By in Automatic Saving, Saving, Tips | 14 comments

“You can never be too rich or too thin.” Wallis Simpson

Whether you believe this quote or not, most of us wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds or accumulating a few more bucks.


When I was an adolescent, I ate too much and was fat. Eventually, with some help, I took the weight off and have kept it off for many years. The principles for long term weight loss and wealth generation have some similarities.

Develop “thin” habits and maintain a healthy weight.

Practice smart money management habits and get rich!

This stuff is not rocket science, and it’s not even too hard (except in the beginning). Now, I don’t believe the adage that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I think it takes much longer. But the great thing about habits is the more you practice, the easier they are to maintain.

So, I’m going to walk you through 3 habits, that if practiced over time, will lead to a trimmer weight and a fatter wallet!


Build movement into your life. Whenever possible move. In fact, get up right now, stretch, twist and move around.

Park your car far far from the store entrance when shopping, or better yet, walk to the store. Make extra trips up and down the stairs whenever possible. Do the dishes, mop the floor, and dust, you will burn calories.

Cut your snack in small sections. Take only one section to the table. After you finished the section, get up, walk around, and do something else. You may not even want the other sections. And if you decide to eat the next section, you’ll have gotten a bit of exercise in the meantime.  Barb’s note; distraction may be the most underrated weight loss trick there is!

Keep a log of how active you are for a few days, and see if you can beat your record!

The key to making this tip work is to make sure you don’t increase your calorie intake!


This tip is the cornerstone of Richard Thaler’s brilliant book Nudge. Thaler recommends putting systems in place to help you automatically make beneficial choices.

Transfer money out of your paycheck and into an investment account each month. Start with your workplace retirement account, and then have more transferred into an investment account when you can.

The first month or two, you will miss the money. Over time, I promise, you get used to living on what goes into your checking account and will not notice the additional transfers.

I look back at the workplace retirement accounts El Carino and I started at our first jobs and I am amazed at their growth. When I left my former employers, I never took the money out and it has since grown for many years. In fact, time is the most important factor in wealth generation, so start this habit now.


You can make lots of money through saving and smart investing, but if you spend it all, you’re right where you started-poor! 

Ramit Sethi has implied that cutting out the small stuff may not be worthwhile.

I disagree.

Consider this, save $5.00 per day for 5 years and invest in a stock market index fund or ETF (exchange traded fund). Assume you earn the historical market reurn of 9%.

At the end of 5 years you have $11,522.34.

For the cost of a pack of cigarettes, a sandwich, a magazine, a fancy latte, or a couple of lottery tickets you could have more than $11,000.00 at the end of 5 years.

Continue this $5.00 per day savings for 30 years. At the end of 30 years you have $281,349.71. Now almost $300,000.00 is nothing to ignore!

How realistic is this?

Most of us can find $5.00 per day to cut.

The key to creating this habit is to funnel money into an investment account through thick and thin.

Small amounts add up!


 Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

  •  Jot down one habit you want to develop.
  • Keep the note visible.
  • Look at it and note your progress.
  • Reward yourself after a couple of days!
  • Write and let me know how it is working out!

For a quick overview of Investing Strategies, pick up my FREE eBook; 20 Minute Guide to Investing (top right of the page). If you like what you’re reading, sign up for my RSS feed or email subscription and follow me on twitter so you get the word immediately. 

What is your tip for getting rich and thin?

image credit; gaymay


  1. Barb,
    I am going on a spending fast at work. I am refusing for the month of June to purchase anything from the cafeteria or vending machines. I will bring my own lunch, snacks, and carbonated drinks if I must. Wish me luck.


    June 1, 2011

  2. The changes you recommend are good, unfortunately people want to do all of them at once. When I started taking lunch to work 40+ years ago, I started one day per week. When I went on a diet, I excluded the afternoon candy bar. When I started a payroll deduction I started with $1-200 per month. I recommend small changes versus a dramatic change. Dramatic changes is like a too strict diet, you cannot maintain it in the long run.


