I’m half Italian. That means my diet is highly susceptible to pasta, pizza, parmigiana, bread, gelato and wine.
The other half of me is Irish, so you can throw beer into the mix too (and lots of it).
If that wasn’t enough, I married a girl with Italian and Greek parents! So, on top of that, I’ve become acquainted with moussaka, baklava and rizogalo.
Not exactly the dishes you would expect to find in a healthy living magazine.
So, when my wife approached me 6 months ago saying that she was taking up a 4-week healthy eating challenge, you can imagine my resistance.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for her, but at the same time I was deeply concerned about the effect it would have on the delicious meals I sit down to every night.
Was she expecting me to toe the line too?
The thought of a whole month without carbonara, lasagna and crusty bread gave me shudders. And don’t even talk to me about going dry for more than a week.
Anger began to set in. What had possessed this woman to want to jeopordise the mouth-watering meals we devour every night?
It was then she showed me who and what was responsible for threatening to divide our family’s eating pattern.
To humour my wife, I flicked through the pages and, as suspected, came across dozens of recipes and eating plans that seemed much smaller than the heaped pasta bowls I was used to.
“How many of these meals do we get to eat each night?” I asked.
Being a huge intaker of carbs herself, the wife was a little skeptical too.
Nevertheless, feeling a little pudgy after giving birth to our two boys, she was determined to give it a shot.
“Well, you can count me out. I’ll stick with man food, thanks,” I said.
“Like hell you will,” she replied. “I’m not cooking two meals every night and our grocery bill would be double, Mr Budget Man.”
She had a point.
Alright I thought. How hard could it be? It’s only for a month. Being the supportive husband I am and a lover of challenges, I decided to commit wholeheartedly, with no cheating for the full 4 weeks.
After one week of this eating and exercise plan, we were completely gobsmacked at how we had:
1. survived the whole week without fading away to a shadow; and
2. actually felt so much better.
We couldn’t believe it! The food and portions filled us more than we had ever thought possible, we had noticeably more energy, were more aware mentally and just felt better all-around.
We both easily made it through the 4 weeks and were very proud of ourselves.
We’ve largely stuck to the diet since then and we’re both so much more conscious of what we eat and how much we eat.
Personally, I found it amazing how much I used to eat out of habit, rather than need, and how smaller meals can fill you for longer when the right foods are chosen.
We still eat some of the carb-filled meals we ate before the 4-week challenge, but much less often. We have dramatically changed our weekly eating plan to include healthier options. And we feel so much better for it.
Importantly, even though we’ve made so many changes to our diet, we don’t feel like we’re missing out, because the benefits of our revised eating plan are so good.
Hang on. What’s this got to do with being better at saving money?
How To Be Better At Saving Money
There are some people that don’t see the need to be better at saving money; the rent or mortgage is being paid, the bills are covered, there’s food on the table and there’s a few grand put away for an emergency. What more do you need?
I’ve always tried to find better ways to save money, while making sure it doesn’t impact our current lifestyle too much. Enjoying life ‘now’ and maintaining your standard of living is very important.
Saving money should never be to the detriment of your current lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always be looking to improve.
Let’s consider my mindset before I took up the 4-week healthy eating challenge.
I was against it immediately because I had the following misconceptions:
- I was afraid I would starve
- I was worried I wouldn’t get to enjoy the food that I love
- I was scared I wouldn’t have the discipline to last the month and would end up a failure
But you know what the biggest thing was?
It was that I didn’t feel there was anything overly wrong with my current eating habits. I’ve always managed to stay reasonably healthy, not slim by any means, but never noticeably overweight (except for around our wedding time, when I had packed 10 kg on my base weight and was pastier than a Melbourne tourist on a Gold Coast beach in July. Your own wedding – the one day where you’re meant to look good. Clearly I didn’t get the memo!)
The point is, I initially wasn’t willing to change my eating habits or do the 4-week challenge with my wife because I didn’t feel I had to. But now, here I am, 6 months down the track, with an altered diet, more exercise and a much healthier body and mind.
The same goes for many people who don’t believe they need to change the way they manage their money. They’re covering expenses, saving a little here and there and enjoying a few family holidays. Life seems to be okay.
But what if it could be better?
When discussing my health, my Osteopath once told me, “it’s not about surviving, it’s about thriving”.
Well, the same applies to managing your family finances.
Most people are hesitant to put in place a budget because they are afraid they will feel restricted with their money, be seen as a cheapskate, or won’t get to buy the things they love. These are all misconceptions, just like the fears I had in changing my eating habits.
What if I could help you identify the type of expenditure that provides you and your family with the most satisfaction, now and in the future, and then show you the best way to save towards your goals, without making you feel restricted with your everyday expenses?
Does that sound like something you’d be interested in?
Grab my free 6-step cheat sheet, which will also give you access to my free 3-part video series on managing your family finances. I guarantee it will show you how to be better at saving money.
Author: Chris Strano
After playing a vital role in the creation of his two sons, Chris Strano gave up his former-life as a financial adviser to dedicate his time to providing everyday families with basic money management advice. Drawing on his years of education and experience, he has also developed an affordable 100% digital course showing young families how to build their own custom household budget and savings plan to work towards their goals, using financial planning strategies (without the cost of a financial adviser). You too can get started by grabbing his free 6-Step Budget Cheat Sheet at Build A Family Budget and follow him on Facebook and Instagram @SmartFamilyBudget.