Track Everything! We’re Eating And Spending WAY Too Much

Building wealth has become second nature to me. It's what happens when you write more than 1,300 personal finance articles over seven years. Not only does writing help you get smart about the topics you write about, many of the articles themselves are moneymakers thanks to the internet!

Of course, everything may go to hell once the next financial crisis hits. But hopefully, all the articles that talk about cash management, not being too proud to work side hustles, and following a recommended net worth allocation will help you feel less pain when the hammer falls.

One key to growing my wealth is through meticulous tracking of all my financial accounts. I used to write everything out in a spreadsheet each month. This practice helped me zero in on underperforming accounts so I could do something about them. Nowadays, I've got my accounts aggregated online so everything is automated.

Here's what happens with me every week

1) Personal Capital e-mails a performance report. They compare my various investments (You Index) to the S&P 500, a US Bond index, and a foreign stock index. If I'm tracking within +/- 2% of the S&P 500, I'm content. I don't even bother logging in to check out my net worth allocation in such a scenario. All I really want to do is grow my net worth by 2-3X the risk-free rate of return each year (3.5% – 6%). I only do a thorough net worth analysis when I'm underperforming or losing money.

According to my latest weekly update, my overall investments are up about 6.16% in 2016. The outperformance over the S&P 500 is largely due to a large holding in bonds, which have outperform stocks. My five investment portfolios are up between 3% – 6.5%. But if I'm to take a look at my net worth growth, the figure is higher due to strong appreciation in SF real estate and good cash flow from my business.

Personal Capital Weekly Performance Report
Weekly Performance Report

2) In the same weekly e-mail, I view my current month-to-date spending versus the prior month's spending to see if everything is normal. The basic tenet of always spending less than you earn is always pertinent. Based on an October spending report, I've spent about $30,000 this month, which is $53,212 less than what I spent during the same time in September. High five for being so frugal! Or, what the hell was I spending $80,000+ on in September?! I don't see no Range Rover in my garage. Oh yeah, I added to some existing stock and bond ETF positions given both markets sold off.

Each month, I try and invest $5,000 – $20,000 on average in various investments. I invested more in September because my dollar cost averaging system propels me to press when there is more volatility. Now, I'm back to my normal monthly investing cadence and will wait for new opportunities to arise. The biggest opportunity I see is waiting for SF real estate to correct by ~10% and buy another single family home at the end of 2017/early 2018 before the IPO lockup periods expire for the 10,000+ Uber and Airbnb employees.

Personal Capital Monthly Spending Report
Spending/investing less in October

3) After spending three minutes reviewing my weekly report, I just go about living my life without worrying about my finances. I know that worst case, I'll find out in one week if something is wrong e.g. hacked credit card, bad investment, etc. Now think about what could happen if you only go for a full health checkup every two years. It's possible the day after your checkup, you contract some type of cancer. If left untreated for two years, you might be dead!

The goal of automated financial tracking is for everybody to spend more time living life than worrying about money. If you have a good financial structure in place, all you need is time to grow your wealth.

Personal Capital Retirement Planner Assumptions
Planning for the future with the Retirement Planner tool

Regular Health Monitoring Is Crucial

Although I'm relatively good at making money, I'm bad at staying lean. The benefits of regular health monitoring are equally as beneficial to health and fitness as regular financial monitoring is to wealth. Yet, for some reason, I never bothered to track my fitness and caloric intake until this year!

Like so many of you, every year I have a goal of losing 5 pounds. Yet every year, I fail by staying the same weight at roughly 165 pounds at 5'10”. I've been this weight for 16 years now. This year, I'm on track to gain 5 pounds. What the hell is going on? I still play tennis three times a week and I even started lifting weights twice a month to build some strength and definition.

My weight gain all started in the summer of 2015 when my sister and nephew came to visit. I treated them to bubble milk tea drinks every other day for a week. I thought they each had about 150 – 200 calories MAX given a can of illicit Coke has 140 calories.

I was wrong! A typical bubble milk tea drink with lots of extra goodies has a whopping 1,000 calories! In other words, I was drinking 7X more calories than I thought. Of course I gained weight a couple months later with my newfound addiction. Stubbornly, I didn't know why until the summer of 2016 when I finally downloaded a fitness app called MyFitnessPal. Until then, I just chalked up my weight gain to old age.

