Points and Dollars

It has been 9 weeks since I’ve joined Weight Watchers. And officially I’ve lost 15.2 lbs. I will weigh in again today and I’m anticipating that I’ll get my 10% weight keychain today (which I’ll get at 16 pounds).

The thing that I love the most about Weight Watchers is that you actually can eat (just about) whatever you want. You just have to budget for it. So if I absolutely have to (want to) have my 9 point beverage – I can. I just have to give up points for dinner or lunch and instead fill up on tasty, tasty fruits and vegetables. I feel a lot of freedom on Weight Watchers because of the fact that I don’t FEEL like I’m on a diet. I know I’m losing weight, I know I’ve starting eating healthier, I know that I’ve started exercising more, but I don’t feel like I’m dieting.

Last night Mr Woodpecker and I went to week 1 of Financial Peace University. Keep in mind, this is my second time through FPU. It was Mr. Woodpecker’s first. He was pretty apprehensive about going because he came from a family that didn’t talk about money, so the idea of talking about money with complete strangers was frightening to him. After the first meeting he was so excited. We talked about money and savings and our goals for about 2 hours afterwards. It was wonderful.

It was FIVE YEARS ago that I first started my financial journey. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve been a wheel stuck in mud the entire time. I start to get somewhere and something backtracks me. Moving. New job. Moving again. Etc. Always an excuse.

I wondered to myself last night: “Why can’t getting rid of debt be more like Weight Watchers?”

In a way they are the same. In Weight Watchers you have points to spend. In life you have money. You only have so much of either and after that you’re out.

But money isn’t as easy. In Weight Watchers I can spend my points each day as a fresh new day. I wake up and there are new points waiting for me! Yesterdays points have nothing to do with today’s or tomorrow’s and I always get a fresh supply. I can eat a cake or a brownie, or whatever I want as long as I can load up on veggies in my other meals.

Money? Well, by the second of the month most of my money has already been sent out for bills. Those don’t change. They’re always there. It isn’t like if this month I want a new TV I can just skimp on the bills to buy the new TV. And the money doesn’t refresh daily, or even weekly. And today’s mistakes? Those definitely effect tomorrow when it comes to your budget. I only get 24 paychecks a year, if I mess up one or two that can have a significant effect on the rest of the year.

Also, I’ve felt at many times while trying to get out of debt that I had to do “gazelle-like intensity” to do it. Which works for some people, a lot of people. But five years later, I find that all “gazelle-like intensity” does for me is leaves me burned out.

I can do intensity for months at a time. But eventually I find myself slowly losing the intensity and then thinking: “Yanno, I should just buy this t-shirt. I love it.” And that leads to the next thing, which leads to the next. And suddenly instead of paying $1000/month on my debt I’m down to just $250/month on my debt which is barely over minimum.

So, while I can’t make my money be just like Weight Watchers where I get points to use HOWEVER I want, I can make it a little more SS4BC friendly. Simply: I need to give myself a little cash each month for “fun”. Money that I can use to buy myself a t-shirt or those cute shoes or to pay for whatever little thing I want. So instead of my wants for things leaving me in a money tail-spin, they’re planned parts of the budget.

This week Mr Woodpecker and I are working on our budgets together. I’m excited for this new journey in life that we’re taking together.

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6 Responses to Points and Dollars

  1. There is a book that does something similar to what you are describing with money. A lady suffers a head trauma after going through turbulence on a plane. She ends up near bankruptcy as she is having trouble keeping on top of her finances. Basically what she does is tallies up what she has left after she’s paid her bills and divides that amount by the number of days of the month and this is her daily allowance. Try as I have been, I just can’t think of the name of the book, sorry.

  2. Congrats on the progress, both in the weight loss department and finances!

  3. I was going to suggest the same as lifeisfullofsunnydays. Basically, your money ‘points’ aren’t your pay as of the start of the month, they are your money *after* the bills have been paid. You have a daily allowance, so if you go over one day, you have less the next. Do it in arrears with money you earned last month if you are worried. You can earn exercise points by bringing in extra cash or managing to cut back your bills.

    I actually have to do the opposite to you. I am great at paying off debt but cannot lose weight. So instead I’m going to think of the weight as calories I’ve overspent. Generally 1lb of fat = 3500 calories, so if I’m 10lb overweight I need to ‘pay back’ 35,000 calories.

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