Can a Financial Diet Help Your Waistline?

Can a Financial Diet Help Your Waistline?

A few months ago, I saw Suze Orman on The Dr. Oz Show, where she mentioned that a financial diet can help people lose weight. Citing a statistic that claimed overweight people are paid $3.41 per hour less than their normal-weight counterparts, Orman went on to say that acknowledging your debt can lead you to skinny jeans. A little far-fetched? Well let’s take a look at the financial diet and Orman’s claims.

The Financial Diet

The financial diet is the newest way to become fit…financially fit, that is. Just like a diet cuts calories, the financial diet cuts spending. Unlike a weight-loss diet in which you lose pounds, though, a financial diet helps you gain cash. The ways to accomplish this are rather simple, and we’ll look at the main principles:

  • Spend Less: Simply, the biggest part behind financial dieting is cutting your spending. This can include finding a cheaper cable provider, clipping coupons, and curtailing unnecessary purchases.
  • Move More: In the financial diet, the advice to move more applies to your debt. You want to move more of the funds you saved (by spending less) to pay off debt.
  • Grow Your Bank Account: The final part of the financial diet is the maintenance. Once you are spending less and paying off more, you also want to save some cash. Advice varies about when you should start saving that cash: some situations call for you to save while you pay off while other situations are best tackled by saving after paying off debts.

Those are the main principles of a financial diet in a nutshell. It’s pretty straightforward and established financial advice with a little twist in the analogy. But can financially dieting really help your weight loss efforts?

The Link Between the Financial Diet and Weight Loss

Suze Orman thinks that obesity and the financial crunch are linked. To paraphrase her idea, she lays out that the more debt a person keeps secret, the more likely they are to be overweight. The stress of lying about their debt supposedly weighs on them so much that they will over-eat.

Orman says that if people tell others about their debt and start a financial diet, they will feel less inclined to over-indulge. The pounds will start to magically melt.

Is That Really True?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I over-eat when I’m bored and sad. When I’m stressed, I tend to eat less. Other people I know eat a lot when they socialize but otherwise don’t eat much at all. Still others – those skinny-Minnies out there! – exercise when they are bored, stressed or socializing. My point: everybody’s different, and one person’s reason for being overweight may not be another’s.

I do agree that stress can inhibit people from losing weight. But so can other factors. If financial stress is the only stress in a person’s life, it very well could be possible for that person to lose weight after getting their finances in order. But I don’t think it will work for everyone.

The bottom line to me: financial diets will not help you drop a dress size. I don’t know, though; is there something I’m missing here? What are your thoughts on finances and weight loss? Weigh in below!

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optionsdude's picture

optionsdude wrote:

Wed, 06/22/2011 - 15:37 Comment #: 1

A lot of people, and in this case I would include Suze Orman, have difficulty distinguishing between associations and cause and effect. I think that is what is happening here. I would propose that the discipline to lose weight (ie monitoring calories in and calories out) is akin to the discipline needed for financial fitness (ie monitoring income and expenses). It stands to reason that those who lack discipline and motivation tend to be overweight, in more debt, have poorer health, have less education, and make less.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 20:36 Comment #: 2

True, Optionsdude: discipline is most often the key to weight loss and to financial success. However, I do think that some people can be disciplined in some areas but not in others; maybe a super-fit person is bad with finances or a "Chunky Monkey" can stick to a budget like none other.

I do agree that Orman seems to be having trouble with the simple association of diet and finance in this case (or is trying to sell her newest book...)