The financial ramifications of losing weight


There are certain things that elicit immediate respect from me. I think you are awesome if you have a neck tattoo (because I would never do that). I think you rock if you have chosen to follow a career path which indulges your life’s biggest passion. But more than anything, you get HUGE props in my book if you take control of your life and lose a tremendous amount of weight. Why? Because I know how hard it is, and I know how much impact it can have on your life. (Above: On the left, 25 year old FAT PETE with Mrs Planner. No she wasn’t 12. On the right, 30 year old SKINNY PETE with Mrs. Planner. Yes, she is definitely my better half. Holy crap, I can’t believe I just posted this picture. How did I get so chunky at 25? The successful start to my financial career translated into expensive gluttonous eating. I got serious, got healthy, and my career took off.)

I believe that all aspects of our lives are interrelated. If you aren’t physically healthy, then you aren’t mentally healthy. If you are thirsting for spirituality, then you can find inspiration in some other aspect of your life to help give you the boost you need to seek that spirituality. In fact, when I want to kick my career into hyperdrive, I simply set incredibly hard fitness goals. When you can muster the focus to accomplish big things, then your focus becomes an inspiration to other aspects of your life. I’m happy to tell you that I’m enjoying hitting some major fitness goals these days, which now means that I will have some GIGANTIC Pete the Planner announcements coming for you in the coming weeks. One of these announcements is 10 YEARS IN THE MAKING.

But I digress.

Getting physically healthy is vitally important to getting the most out of your life. However, there are some real financial factors that you need to be aware of when you start this weight loss mission. Recently, my friend Melanie has been on such a mission. Her success in losing weight and gaining fitness has inspired me to get my shiz back together. Because of her (seriously), I have signed up/participated in 3 duathlons and 1 half marathon in the last couple months.

I asked Melanie to send me the financial factors that have come as a result of her remarkable weight loss. She obliged, so here they are:

It’s true: healthier food is often more expensive. In college, I lived off ramen noodles
because they were 10 cents a pack but failed to realize they’re also super high in calories
and sodium. I’ve changed the way I shop now and budget for things like organic pastas,
non-processed cheeses and other healthy alternatives. On the flip side, because I’m
smarter about planning meals before grocery shopping, I’m less tempted to eat out and
can save money that way.

If you’re serious about getting healthy, you have to balance eating better with working
out. There are some workouts you can do for free (i.e. run/walk outside, crunches) but
to step it up, you’ll have to invest in some exercise equipment. Some people buy DVDs
and free weights they can use at home; others purchase gym memberships. Either way,
it’s going to cost you some money to get started. And don’t forget to factor in workout
clothes and shoes. I recently bought a new pair of running shoes and was surprised how
much they cost. If you end up working out a lot, like I am now, it’s worth spending a
little more on a quality pair of shoes that will last longer.

Initially, I tracked my progress using the loops on my belt, rather than the number on the scale. As my clothes became too big for me, I had to buy a new wardrobe. I kept losing weight so fast however, I was swimming in the new pants I bought after only a month or two. I’ve since had to invest in even more new clothes in smaller sizes. It’s a great feeling, don’t get me wrong, but it can get a little frustrating feeling like I’m wasting money on clothes that may or may not fit in a month.

These are just a few of the ways losing so much weight has impacted my wallet. As with
anything that involves money, it all comes down to budgeting. If something is important to you, make room for it in your budget. Sacrifice in other areas if you have to. And what better reason to sacrifice than knowing you are taking care of yourself?

I will tell you that every dollar spent on a serious commitment to fitness is well spent. Don’t waste money on a half-ass commitment to your future. Get real, spend money, get healthy. If you want to follow Melanie’s weight loss journey, then hit up her blog. I’m quite proud of her, and I know that her weight loss will propel her life just the way that my weight loss propelled mine.

14 thoughts on “The financial ramifications of losing weight

  1. Great Piece Pete! Congrats to Melanie, so inspirational and keep it up! I too lost over 130lbs 4 years ago starting in my freshman year of College, while still keeping it off to this day! But yes it may cost a little more to be active and eat healthy its well worth the ramifications down the road dont you think. Healthcare wise, if you would allow yourself to get in bad shape, its going to cost you ALOT more down the road, literally and in the wallet, so its been worth the price for me! But also congrats to you and your wife for making a life change and dropin a few LB’s! Lookin good sir!

  2. So, between those two pictures, did Mrs. Planner grow a head taller, or did you get a head shorter?

    But seriously, congratulations on it all. Another thing that makes weight loss and becoming healthier easier is moral support. Having some great people in your corner can keep you focused and keep you from slipping back into old habits. Changing your eating and exercising lifestyle isn’t fun; it’s less fun if you’re trying to do it by yourself.