    June 1, 2011

  3. @CF-Good luck-Bring plenty of snacks for those late afternoon cravings! And don’t beat yourself up if you spend a buck or two 🙂
    @Krantcents-That is the best advice for any task. Small bits pieced together yield tremendous changes. Even if I go out to a coffee shop to work, I’ll stow a sandwich in the car for later!


    June 1, 2011

  4. As one wise man (Benjamin Franklin I do believe) once said “If you take care of your pennies your dollars will take care of themselves.” It is amazing how the little things DO add up. Moderation is key to being successful in all aspects of life.

    Jon - Free Money Wisdom

    June 1, 2011

  5. Hi Jon, I love that quote! Franklin was one “wise” man. You will not go wrong striving for moderation and balance in life.


    June 1, 2011

  6. Some of the wealthiest, most successful (and most svelte) people I’ve met in life are the most disciplined. They exercise discipline in their spending habits and in their fitness regimes and diets.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Krantcents- being too disciplined and too strict on yourself all at once when you’re not used to it is tough and unsustainable. It’s all about taking small steps towards leading a healthier life (both monetarily and physically).

    Miss Moneypenniless

    June 2, 2011

  7. I also believe it takes a lot longer than 21 days for habit to stick. The key is to cultivate good habits and eliminate bad habits. It’s difficult when society encourage bad habits though. 🙂


    June 2, 2011

  8. I agree that lifestyle changes — complete, total, lasting lifestyle changes — will make a must stronger impact than a temporary “quick fix.”

    I’ve heard people say to thin people — “you don’t need to skip that second helping / blot the excess oil from your pizza / order frozen yogurt instead of ice cream” — their message says, “You don’t need to worry about your weight. You’re thin already.”

    That attitude is similar to the people who you hear say, “Oh, rich people don’t need to worry about how much something costs. They’re rich.”

    In both cases, they’re wrong — being attentive to your eating habits AND your money is how you achieve and maintain those results.

    Paula @ AffordAnything.org

    June 2, 2011

  9. I agree with you, and disagreed with Ramit Sethi as well. Small amounts really do add up, and the change in mindset affects everything else. If I think, “Oh, it’s just $5, I can spend that and don’t have to worry about it,” then I’ll quickly go over my budget, and like you pointed out, lose the opportunity for that money to do work for me! Plus, if I can cut three little $5 expenses a day (maybe coffee on the way to work, a newspaper, and lunch at a restaurant) I’ll have an extra $450 a month. That’s not chump change!

    The Saved Quarter

    June 2, 2011

  10. @Miss-Actually, that was my problem as a youth, I was too “all or none.” Learning moderation and breaking tasks into bits has been important life lessons.
    @Retire-If we listed to societal messages we’d be eating and shopping non stop :).
    @Paula-Except for the gazillionaires, part of remaining wealthy is watching spending. Look at all of the atheletes, lottery winners, and entertainers who have ended up with money problems! Good point.
    @Saved, I cringe when I see low income folks squandering money on lottery tickets and expensive snacks. Watching the small expenses creates a wealth mindset.


    June 2, 2011

  11. Excellent points. I first started thinking about the weight/finance situation when Suze Orman mentioned it, and once I started looking for the connection, I found it every where, including in my own life. If you are honest about your situation and self-disciplined, both situations can be resolved. Also, there may be deeper issues that need to be addressed to resolve both problems.


    June 2, 2011

  12. Hi Melissa, Thanks for pointing out the “deeper issues.” Over spending and over eating are often symptoms of deeper problems.Work on those issues and the money increases and weight decreases will follow.


    June 3, 2011

  13. I agree with you, the changes you recommend are good, unfortunately people want to do all of them at once. When I started taking lunch to work ten years ago, I started one day per week. When I went on a diet, I excluded the afternoon candy bar. Anyway I recommend small changes versus a dramatic change.


    June 13, 2011

  14. @Dave- Absolutely! If you try to make too many changes at one time, you are at risk of failing, and giving up.

    Barb Friedberg

    June 13, 2011

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