Five Things Successful Diets Teach us About Budgeting

Five Things Successful Diets Teach us About Budgeting

Dieting and budgeting have a lot in common. They are both usually high on the New Years’ resolutions list, and they are both (often) abandoned soon thereafter. Even when successful, dieting can either be great for your health, or it can cause more harm than good. Budgeting is no different; done right, and you’ll save more and achieve your wildest aspirations. Done poorly, and you’ll likely feel miserable and unhappy.

  1. Being specific

Vague goals such as “I want to save more money” or in parallel, “I want to lose more weight” sets you up for failure.

Motivation to change only happens when you detect a noticeable difference between where you are and where you want to be. When you’re specific about your goal (I want to save an extra $5,000 next year), that difference is clear and you are able to attack the challenges with more focus.

2. It’s not all about sacrifices

Sacrifice is probably the number one destroyer of all motivation. When we sacrifice foods we like, we suffer a constant internal battle that we will ultimately lose.

Budgeting should be about finding ways to control your spending without sacrificing your lifestyle. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not! There are lots of ways to do this, some of which include finding substitutes for activities that cost less, identifying wastage (such as duplicate fees, direct debits you never use, etc), and searching for a better deal. In a quick study on regular expenses, we found that a couple that are looking to cut costs are likely to find savings of up to $3,000 (per year) just by getting a better deal on their utilities, general insurances and on the mortgage.

3. Track your success

Tracking success is hard to do when it comes to your finances. Most people don’t have access to a ‘scale’ that you can simply jump on and check how well you’re doing. However, it is important to remain clear about the gap between where you want to be and where you are now, so tracking progress is essential.

At Adapt Wealth, we are implementing an online software package that acts as your scale for your budget, and lets you check in on your progress regularly.

4. It doesn’t stop there

Another one of the greatest pitfalls of dieting is that we often see it as a process for losing weight, and as such, if and when we do reach our goal, we convince ourselves that the process is complete – and we stop.

The best diet strategies are about changing your behaviours, to create habits that are long-lasting.

A budget should never be seen as a means to an end. It is about making the most of your resources whilst putting away enough to meet the lifestyle that you want. We all have certain goals such as travel or funding private school for our children. That is what savings are for, and these goals don’t simply go away, they change, evolve and new goals come into the picture.

5. The Lie About Willpower

The following quote comes from Authors of the book “The ONE Thing” (Gary Keller & Jay Papasan)

“Willpower is a critical component of success in most circumstances, but many people misjudge the part it plays. Understanding how willpower actually works and when to use it is crucial for those who want to reach big goals.”

For us humans, willpower isn’t on-demand and there isn’t an endless supply and any given time. As such, you can’t rely on having it readily available when you want to summon it.

This is especially true when it comes to dieting and, of course, when you are spending money. Most people who attempt these believe that they can use their willpower to achieve their goals, but the fact is that willpower just won’t do. Our willpower is limited, and once you use some of it up, it doesn’t automatically renew.

To overcome this, we need to put in place safeguards to make sure we can endure when our willpower is running low or not available. This is where measures such as avoiding credit cards and paying with cash can help.

About Reuben Zelwer


Reuben Zelwer established Adapt Wealth Management in 2011 to help time poor clients achieve financial freedom. For over 15 years, Reuben has helped professionals, executives, business owner and those approaching retirement make the most of their circumstances by making good financial decisions. Reuben’s professional practice is complemented by substantial voluntary work, which has included setting up financial literacy and savings programs in the local community.