  3. Thank you, Pete! I have been trying to begin my financial and weight loss journey for the last 3 years. I can’t seem to get my head into this journey I so desperately need to begin. This along with Melanie’s blog has me pumped up and ready to start. Thank you so very much !

  4. Ordinarily I agree with you on nearly everything, but in this case, my experience has been completely different. Over the course of the past five-to-six years, I’ve lost over half my body weight (180+) pounds and I’ve found that I’ve actually saved money because of this. For example, I now am able to eat all meals on less than $10 per day (usually somewhere around $6). Back when I was heavier, I was spending a miniumum of $15 per day for fast food, huge portions, etc.

    When you factor in those round numbers (let’s just say that it is $5 per day in savings) throughout the course of the year, that’s over $1,800 in savings. Now, you do have to deduct shoes, clothes, gym memberships, etc., so I’ll just use a round number of $800 there (mine has been less, but I’m just making it easy). That’s still about $1,000 in savings on just food, exercise and clothing expenses alone. That doesn’t even factor in health, emotional and other benefits at all.

    Granted, not everyone’s experience is the same and I’m using round numbers, but if you are dedicated to losing weight, making sure you pay attention to your expenditures (I’m a bargain shopper!) and aren’t just buckling to the latest expensive weight loss “fad”, you can “make” money on the deal. I know I certainly did.

  5. The financial costs of obesity can be substantial. Research has found that people with diabetes have medical expenses that are 2.3 times higher than if they didn’t have diabetes; people with cardiovascular disease have more than twice the medical costs; and people who are merely obese have $1,429 more in medical expenses each year. Plus, in coming years, overweight people are likely to pay more in health insurance premiums (or, described a different way, miss out on discounts they would have gotten if they were at a healthy weight).

  6. Great post (new to the blog, but have loved several lately).

    Though in many cases shopping at Goodwill can give me the willies, I do like to shop there when I’m working hard on slimming down for those “in between” sizes. I find that it’s as motivational as spending more money on new clothes because I know I don’t want to 1) wear those clothes forever and 2) want to spend money on brand new jeans in size 6, not size 8, down from 10.

    Mine has been a long, slow and not super rigorous process, but I did just buy my first pair of size 6 in a while (new) and it felt goooooooood.

  7. Oh, also, I view new gym clothes as a reward for going to the gym for two weeks or a month, not as something that I need to go to the gym. If I desire to look spiffier at the gym than I would in old track pants and a t-shirt, I have to earn it.

  8. Pete! You wanna talk wardrobe expenses? I lost 25 lbs and bought a whole new wardrobe. I then immediately became pregnant after years of trying and gained the 25 lbs back. Can’t really wear the old fat clothes when you’re pregnant, so new maternity wardrobe. Had beautiful baby, lost the 25 lbs. over the past 7 months, buying smaller clothes along the way so I didn’t look like a total schlub. And thinking hard about baby number 2, so the rollercoaster starts again! At least you guys can pick a number, get there through hard work and hopefully stay there!

  9. This is a fantastic post. Thank you for your insight and inspiration. Losing a mass amount of weight is one of the hardest things to do in our society.

  10. I would like to chime in that this article really speaks to me. I have dropped a total of 28 lbs and at least 5 dress sizes over the past 2 years and for me, this transformation snowballed into financial improvement as well.

    For me, when I decided to start working on my unhealthy weight issue a part of that was really examining what I ate…and by examining what I ate I also could not over look how my eating habits were impacting my budget. It was ridiculous! (I am embarrassed to tell you how much i was spending on food a month as a single mom) So in really looking at my eating habits and where my money was going, I ended up losing weight AND re-examing my financial situation and have come out on top on both sides.

    I now feel great with how I look and I eat a lot healthier. Yes, the foods I buy now can be more expensive such as organic vegetables but I try to be smart about it. I follow the clean 15 and dirty dozen guidelines. I will invest in organic fruits and veggies at a trusted supplier and will consider buying the dirty dozen cheaper at other stores. I consistently shop at least 1 discount store and 1 organic health food store 1x every two weeks. I have also found ways to make healthy dinners, freeze them in reasonable portions and avoid wracking up lunchtime expenses. I probably eat out for lunch 3 times a month, if that.

    Regarding, my financial “improvements”, since I have started both the weight loss and financial improvement journey 2 years ago, I have paid off all my credit card debt ($6,000+), saved over $2,000 in my emergency fund, started a college fund for my son (and sacrificed my starbucks habit to do this), saved $40 a paycheck since January to fund a small family vacation in TN next month, and I am now working on paying off some unexpected medical debt and my car. According to my plan – the medical debt will be paid off next month and the car by next summer.

