumption has become a part of our daily lives and is a hard habit to break. It is a lot easier to pick up a cheese burger during our lunch break than it is to pack a homemade salad in the morning; not to mention probably tastier as well. Breaking the consumption habit that we are overexposed to is not easy to do and takes a considerable amount of determination and willpower.

Feel Better About Yourself

I can’t describe the joy I felt when I funded my emergency fund during my first year of employment out of college. I managed to accumulate three months worth of income, about five months worth of fixed expenses, through careful planning and diligence. The peace of mind that it brings is really priceless, especially with the current state of the economy. If something were to happen to my car, job, apartment, pets, loved ones, or my well-being, I know I will be able to stay on my feet. I’m looking forward to paying off the new car I haven’t purchased yet. I am already saving for it, and will finance as little as possible. But I know when I get it and pay it off in a very short period of time, it will be an equally great feeling.

Losing weight may bring even more joy because it is a lot more tangible. While it is nice to see the numbers stack up on that bank account, it might be more encouraging to look yourself in the mirror after a few months on a workout plan. It is a lot more evident and perhaps even more rewarding to notice a few less pounds on your belly than it is to put a few hundred dollars into an emergency fund. Appreciating and anticipating this positive feeling will prove to be an effective motivator. This is why many people preach the debt snowball plan. The early victories will provide a morale boost that will get you through the rest of the program.


There isn’t One Solution

Saving money isn’t as simple as taking a portion of your paycheck and putting it into a savings account. While that is a very important part of the process, it is still one piece of the puzzle. In order to be successful at saving money, you need to cover all your bases. You need to monitor your spending habits and identify areas capable of improvement. You need to develop a plan and stick to it for paying off debt. You need identify other possible income streams that you may be able to harness. I work full-time as a Web Developer, but I do freelance on the side. I’ve set up my budget to only include my full-time salary. That way when my freelance checks come in, I can devote it almost entirely into my savings plan. Whether it be my long/short term savings, emergency fund, or some other fund I may be contributing to at the time. Though it would be ideal, one does not need to immediately commit hundreds of dollars each month to saving. In the beginning, it might be appropriate to start off with a reasonably small amount. It is better to test the waters and ease in slowly, rather than diving in and getting lost in the current. By setting too lofty of a savings goal each month you could drown in a budget you can’t keep up with.

The same principle remains true for losing weight. Running all the miles in the world isn’t going to make a difference if you are eating Big Macs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One needs to approach losing weight with a comprehensive plan. Losing weight isn’t just about eating right, it needs to be coupled with an exercise plan, that is followed! Start small and work your way into a more invigorating routine. Back when I started my running routine, I went out and ran for a couple of miles until I was too tired to continue. The next day I was sore and my right ankle swelled up like an grapefruit. I had an old bone chip from a previous injury that flared up due to the sudden exercise change. I was sidelined for a week before it healed and returned to normal. When I recovered I adopted a tiered running schedule. I ran for a few minutes, then walked for a few, lowering the walk time every couple of weeks until I was running full time. The plan should ease you into your new lifestyle and not put a shock to your physical or mental well-being.

You Need to Splurge

You might be saying to yourself, wait, why do I need to splurge; isn’t that antithetical? But the fact of the matter is, without some concessions to your plan you might become overwhelmed. Saving every dime not needed for fixed expenses might be ideal, but it is closer to insane. No matter how disciplined you are, you are not going to be able to save every dime possible. While over spending may be linked to a side effect of depression, over saving may be linked to a contributing factor of developing depression. Eventually, you are going to ask yourself: Why am I doing this? What is the point of working full-time if you don’t get the opportunity to spend a little bit of your hard earned cash? The moment this question enters your mind, you will break. It is better to adopt a reasonable plan than an unobtainable one.

The fact of the matter is that you need to treat yourself once every while. The same remains true when attempting to lose weight. You can’t cut all of your guilty food pleasures at once, lest you find yourself quitting soon enough. My mother has been a successful user of WeightWatchers and has lost over 45 pounds. Once a week, usually on Saturday, she would go over 15-20% of her daily allotment of points. She doesn’t go out and eat a chocolate cake and some Big Macs, but she does indulge herself in a cookie, a soda, or a few glasses of wine. It is about controlling your splurges. People who become overweight or bankrupt lose sight of their splurges. They splurge so often, it isn’t splurging anymore, and it becomes apart of their natural habit. Take that vacation or birthday dinner, just make sure it is well within your means and is accounted for in your overall plan. Plan, monitor, and most importantly, make sure you enjoy your seldom splurges.


Healthy Eating

A lot of saving money has to do with identifying trends and addressing them. By identifying and addressing a habit you can stop it in its tracks and direct the money it consumed into savings. More often than not, these trends are going to be related to food and drink consumption. I hate to reference Starbucks, but eliminating that caramel frappachinomochaexpressolatte you order every day on the way to work will save you $5 a day. Not only will you be freeing up money to save, but you will make a healthy change in your diet. The same can be said with eating out. A lot of money is being wasted by eating out when you can cook for yourself for a fraction of the cost. Again, this will help improve your diet; restaurants are concerned with making tasty food, not healthy food. Having direct control over what you put in your food will result in a drastically healthier meal.

Take a look at your drink consumption as well. Do you buy big packages of bottled water? You can save substantially by switching to a water filter/purifier. Not to mention your also being green! Sodas are also an un-needed expense, and they are terribly bad for you. Alcohol could also be a huge money sink. Can you survive the week without that 12 pack? Combat your beer belly by cutting back and save money in the process. If you still find yourself eating out, avoid ordering alcohol. Alcohol is marked up on average by at least 200% of its retail value, sometimes even more. A few glasses of beer or wine could cost you more than the actual meal you ordered. Don’t even get me started on those girly drinks. Not only do they almost cost much as a meal, but they have just as many calories too.

Photo Credit: nasmac Stephen Baudy leapif.geo

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Posted Under: Savings

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