This article is part of the MH4C Writers Challenge. Since I’m taking a little break over the next few weeks, I’ve chosen ten guest articles to feature on this blog. I’d like to see which articles you like the most. If you like an article, please take a moment to ‘Like’ it on Facebook, ‘Tweet’ it, or give it a ‘Plus One’ on Google +. (To the right of the title, you’ll see each of those buttons so it should make your job easier.) The winner of the MH4C Writers Challenge is the article that has the most social media shares.
The following entry is by Lynne Heryford. Lynne and her husband of 33 years live in north central Montana about 75 miles from the Canadian border. She moved to Montana seven years ago from eastern Oregon. Her family has spent most of their lives in the cattle ranching industry. She has two grown sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and two “perfect” grandchildren.
The question is “how is money and food alike?”
The answer; “they are both essential for our survival.” We often think that the only vital necessities for living are; food, water, clothing, and shelter. While this is technically true to sustain life, those of us living in a modern culture do “need” some form of purchasing power, typically money!
Here is the problem. You HAVE to eat to stay alive. The ability to sustain life and lose weight at the same time is difficult. You must walk into a grocery store and purchase food, others are eating all around you, there are advertisements for food, and there is even a FOOD Network on TV talking about nothing else but food! Unlike trying to quit drinking alcohol or stopping smoking; you can not quit eating “cold turkey.” If you do, you will die! It takes balance, will power, and wisdom. The same is true for the use of money.
Many people try and some are successful at “living off the grid.” This means in essence to “live off the land,” raise all of your own food, use natural energy, and to be self-sufficient. I’m sure that some money is still needed for medical care and other things which one can not provide by his or herself.
If you are not able or do not desire to live this life style, you WILL need money! You will be inundated with all the similar things that a person on a food diet faces. I call it “stuff stimuli.” Stuff is everywhere begging us to take it home with us even IF we don’t have the money to pay for it. Not only is “stuff” screaming at us, but we also have real financial obligations. Power, insurance, medical expense, housing, food; the NEEDS go on and on. Most of us can not survive without money. The good news is that just like we can go on a diet to lose weight we can also go on a financial diet to reduce debt or increase savings.
Lynne’s Diet Plan
I try to live a balanced life. If I gain a couple of pounds I stay longer in the gym and go on a diet. When money is short or when we take leave of our senses and incur debt (believe me we “have been there done that” with huge debt) I put us on a “money diet.” Here are a few ways that I do that.
1. Determine NEED!
One day when I was teaching a Personal Finance class at the high school could not believe the kids’ response when I suggested that cell phones were not a need for survival. They were convinced that a cell phone was a necessity. One boy even said, “what if I have a flat tire on the way home?” My response; “get out and change it, you shouldn’t call your parents for that anyway!!” However, like those kids I need to realize that I don’t NEED new towels because I am having company!
2. Get honest with myself.
I am amazed on “The Biggest Loser” when they show the contestant the tray of food with all the items on it that they typically eat in a day. You know like 5 hamburgers, 3 milkshakes, a whole pizza, and lots more. The people are always surprised when they realize just how much they really eat in a day.
Likewise when I write down exactly what I spend/owe and savings/assets every month on a tally sheet (yes, with pen and paper!) I am surprised at the waste of money. This keeps me focused and I enjoy watching the debt side go down and the savings side go up.
3. Go on a “stuff diet.”
As I mentioned before “stuff” is everywhere and most of us have plenty of it. We have friends who make a fortune by owning storage units. People pay hundreds of dollars a year for many years to store their “stuff.” For one month I buy nothing but food and minimal supplies for the upkeep of our home. I buy not one thing for myself. It is amazing how many little dumb things we spend money on and how fast it accumulates….both the pile of “stuff” and the debt/or waste of money to buy it.
4. Be thankful and generous.
If you are anything like me you have unlimited things to be grateful for. Keep focused on what you do have and not what you wish you had. Give thanks to the Lord everyday for everything. You probably also have more than someone else. Give not only a tithe to God, but give something, anything to someone else. Again this will keep you focused on what is really important!