At the Crossroads of Food and Money

Supermarket meat tray full of $1 bills instead of meat

Last month, I was at the grocery store -- fully masked -- on a mission to get some grilling necessities.

Standing at the meat counter, I looked longingly at the row of prime tenderloin. But when my gaze reached the price tag, I made a quick pivot to the hamburgers. That got me thinking: The topics of food and money seem to be interrelated in a lot of ways. And for better or worse, both drive our behaviors and influence our emotions.

Since food and money are foundational to our existence, let's take a moment to draw some parallels. My hope is to leave you with a few tips for making healthy choices, as well as a satisfying -- and financially rewarding -- aftertaste:

  • Tracking helps. Whether you're counting calories or monitoring your day-to-day expenses, an active tracking program can be instrumental to your success. You've probably experienced this, right? Just committing to log your food intake or money outflow can go a long way toward good outcomes on the scale and in your bank account.
  • Reward yourself along the way. All work and no play make Jack, well, downright miserable. If Jack is focused on eating better and spending less, a never-any-fun approach could result in a big binge on either front. Instead, celebrate your success in a responsible way -- cheat day, anyone? -- and you're more likely to make positive changes with staying power.
  • Good habits pay big dividends. This is a bit obvious, but doing the right thing, whether it's being selective about what you eat or spend, exercising routinely or saving automatically, builds muscles (yep, savings muscles!).
  • Outside assistance can be beneficial. There is a reason dieticians, financial planners and counselors of all types have work: Their guidance can make a huge difference. Whether it's identifying blind spots, sharing knowledge, cheerleading, minimizing the impact of emotions or acting as an accountability partner, an extra helping hand can be the difference between floundering and flourishing.
  • Overnight success is rare. Nope, you're probably not going to stumble on a financial windfall, miraculously turn from couch potato to triathlete or drop 50 pounds overnight. However, with the right moves and some time, it can happen on the food and financial fronts.

A list can empower you. Maybe your checklist outlines healthy financial activities, or maybe it's an evergreen shopping list that guides your trips to the grocery store. In both cases, checking those boxes moves you toward success.

I hope you enjoyed the journey and that I've given you something to talk about over the dinner table. Best of luck!

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Personal Finance