I love watching Dr. Oz and his ideas on living a healthier life through the foods we eat and how we should take better care of ourselves. I've taken some of his ideas to heart and others have reinforced what I have read multiple times before. This has helped me with my lifestyle change as I lose weight.
In this process of losing weight I have found out some things about myself that also seem to run parallel to losing debt as well. The best way show you how this works is to go through Dr. Oz's 12 best diet tips and show you how I have made those work for me in relation to my debt and living frugally.
1. Clear out the pantry and fridge.
The best way to avoid temptation is to get it as far away from you as possible. My greatest temptation are chips in the cupboard. The same goes for carrying cash around, If I have the cash, I WILL spend it and most likely it will be sucked up by a vending machine.
If I don't have the temptation to toss a dollar or two away on an impulse buy then it isn't even a consideration. I am making it easier on myself. I don't have to choose, I made the choice early on that I wouldn't buy anything.
2. Make simple substitutions.
The idea that living frugally has to be an all or nothing decision is baloney. When I make small changes and investments in my spending and saving habits I know that they will stick better because I feel I have more control and I feel I have more fun with this.
Obviously I haven't switched fully to making my own cleaners, detergents and the like, and though it will be a slow transition, it will be easier to stick to it as I make those small changes.
One thing that took me by surprise was that when I was stressed, I didn't make the best money decisions. When I am tired I am more likely to spend money on eating out or giving in to my wants as opposed to ignoring them for the greater good.
4. Don't starve yourself.
This goes along with making simple changes. If you say that you will never, ever waste money again on entertainment you can make yourself a cranky, bitter individual. What will happen is that the craving for entertainment will eventually drive you nuts and you overindulge and feel guilty. A balance has to be struck.
Instead, some ways to set up a balance are to set aside time for that entertainment, maybe at a cheaper price. This way you don't feel like a mouse who never comes out of the house to enjoy the luxury of cheese.
5. Don't beat yourself up if you "cheat."
If temptation does take a hold, and you give in and overindulge, don't beat yourself up about it. Everyone has a bad day here and there, all that is needed is to look at that situation and figure out what led up to it. Were we being to extreme before we ended up binge-ing? Were we hanging around people who weren't supportive of our goals? Were we stressed and tired of fighting so we just gave in? Only you will know the answer to that.
6. Eat hot peppers for breakfast.
Frankly, if you can find a personal finance idea behind that one, I will send you a book from my library.
7. Eat the same lunch every day.
We are animals who mostly like a routine, but that isn't a requirement to living a frugal life. Moments are the pearl in our oyster of life. We can still experience the world and people around us without having to spend a lot, or even a little, money. I think more of us remember the times with our family and friends more than we remember the times with our cars, gadgets and homes.
8. When you're hungry, drink some water.
When the urge to spend or overindulge consumes sometimes we can curb that hunger by simple diversions or even talking ourselves out of it. Heck, we think up excuses everyday not to exercise, we can think of excuses not to buy something. Sometimes a little talking to yourself is all you need to get through until you get to your goal. If the talking doesn't work, give yourself the night to sleep on it and if you still MUST have it, go and get it. Save the receipt and you will still have time to change your mind and return it. Water may be "tricking" yourself into not eating but it works just like making yourself wait 24 hours.
9. Snack before meals.
This goes back to #4 and giving yourself small luxuries so you don't overindulge.
10. Use smaller plates.
One thing that I have seen is that when I lived in a small 450 sq. ft apartment, I kept only the necessary items but when I moved into an 800 sq ft apartment I easily grew into it. No matter the size, I always filled it up. By keeping my living space small I help myself out because I would have no place to put it. For instance, my closet is only so big and I have a rule that only 10 baseball caps can go in there, if I buy a new one, I have to have in mind the one I will have to toss out for the new one to take it's place or I don't get it.
11. Eat with the TV off.
I don't know how many times I have heard people tell me that when they cut out the tv from their life they were able to also cut back on the temptation to buy while at the grocery store. Whether we realize it or not, our sub-conscience does register those commercials and keeps them filed away because of the way they made us feel when we saw the product. When we are in the store, we see the item and those feelings flood back to us while we decide what brand we are going to buy. The further we can stay away from advertising the better it will be for our savings account.
12. Look for ways to include exercise in your everyday activities.
Cutting back isn't the only way to save. Making more will also help with trimming down the waistline of those debts. We can eat less, we can spend less. But when we exercise more, put some work into bringing more to the table then we are able to see the results faster and feel excited about the hard work we have put into this lifestyle change.