Bubble milk teak
Bubble milk tea is a cup full of addiction

For those of us with a penchant for gaining weight, I strongly believe it's because we have NO IDEA exactly how many calories we are eating. Our health IQ is so low, by the time we figure things out we're much heavier!

Take this 9 question quiz and see how you do. Answers are at the bottom so don't cheat. You must get 5 or more right to pass.

How many calories are in HALF of a full-sized watermelon (~16 lbs)?

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How many calories are in one amazing piece of baklava?

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How many calories are in a plate of caesar salad with dressing on top?

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How many calories are in a 16oz Starbucks Peppermint Mocha?

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How many calories are in four fried dumplings, Korean style?

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Best Baklava Ever
Baklava is the best dessert ever. Only 4,000+ calories in this box.

How many calories are in a Big Mac?

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How many calories are in a Ruth's Chris, 16 oz, ribeye?

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How many calories are in one piece of Hamachi Nigiri (Yellowtail)?

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What is the recommended total daily caloric intake for a 170 lbs, 5'10" man trying to lose 1 lb a week?

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So how did you do? Everybody should have gotten at least two questions right if you guessed on all questions. My thesis is that only folks who scored 5 or more questions right are in excellent shape. Full disclosure: I only got four right.

Answers: Watermelon 678 calories, Baklava 334, Caesar Salad with dressing 1,441, Starbucks Peppermint Mocha 410, Four Korean Fried Dumplings 572, Big Mac 550, Ruth's Chris ribeye 1,152, One piece hamachi nigiri 51, Recommended caloric intake of 5'10” man trying to lose 1 lb/week 1,560.

But wait! I hear the cacophony of complaints about how my test is unfair! What the hell is baklava? I've never eaten no hamachi nigiri before, only Big Macs! The answers all seem so similar! Wah. Welcome to my world.

When I was taking the SAT for college entrance, I was constantly thinking to myself, who the hell wrote these questions and answers? Surely not an Asian guy who grew up in Zambia, The Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan before coming to America for high school. After doing some research, sure enough, the SAT was created by a Carl Brigham, a professor of Psychology at Princeton University in 1926.

Here's an interesting quote from the Wikipedia page:

“In his 1930 paper “Intelligence Tests of Immigrant Groups,” Brigham recanted his 1923 analysis of the results of the Army Mental Tests. Due to having used prejudicial test administration and analytical techniques in his original research, he acknowledged that his conclusions were “without foundation” and stated, “that study with its entire hypothetical superstructure of racial differences collapses completely.”

Man, if the SAT was created by someone with my background I'd surely kill it! Hamachi nigiri and Korean fried dumplings for all!

Track Everything Often

Ideal Weight Chart For Men
Ideal Weight Chart For Men
Ideal Weight Chart For Women
Ideal Weight Chart For Women

If I can't lose 5 pounds, I'm damn sure not going to gain 5 pounds this year. Running around the tennis court with dumbbells tied around my legs isn't going to help performance. Further, I don't want to die early from heart disease before my kids grow up to be contributing members of society.

One of the greatest paradox I see today is the existence of unhealthy looking rich people. If you are rich, one of your main goals is to try and live as long as possible because life is so darn good! All you can eat caviar (85 calories for 100g) baby! Don't artificially truncate your lottery winnings by dying young.

Most of us here are rich or will become rich one day. Therefore, it's only logical that we continuously track our finances and our health. Setting financial and fitness goals in an app that keeps you honest will help you succeed. Or, you can simply hang out with professional athletes. Whichever way is easier.

Readers, anybody out there who is rich and overweight? Do you track your finances religiously yet don't track how much you eat and exercise? Why do you think there's this disconnect? If you're poor, wouldn't it be even more important to be fit since it doesn't seem great to be poor and unhealthy? 

About The Author

118 thoughts on “Track Everything! We’re Eating And Spending WAY Too Much”

  1. Great post! I love that you incorporate fitness and health with financial well being. It really is all connected. For many people the hardest part about getting both their finances and fitness back on track is simply awareness. It is much easier to stick your head in the sand and pretend like the problems don’t exist. But when you are forced to actually track your spending, and track your calorie intake, you are forced to evaluate your decisions and make adjustments when necessary.

