Putting Money Where Your Weight Is

It’s no secret dieting is hard. Not only is it saddening to have to swap your cheesecake for a piece of celery, but there are many added expenses that go along with your new commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Avraham Byers for the Financial Post points out that there are hidden financial costs of a healthier diet. In Byers’ own case, while he admits the health benefits of shedding extra pounds are obvious, he hadn’t anticipated or planned for the cost of healthy food and the new wardrobe he had to buy. A recent study from Harvard, he emphasizes, showed that a healthy diet costs $2,000 a year more than an unhealthy one (for an average family of four).

According to Marketdata Enterprises, Goeff Williams shares, Americans spend more than $60 billion annually trying to lose weight. Those numbers include fitness center memberships, weight-loss programs, and – healthier food! “Is that worth it?” he asks, proceeding to answer with a reminder of the incalculable savings to be gained long-term from avoiding medications, hospital stays, and procedures. In other words, Williams is saying, “Don’t go cheap on your health because it will cost you more in the long run. “Eat healthy,” he concludes, “but plan for the additional costs.”

EatingWell.com offers a number of helpful hints for those who want to lose weight without “losing the farm”:

  • Instead of buying costly prepared meals, which often tend to be high in calories, cook your own at home.
  • Instead of buying expensive pre-portioned meals, get acquainted with proper portion sizes so you can help cap overeating. Get started by using a kitchen scale or measuring cups to measure proper servings of your favorite foods.

As financial advisors, we at WEFA put it this way: Staying healthy, both physically and financially, is a goal worth your effort.

Content was prepared by a freelance journalist on behalf of Worley Erhart-Graves Financial

Improving Habits can Mean an Improved Financial Picture

“More than 40 percent of our daily activities are not conscious decisions, but rather habits,” Jay Mooreland reminds us in the Journal of Financial Planning. These daily activities include decisions about investing and other financial choices.

Here at Worley Erhart-Graves Financial Advisors (WEFA), we’ve developed a respect for the power of healthy - and unhealthy – habits. At the same time, while we encourage establishing savings habits as early as possible, we think it is important for our clients to know that it’s never too late to change counterproductive habits.

Mooreland reviews the three-part neurological pattern in our brain, a pathway that is followed once a certain stimulus is presented. The pathway begins on a conscious level, but the more frequently the pattern is followed, the less conscious and the more “automatic” it becomes.

  • The habit “loop” has three parts: 
  • The cue (the stimulus)
  • The routine (the habitual behavior)
  • The reward (the desired outcome)

As an independent fee-only financial planning and investment services firm, our approach is personalized, detailed, and realistic. We realize “habit cues” are different for each person, even if the “routine” two different clients are following appears the same. Our confidential discussions begin by guiding clients to identify their desired outcomes (meaning the reasons they are seeking saving, investing, and tax planning help). 

It’s unrealistic to expect a new habit to replace the old one over a period of weeks or months, Jay Mooreland admits, and people, he points out, will need to understand this so they won’t get discouraged.

We agree the effort to get into a positive habit loop is well worth it. A small amount from each paycheck can turn into millions of dollars over the span of a career. That’s why, just as we automate other aspects of our lives, we tell working clients to make automatic investing and savings a priority. And for those going into retirement, they need good spending habits, too!

At every stage of our financial lives, improving habits can mean much-improved outcomes!

Content was prepared by a freelance journalist on behalf of Worley Erhart-Graves Financial Advisors

Eating Out Without Eating Away At Your Financial Plan

“Eating lunch at a restaurant isn’t a bad thing, but it has to fit within your budget,” cautions Nat Sillin, Visa’s head of U.S. Financial Education. Sillin’s financial planning advice? “Clipping a coupon, choosing a less expensive item or brown bagging it can save you hundreds over the course of a year.” That advice is generally not followed, as Americans spend nearly $1,000 annually on lunching out, with men outspending their female counterparts by 44%, forbes.com explains.

And that’s only lunch…Here at Worley Erhart-Graves Financial Advisors, we were shocked to read that, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure survey, the typical household spends $2,625 per year on food away from home. In fact, above-average earners tend to spend even more on restaurant food – as much as $370 a month per person. 

As Ally Bank’s “Straight Talk” website so aptly points out, “One of the most important aspects of money management is knowing where your money goes.” At WEFA, we believe that one important function of the financial planning process should be holding various budget items up to the light.

The corollary to that line of thinking is your budget should include money for entertainment, which can certainly include eating out. Rose State College’s “8 Steps to Budget Bliss” explains there’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things (and good food!). But to make the best budgeting decisions for your lifestyle, you need to know where the money is going.

One place the money is going when you eat out, of course, is the tip. According to the Etiquette Scholar, the usual tip is fifteen to twenty percent of the pre-tax amount of the bill. One money-saving tipping tip is to check the bill to see if a gratuity or service charge has been included.

With proper planning, it’s possible to enjoy eating out without eating away at your financial plan!

Content was prepared by a freelance journalist on behalf of Worley Erhart-Graves Financial Advisors