I was sitting in church the other day and the speaker was talking about budgeting and otherwise watching what you spend so you don’t get into financial difficulty. He was suggesting that we can never be truly financially free unless we have control over our spending habits.
This started me thinking about the relationship between spending habits and eating habits. As many of you know, a few years ago I reduced my weight by over 20%. I had tried losing weight before, but had never been totally successful. I love to work out and had always figured that if I worked out enough (i.e., used enough calories), then I could pretty much eat what I wanted. After all, this theory worked well in high school when I was on the swim team. The problem, of course, is that unless you are working out 8-10 hours a day, you can never work out enough to overcome bad eating habits.
So, this last time, I followed the WeightWatchers program and changed my eating habits. I started eating less, including less fat, while increasing my fiber intake and making sure I was getting lots of protein. The result was pretty dramatic. In six months, I lost over 40 pounds. But what has been even more dramatic is that I have kept the weight off for over 2 years. Statistically, only 3% of the population has ever lost 20% of their body weight and kept it off for more than 2 years.
So what made this time different? Simply, I finally got the message that good exercise habits cannot compensate for poor eating habits.
What does this have to do with building wealth? There is a direct corollary between eating habits and spending habits. Just as you cannot exercise enough to overcome poor eating habits, so you can never make enough money to overcome poor spending habits? Want proof? Just ask M.C. Hammer, Scottie Pippin or dozens of other celebrities who have made millions and spent every penny of it.
So, while our goal is to create enough wealth to live our ultimate lifestyle and while we always want to focus on our wants, not just our needs, we still need to learn to manage our spending. We need to set aside funds every month to go into our wealth building. We need to set aside funds every month to donate to good causes. The rest we can spend. But spend wisely, whether you are in your wealth building years or whether you have achieved your ultimate lifestyle.