    Also, I want to thank you for giving me inspiration to get my own health and wellness site back up and running. Before reading your articles and going through your site, I was posting intermittently with no real schedule. There would be a few months at a time that I wouldn’t post at all. However now I am much more dedicated to my site, in part because of the articles you post. So thank you :)

  2. I can provide some valuable advice in the eating/calories/weight department. Don’t pay any attention to calories. Yes, you read that right. Instead, ONLY LOOK AT THE INGREDIENTS, not even the “nutritional information”. The ingredient list should be as short as possible and should not include anything that you cannot pronounce.

    All you need to do is cut out sugar, grains, pasta, and processed food. Focus on eating whole foods – meaning fish, chicken, red meat with only seasonings (NO SUGAR), raw vegetables, minimal fruit. Don’t go out to eat because its near impossible to eat healthy at any restaurant due to them adding sugar to just about everything.

    When it comes to drinks, drink water because it has zero calories – oh and it’s free. If you drink soda/pop, you’re nailing your own coffin.

    Most simply – sugar, grains, and anything on the nutritional label you cannot pronounce is bad.

  3. Hey Sam

    Great article but one issue that NEVER EVER addressed is age. As you age your caloric needs drop by a 100 calories per decade. I did well all the way up to my late 40s than I started gaining weight. Now in my 50’s I’m doing something I’ve never done before, counting calories and dieting. I know have a late breakfast and skip lunch. Mcdonalds happy meal rather than a menu (450 vs 1100 calories or so).

    Finally excercise while good for you, makes very little difference on weight, remember the fat dancers on AGT?

  4. It is so easy for things to get out of control, if you don’t keep track of everything such as your health or money! Your quiz was very eye-opening! I really enjoyed this article, thanks for sharing!

  5. After reading this post, I double checked my food expense for last month and it was more than double last month. Bubble milk tea is so good. I bought the tapioca pearls to make at home. There goes the calories.

  6. One of my favorite things about marathon training was how it forced me to eat better and drink less. I knew I would feel absolutely awful on a 15-20 mile run if I did not have the right fuel in me. The hard part about eating well for me right now is that I don’t have a car and the grocery store is a long walk. I do it, but some weeks I don’t make it in time to get the fresh fruit and veggies that make me feel great.

  7. Hi Sam,

    Recently started reading your website and I love your thoughtful blog as it’s even relevant for people like me in Hong Kong. Random minor question, why don’t you date your articles? I find it very interesting how your thinking progress over time but it’s hard to gauge the difference when there are no dates.


    1. Hi Curtis, welcome to my site. My format has always been like this and I just haven’t changed it. I try and keep all articles evergreen and up to date. You can check out the first comment to see when each post was first published.

      Every week I spend time updating pertinent posts to keep them fresh.

      What do you do in HK?


      1. I see, that’s a lot of work to keep your articles evergreen! Great job maintaining the site. I rarely read personal finance blogs but yours is awesome.

        I’m an investment banker in a leading international bulge bracket firm. I’m an Asian American who grew up in the states and have been working in HK / China for around 10 years or so. Not exactly your typical target audience!

        One notable difference here in HK is the cost of living is quite high, probably even higher than Cali / NYC! Most people spend much of their life trying to save for a mortgage, and there are property cooling measures here so housing requires a large downpayment. Much harder to reach FI on the other side of the world…


        1. Hi Curtis,

          I attended the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens boondoggle for 10 years! What a blast. Brought clients out, learned more about the Asian markets, and developed lifelong relationships. Working/investing in the Asian markets from 1999 – 2012 was a blast.

          Hong Kong real estate is crazy. I put together a fun presentation for clients after touring some SHKP and Cheung Kong properties back in 2005. Should have bought all we could! San Francisco is so much cheaper than Manhattan and HK. In fact, I believe SF is the cheapest international cities in the world with the most upside. Where else does everybody make $100,000+ out of college due to the tech/internet boom? Tech/Internet compared to median home prices here is very favorable.

          Enjoy HK!


          Should I Work On Wall Street? The Pros And Cons Of working In Fnance

          Overcoming The “One More Year Syndrome” To Do Something New – Hard to leave those bonuses!

