Friday, March 06, 2009

Dieting and budgeting

I thought this video was hilarious the first time I saw it. In fact, I still find it pretty funny:

Then I thought about what my life would have been like had I never used loans or credit cards to buy things I couldn't afford to pay for with cash. I still wouldn't have a house, for one thing. I remember the day that I first got a full-time job (I was 28) and one of the first things I did was get rid of a horrible, unreliable 15-year-old hand-me-down car with sporadic electrical problems. Though I spent four years paying $400 a month for the privilege of driving a new car, I still love the car and plan to keep driving it as long as I can. Some weeks, the prohibition "don't buy stuff you cannot afford" might have included groceries. I also got student loans for the final year of my Ph.D. because I decided that I might never finish if I kept trying to work full-time and finish my dissertation.

I still want to get out of debt, at least the "bad debt." Despite all the mess with the mortgage market, I still feel like my house was a good purchase, even if I might owe more than it's worth on paper at this moment in time. I know that I made some unwise purchases with credit cards, and my husband made a lot too. We try to be frugal most of the time now, though we do splurge from time to time. It's going to take a while to fully pay off the debt and I have to live the best I can in the meantime.

I guess it's like dieting -- because everything is, right? Losing weight is simple: "Burn more calories than you eat." I remember when the new, completely unintuitive food pyramid was released by the USDA, it contained a certain amount of discretionary calories (basically, splurge calories). A particularly snotty "expert" was asked how many discretionary calories people who were overweight got. "None! They've already eaten them all!" Ha ha ha ha. (I'm sorry, I can't find a link, you'll have to trust me). Funny, right?

Only if you think budgeting/watching your calories is a punishment that people deserve for being "bad," rather than a sensible way for ordinary people to live. If so, maybe you should consider that everyone makes mistakes.


  1. Excellent post!
    And I loved the SNL video. It reminded me off the diet video called "Get off your ass and stop eating like an idiot."
    Also, if you can make the payments and don't plan to sell it, I don't see that it was a foolish move to buy a house you love.

  2. Making the payments should be no problem. I think a lot of people just see negative equity as a sign that they made a bad decision, when right now it's more of a sign that a lot of bankers and government people made bad decisions.

  3. I thought the SNL video was hilarious. Getting out of debt has many parallels to losing weight - spend less than you make and eat less than you need.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07