Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Won't Eat or Spend While Standing Up

From a $1.49 bag of Lays of potato chips, I found a valuable lesson in personal finance and dieting. And that junk-food tutorial will dramatically change the way I shop and spend money. Here's what happened. When I cleared chips from the dining room table, I absentmindedly stuck my hand into the bag and crammed a handful of chips into my mouth.

But I wasn't hungry. But I was eating. But I wasn't thinking. But I was eating. Finally, my brain kicked out of the standby mode and I suddenly understood the 10 commandments of dieting, including the prohibition about eating while standing. In the upright position, it's incredibly easy to mindlessly consume calories. That's why dieting gurus always warn about eating while standing up. It's so easy to stuff my mouth with food without thinking. But when I sit at the dinner table or the breakfast counter, I'm more mindful of the process and I consume less.

That realization made me think about spending: In the grocery store, in the mall and in the clothing store, I'm usually standing when I make a purchase. But I now believe that if I sat down and thought about the merchandise in my cart, maybe I would spend less. Many stores--even grocery stores--have areas where I can sit, chill and rest. The health food store has a juice bar/cafe area; my neighborhood Target has a Starbucks corner and the grocery store near my home has park benches in front and even a little eatery inside. Buying a small cup of coffee could save me a fortune if while sitting, I carefully edit my shopping cart.

Think about it: When we make big purchases or large financial commitments -- a car, a home, college tuition -- at some point in that process, we actually have to sit down to sign papers or to test drive the car or to review documents. From that seated position, we have additional opportunities to consider our options and make thoughtful choices. During those moments, we negotiate with the sellers and with ourselves: Do I really want this merchandise? Do I really need it?
But in the mall and in most stores, we're often upright and on automatic pilot. And from that position, we leave a large trail of small coins and crumbs. We leak money without really thinking. So I'm not going to a) eat while standing and b) make a purchase without sitting down to think.

Of course, I will still eat potato chips, just smaller portions at the table.
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VixenOnABudget said...

Wonderful post. Just like you said, it applies not only to your physical well-being but economical as well

Not An Artist said...

I think you are right on about the impact mindfulness has on both eating and spending. I also do these things thoughtlessly (and sometimes excessively) whenever I am distracted or trying to multi-task while eating/spending. Like while eating lunch at my desk while working, or online shopping while I'm checking my email.

Mark Framness said...

IMO, there are a lot of lessons the world of personal finance and weight loss/control share.

The big thing is balance. If you take in more calories than you expend you will gain weight, it doesn't matter if the calories are from good food or junk food, fats or protein. Similarly with money if you spend more than you take in you go into debt doesn't matter if the expenditures are wise or not.

If you don't know how many daily calories you take in you can not figure out when to stop eating or what items to trim from the diet. Similarly, if you don't know where/how you spend your money how do you know what is really causing your financial drain?

Frugal Duchess said...

Vixen on A Budget:

Thanks for the visit and your comment.

Take Care,

Frugal Duchess said...

Not an artist:

Thanks so much for your reply. I'm glad I'm not alone. I also eat while checking email.

Thanks for the visit.
Best Wishes,