“I will start my healthy diet TOMORROW.” Sounds familiar? You either heard this from a friend, a family member, or from yourself. Days, weeks, months, and even years pass – still the same tomorrow na lang excuse.
And when it comes to saving and investing, it sounds like this “On the next pay-day” and many other variations like “After (insert occasion here: Birthday, Holiday, etc).”
Do you want to know why this keeps on happening? Like what I mentioned in my blog, The Social Cost of Investing, we Filipinos are very social people and love doing things together. That is why we celebrate as many holidays, and occasions as possible (including the fiestas in all 7,107 islands in the Philippines, kidding!) Indeed, it’s more fun eating here! Consequently, dieting gets delayed until the next occasion comes along.
Kung kalaban ng diet ang fiesta, when it comes to saving, may fiesta din. This time it is located in malls and call it a 3-day SALE. Take a look at this scenario and see if you can relate.
You have made up your mind to save a portion of your salary for the purpose of investing. Just when you are about to deposit the money, you pass by a mall and see a billboard in bright red with large font: 70% off on select items. Now it’s a decision between to save money or save 70% on sale items. “Naka-save parin naman ako diba?” you argue. We both know you didn’t.
Now, I’m not saying these things are bad. Eating out, celebrating occasions, and shopping with your family and friends are probably the best ways to spend your time and money while creating happy memories. But, you should also bear in mind to keep things in moderation because unless you make a deliberate decision to change your lifestyle, you will never get started.
Living a new lifestyle will of course be difficult at first. Example, kung sanay ka mag unli-rice and now you have to stick to one cup, or if you’re used to spending 100% of your salary, and now you have to adjust and spend only 70% and save the remaining 30%. Just like forming any other habit, mahirap talaga sa simula, but once you get used to it, these changes will be part of your new lifestyle and you won’t even notice them.
To help you get started, here are 5 strategies which you can apply in both saving & dieting:
1. SET A REALISTIC GOAL
Aside from being healthy, one of the most common reasons why people want to go on a diet is to lose weight. If this is your goal as well, be realistic and specify how much weight that you want to lose.
For example, “I currently weigh 180 lbs. and I want to weigh 150 pounds after 6-8 months.”
In setting your money-saving goal, start with what’s doable and realistic as well. “I will save 20% of my income (for a minimum wage earner, that is around P2,400 a month) and have P18,800 next year.”
20% is just a good place to start. You can adjust this according to what’s convenient to you. Don’t jump saving 70% of your income right away and deprive yourself. You might find yourself giving up sooner than you think. Make it a habit first and gradually increase as you go.
2. DETERMINE YOUR ACTION STEPS
Now that you have established your goal, next thing to do is to determine the steps you should take to help you achieve your goal.
For example, using the goal we established earlier, to lose weight you can:
- Lessen your salt, fat, and sweet intake
- Have an exercise routine like jogging or going to the gym
(Note: for illustration purposes only. Not intended to be used as a dieting guideline.)
If you want to start saving 20% of your income, you will have to live on the remaining 80%. If you’re used to spending everything before, you may have to make necessary adjustments like:
- Bring packed lunch instead of eating out
- Buy only what is necessary in the grocery
- Register to unlimited services to avoid overspending on prepaid load
3. KNOW YOUR “REASON WHY”
Unless you have a reason or a burning desire on why you want to accomplish your goal, you might find yourself giving up when it starts to be inconvenient in adjusting to your new lifestyle.
Think of it this way – your goal or vision is your destination, your action step is your vehicle, while your “reason why” is the fuel that will keep you going until you reach your goal.
If your goal is to be physically fit, why are you doing it? I once heard of a story of an obese dad who started going on a diet the moment he saw his new born daughter. His reason was he wanted to live long enough to walk her daughter down the aisle. Every time he is tempted to quit dieting, he made himself remember why he wanted to be fit that motivated him to keep on going.
When it comes to saving or investing, you need to have a clear purpose why you’re doing it. Having more money in the future is not a valid reason, because a 3-day sale definitely happens in the future as well.
What are you saving or investing for? Is it for a vacation? Define where you want to go. Imagine the white sand beach resort in Boracay.
It may also be for your dream car, home, or as simple as a beautiful dress. Knowing your reason why will make you think twice when you pass by the mall and help you make wiser spending decisions.
Don’t wait until New Year to start a new resolution. There’s no better day to start than today because tomorrow will have its own set of excuses.
Start your healthy diet today. Don’t think about next week’s handaan and start only after it passes because sooner or later, there will be another one. If you really can’t help it, then give yourself a cheat day once a weak. This way, you know that you won’t have to pass in the next family occasion. Having a cheat day is better than not starting at all.
Start saving money today. Once you receive your salary, make a budget and set aside your saving right away. You can deposit it immediately to your savings account or to your investment instrument.
If your idea of saving is the left-over of your salary, from my experience, there won’t be any.
(Read: How to Save and Budget Wisely)
5.MAKE IT A HABIT
If you find yourself cheating on your diet every day, or overspending on your trip to the mall, don’t be discouraged. A habit doesn’t form overnight. Studies show that it takes about 21 days of repeated action until a habit is formed.
You can’t go to the gym for a day and expect to have 6-pack abs in just one session! You will have to go back to the gym regularly to achieve your dream figure.
Likewise, your savings and investments will not grow overnight. Diligence to set-aside a portion of your salary every payday will bring you one step closer to your goal.
The pain of discipline is one of the things that you will have to endure in making these new set of habits. It is not easy, but it will be worth it.
There you have it, my top 5 strategies in both saving and dieting. But we’re not done yet.
Applying these 5 strategies is great, but what’s greater is starting over again even after you fail. Remember, there are no failures, only lessons learned. You may not be where you want to be, but at least you’re not where you used to be.
Do you have your own dieting or saving strategy that you wish to share? Comment below and let’s learn from each other.