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Behavior budgeting

Financial Freedom Isn’t Temporary

financial freedom, financial advice, personal finance tips


My wife is trying to lose some weight, and has been investigating a handful of weight loss products. Some friends of hers have been using a particular line of products, and have experienced spectacular results. My wife went online and started reading reviews, most of which followed a common theme in that the initial results were very positive, but once the customers stopped taking the product, the weight came right back.

The customers treated losing weight as a temporary effort.

My wife and I used to talk about our finances in much the same way. We would say things like “Once we get these credit cards paid off,” or “I can’t wait until our car is paid of next year.” The question I started asking myself was, “What then?” Obviously our intention isn’t to rack up new balances on the plastic, or to immediately walk into a car dealership and finance a new car for 4 years.

If my wife, her friends, or anyone looking to lose weight wants the results to be permanent, then the change in behavior also has to be permanent. If a line of products was used to get there, then you likely would have to take that line of products forever to maintain those results. I gently suggested to my wife that we both look into programs that encourage healthy eating, portion control and exercise. These are good habits that we would be wise to permanently alter our lifestyles to include.

If, after paying off our debt, my wife and I want to be free from debt forever , then the changes in the way we handle our finances have to be permanent as well. The behaviors that we have made part of our day to day lives need to continue even AFTER the debt is gone. Our weekly budget meetings, the tracking of spending, eating out only sparsely and questioning every expense for the value it contributes to our lives all have to continue, or we may find debt creeping it’s way back into our lives.

Financial freedom is a permanent lifestyle change.

Any major accomplishment in life requires hard work, determination, and change. Whether it’s weight loss, your finances, or any other life goal, you have to make permanent lifestyle changes to achieve those goals. If we want the results to be permanent, then the lifestyle changes have to be permanent as well.

Have you ever accomplished something, and then fell right back into your old habits undoing it all? Have you ever thought about if or how your behaviors would change once you achieved financial freedom?

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  • My parents lived though the Great Depression and were very frugal. Much of that rubbed off on me. My wife also came from frugal roots. We have not had to change our lifestyles to have a high savings rate. We both also have relatively high-paying jobs, which has helped our savings, as well. The one thing we have to watch is lifestyle creep. My wife has spent much more this year on charitable giving than any year past. We also recently spent more than $6k on our week-long vacation in Hawaii. That is way more money than we have ever spent on a vacation. I suppose it is time to have a budget meeting with my wife.

  • @Bryce – good for you for being inherently wise with your money! Consistent lifestyle creep is a constant threat to one’s budget – although I don’t see a periodic vacation to Hawaii as lifestyle creep…that’s just enjoying life! 🙂

  • Look – really great posting. Excellent observation. If you want to get rich, you need to continually commit to saving and investing.

  • I completely agree with the long term commitment of lifestyle change on maintaining a healthy weight and healthy spending and saving habits. It isn’t something that you can do and then stop, you’ve got to keep it up.

    For your wife, I highly recommend WeightWatchers. I lost 35 lbs over a year and have kept it off for the last two years. Go do it! You’ll thank yourself!

  • Actually, the cool thing about getting out of debt is that once you stop throwing away money on interest, and once you finish paying off past purchases, you have a lot more money to go around. If you’ve been paying $500/month on credit card debt, as soon as you pay it all off, it’s like having an extra $500/month in income. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that you can go overboard with your spending, but it should make things a lot easier. Even if you increase your spending by $250/month, you can still put an extra $250/month into savings.

  • @James – Not only do you have to continually commit to saving and investing, but you need to constantly evaluate your investments to make sure you’re getting the most growth for your money that you can! Thanks for reading!

  • @Miel – WW is actually the plan that I want my wife (and me for that matter) to get on. We’ve both done Weight Watchers in the past and seen great results….the problem is when we quit following the program. Again, that’s what happens when the change isn’t permanent, right! I like WW a lot because it promotes healthy eating, portion control and exercise – it’s REAL life! Congrats on your weight loss, and thanks for stopping by!

  • @Sara – very true, having the extra cash in your pocket would at least make things easier. But, if you go back to bad spending habits, it wouldn’t take long to consume that extra money, accumulate debt and be right back where you’re started. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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