Principles to Apply to both Weight Loss and Debt Loss: Financial Health for Life
There are burdens that add stress to your life. Carrying extra weight and carrying extra debt are both situations that can make an impact on your health. There are habits around both that can establish a healthy foundation and let you get on with your purpose.
It takes discipline to make a plan and stick to it. By thinking about your goals and creating a structure that supports working toward those goals, you can shift your energy from decision making to habit formation, and the longer you walk down that road the easier it will be. In both weight loss and debt reduction, there aren’t actually any shortcuts. Fad diets and get-rich quick schemes will always fail in the end, but consistent good habits will set you up for health for life.
Evaluate your stories
Whether you are trying to reduce your weight or your debt, an important first step is to examine what stories you are telling yourself. Your narrative has a lot of power over your behavior, and this is something you CAN change.
Ask yourself these questions:
What do I believe about money?
What do I believe about what I deserve?
What do I believe about scarcity and abundance? Diets are hard to stick to because they feel restrictive. By shifting your mindset and embracing all the good things you can eat that do nourish and satisfy your body, choosing what you eat becomes an exercise in self-care and abundance rather than an exercise in restriction. The same shift can apply to budgeting as well. If you view your budget as an exercise in restriction, it will feel like you are depriving yourself of things you want. If you view your budget as your pathway to freedom, it changes your motivation.
Build awareness about what you eat and ask yourself why those things are satisfying. In the same way, build an awareness about the necessary expenses in your life. Know what you spend and what you need and let that be your starting point.
Make a plan
A basic plan to start with is to divide your income according to the 80-10-10 rule. You save 10% of your income, you are generous with 10% of your income, and you live within a budget on the remaining 80%. Any of the 80% that is left over after you pay your bills is your discretionary income. The first step to financial freedom is to make sure that your personal overhead is under control and that means that you spend less money than you make. If you use a credit card, make sure you are paying the balance off each month. If you find you cannot be disciplined in that way, you are better off clipping up your credit cards.
If you find yourself carrying debt, you can use the snowball method to pay off that debt. Make a list of all your debts. Pay the minimums on all of those debts except the first debt. Put as much of your discretionary income toward paying off that debt as you can. When that debt is paid off, be disciplined and apply all the money you were paying toward that debt to the next one on the list.
Make sure that you and your partner are on the same page. Work out your budget together, have an understanding of your debts, and agree about how much you will spend without consulting the other person first. This builds accountability into your budget and ensures that you are working together.
The 10% of your income that you are generous with is important as well. Money is a tool and money has to move. Being a good steward of your resources means that you find ways to contribute to other’s wellbeing. Don’t give what you don’t have, but do examine all the ways that you can be generous and bless others.
There is no time like the present! When you’ve evaluated your stories and set some goals, and made a plan to move things in that direction, you have to step out and start. Maybe the best place to start is with your personal overhead, to work on trimming your budget down to the essentials. Maybe the place you need to start is with debt reduction. Maybe the place to start for you is income generation. Get creative instead of competitive, and see if you can come up with something that helps people. Whether you are striking out on your own or looking at ways to contribute to the place where you already work, compensation follows contribution. Create a service to move money toward you.
Discipline and hard work do create change, and those changes can bring you the freedom of financial independence and good health. Set your goals, stick to your plan, and start today.