Editor's Note

Money diet

I just lost 20 pounds in a couple of months. If I don’t make some real, long-term lifestyle changes, I’ll probably gain them all back in the next couple of years. Is this something you can relate to? I’ve realized that getting your finances in control is a lot like losing weight. To be successful at both, you have to learn a few important things:

Make a decision. If you’re serious about losing weight, you just have to commit to it. It’s really a choice you have to make. The same thing with financial freedom: you have to make a decision to break your bad money habits and pursue your financial goals.

Find your motivation. In my case, I’m in my mid-30s and before I know it, I’ll be hitting the big 4-O. I want to be healthy for myself and my family. But I also had a more urgent incentive: my sister’s wedding and the attire she already bought that I absolutely have to fit into.

Educate yourself. There is a place for working hard, whether it’s for weight loss or financial success. But I believe working smart is a lot better. You can be lifting weights every day but if you’re not doing it right, you are just hampering your progress. Similarly, you can sock away a lot of money for savings, but if you just place them in a bank deposit earning 1% or so, you’re really not getting ahead. So arm yourself with the right knowledge. Attend seminars, browse websites, and read books and magazines to increase your financial literacy.

Avoid fads. Diet fads, diet pills, and weight loss programs can easily get you excited with promises of quick results…in just seven days! But either they don’t work or they only work temporarily. Most successful dieters were able to do it on their own, following tried-and-tested techniques. Likewise, avoid hot stock tips, instant loans, “business opportunities”, and investments that guarantee a 5% monthly return. Managing your money isn’t as complicated as it seems. Go for proven strategies, not magic formulas.

Make it a way of life. This is probably the most difficult part of all—sustaining what you’ve started. The only way to make change permanent is to make it part of your lifestyle. That takes a conscious, everyday effort until it becomes a habit. Eating healthy and regularly exercising take a lot of discipline, but once it becomes a way of life, you will be running on auto-pilot. When it comes to money, you have to form new habits—good ones—such as tracking expenses, controlling spending, and investing wisely. This is something you have to do on a daily basis, not just when you find yourself, yet again, in a financial mess.

This issue focuses on health care. There is a direct correlation between your health and your wealth. If you take care of your body by eating healthy and being fit, you cut the risks of suffering from dreaded diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and stroke. That means saving a lot of money in prescription drugs and hospital bills. Of course, you can’t avoid those forever. That is why we devoted a special report entitled “Cut Your Health Care Costs” with tips on saving on medicines and hospital bills as well as primers on buying life insurance and an HMO plan.

And who better to put on the cover but Sen. Pia Cayetano, a health advocate in the Senate who also happens to be a tri-athlete, a successful entrepreneur, and a mother of two. It’s another issue packed with sound advice and comprehensive information that can help you on the road to health and wealth.

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