Read this interestingarticle about weight loss last Sunday. Since weight loss and saving money are aligned a bit, hear me out because this blog post has a lot to do about money.
The article was particularly interesting to me because I appear to be one of those rare persons who has managed to keep the weight I've lost, um lost. Although I can't seem to lose lots of weight in one smooth movement, I seem to lose the 10lbs, then plateau, then wait for some change to lose 10lbs, ...rinse and repeat several times. I'm right now at 166.6 (40 lbs down since November 2005) and have managed to survive this year's holiday carb-fest.
Anyway, much of the article described what it takes for others (and me, frankly) to sustain the weight loss. Basically near constant monitoring, food and exercise diary, treating yourself as a data point. In a sense, the weight loss maintenance takes on its own place in the calendar. Its really become a hobby, something that requires energy, attention, thought, discussion.
Thinking about that, I had my first epiphany: most people think of eating as a hobby, and exercise as a chore . Most of us vary our eating, can tell you where good restaurants are, and hate cooking themselves because that's a chore. The weightloss sustainers inverted this - they essentially try to make eating as much a chore as possible. They cook at home, they try eat as consistently as possible and measure it. On the other hand, they try to exercise as much as possible - walk, garden, gym, bike and try to mix it up. Vary it, talk about it, measure it and journal it. They try to turn it into a hobby.
My second epiphany came when I thought about saving and spending because they parallel weight loss. Most Americans spend as a hobby, save as a chore. I mean when we blog about others buying that 50K countertop, well what are they doing? Spending as a hobby. They save (or try to) as a chore. Pay yourself first - try to make it automatic ... which works mechanically, but boy not very much fun.
The thing that gets me about the bloggers at saving advice is that we all try to think of saving as a hobby - play games, try different things, journal and discuss what we do or what we've discovered. We also try, at least, to put some aspects of chore into spending. Spend on needs first, then wants .... and not just any wants, needed wants if that makes any sense.
And then investing. You are turning the spending hobby on its head by saving, but buying money.
Now the chore piece ... I don't really want to discount it, make it sound awful because its really not. Chores are important they are necessary and they can even be semi-fun. Just not as fun as a hobby.