          1. Yea, HK Rugby Sevens is a lot of fun! I can’t say the caliber of rugby playing is all that great all the time but the atmosphere and drinking are fantastic!

            If only I bought all the real estate I could in Cali and US a decade ago. I’ve missed out during the financial crisis. I used to work at Lehman and mistakenly passed on the real estate market during the financial crisis as I thought the sky was falling! Now I know better (hopefully)!

            I was an engineer in college so sometimes I wonder if I made the right move going to finance instead of start-ups in silicon valley! Yes, I agree San Francisco is a great place to invest real estate given the housing price / income ratio is still good. HK is through the roof and is the least affordable city where average flats price 19x gross annual median income.

            You really hit the spot on the “Overcoming the One More Year Syndrome”. It’s not exactly fun working in a structurally declining industry and you’re right in “What’s the use of having money if you can’t spend it?”. For me, it’s not the financial aspect as I do have enough for many years financially but need the push to start afresh! I’m in my early-mid thirties and time is of the essence, you and I basically only have around ~12,000 more days (35 years) of productive working time left (assuming it’s hard to work productively past 70) and it’s only right to do what you love! I’m glad you find your purpose and I need to find mine!

            Anyways, San Fran is a great place to live. I worked there for an internship many years ago and I absolutely loved it!

            1. Ah, it looks like you are at the age when I left (34.5). The structural decline of the business and being the antagonist for main street and the government wasn’t any fun anymore. It is so much more fun working in a business that is growing.

              You will regret more of the things you don’t do than the things you try!

  8. Dude, gain some muscle mass. You’ll look better, and it’s actually easier to stay lean when you have more muscle. You need to lift more than 2 times a month.

    I recommend you do the “Starting Strength” program for about three months, and then do Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. Don’t worry about getting overly muscular—that never happens by accident unless you take roids.

    Also, forget about the calories in/calories out mindset. It’s literally true but completely unhelpful for helping normal people lose weight. Saying it’s all about burning more calories than you intake is like someone asking how they cAn be elected President and responding “get more votes than everyone else.” Definitely true, and definitely useless advice.

    Check out Gary Tubes “Why We get Fat,” as a good introduction to how nutrition and body composition really works.

    1. Sounds good to me. How about 1-2 times a week lifting weights + 3X 1-1.5 hour cardio a week? I’m feeling leaner and healthier after publishing this post and leaving it up in the top spot for 4 days. I like the idea of more muscles that will automatically burn more calories.

      What’s your story?

      1. I’m 5’11” and in my 30s. A couple years ago I weighed only 155 lbs. Now I weigh 190 lbs. When I weighed 155, people were often asking me if I was sick, if everything was alright, etc. Now that I weigh 190 (about 12 – 14% body fat) I look and feel much better. I receive more female attention, and have had more than one woman exclaim “you’re so muscular” while feeling my arms (no lie).

        I lift 4 days a week and don’t restrict my diet (if I really cared to, I could get down to 8% – 10% body fat, but I don’t like frantically tracking my diet like an anorexic teenager). I’m not super jacked like a bodybuilder or men’s health cover model, just in pretty good shape. It’s attainable and I highly recommend it. I did Starting Strength and ate like a horse, and gained 35 lbs. in about 3 months. I was a little chubby at that point, but it was pretty easy to shed the excess fat, and I’ve probably put on another 5 – 7 lbs of additional muscle since then.

        My recommendation is just to do the Starting Strength program, and no cardio. Let tennis be your “cardio.” Once Starting Strength is done (about 3 months), see where you’re at and go from there. The medical community seems to think that being an emaciated stick figure is the epitome of health. But many of us know otherwise. Good luck!

  9. For me, the difference between tracking calories and tracking money, is that while tracking money is effortless through Personal Capital or Mint, I have no desire to actually see what I’m spending! It hurts too much, so I just willfully ignore it :D.

    Tracking calories on the other hand requires effort. I have to measure my food, take out the scale, take out my phone, punch it in. Like someone else said, it would be a lot easier if the app did that for me!

    In regards to losing weight, like everyone else said, if you cut out sugar and refined carbs, you’ll drop a few pounds almost effortlessly. You’ll also build muscle a heck of a lot easier, if you eat enough protein.

