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Is It Really Cheating?

In the past we’ve written about financial autonomy, spending a little on yourself, and balance between saving and spending. Although it been a while, we’ve also brought up health and fitness axioms from time to time – mainly through shameless self-promotions of my book (designed to cure insomnia while doubling as a doorstop).

Today I wanted to stress the importance of balance in your personal finances as well as your health. One of the ways I’ve found to keep me keep balance is cheating. Cheating? It’s not as bad as it sounds. Although having a negative connotation, the concept is what can help maintain balance. Here’s how.

In my book, one of the axioms I present is having a cheat day when it comes to healthy eating. What is a cheat day? A cheat day is a day you set aside (mine are usually Sundays) every week where you eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and as much as you want. It’s certainly not a concept that I invented. Many athletes and non-athletes utilize this day as part of their health and fitness regimen.

The reason why is important. For six days a week, an individual is working their butt off (maybe literally) exercising, making good food and meal choices to get into or maintain a desired level of health and fitness.

Having a cheat day allows the individual to relax a bit when it comes to eating, enjoy that dessert, buffet, never-ending-pasta-bowl, or whatever their specific indulgence is. In other words, having one day per week to eat whatever we want allows us to stay focused the other six days of the week.

It can also prevent binging – going weeks or months without a dessert or sweet, only to binge for days and then feel guilty and give up on our goals. After all, it’s only a six day wait until the next cheat day!

A similar concept is true for our personal finances. Setting aside some money every paycheck for ourselves to spend however we want, whenever we want can also help us stick to our long-term financial goals of saving for retirement, college, or getting out of debt.

Although this amount of money may not be significant, the autonomy it gives us is very powerful. Having a little money to spend on whatever we want can keep us focused mentally on the bigger picture, without feeling that we are losing control or a slave to our financial goals.

Here’s where the cheating comes in. At first, when people make great strides in their fitness and financial goals, the thought of spending on something not in the “big picture” or eating foods that they know aren’t healthy can be daunting. It seems counterproductive. It seems like cheating.

But it’s necessary. Having some financial and food autonomy is a necessary part of the plan. It allows us to stay focused on our long-term goals while allowing us the freedom to enjoy indulgences here and there without feeling guilty.

One Comment

  1. Fred says:

    I’ve always figured there are five pillars of health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial.

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