When it comes to one's health, there are no shortage of reasons to avoid the inevitable. More often than not, finances are the main barrier in making the decision to be get a persons health and fitness in order. In California the cost of living is high, and by adding the cost of personal image into the equation, it's no wonder people live paycheck to paycheck most of their lives. The realization that we need to understand is that most of our daily habits and purchases that we define as "necessities," really aren't necessities at all.
"Eating healthy is expensive..."
"Oh I can't afford that much for a gym membership."
Let me be the first to tell you, that eating healthy is not expensive and there are plenty of affordable, even free options, to getting active. The usual culprit in the aforementioned arguments, is one’s will power to make these things a priority in their life.
So here is my warning to anyone reading this post:
***it may be hard to read some and may even, dare I say, offend you.***
But someone needs to say it...
Your Needs vs. Your Wants
It boils down to one question. Are you willing to make short term sacrifices to reach a long term goal? Throughout my time in this industry, I have met people in dire situations. In remission from cancer, multiple bypass surgeries, heart issues, severe weight loss, diabetics, and everything else in between. Then there is your average, "I need to lose 30lbs," individual. Both groups of people are desperate for a change, but most share one thing in common. They won't give up their daily habits or make a lifestyle sacrifice to do it. The people who are successful, are willing to do whatever it takes.
“Do whatever it takes.” So cliche right? Wrong.
Unfortunately for the majority, they are stuck in a deep ditch of reasons why they cannot make the changes necessary to change their lives Both groups NEED change to save their lives, or extend them, but because of their deeply ingrained WANT for fatty food, Starbucks, the newest iPhone, keeping up appearances and going out on the weekends, they continue to make their situation worse.
We have all heard it before, most of us have said it before,
"I can't go without my Starbucks"
"This week was so tough, I need to get out on Saturday"
"I can't give up my soda"
"I need a new phone"
Let’s take a second to dig in on these “needs” and show you just how much they’re holding you back.
Hungry On The Go
Let's be real. You are flat out addicted to Starbucks. Not Coffee, Starbucks! Starbucks isn't even known for their coffee. Their coffee sucks! I have had better cups of coffee at Seven-Eleven. The Starbucks franchise was built on the frappuccino. This is how most of us got hooked on the Starbucks to begin with. One Venti Frappuccino contains 84 grams of sugar. 84 grams of sugar! No wonder we keep going back for more! And, as time passes by they keep creating more and more treats and drinks to keep us coming back for more. Don't be fooled by the sugar free drinks either, they are worse for you than the actual sugar.
But I digress...
Starbucks Gold Card members must spend a minimum of $150/mo to maintain their status. During a 5 day work week that's an average of $6/day spent on drinks that are literally killing you. The main thing to keep in mind, is that this is the minimum amount you need to spend. The average price per transaction in the greater L.A. area is $7.70/transaction, a person who goes to Starbucks every day during a 5 day work week will spend north of $192/mo.
$192! How much healthier could you be with $192 per month in your pocket? You could spend a little extra money on the organic produce (which isn't that much more expensive than non-organic) and join literally any gym you want, even hire a trainer, all while still have some change in your pocket. Is it worth giving up your favorite daily routine to save your life?
The real cost of fast food
I am not going to say much here. Yes, I know you have to eat. Just ask yourself is it worth it? The average combo meal is going to cost you around $8 minimum and you are literally trusting companies who have a history of unsafe, unfair, and unhealthy practices to obtain their food. You may choose to go with a "healthier" option like a Chipotle, Flamebroiler, or some fancy juice/smoothie shop but are these really better options?
Chipotle - Skip the tortilla and grab a bowl, add guacamole (because who doesn't?) and you're looking at 1200-1600 calories lunch that will cost you about $12. While you may look at each item in the bowl and think, “healthy,” it is in reality excessive, which equals unhealthy, not to mention expensive.
