5 things your crash diet failure could teach you about financial fitness

Ruth Davies 11 August 2014

Ever found yourself frantically researching the latest diet fad as the threat of “swimsuit season” hangs over your head?… fast forward a couple of months and you’ve taken radical measures to lose a few pounds, only to put the weight straight back on again.

This can be a disheartening experience – not to mention dangerous and unhealthy – but what if you could learn from it and apply the lessons to other areas of your life? Research suggests that the way to change your behaviour in the long term is to change your habits, so we’re taking a look at how your crash diet failure could help you to take back control of your money.

1. Focus on the big picture

Crash dieting normally requires you to focus entirely on the minute details of the here-and-now, without giving much thought to the future – which often means that little long-term change is achieved. This can also be a problem when it comes to the way you manage your money. Sitting down and making a monthly budget is easy, but it doesn’t give you the full picture of your financial health. As well as curbing your spending in the short term, you need to make sure that your plan is working towards your long-term financial goals. For example, once you’ve decided to save some money by cutting out takeaways, what are you going to use it for?

2. Your goals need to be achievable

Another mistake often made by the crash dieter is aiming for a goal that simply isn’t realistic; for example, telling yourself that sticking to a diet for a month will make you look like Beyoncé is simply setting yourself up to fail. Equally, aiming to become a multi-millionaire in six months is probably an unrealistic money goal and therefore pointless. Instead, take an in-depth look at your whole financial picture and work out what you can realistically achieve, then set smaller goals which will help you regularly measure your progress.

3. Remember to treat yourself

People say that the secret to healthy eating is “everything in moderation”. If your dieting regime is too harsh, it can be very easy to lose motivation. What usually happens is that, when you inevitably do falter from your ultra-strict diet, the voice in your head says something like “oh well I’ve already failed, so I might as well eat that cake.” The same thing can happen with your monthly budget; when you say “I’m not going to spend any money on X this month” it’s only a matter of time before you crack and end up going on a huge spree. Clearly this isn’t a sustainable strategy; make sure your financial plan includes having some fun!

4. Stay positive

When you’re on a diet, it can sometimes feel like cakes and chocolate are suddenly everywhere. Focussing on the things you’re giving up can make the process stressful, as well as making you more likely to crack and give into temptation. The same applies if you’re trying to put aside a significant amount of money. Instead of dwelling on the sacrifices you may be making, concentrate on where you’ll be when you’ve achieved your goal; how will you feel when you’ve finally saved enough for a house deposit, or cleared your credit card debt?

5. Don’t give up when it gets difficult

Because crash diets are so extreme and solely for the short-term gain, it can be tempting to give up when it gets hard. The route to better physical – and financial – health isn’t always easy, but if you put in the effort you can reap the rewards. MoneyHub can help you along the way, putting you right at the centre of your financial world, helping you to make the right choices and enabling you to quickly adjust your plan if something goes wrong.

If crash dieting hasn’t worked for you, maybe it’s time to learn from your mistakes and apply those lessons to your finances.