GAZELLE MAGAZINE Vol. 1 Issue 3. - Page 58

CAREER&MONEY As chief Market Strategist, Managing Director, and Senior Transportating Analyst for Avondale Partners, Donald is a frequent guest on CNBC and Fox. He has been recognized as a top stock picker by the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Zacks and Starmine. The $ DIET Center photo courtesy of ProPhotoSTL BY DONALD BROUGHTON ’ve been told “The $ Diet” was a bad title. “Are you crazy? An investment analyst can’t write an article about dieting for a women’s magazine,” I was told. “Why not?” I asked. “The initial stages of creating wealth, and the ongoing process of maintaining wealth are exactly the same as dieting. The only difference is you are counting dollars instead of calories.” Everyone wants the end result, but most don’t have the daily discipline necessary to reach their goals. There is no magic pill! Just as you can’t change your body without changing your daily habits, you can’t change your financial wealth without doing the same. I admit it. I learned how to financially diet long before I needed to physically diet. I run, ride my mountain bike, play squash, lift weights, and I am blessed with a healthy metabolism. I was also blessed with a family that fixed fairly healthy meals long before it was fashionable, and I grew up with a palate that enjoyed salads and vegetables. Not that I haven’t eaten some fast food along the way. I still love a little Taco Bell or Imo’s on occasion, and Carl’s… well greasy hamburgers just don’t get any better, do they? But for the most part, I eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, yogurt, brown rice or squash, with a little lean meat thrown in, and I avoid processed foods as if they were the plague. Despite all that, after I turned forty, I began to understand the axiom, “No one gets to be fifty and thin without a lot of work and discipline.” A life saver for me has been the calorie-counting app on my IPhone. Before exercise, it tells me I have 1,600 calories to consume per day if I want to lose a pound a month. I enter everything I eat and all the exercise I do, and it tells me whether I burned more calories than I consumed, or consumed more than I burned - every day. If every day I consume more than I burn, guess what? I gain weight. On the other hand, if every day I burn more than I consume, that number on the scale starts to go down. For me this was an epiphany; dieting is just like investing! Take your entire budget for all your monthly expenses (house, car, insurance, phone, groceries, etc.) and reduce them to a daily amount (divide by thirty). Take your monthly after-tax paycheck and do the same. Subtract your expenses from your income, and that’s your calo- I 56 GAZELLE STL rie-per-day amount. I understand that for most of us starting out, it’s only a few dollars a day, but my first car wasn’t a Mercedes, and my first house wasn’t in Ladue. If you don’t want a fat butt in the future, you eat less and exercise more today. If you want a nice house or nice car in the future, you don’t spend more today than you earned. Just like dieting, it is an ongoing daily process of self-discipline. I’m not saying don’t occasionally spend more than you take in. It’s OK to have a splurge or feast once in a while. It is OK to reward yourself for being good. In fact, just as it’s healthy to treat yourself to your favorite high-calorie food once in a while, it’s OK to spend more than you are taking in once in a while. Just know it is a reward for your hard work, and don’t let it become a change in your ongoing daily habits. Eliminate the food that is really bad for you! Once you have the daily incoming versus outgoing under control, lay out a plan to eliminate all debt on depreciating assets (cars, clothes, etc.) over time. Ins \