Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wait Ten Minutes, It Goes Away....

If you are hungry, waiting a few minutes often makes the hunger go away.

I often compare over-spending to over-eating in this blog, as they are driven by the same neural network pathways in your brain.   Being 20 pounds overweight is like having an intractable credit card debt of $5000 or more.   You keep resolving to lose the weight (or lose the debt) but next month, you get on the scale (or get your monthly statement) and are depressed to find you've gained three more pounds and another $1000 in debt.

And both are similar in that you can keep living in denial an awful long time and still appear to be doing "OK" until one day you are bankrupt or dead of a heart attack.

Of course, along the way, the symptoms get worse.   You lose mobility.  Your knees and back ache from all that extra weight.   Your credit score drops.   You find yourself "short of cash" more and more.

Same deal, different day.   And in America, the land of plenty (and it is, so shut up about how awful things are, we don't buy that crap here) the biggest problem citizens have is not lack of money or lack of food, but over-consumption on both counts.

People regale me about how "broke" they are in messages "sent from my iPhone" and fail to appreciate the irony.

But the parallels go further.  Fat people and folks in debt are perpetually believing that some "trick" will save them from being overweight and overdebt.  The one trick of the tiny belly will let them lose weight while they "eat all they want" or maybe it is some pill, or acacia berries.   Of course, these things never work, and the huge amount of fat people in America is testament to that.

Similarly, people look for shortcuts to "get out of debt" and "secrets" to making money in the stock market.   People claim they are not worried about their seven maxed-out credit cards, because their stock market money system (blessed by Jesus, of course) will set them free.

And yet, the parallels go even further.   Denial is a big one.   "I'm not that fat" we say, and "I don't have that much debt!"  

Or the blame game.  "It is my big bones!" they say, or "all the hormones they put in the food!" versus, "the stock market is rigged!"  or "the big banks are to blame!"

In all cases, however, these excuses and lies we tell ourselves have one thing in common:  While they may make us feel better for the moment, they do nothing to extricate ourselves from our health and financial predicaments.

So what is the "one trick to the tiny belly?" and the "one trick to getting out of debt and accumulating wealth?"   It is not trick:

Consume less than you need to.

End of story.  Eat less, have a calorie deficit, and you will lose weight.  Eat more, have a calorie surplus, you gain weight.  100 surplus calories a day is 3000 calories a month - about one pound of body weight.   That's 12 pounds a year, 120 pounds in a decade.   Even half that amount - or 1/4 - will cause you to gain weight.

Similarly, if you spend $100 more a month than you make, over a year, your debt load will increase by $1200.  Over a decade, $12,000.   Over a working lifetime, $50,000 or more, with compound interest - perhaps $100,000.

On the other hand, if you save $100 a month it snowballs into a small fortune over a working lifetime.

OK, you say, I get it.   But it is so hard to do.   After all, food is tempting and yummy, and when you are hungry, grabbing a handful of chips seems like the thing to do!

And when you are at the car dealer, the jet ski store, or the smart phone store, you want to have these shiny new things, and the salesman says you can afford them, so why not?

Yea, it is hard.  And that is why I have struggled with finances and weight since the day I was born in this filthy rich country.   We have too much of everything in the USA.   And I think it is sort of criminal to complain about this, when the rest of the world struggles for basic needs.   But bitch and whine we do, and you'd think, from talking to people or reading online comments, that living in the wealthiest country in the world was the worst thing!   It is not.   You just have to have the self-control to get ahead, and not fall into the many traps laid for the unwary consumer.

I recently stepped on the scale and realized that I had gained a lot of weight back.   It happens.  You stop checking your weight, you stop measuring portion, you get fat.  You stop balancing your checkbook, you stop checking your net worth, you go broke.  Again, same deal, different day.

I have managed to lose ten pounds recently, which is a good start, but I still have a long way to go.   My motivations include pain.   Yes, being overweight is painful, and it affects all your joints and well as other bodily functions.   The problem for many young people today, is that they don't feel all that pain - just yet - and then assume they can carry a 60 lb sack of concrete around for the rest of their lives.   They can't - they will end up in one of those electric scooters in Wal-Mart buying Candy Corn Oreos before too long.

Candy Corn Oreos?  ouch.

I don't eat Candy Corn Oreos, or any Oreos for that matter.  Or soda pop, or chips and whatnot.  But still, if I don't watch how much I eat I gain weight.   You can get fat on celery, I suppose, if you really put your mind to it.  It ain't what you eat, it is how much you eat.   Same deal with spending.  You can coupon yourself to death, it doesn't "save" you money if you are spending more than you make.

So lately, I have been measuring portions again, making sure the meal I eat is an appropriate size.   And when I am done eating, if I am still hungry, I resist the temptation to go back for "seconds" or to snack.   Because I have found that if I wait ten minutes the hunger urge shuts itself off.   It is a weird thing, but after breakfast this morning I was still hungry.  But ten minutes later, no hunger.

And the same is true with spending.  No car salesman likes it when a customer says, "I'll think it over and get back to you" as that customer is gone and gone for good.  Once they drive away, the customer will start thinking of the costs involved and then say, "forgetabout it!"   So many people buy things as impulse purchases not as real needs in their lives and instead of shopping around based on price and quality, they just buy things because they want them at the time.

If they waited ten minutes, the urge to spend would have dissipated.   Are you in a store looking at a new dress or a new electronic toy?   Put it down, walk around the block and come back.   Chances are, your urge to buy will have dissipated by them.   Funny how that works.

Or at least, maybe walking around the block, you'd have time to think about whether you really need it, and if you do, where it could be bought for less.  But the urge to buy now will have attenuated.

Wait ten minutes, it goes away.....