Just recently my husband and I have decided to tighten up our spending a little more than we have been doing in the past. We currently have an amount budgeted for extra spending (entertainment, fun things, clothes, etc.) and in the past, this has been more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we actually spent that amount – it’s always been more. This month we decided to make staying within that budget number more of a priority. Let me tell you – it has not been easy. I’ve definitely been struggling a little bit with this. In fact, we spent that budgeted amount fairly quickly at the beginning of the month and the toughest part has been telling myself “no” to any more purchases this month because I’ve already met the limit. I feel financially sore, but I know it’s good for me.
Lately I’ve been lifting weights in an effort to build and tone my muscles. The day after a workout, my muscles are usually sore because my workouts are causing my muscles to become stronger. I’ve found that the result of having to limit my spending is a lot like having sore muscles. That soreness is usually a pain, but a good pain in a weird way.
The good thing about it is that you know it’s actually a positive thing and means that your efforts are actually doing something. When I stick to my budget, I’m being disciplined and making financial decisions that will make my finances stronger just like lifting weights will make my body stronger. Here are a couple other ways I found that weight lifting and financial discipline have in common.
Resistance: When doing weight lifting exercises, it is the resistance against your muscles that actually helps build them up. In the same way, the more I resist spending money on things I don’t need and resist advertising telling me that I need these things, the stronger my finances become. Less money spent means more money for savings, investments and other things that will grow your finances.
Pain: Like I mentioned earlier, the soreness you experience after lifting weights is pain. I recently did a workout and it hurt to simply sit down for a full 4 days after the workout. I literally almost cried every time I had to sit down. Sometimes not spending money when you really want something hurts a little. Maybe not physically, but emotionally it can be painful to say no to your desires. But just like with muscle soreness, it is a good pain because you know you’re growing stronger.
Efficiency: Strengthening your muscles makes your body leaner and more efficient because with bigger muscles you burn more calories when you are doing nothing and your body is overall stronger and healthier. When you are disciplined with your spending, it makes your financial situation more efficient and with more money in savings and/or investments, you’re essentially making more money when you are doing nothing because that money is earning interest in the bank. Not to mention your whole financial situation is healthier and stronger and you are able to do more with your money than if your spending was out of control.
Support: The stronger your physical muscles are, the more they can support. You can lift and carry heavier things and your body can just go for longer than if you had weaker muscles. Similarly, when your financial discipline is stronger, you can support yourself, your family, and possibly even friends if they need it. In addition, you can support things like your own business, or a hobby that you enjoy and you will be able to last a lot longer into retirement.
So if you are currently cutting back on things and feeling the burn, let me just congratulate you- you are getting in financial shape and strengthening your finances. And don’t worry – the pain won’t last forever. One day you will look back and laugh that you ever got sore off of 10 pound weights, or by resisting a $10 item at the store that you didn’t need.