Losing weight and building wealth

The new year is a time when lots of people make resolutions for lots of people. The most common one for people is to lose weight. Another one is to get your finances in order. And belief it or not, the two have a lot in common.

Always be checking

When you are trying to lose weight, you are on the scales daily or at least weekly to check your progress. They don’t have to be big differences but you want to keep track of how you are doing so you can make adjustments to what you are doing. You aren’t going to leave it for a month or two between checking your weight, only to discover that you’ve put on four kilos and you’ve been doing the wrong things all along.

Losing weight is all about creating a calorie deficit, so you check the calories in the food you eat to make sure the calories are in line with your expectations (1,000 calories in a Big Mac meal!).

When it comes to habits of the wealthy, they are always monitoring. As most of us only get paid monthly, there is no need to check out bank balances daily but we need to track our savings and investment accounts to make sure we are still on course to reaching our goal.

Have a plan

How are you going to lose weight? You need to do up a food and exercise plan. What foods are you going to eat? What foods and drinks are you going to cut down on(out)? How often will you go to the gym and what exercises are you going to do when you go?

What is the ultimate goal? What is weight do you want to get to and by when? How are you going to break that down into a series of smaller goals? How much do you need to lose each week? Setting a target of losing 20 kilos is too broad a range. You need to break it down to smaller weekly goals.

When it comes to your money, you need to set your ultimate target. How much do you need to save and by when. Then you have to split it down per pay cheque. How much do you need to save each month to achieve your goal? Do you have enough disposal income to achieve that? If not, what has to change so you can? What allowances do you add in there too for emergencies?

Good habits

You aren’t going to be looking at the back of packets of food for the rest of your life. If you form good habits, you won’t have to. You know that if you eat croissants every day, you’ll put on weight, so you don’t do it. You also know that keeping your portions smaller will be enough. And exercising on a regular basis will help you balance things out and keep you fit and healthy.

Automating your savings is the key good habit for your money. Money going into your pension straight from your salary before you see it. Personal savings going out of your account by direct debit the day after you are paid. A minimum percentage of your bonus going into savings. Not running up credit card debt and paying off your credit card fully each month. Have good habits and you’ll do alright in the long run and you won’t need to check things all the time.

Don’t do extremes

Dry January? What a load of rubbish. I know loads of people who did it and all they talked about was having a drink on the 1st February. Same with these extreme diets that have been popular in the past. People who do extreme diets do well for a bit but they can’t sustain it and go back to their old ways and put the weight back on. It’s better to cut down gradually and exercise more. Doing bit by bit is more sustainable than extreme dieting.

When I do financial planning, we call it lifestyle financial planning as we want our client to be able to maintain the lifestyle they want. I know that telling people to stop doing things they love doing and save the money instead won’t work. They’ll walk out of the meeting and completely ignore what I told them to do. We spend enough money on unnecessary stuff to be able to redirect that money instead. Create a regular saver plan and slowly increase it will create wealth over the long term

instead of being miserable for a few months and ending up going back to old habits.

It’s ok to fail

Most people are heavier on a Monday than they are on a Friday. Why? Because they tend to eat and drink more at the weekend than they do during the week. But that’s ok. Or even if you have a bad day during the week and put on weight. It happens everyone. But giving up won’t solve your weight loss goal. Accepting that you had a bad day or week and you’ll just extend your target dates is fine.

There will be months when you won’t save as much as you want. Christmas, summer holidays, weddings, kids going back to school, school trips. Life gets in the way of saving! And that’s fine but it doesn’t mean you go back to your old ways and just give up. You get back to saving and building up funds means that when the next big expense comes up, there’s money there.

Plan, monitor and create good habits. Do that for both your health and your money and you will be fine.


Steven Barrett

12 February 2024