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Mrs. Maroon

February 25, 2015

Don’t Treat Diet Like a Four-Letter Word – Same Goes for Budget

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Well, I’ve already sunk myself. Diet is in fact a four-letter word. But just because English makes it one, doesn’t mean you need to treat it like one. And you certainly don’t need to treat your budget like one either.


We all have a diet. We all have a budget. No matter whether you are actively engaged in it or not – It is what it is.


Let’s Start with Diet

How many times do you hear people talking about ‘going on a diet’? I even had a doctor ask me if  I was ‘dieting’ during my pregnancy. Regardless of whether it’s celery or donuts, what you choose to consume is your diet. Period. The folks at Merriam-Webster agree… three of the four definitions for the noun reference the food / drink we regularly consume. Only the very last option follows the more comment use as a “regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight”. I can only guess that modern society’s standard use of the word dictated adding this last option.


The problem with accepting society’s most used definition is that by teaching ourselves to ‘go on a diet’, we make the condition temporary and fleeting. We feel restricted and denied things we would otherwise enjoy. Instead, we would be so much better off by thinking of changes to our diet as life-long alterations. We can change the way we view food, adjust our palates to what tastes good, and re-train our bodies to find certain foods delicious and satisfying. I truly believe that after re-training our bodies to crave the nutrition of real, unprocessed foods, the foods that used to bring such comfort will instead leave us feeling sluggish and sick to our stomach, all while our waistlines thicken.

 My goal for our regular diet

My goal for our regular diet


Same Goes for Your Budget

Now, let’s translate… Your budget is simply HOW you spend your money. Some people choose to track every cent to know exactly what they are spending everything on. Others choose to spend freely without consideration for how much might be spent in any given category. Similarly, some people make the conscious effort to spend less, or even significantly less, money than they earn. Yet others pay no attention to the fact that the funds leaving their account far exceed what is coming in. But I still contend that ALL of these examples can be classified as a budget.


But similar to society’s definition of a diet, I would go out on a limb that most people generally think of a budget as a strict regimen of how much money can be allocated to any specific activity. Now, those feelings of restriction and denial come rushing back in. We can no longer enjoy our activities or allow ourselves to purchase any goods. To that, I say HOG WASH! All that is required is to change the way we view our money, adjust our spending habits, and re-train our minds to find satisfaction in self-sufficiency and  less consumer-driven stuff junk. After this re-training we will crave quality time with our loved ones and hobbies while the stuff junk we used to buy in searching for happiness leaves us feeling empty and still searching for more, all while our wallets are slimmer.


 A glimpse at how we choose to use a budget

A snapshot of how we choose to use a budget


Who Would Have Thought…

…that the idea of changing your ‘diet’ would bring about the side effect of changing your physical appearance as opposed to letting your desire to change your appearance be the reason you go on a ‘diet’?

…that changing your ‘budget’ – as in how you spend your money – would bring about the side effect of bringing more satisfaction and happiness to your life by seeking out meaningful experiences as opposed to letting your desire for stuff bring your emptiness and blow your ‘budget’?


We don’t have to treat budget like a four-letter word to be scoffed at or to avoid. We’d all be better off by accepting that we all have a budget. How you choose to utilize it makes the difference in whether it brings you joy or whether it brings you restriction. Same goes for your diet.


~ Mrs. Maroon

Our Anti-Valentine's Jubilee
  1. Comment by Mrs SSC — February 25, 2015 @ 12:29 PM

    That is a great analogy – and so true. Budgeting helps you cut through the clutter and identify what you really need in your life to be happy. Then all that excess stuff that just filled your time/space without improving your life goes away – just like with eating healthier food!
    Mrs SSC recently posted…Woohoo! The Liebster Award!My Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    All I really want is to be happy. A big part of that is to clear out the junk to make me feel in tip top shape, both physically and financially. Not having to worry about either opens up a whole new world of possibilities to ponder.

  2. Comment by Robin @ The Thrifty Peach — February 25, 2015 @ 12:46 PM

    “After this re-training we will crave quality time with our loved ones and hobbies while the junk we used to buy in searching for happiness leaves us feeling empty and still searching for more, all while our wallets are slimmer.” <— so many people could turn their lives around for the better if they could figure that out.
    Robin @ The Thrifty Peach recently posted…There’s a Party in My Bank AccountMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    I wish I could shout it from the mountaintops – or plaster it on billboards. Perhaps a flash notice on every smart phone would be the most effective delivery method though!

