The money diet: Two weeks in and the savings are adding up

I'm on week two of the "Money Diet," and while I apparently haven't lost any weight, I figure I've "earned" a lot more than I have in previous weeks.

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
Weekly total saved: $27.40
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. 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, 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 ( 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 by clicking here) and an author. His most recent book, which he co-authored, is calledLiving Well with Bad Credit.

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