Being overweight and in debt are remarkably similar. Both situations are easier to get into rather than out of. And neither is healthy. Luckily, the same mechanisms work to extricate yourself out of debt as to lose weight – all you need to do is to count your dollars like you would calories.

Take in less than you burn. The first thing fitness buffs will tell you when you ask them how to lose weight is to take in less calories than you burn. There’s even a formula to figure out how many calories the average person extends during the course of the day (BMR) and through common forms of exercise. The same goes for budgeting, but it’s much simpler – spend less than you earn. You already know how much you earn (no fancy formulas needed), so you know your budgeting limit.

Don’t starve yourself. The second thing fitness buffs will tell you is to not eat less than a certain number of calories per day – or else your body will go into starvation mode. If you starve yourself, you’re more likely to overeat later, counteracting the weight loss. It’s just the same for spending. Cut back, but don’t cut back too far, or else you’re likely to overspend at some point, undoing your savings goals.

Keep track of your calories. Sites like Sparkpeople.com and Myfitnesspal.com are very popular with dieters for a reason. They help you keep track of how many calories you’re taking in and help you stay accountable. I mean how else do you know you’re staying below your limit? Not surprisingly, sites that help you track your spending keep you on track in just the same way. Check out Mint.com or BudgetTracker.com.

Calorie counting isn’t the only way to go. You know how successful dieters do other things besides counting calories – like exercising, eating the right kinds of food and changing their lifestyle instead of just dieting for the short term? Yep, you guessed it, the same goes for budgeting. Cutting back on spending isn’t the only way to financial success. How about earning extra income (like exercising)? Or buying good, long-lasting products over cheap, inefficient ones (like eating the right kinds of foods)? Changing your lifestyle is also essential to long-term financial success. You need to develop a frugal mindset to make any long lasting changes.

Do you see any other similarities between dieting and budgeting? Isn’t it funny how similar they are?

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11 Responses to How to count dollars like calories

  1. I think with both you have to allow yourself a small splurge every so often. If you don;t you are probably going to end up breaking down and the splurge will end up being much larger.

    • Rebecca says:

      VERY true. I think that happens whenever we try to restrict ourselves too much in any regard. It’s like the stretching of a rubber band and it bouncing back.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. The ideas are so very linked when thought about.

    • Rebecca says:

      Yeah as I was writing this article, I kept thinking of more and more ways they are related. I could have gone on forever.

  3. And I do better at both when I track them immediately on my phone =)

  4. This is a great analogy! Between you and John from Frugal Rules, I’m not sure who wins the Analogy of the Day award:)

  5. [...] How to Count Dollars Like Calories on Doggone Thrifty [...]

  6. This is such a great post! I never would have thought to compare the two, but they are so so similar!

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