  10. I want to add that it’s not just weight and calories that deserve tracking. I got my first high blood pressure reading this year, and I’m only 32! My cholesterol was borderline too. The rising number on the scale had bugged me, but I’m young so I figured who really cares. The health stats shocked me into motivation to work on my diet and exercise routine. I plan to watch them much more carefully and make sure they fall back to normal at my next checkup. I don’t want to wait until I’m WAY off track to take action.

  11. Simple Money Man (SMM)

    Hi Sam,

    One tip my brother gave me to help lose weight/avoid eating late night snacks: “just brush your teeth instead”. It’ll give you a minty feeling and you won’t feel like eating/dirtying up your clean teeth.

  12. Gen X Investor

    Great article. I agree that it’s really important to track where our money goes each month. Lately I’ve been guilty of eating out way too much. I’ll have to get back into brown bagging lunches for work and preparing more meals at home. I haven’t had tons of money to invest in the markets lately because I’ve been pouring money into fixing up my latest rental property. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have the rentals cash flowing nicely by the new year.

  13. Sam, it seems you are a 10th degree black belt in saving and investing but a green belt in fitness! For this I have to admire my father, I am not even close to his level of discipline when it comes to both those areas. He is Turing 70 this year and has invested probably about 50% of his take home pay since he came out of the military at 30. In addition, ever since he was in the service, he has woken up at 6am every single day to do sit-ups, push-ups and run 3 miles (the running turned into walking as he aged) he keeps a simple (if boring) diet and still works as an attorney 7 days a week. He was complaining to me the other day how he was being forced to take his social security now!

    We can all improve, if you have the discipline to master your finances, you definitely can master diet and exercise.

  14. Another awesome post and also great timing. I’m not a high-calorie guy nor do I spend a lot on junk food or fast food. However, lately I have been out of character. I have been choosing candy and fast food over a nice home cooked meal. I basically spend an extra $20 a week that could have been used on something such as gas. I know that might sound cheap to some but unlike most I believe every dollar counts. To me it is more about finances than health, but I noticed that the more I eat unhealthy the less I work out and have a desire to work out.

  15. It’s sure hard to enjoy a fast food meal now that they have to post calories on the menu. I used to go to In-N-Out and order a Double-Double, with fries and a chocolate shake. Now I look at the menu at it shows me the burger is 670 calories, the fries are 395 calories, and the chocolate shake is 590 calories. That’s 1,655 calories! Not like I should be surprised that fast food isn’t exactly healthy. The nutrition info on menus has certainly caused me to reconsider my order.

    Thinking along these lines, what if stores had to start placing financial warnings on every purchase you make (i.e. this $250 purchase will cost you $10,000 in retirement)? It seems unfeasible at first, but with everyone buying off Amazon nowadays, it wouldn’t be too difficult from a technology perspective to implement a simple plug-in. Retailers will take exception to this idea, but it would make a lot of people think twice, just like me at In-N-Out.

    1. It’s a great idea that Amazon wouldn’t want implemented b/c it would reduce sales volume.

      But yeah, on the In N Out calories, 1,655 would be all I could eat for the entire day to have the hope of losing 1 pound. I never order a shake anymore, and old seldom order fries. If I do, I split it with someone. Splitting food is one of my best habits to save money and control portions. It’s also fun.

  16. Sam,

    As a lifelong health/ fitness fanatic whose wife works as an NP in Bariatric medicine, let me perhaps help put your mind at ease. You mentioned you’ve been lifting weights – it’s likely that your weight gain is from muscle. If you’ve never lifted before and have always been skinny or skinny fat, your body will respond very well to strength training and have sometimes startling effects on the scale.

    I would caution you against watching the scale too closely or even falling into tracking BMI. Keep an eye on your measurements – waist, arms, chest, etc. And most importantly track your vitals.

    If you still fit into the same pants as you have a few years ago, your resting heart rate is in the normal range, your blood pressure is in check, and your annual blood work comes back all within normal parameters, consider yourself healthy.

    At 160-165lbs and as active as you are, I’d bet you’re doing quite well (save any genetic predispositions – sometimes we don’t know why someone who is otherwise the picture of health suffers from a chronic illness).