  3. Comment by Brian @ Debtless in Texas — February 25, 2015 @ 12:59 PM

    As someone on a diet AND a budget, I happily agree. Eating healthy is a lot like spending healthy; it can be tough at first but after a couple of weeks it gets easier and you see results – which makes you want to keep doing it.

    Nice spreadsheet teaser, btw. You know how tug at our heart strings with pictures of beautiful spreadsheets!
    Brian @ Debtless in Texas recently posted…Yearly Bonus, Gender Roles, and Why My Wife is a BadassMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Seeing positive results is super motivating to keep you going. And as you say, gets you eager to see more and more!

    I’ve considered an in-depth review of how I use our budgeting spreadsheet. Any interest??

  4. Comment by Jeremy — February 26, 2015 @ 1:29 AM

    4 letter words are my favorite words 🙂
    Jeremy recently posted…Reader Financial Review: Escape From New YorkMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    I have a certain affinity for four-letter words myself. I constantly have to catch myself these days though since Mini Maroon #1 has become a certified parrot… He could be across the room as you whisper something. Three days later, you’ll hear it from him again!

  5. Comment by Mr. SSC — February 26, 2015 @ 11:03 AM

    I saw your spreadsheet and thought, “Mrs. SSC is going to get jealous! Look at those colors, there are probably linked cells, and even macros!” 🙂
    My initial objection to this whole FIRE concept was it all seemed run by frugal extremists on crazy tight budgets. Seriously, that theme seems to dominate. By not viewing a budget as negative, but more a tool to help us get to FIRE easier, it’s turned things around a lot for me.
    Sidenote – this month I’ve been charging myself $1/ each four letter word to break the habit due to the Mina bird effect with our little ones. Yee-ouch, my wallet is screaming, lol.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Woohoo! The Liebster Award!My Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Yes, linked cells. I live by color-coded numbers. But no macros – I haven’t jumped into that realm.

    I will admit, we watch our spending closely. And avoid any excess. But as I write that, ‘excess’ can mean many different things to different folks. I am convinced though that your budget is not something to fear. It is simply a very valuable tool to use in reaching your goals.

    Good plan to kick the habit. What are your plans for the extra cash?

  6. Comment by Brian @ Debtless in Texas — February 26, 2015 @ 11:37 AM

    Yes Mrs. Maroon, TONS of interest! I would be interested in a series of posts…maybe even how other PF bloggers use their spreadsheets for budgeting, forecasting, retirement, etc.

    As an excel nerd, I believe there should be far more excel sheet themed posts than currently exist. There are others out there, though they may be hiding in the shadows – if you write it, they love it.
    Brian @ Debtless in Texas recently posted…Yearly Bonus, Gender Roles, and Why My Wife is a BadassMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Okay, good deal! I’ll be in touch with you soon.

  7. Comment by Even Steven — February 26, 2015 @ 2:13 PM

    I am a firm believer that so much of fitness/health is similar in nature to personal finance/money. Diet/Budget, Cutting calories/expenses, etc the list is a long one. While they are similar in nature I battle each one daily just trying to get ahead, some days are better than others.
    Even Steven recently posted…Retirement DefinedMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    I agree. They are very similar. I’ve seen the analogies before. Biggest thing is that both require discipline. Some days are better than others. But think of it this way… One cheeseburger isn’t going to make you fat just like one salad isn’t going to make you skinny. The key is to limit it to one. Don’t slide down that slippery slope…

  8. Comment by PJ @ A Frugal and Fabulous Journey — February 27, 2015 @ 3:07 AM

    Very poignant and well-said! I’ve saved this post for future re-reading again when I’m feeling weak.
    PJ @ A Frugal and Fabulous Journey recently posted…Saying NO to temptationsMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Thanks!! The weak moments help us to appreciate the strong even more!

  9. Comment by Jon @ Money Smart Guides — February 27, 2015 @ 7:10 AM

    Too many people see a budget as a restriction of their spending. I choose to look at it as a tool to get me to where I want to be financially one day. Sure I might not buy something today because it is not in the budget, but I look at the long-term of where I want to be and focus on that.
    Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted…Forex Trading: The Risks And RewardsMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Exactly! Delay the gratification in search of a higher purpose. One day the will break / become outdated / no longer hold interest. But working towards financial security and independence will never let you down.

  10. Comment by Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life — February 27, 2015 @ 7:27 AM

    Agreed. Both diets and budgets need to be sustainable in the long term to work effectively.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…What My Zero-Sum Budget Taught MeMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Sustainability is key. The yo-yo effect isn’t going to get you anywhere, except perhaps sick to your stomach!

