Money is Like Food in that….

Have you ever seen someone eat too much? If not you should. Why? Because it will teach you something about money.

Let’s say you are at a restaurant and you see scrumptious item descriptions on the menu? What do you choose? It can be difficult to decide which yummy sounding items to order. Instead, the tendency can be to over order so as not to miss on “a good thing.” Restaurants are aware of this. Some have learned the art of carefully scripted descriptions and titles on their menus to guide our decisions. How do you stop yourself from ordering too much? Once the food is placed in front of you and your dinner companions, how do you know when to stop ordering? It’s interesting that the tendency is to eat more in an animated conversation or environment. Restaurants know this also and cater their environment to create the mood they find most profitable for their patrons. But I digress.

While eating at a restaurant with friends, how do you know when to stop eating? Do you consciously stop before you are full, when you have ingested enough for your body to efficiently use, do you eat until your plate is clear? Food itself does not tell you when to stop. It is up to us. We have to make the decision to stop eating. Without our own guidelines to eating, we rely on the multi- billion dollar industry geared to helping people figure out good food choices-Paleolithic, Atkins, the 3 Hour diet, Vegan, Macrobiotic, Mediterranean, Beverly Hills, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Mayo (Clinic not naise),Protein, Lo Carb, High Fat, and don’t forget the French Women don’t Get Fat diet.

Money has a similar predicament. What is enough? How do you know you have enough? How do you stop from spending money? What are your guidelines around money? Like food, without our own healthy guidelines to money, there is a multi-billion dollar industry built to money from your pocket to someone else’s. And if you don’t have the cash, you need not worry; a credit card or two, or three will do just fine. Do you have a trusted set of guidelines you follow with your money?

It’s no wonder many people have a difficult time with money. They have not assessed value to it other than consuming and paying their necessities. Their money is already allocated to mobile data plans, car payments, vacation funding, technology, mortgages, food, and other must haves. There is nothing else left for things like investing or saving. Of course a little is put away into retirement plans at work. But not enough.

What can be done to transform this cycle of consuming? Fortunately we know that our mind works best when it has a system to follow consistently and diligently. Try this two part exercise: the next time you purchase groceries use a credit card and note your reaction to your transaction. Do you look at the total? Do you look at the price of any of your food items? If so, which ones? When you buy groceries again, pay in cash. What is your reaction to the transaction now? Did you pay more attention to the total? How did you feel letting go of your money and handing it to someone else? Note the different reactions you had in buying your food with a card and with cash. Which made you more aware of a loss of money? For most, using the credit card is more removed and has a less emotional feeling of ownership and loss while using cash can produce feelings of doubt about the purchase or loss of something you owned.

Becoming more aware of your spending habits is a great first step to creating a framework around your money.

Tell me what you discovered in doing the exercise I mentioned. I would love to hear from you.

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