The money diet: Two weeks in and the savings are adding up
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm referring to the diet I've nicknamed the Money Diet. On January 1, I announced here on WalletPop that this year I really am going to lose weight, and in order to motivate me, instead of counting calories, I'll add up what I think I'm saving by not spending my money on junk food, fast food and scarfing down second and third helpings of food.
Now, let me say right here -- yes, I could save a ton of money by not eating at all. Yep, that would be great, except for the part about not eating at all.
I'm not proposing that. Starving doesn't really do a whole lot of good. And in fact, I'm eating plenty, which may be why I didn't lose any weight this week. That said, I didn't gain any weight this week either. In any case, I'm still snacking and thus maybe not saving much money, or I may actually be spending more, since healthy foods aren't exactly cheap. But I'm at least putting my money into healthier fare most of the time, instead of toward high-fat, high-caloric foods.
So here's a list of what I think I probably saved:
- I went to a McDonald's and bought my daughters ice cream, but I didn't buy anything for myself, like, say a drink and the new Big Mac Snack. Estimated savings: $3
- I drove by several fast food outlets in the last week and considered swinging in -- but didn't. Estimated savings: Who knows, but I'll go low and say $5
- Bag of my favorite pretzels, which I used to always get weekly but still haven't caved in and bought. Savings: $3.29
- Bag of Doritos at the grocery that was on sale but didn't tempt me enough to give in. Savings: $2.19
- Stared for the longest time at a smoothie at my grocery store, about an hour or so after going to the gym. I debated and debated -- they're supposed to be healthy, right? Well, this one had 34 grams of sugar and three grams of fat. I finally left the story empty-handed. Savings: $0.92
- Same grocery store. Looked longingly at frozen pizza and ice cream but didn't buy any. Estimated savings: $8
- Bought a little less diet pop than usual. Estimated savings: $5
Saved this year so far: $48.27
There's probably more that I'm forgetting, but I think I've hit the most important things on the head. Geez, though, I'm beginning to realize that I used to eat quite a bit of food I didn't need. It's pretty cool to realize there's probably about $50 in junk food that I haven't put into my body.
At any rate, I started this diet at (sigh) 264 pounds and, in the first week, went to 253. I'm still at 253 or maybe even at 254 That may be because I only managed to get to the gym once this week, so I'm going to have to do that more. In any case, I like my approach, I think more than paying for a traditional weight loss service. Bankrate.com recently did a story on the cost of losing 30 pounds if you use Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem or the Zone Diet. Not surprisingly, they were all a bit expensive.
To join Weight Watchers, which I've heard very good things about, is $214.80 to $299.80, according to Bankrate.com, or just $97.75 if you only work with them online (those costs, it should be noted, don't include the cost of food).
The Zone Diet costs $3,869.10 to $5,158.80 for about three to four months, which includes the cost of food that's delivered to you every day.
Nutrisystem, for four months (Bankrate.com assumes you'd lose 30 pounds in four months), costs $1,174.88, including all food, except greens and dairy.
Jenny Craig costs $399 with a payment plan, or $359 upfront, not including food, which usually costs $84 to $126 per week.
In any case, thanks very much to the readers last week who mostly offered encouraging comments. I really appreciate it. Seeing how much money I didn't spend on junk food and that I at least haven't gained any weight in the past seven days (at least I don't think so), I'm almost looking forward to tackling the next week. If I can shed another pound or two before my 40th birthday, that'd be a nice victory.
When Geoff Williams isn't living out his midlife crisis at WalletPop, he is a freelance journalist (you can see his recent story on CNNMoney.com by clicking here) and an author. His most recent book, which he co-authored, is calledLiving Well with Bad Credit.