Thursday, January 5, 2012

Money Lesson: Don't Eat The Cookie!

Recently I shared some of my financial goals for the year, but I didn't tell you all about the other life goals that I have. One is to improve my eating habits, and part of the way I've been doing that is to track calories and keep a food diary using the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone. My motivation was tested when my fiance decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. I had space in my calorie count for the day to have a cookie, so of course I was ready to run in the kitchen to get one...BUT, I decided to enter the cookie into my food diary before actually eating it, and boy did this make all the difference.

The app I use tells me how much progress you can make in 5 weeks if everyday you ate like you did today (in terms of calories consumed). By eating this 150 calorie cookie and getting into the habit of "splurging" on an extra 150 calories each day, the amount of weight I can lose in 5 weeks would be decreased by 1.5lbs. This was a light bulb moment for me...when it comes to health or even money, each seemingly small decision you make is important, as they collectively form your set of habits that will either lead you to your goal, or lead you astray. That afternoon vending machine break and the weekly trip to Target that leaves you $20 poorer each time may seem like small amounts of money, but added together can really hurt your budget. 

Every time you make a bad decision, it becomes easier and easier to make another one. Also, each bad decision makes it easier to fall off the wagon of change because even though we all know that you can make mistakes along our journey, we all have had times where we accept mistakes as failure and just stop trying all together.

To commit to a lifestyle change, we have to first commit to taking the journey one decision at a time. At each "checkpoint" (decision), we have to decide whether to move closer to our goals, or to move further away. We will have missteps along the way, but we just need to work on making those mistakes occur further and further apart.

I think this commercial from Fidelity illustrates my point pretty well:

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