It’s been a week since Thanksgiving and our fridge is still full of left over. Mrs. RB40 really went to town this year and cooked up a huge feast. Now, she’s gone on a business trip and it’s up to me to clean up the left over. RB40Jr and my mom eat so little that they barely make a dent when we sit down for a meal. Everything is tasty so it won’t a difficult task for me, but I’ll have to pay for it with more exercise down the road.
What does losing weight have to do with building wealth? Superficially, they seem very similar. They are both all about input and output. If you use up more calories than you eat, then you’ll lose weight. It’s the same with wealth. If you use more money than you make, then you’ll be caught in a debt spiral. On the other hand, if you save and invest consistently, then your wealth will increase over time. In theory, it’s simple math, but reality is more complicated than that.
Today, I’ll share some reasons why losing weight and building wealth are not that similar. Let me know what you think in the comment section.
Age and Time
For me, the first big difference between losing weight and building wealth is time. My observation is that it gets more difficult to lose weight as you get older. The reverse is true for wealth building.
It’s a fact of life. When you’re older, it’s harder to lose weight. Your metabolism slows down about 5% every decade after 40. You also lose muscle mass steadily if you don’t hit the weight room regularly. Maintaining the same diet as you get older means you’ll gain weight. We all need to eat better and exercise more, but how many of us actually follows through? It gets tougher and tougher to lose weight as you get older.
On the other hand, wealth building gets easier with time. This is assuming you made the right choices when you were younger, of course. I started investing in my retirement accounts when I was 22 and now they are worth over $700,000. The investment compounded over the years and now it is like a locomotive. The momentum built up and it will keep going as long as I avoid foolish moves like overspending and gambling.
I think time is the biggest difference between losing weight and building wealth. If you get started early with investing, then you’ll do very well when you’re older. Losing weight? That’s much tougher as you get older.
To get better at something, you need to keep track of it. Nowadays, it is quite easy to track your investments, cash flow, and net worth. I can see all of that and more at my Personal Capital account in just a few minutes.
Keeping track of the calories is much tougher. I have an activity tracker to count my steps and that helps. It reminds me to walk a bit every day. However, it isn’t smart enough to track my other activities like lifting weight and playing with our kid. The food side is really hard. Even with modern apps, you need to manually enter a bunch of stuff. Who can keep track of it all? Someday, there will be an app that scan your food automatically and convert it to calories so it will be easy to keep track of. We’re not quite there yet, though. Anyway, that’s probably too much personal info to share with an app. Imagine what the HR department can do with that info…
So with current technology, it’s much easier to keep track of personal finance. Counting calories is still a tedious process that most people don’t want to deal with.
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This one is more personal. It’s not difficult for me to be on top of personal finance. I live modestly and invest diligently every month. Building wealth is easy once I’ve made it a routine. I’ve also been very lucky and our income has been relatively good for over 20 years.
Losing weight is much more difficult for me. I love eating good food and I hate portion control. If you put a big plate of delicious food in front of me, it’s pretty much impossible for me to stop eating (until I’m quite full.) That’s one reason why I don’t like going out that much. The portions are huge these days. I feel obligated to finish the food and that won’t help with my weight control.
Both losing weight and building wealth require discipline, but eating is much more difficult to control. In comparison, being frugal is easy. It’s probably psychological and everyone has different level of control.
Take a look back
Now, let’s compare how I’ve done over the last 10 years with both things.
Wow, that’s a blast from the past. I still have that awesome orange vest, but I haven’t worn it for years. We probably should drop it off at Good Will. I still think it is pretty cool vest, but I feel a bit silly wearing it now. From this distance, I didn’t age much at all. There are a few more grey hairs, but they are not very noticeable with the buzz cut. The shade is much cooler than my old glasses. It looks like I’m a lot more relaxed in 2017, but that’s probably because the picture was taken in Cancun. As far as relaxing goes, there is no contest when it’s Portland VS Cancun.
Amazingly, I weight about the same as in 2007. I just checked on the scale and I’m 136 pounds today (5’4 male.) That’s really good for me because my weight usually fluctuate between 136 and 139. I’m probably less toned, though. In 2007, I was working full time and I used to go to the gym every day during lunch. Now, it is harder to get to the gym consistently especially when Junior is out of school. Working out has gotten a lot tougher as well and I don’t push myself that hard.
Now, let’s look at the wealth building part.
The last 10 years has been absolutely amazing. We saw a dip in 2008, but our wealth has been going up steadily ever since. It’s pretty crazy considering I left my engineering career in 2012 and our income dropped significantly. By that time, our wealth locomotive was already rolling and the stock market helped keep it going. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m pretty sure our wealth will keep increasing over the long haul. We might get a dip like in 2008 soon. However, the long term trend should be similar to the current graph.
Losing weight & building wealth
So what do you think? Is losing weight similar to wealth building? Some aspects are similar, but they are really apple and orange. You can’t really compare them. Losing weight is tough for me. I just don’t have the discipline to eat less. Every year, I think it’d be great if I can go down to 130 pounds. I guess I should be happy I haven’t gained much of weight over the last 10 years.
More weight loss stories
- Mrs. FAF lost 40 lbs over 7.5 months. That’s pretty crazy.
- Carl at 1500 Days lost 15 lbs this year. Nice job!
- How to lose belly fat from Life Prep Couple.
- The Budget Epicurean is trying to lose 21 pounds in 7 weeks. Good luck!
- The Married With Money team lost 35 lbs through The Magic of Meal Prep. Great job!
- Keto and the Holidays. If you don’t know about the ketogenic diet, Jenny can tell you all about it.
- Financial Muse lost 25 lbs in 3 months! That’s a lot of weight.
- Another take on how losing weight and saving money are similar from BusyMom.
- Wealth building and weight loss from Mr. Zero.
Let me know if you have a weight loss story to share and I’ll link to it.