Flamebroiler- A bit cheaper and most of the time they give you a free drink with your bowl (can't believe we still have to talk about how soft drinks are killing us slowly). You are still eating around 700 calories and that's not even factoring in the sugar filled sauce that you're going to slather all over it. Don't forget your 300 calorie soda!
Juice/Smoothie - Most of the time the base for these drinks is literally ice cream. If not, they use frozen fruit and juice concentrate (concentrated sugar). Either way you slice it you're basically drinking sugar which will immediately spike your insulin and store as fat. To add insult to injury, you just paid $8 for a drink that gave you very little nutritional value.
There are some of you who are reading this who go to Starbucks in the morning, and out to lunch in the afternoon. For someone with these tendencies, you could spend up to $20 per day on breakfast and lunch. Which will end up costing over $500 just to fill your tummy and leave you in worse shape than you were before the day started. To put this in perspective, we currently feed our family of six (2 adults, 4 children), on a budget of $600 per month. This includes 3 meals per day (mostly organic), with snacks and the occasional large family gathering. $100 per person, per month. The easiest, and cleanest, way to clean up both your budget and your health is to fix this entire area of your life. Save money and lose weight at the same time. it's a win-win!
Looking Like a Million Bucks
Before I begin writing this section. Just know i received permission from my wife to write this. So if I make you mad, i'm sorry. My intention is to help and hopefully open some eyes. So here it goes…
Women spend a ridiculous amount of money on their appearance.
That's right, I said it!
I am going to get specific to make-up, clothes and other services as these are the most common things that women will spend money on. Let's start with make up and personal care products.
Make-Up and Personal Care products.
A recent study by Groupon study celebrated the official start of summer by asking 2,000 Americans the amount of money they spend on their appearance and uncovered some interesting trends. The women surveyed who said they routinely spend money on their appearance spend an average of $3,756 a year (or $313 a month), which adds up to $225,360 throughout their entire lifetime (ages 18-78).
Another study done by SkinStore, surveyed over 3000 women which revealed that the women surveyed, were walking around with about $8 worth of product on them per day. Which estimates to about $240 per month.
These studies may clearly vary by many different factors and regions, but regardless there are still a couple hundred dollars, at minimum, spent on beauty products by the average woman.
The cost of fashion
In 1930 the average American Woman owned 9 outfits. That total has skyrocketed to 30 outfits in 2018. That is one outfit for every day of the month. The clothing industry is a 12 billion dollar industry dominated by women buyers. There is no shortage of studies out there that estimate the average spending of women. The clothing companies know this as well. Did you know that the average clothing company has 52 seasons per year? Not just the standard Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The industry has evolved to making everyone think they need new clothes year round.
Quite honestly, my head is spinning reading all of the studies on what women spend monthly on clothing and accessories. There is a lot of data out there. Of the dozen or so studies I have researched in writing this post, I have seen figures ranging from $150 to $400 per month spent on clothing. Let's be honest here... when you buy a new outfit, something you already owned, works its way out of the rotation right? Maybe to be worn once or twice per year. So why the need for new clothes with a closet full of them?
Everything but the kitchen sink
There are no shortage of personal care services out there. They can be as small as a mani/pedi ($50) or as large as plastic surgery (thousands of dollars). Some services may be more therapeutic than for personal appearances, which is understandable, but I am referring to the services that are done strictly for appearance. There is no way to estimate what the average person would spend, because there are so many different opinions and acceptable practices. They are also not as universal to women as make-up and clothing. These industries are huge for a reason, it's because they prey on a women's self doubt and low self esteem. Meaning, that the average woman is spending money on these services. The degree may vary based on the individual.
Here is my question(s)...
I can understand the need to look good, keeping a good appearance. I also completely get the history of social pressure to look a certain way. But In totaling up some of these averages, it seems a little excessive doesn't it? $200 per month on new clothes? Another $200 on make-up and other products? There are literally millions of dollars being spent on trying to feel like a million bucks. All of these industries sell to women, because they are the most conscious of their image. Even men's clothing companies market to women because they know that men's purchasing decisions are influenced by women!
