Last week's Weight Watchers theme was "eat what you love." The theory is that no weight-loss plan can be successful long-term if you permanently deprive yourself of the foods you love.
Sooner or later, most dieters will cave in and end up chucking the whole regime. Or else they'll reach their goal and then go back to the eating habits that made them overweight in the first place.
Weight Watchers teaches you to make permanent, healthy changes to your lifestyle that will allow you to lose weight gradually and keep it off. The plan involves compromise, moderation, accountability, and being kind to yourself. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me; I've been "free lifetime" since 2005.
The same principles apply to achieving financial fitness. Most of us can't buy whatever we want, whenever we want. But with a few trade-offs, some delayed gratification, we can buy what we love… and savor it.
If your expenses consistently exceed your income, you'll have to make sacrifices to turn the train around and get back on track. But once you're living on less than you earn, reducing or eliminating debt, contributing religiously to a retirement account, and building an adequate emergency fund, take a breather. Spend a little on something you love.
Think about why you're saving. Most people don't strive to accumulate money for money's sake; they want the purchasing power and freedom that money represents.
You can't take it with you when you die. And you never know how much time you, or your loved ones, have left on this earth. Start tackling that bucket list while you still have your health and energy.
One of our neighbors, athletic and vital in his early sixties, was riding his bicycle one day on the cart path. As he sped down a hill, a golf cart cut in front of him. Our friend tumbled over the handlebars and into a ravine, breaking his neck. In one chilling moment, his life changed irreversibly. Fortunately, he had already traveled the world, raised a family, and lived life to its fullest. But he'd had every reason to believe it would continue that way for many more years. Now, as a quadriplegic, he's still able to enjoy life to some extent, but it's much more difficult, if not impossible, to do many of the things he loved.
Perhaps you're socking away every penny so you can leave a good inheritance for your children. It's certainly noble to want to help them out, make life easier for them than it was for you. But an even better legacy would be to instill in them a healthy attitude toward money and the skills necessary to build their own wealth.
Did you get a big tax refund or bonus check? While it's not wise to squander the whole amount, set aside a portion for your own pleasure. Try that new restaurant. Buy that toy you've been dreaming about.
Do you have a travel fund for a dream vacation? Set a goal of how much you'll need, and then once you reach the goal, go! Take that trip, make the memories, and when you get back, rebuild your savings for your next adventure.
Planning for tomorrow is important. But don't forget to live today.
What are your reasons for saving money and building wealth? I'd love to hear your comments.