  11. Comment by Elroy — February 27, 2015 @ 9:57 AM

    That looks like a sweet spreadsheet. One thing I lifted from YNAB is to look at next month’s budget as well and always keep enough cash to cover the next month. Helps me when moving funds out into investments.
    Elroy recently posted…Maximizing Cash & Points when traveling for workMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    We look ahead to the next month also. We are fortunate that income is steady with salaried jobs. But one-off expenses certainly can creep in. Good thought on keeping cash to cover the next month.

  12. Comment by Tawcan — February 27, 2015 @ 1:15 PM

    Great analogy. Ultimately it’s finding a system that works for you. Your budget spreadsheet looks great.
    Tawcan recently posted…Weekend ReadingMy Profile

    Mrs. Maroon Reply:

    Any system, no matter how it works, that you will use is the very best one of all. Complicated or easy. Doesn’t make a difference. Just use it!

  13. Comment by femmefrugality — February 27, 2015 @ 8:47 PM

    Great thinking. Both are about the mental game more so than the actual actions; we can have all the knowledge about how or why we should diet or budget, but without the right perspective and willpower that knowledge won’t get us very far.
    femmefrugality recently posted…BYOB Wedding (for the hosts, not the guests!)My Profile

  14. Comment by Christina @ Embracing Simple — February 28, 2015 @ 7:48 AM

    This is a fantastic analogy! Budgeting doesn’t have to be some strict, crazy way of depriving yourself.
    Christina @ Embracing Simple recently posted…14 Ways to Create More Time in Your Day (Part Two)My Profile

  15. Comment by Abigail @ipickuppennies — February 28, 2015 @ 12:44 PM

    Like you, I think of a budget as a way to live, not a way to restrict. If I’m worried about spending, I talk about tightening our budget. But overall a budget is whatever amount you’ve planned to spend.

    Similarly, “diet” needs to be the same. Unfortunately, my diet is pretty unhealthy, and I don’t have the mental space to change that at the moment. My MIL eats very healthily due to a gastric bypass and husband whose weight she’s concerned about. I’m seriously considering paying her to cook a little extra food so I have dinner.

    If so, I guess I’m just have to budget for it.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…7 personal finance lessons from Mr. SpockMy Profile

  16. Comment by SavvyJames — February 28, 2015 @ 8:41 PM

    I stopped using ‘budget’ long ago. It has too many negative connotations. I prefer the term ‘spending plan’ which strikes me as more positive and accurate anyway.
    SavvyJames recently posted…Personal Finance Concepts Wrapped in ThrillersMy Profile

  17. Comment by Jason @ Islands of Investing — March 1, 2015 @ 3:17 AM

    I’m with you here Mrs Maroon on making sustainable changes, and changing your perspective rather than seeing it as deprivation. I was toying with doing a 30 day type challenge to stop eating certain foods and alcohol, but I’d rather keep implement some smaller habits incrementally and sustain them for the long run – as well as change my attitude towards what I eat.

    Also love that you highlighted your spreadsheet – I’m sure most other finance bloggers appreciate excel, and it certainly shows you’re serious about your finances!


    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…Million Dollar Islands update – Fantastic February, and farewell leverage!My Profile

  18. Comment by Felix Money — March 2, 2015 @ 12:45 AM

    I don’t want to restrict myself too much with my diet, and I guess I don’t want to restrict myself with my budget wither. I love eating good food and I love spending money on the things I love, like traveling. To me, it doesn’t make sense to eat steamed veggies all my life, I need some good pasta, hearty stews, and exploring new cuisines, and similarly, I cannot save every penny in the idea that some day I’ll enjoy life. I need to fit traveling into my budget now, not when I reach FI. It’s all good and well to diet and budget, but as I see it, I need to enjoy life in the process too. I do like the analogy!
    Felix Money recently posted…February Financial StatementMy Profile

  19. Comment by Petrish @ Debt Free Martini — March 3, 2015 @ 10:21 PM

    I absolutely loved this post and your right budgeting is about seeking for what truly makes us happy and meaningful in our lives. This is DEEP!!
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…5 Ways Paying Off Debt Changes Your LifeMy Profile

  20. Comment by Holly@ClubThrifty — March 4, 2015 @ 7:06 AM

    Excellent analogy and it’s all so true. Whether we’re talking about money or food, it should be all about finding a healthy balance.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Sometimes It’s the Little ThingsMy Profile

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