Let's just say you gave up all of these kinds of purchases for a year (Because you have enough enough outfits in the closet.), bought some modestly priced make up to wear to work and went without getting your nails done so that you could afford to focus on your health and fitness.
Wouldn't living healthy, feeling healthy, losing excess pounds and feeling generally fit make you actually feel like a million bucks?
How much better would you feel if you were 20lbs lighter?
How much better would you feel in your current clothes if you spent some time working on your body?
How much better would your skin look if you focused on eating healthier, instead of covering up blemishes with chemicals?
Only you can answer these questions. They are questions worth asking.
Keeping Up with the Jones'
This dangerous habit of keeping up with the times has bankrupted many of individuals and families. This includes everything from new phones, fancy watches, modern tech to getting a new car. How far will we go to keep up the appearance that we're doing okay?
Phones and Tech
Every year, Apple comes out with a new iPhone. Every year millions of people line up outside of stores, pre-order and even camp out for the newest model. Your old phone was broken right? It was really, really outdated right?
On average, the newest model of phone costs upwards of $700. More than 80% of people trade in their perfectly working phones for a newer and more expensive model. Not to mention the insurance, phone cases and accessories to go with it. It is not uncommon for the average person to spend over $1000 on phones and accessories per year. Oh and in case you thought I was picking on the ladies, over 70% of cell phones that are purchased within the first 6 months of release were purchased by men. The dudes are suckers for new technology! According to Apple, men outspend women on iGadgets by nearly 80%. This includes phones, watches, iPads and accessories.
So for you gentlemen who read the last section about your ladies spending, and are licking your chops to bring it up at the dinner table....
Probably best to not to mention it.
The itch for a new ride
Today's cars are more efficient than ever before. Most models, provided you treat them right, can last you an entire decade. 11.4 years to be exact, according to AutoTrader.com. The average time Americans keep cars however is 50% of that, just over 6 years.
Why keep your car for only half of it's lifespan?
Very similar to technology, we have a desire for the new and top of the line. "Trade it in for a newer model!" You'll hear this phrase tossed around for more than just cars, but the automotive industry is where that phrase originated. I know individuals firsthand, who have $1000 dollar car payments. With a bill that large, you would think they'd be driving a Maserati. Nope! Try a Toyota Camry. Everyone knows that your car depreciates rapidly in the first couple years of ownership, often leaving people owing more than the car is actually worth. Still, the desire for a new car creeps in and when you go to trade in the new car, they roll whatever is owed on the car into the new payment. Just like that you're paying for two cars but only driving one. Yet another way to drain your paycheck before you ever get it.
Clearly there is a common theme here. We waste a lot of money on appearances. Both physical and and external. I myself am not immune to this by any means. My weakness is technology. I am currently fighting the urge to upgrade my phone (I’m one of the suckers). The only reason I haven’t is because I’m writing this right now and it’s keeping me in check.
There are many benefits to simply telling yourself, “No!”
No, is very easy to say to others. Yet when it comes to ourselves, we very rarely deny ourselves privileges. Telling yourself, “No,” will not only save you from some of the things we talked about above, it will also contribute to building your overall willpower for temptations to come in the future.
We have all heard about the marshmallow experiment with children, where they put a kid in a room with a single marshmallow, that they are welcome to eat. However, if they can wait just 10 minutes, they’ll be rewarded with a second marshemallow. After checking in with the children, years later, the kids who were able to wait the 10 minutes were better students, were healthier and were more active than the children who ate the marshmallow before the 10 minute mark.
If you could re train your mind to abstain from certain luxuries, not only will you have developed the willpower to be successful with your diet and exercise habits, you will have a whole lot of cold-hard cash left over in your pocket to allocate towards your physical health, diet and exercise, and your mental health, fun activities and vacations.
Take a look at your bank statements from the past 6 months. Total up the amount of money you have spent on going out to eat (Starbucks included), the amount of “just because,” clothing purchases, tech purchases, and the amount you spend on personal care each month. See what you come up with!