Budgeting Is Like Weight Watchers

When Keith and I got engaged, we did what most newly engaged couples do. We had an engagement photo shoot. I had no idea what we were going to do with all of the pictures, but it was free and if it's free...it's for me.

I am so glad we did! I had gained a ton of weight over the last few years. Looking at the pictures, I knew I would regret not taking the time to at least attempt to lose some weight before the wedding. And I really did not want to look at the bridal version of what I saw staring back at me from the engagement pictures for the rest of my life knowing I could have done more to get back to a healthier weight.

So for the first time ever, I joined Weight Watchers. Keith joined with me and we embarked on a 6 month weight loss journey to get fit for our wedding day. It took a few weeks to figure it all out, but we did. By the day of our wedding, I had lost 35 pounds and Keith had lost 20.

I looked and felt great! It was a wonderful accomplishment and I thought my days of weighing myself every day and counting points were behind me. Right before we left for the honeymoon, I cancelled my membership.

Fast forward a year or so and I had gained 5 pounds. Then I gained another 5 pounds. So I signed up again. I weighed myself daily and did portion control and lost the 10 pounds. Yay! I’ve got this! Or so I thought. I cancelled my membership and over the next 2 years gained almost 15 pounds.

During this same time, Keith and I were pounding away at our debt. We started with $191,000 in debt. It was student loans (including a ton of interest while they were deferred), the IRS, credit cards, a 401k loan. You name it...we had it. We chose to do a budget each month and stuck to it like glue.

There were many times when we had to adjust mid-month, but the goal was always the same. NO NEW DEBT!!! If the budget needed to changed, the “new” money had to be reallocated from another line item. We could only spend what we brought in for the month unless it was an absolute emergency. Only then was using our savings an option.

While my weight was fluctuating because I was on again/off again with Weight Watchers, our debt was shrinking like a balloon with a hole in it. In 5 years, we paid off over $160,000 while cash flowing an additional $80,000 in medical bills and $15,000 in car repairs (including paying cash to replace both of our 200,000 mile vehicles). The total out of pocket at that point was over $255,000 in cash.

What if we managed our money the way I managed my weight? What if we chose to be random about budgeting (on again/off again) the way I was about Weight Watchers? I know with certainty that we would not have paid off nearly as much and would probably have incurred more debt.

We were able to get it all done because we lived by a budget. Month in…month out…we lived by a budget. Because we used a budget, we knew exactly what money was available and could make adjustments midstream.

If I had been consistent with Weight Watchers, I would have been able to adjust my eating habits to account for big celebrations when my normal eating habits were a little off. A few pounds here or there would have meant fewer points and smaller portions for the next few days until I got back on track.

John Maxwell says “a budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” It has nothing to do with how much money you make or what bills you have. Using a budget is the wise thing to do.

I’m back on Weight Watchers. I’ve lost ten pounds. And more importantly, I’ve realized that I will always be on Weight Watchers…just like I will always do a budget. I’m better when I know how much I weigh and how much wiggle room I have in my food choices and I’m better when I know how much money is available for shoe buying and the debt snowball. Both are equally important!

What are your thoughts on budgeting? If you don't currently budget, is it because you don't know how or you just don't want to? 

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See you next week. In the meantime…be well…be encouraged