Looking to Clean Up Your Finances? Copy Successful Health Programs
A brilliant artist friend of mine recently wanted to lose weight. He picked up Tim Ferriss’ book 4 Hour Body and within a few months lost 20 pounds. He and I discussed how he finally was able to take off weight he’d talked about losing for a long time. His answers enveloped many of the themes I’ve covered when I work with people on effective money management. Let’s get creative today and see what lessons about money we can learn from health and weight loss programs!
It Starts With a Spark
One point he made that grabbed me was when he said, “I just one day decided I had to do things differently. It was like I flipped a switch. I’d had enough.” That’s true for better money habits, too. Every person I’ve met who decided that today was the day to get their financial house in order didn’t “take it slowly.” Sure, maybe they didn’t try to change ALL of their financial habits in a single day, but with one decision—to be different—they began either cleaning up their credit card debt, building savings, tracking their expenses….whatever.
I can usually tell when someone comes to me whether they’re going to be successful or not based on their attitude. If they simply say, “I’d like to change,” they rarely do. However, when someone can point out all of the reasons they NEED to handle money differently, I know they’re in business.
There Are Only a Couple Real Changes Necessary
In his head, my friend worried about all of the lifestyle changes he’d have to make. Now, 20 pounds later, he realizes he didn’t have to worry so much. In his words, it was about watching his sugar and carbohydrate intake that mattered the most. Did he completely cut out either? No, that would have been unhealthy. However, by knowing about only two drivers of weight gain, he was able to shrink his waistline.
It’s the same with money management. If you need a better budget, you probably need to install an app to see where money is slipping away and schedule a weekly meeting to talk out loud with your family or coach about your spending. That alone could curb your bad habit. I say “habit” instead of “habits” because most of us only have one bad money habit. Maybe it’s going shopping when you’re depressed. It might be dinners out instead of eating at home. Maybe you feel the need to buy a present for friends whenever you meet. You only need to know the problem and then one or two ways to hold yourself accountable.
Could you do better by knowing more about money management (or about healthy eating, for that matter)? Absolutely. However, don’t let that “big ball of fear” stop you from starting now. Learn a couple basics and start moving. As you experience success you’ll want to learn even more.
Embrace the “Yo-Yo”
One of the most inspirational things my friend told me about his lifestyle change was that he was motivated to stick to his plan by one phrase Ferriss used in his book. He said that rather than getting discouraged, we should learn to embrace the yo-yo of weigh
t. Sometimes you’ll weigh more. Some days you’ll weigh less. Often you won’t know exactly why you lost weight (or didn’t). It’ll go in spurts. Don’t fight it.
If I had one piece of advice I could give to someone beginning their new financial fitness adventure, I’d say this is it. You’re going to sometimes spend lots of money. Other days you won’t spend any. You’ll have three awesome weeks and then one bad one. Embra
ce the fact that you won’t stay on “the wagon” all the time.
One of my clients is known as a funny actor, and often lands roles for the “hilarious” sidekick guy in films or television shows based on his reputation. He said recently that he isn’t funnier than you or I. He just cracks jokes more often. Because he tries more, his winning percentage has gotten pretty good. Plus, people only remember the funny three out of ten jokes he cracks.
He’s embraced the fact that he isn’t going to be funny every time, and he’s considered a success. It’s the same with money management.
Where Do I Start?
I think the best place to begin on your money journey is with a desire. What do you really want that better money management can help you attain? Do you want a better creative career? You’ll need to be on your feet enough financially to support it. Do you wantless debt? Whatever your goal might be, it’s important to find a “Tim Ferriss” in your life, like my friend did with his weight loss program. Then you’ll better understand why some strategies work while others don’t. From there, you’ll learn to accept that your goal is to work hard every day toward success and not beat yourself up. Like my comedian friend, success is in trying as much as possible, not in being perfect every moment of every day.