    My biggest issue is clothes! None of my clothes fit me anymore and I really don’t want to set aside money to buy any because I have this great momentum going. I budget so tightly (sometimes I literally have $5 left over from a paycheck after I “tell my money where to go”)and I am not one of those people who likes to shop and buy 1 thing here and 1 thing there so my solution is this…I am fortunate that my employer participates in the Virgin Healthmiles program (exercise-based health promotion program) – I am trying my hardest to earn my $500 cash card so I can go buy some clothes!!! I am getting close…hopefully in August or September I will be good to go.

    All this to say that for me, setting fitness goals and improving my financial really synchronized to bring about something really great. It has been (and still is) hard as hell. Sometimes I feel like all I do is sacrifice and sacrifice but I know in the end I will have achieved things others have not.

  11. In principle, I’d agree with this on the face of it…but in reality, losing weight is less expensive than keeping/gaining weight. And I’m writing this to the 98% of people out there…there are certainly exceptions and I mean no ill to that 2% – I genuinely feel bad for the financial implications of somebody with a legit issue like celiac disease. For the other 98%, they usually either don’t have the willpower to do this or aren’t willing to accept the reality of their situation.

    First, the food issue…I’m married to a dietitian and have seen her go round and round on this with people and I side with her at the most simple level (let’s not get into the biochem here): stick to your basic food pyramid, eat what you want in moderation, and employ portion control. Pete, you’re right – plan your meals, plan them to be healthy, and allow yourself to splurge within reason. If you want to spend some money wisely, go hire a dietitian (NOT a nutritionist, massive difference) to consult on a general meal plan to help you. I’m not advertising for my wife here, she doesn’t do that line of work, but it’s amazing how many dietitians she knows who spend a lot of time helping people because they took the advice they got from a nutritionist at their gym…or on the internet (everything is true there)…or in some book they bought because some Real Housewife endorsed it. Fad diets, over time, land you in the hospital with organ failure. Look it up.

    Second, the workout issue…you need it. Do you know how much sit-ups, push-ups, and walking around your neighborhood cost? Do you know how much playing with your kids outside for 20 minutes a day costs? Yes, that’s right, $0 (unless you want to get into some econ discussion on opportunity costs). I spend for my local YMCA so I can swim each morning because I destroyed my knees and back by running pavement for years. It comes out to roughly $10 a month for each family member to enjoy all those amenities and have the equipment to do so. To be frank, I don’t kneed the swimming to stay in shape…it’s my time to mentally decompress, which is what most people likely need daily more than anything. If you choose for your workout activity to be d something that involved paying hundreds of dollars for shoes, equipment, entry fees to races, flying around the country…that’s your choice, not a necessity. Same with golf, skiing, adventure sports, or any other luxury exercises. You can engage in healthy activities without breaking the bank.

    Third, the clothes…yes, changing sizes will require you to buy new clothes. Were you planning on a clothing budget of $0 for the year? If so, then yes, you are going to blow past your budget. If not, then you’re simply purchasing clothes with a different number on the label. Tuck the belt one notch tighter until your budget allows you to buy the next pair of pants. If your clothing appearance is that important to you, then take Pete’s regular advice: shift money from one budget bucket and move it to clothing. It’s also a one-time change if you’re dedicated…so depreciate that cost over the years you’ll own it. If you buy new clothes every season, that’s a financial decision not tied to your weight loss.

    The argument on significant weight loss or that which would dramatically reduce one’s appearance, in that case I understand the need for an overhaul in a wardrobe…and that could be pricey, if you let it be. All of this ignores the reality that if you’re in a spot where you’re making that type of a drastic change, you’re likely offsetting the clothing cost with your food cost (eating out less, portion control, etc.) If you’re not offsetting that food cost, you’re likely either immediately offsetting medication costs OR dramatically reducing the need for the medications in the future. Think those are cheap? No – you’re SAVING money by not shelling out there for diabetes meds, cholesterol meds, and even anti-depressants for the weight gain (forget the potential side effects). What about the back issues you’re saving by reducing your weight (steroid injections run about $500/month)? Or no longer having to deal with asthma due to the weight (Advair runs about $280/month)? Or knee replacements ($45-70k per knee)? Or heart surgery ($25-100k)? Or a lap band surgery ($9-20k) if you’re so far removed that you have to take a drastic measure just to save your life. Those are realities that are simply not discussed…and they are WAY more expensive than costs of losing weight.

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