    1. Hmmm, OK< will track my vitals, which I never track. My parents have this cool portable blood pressure/heart rate machine I might buy. I have lifted weights all my life, and look relatively buff. But I don't lift frequently anymore. I doubt I've gained muscle weight. It's bubble milk tea baby! :)

  17. Jen@FrugalSteppingStones

    I have always regretted it any time I have stopped tracking all spending. The same goes for tracking nutrition. Myfitnesspal has helped me lose pregnancy weight and keep it off.

  18. I started going to the gym during the lunch hour – noticed a difference immediately.

    Also, just reducing the sugar in my coffee from 2 packs to 1 has been a huge change over the last year. Next step it to drink it with no sugar, followed by removing coffee all together.

    A good physique starts in the kitchen, not in the gym – watch your intake.

    1. A pack of sugar has 23 calories. In 365 days that would still be only 8,395 calories per year. Unless that change has some kind of cascade effect, your general awareness is likely much more effective than a single packet of sugar, daily or otherwise.

  19. Indeed. A-hah moments are great. I was at the optometrist yesterday for an annual eye check up and told her my right eye has been bothering me. She looked under the eyelids on both sides and said my glands were more swollen than my left eye lids and asked whether I had some recent allergies. Why in fact I did, a severe attack several days ago! I always wondered what was up w/ the occasional discomfort on my right eye and contacts. Thought it was bad contacts, but knowing the answer now makes me feel better and allows me to take action and not get paranoid something is wrong.

  20. Dividend Ten

    I think the moral of the story is to not drink bubble milk tea drink. I don’t think I’ve even had bubble milk tea, so I’m good on that front.

    But aside from that I am getting fatter. I just recently started a hardcore paleo style thing. I hope to be able to stay on it longer than usual. But I just like food a lot. Maybe the solution is to just accept ourselves, rather than track and obsess over body metrics.

    Just a stream of consciousness thought for today.

  21. Great post Sam. Been a reader and subscriber for years. My wife is a health coach and the tracking of consumption (and the awareness it creates) via myfitnesspal is one of the pillars of her program. Hope you find it helps you avoid the extra 5 pounds.

  22. This article really hit home for me as my financial and physical health are my #2 and #1 priorities respectively.

    Regarding Personal Capital, I love their app and have been a paid client for almost two years now, I really like their investment strategy and the easy access to a Financial Advisor if I want to bounce ideas off somebody. For my spending reports I’ve classified all my investments as Security Purchases so they won’t show up on my spending report. I get more value tracking actual “consumer” spending to help me plan when I can declare my FI (aiming for my 40th birthday)!

    As for my physical health, after a decade plus of hip pain, I finally had them checked out and discovered I have little to no cartilage from years of pitching (baseball). I’ve always been a big guy, even when playing collegiate baseball, but I finally decided I needed to drop some weight and reduce the stress on my body so one day I’ll be able to play ball with my boys. This year I’ve dropped over 40 lbs and have another 10 to go. It’s amazing how important your health is as it starts to deteriorate. I would give up all of my accumulated wealth today to have healthy hips and shoulders again! With everything I’ve done with my finances, I know I could do it again, but you only have one body to last a lifetime.

    Thanks for all your posts. You’ve helped me map a plan for living a rich and fulfilling life.

    1. Congrats on dropping 40lbs! Awesome! I hear you on the cartilage thing…. I’m afraid to check out my left knee, which has a torn meniscus b/c I feel it moving around all the time now probably due to a lack of cartilage. Come on knee replacement technology, make it better than Gattaca’s version!

      Thanks for reading, sharing, and coming along on the journey Alex!

  23. The Money Commando

    I’m so tragically OCD about tracking both my workouts and my finances. I’ve been using Quicken to track all my spending and saving since I started working in 1998. I’ve tracked every workout for the last ~7 years.

    If I was as good at saving/investing or working out as I am at tracking them I’d be rich and ripped.

  24. PatientWealthBuilder

    Love this post. I totally agree about the SAT. The Raven’s Progressive Matrices are an attempt to level the playing field across language and culture to assess intelligence. This test is used by large corporations before promoting or hiring people at certain levels. Check it out on the internet – its pretty interesting. Lots of patterns and squiggly lines.

    I do think it is absurd that there are very wealthy overweight people. It just shows poor decision making in my opinion. I meticulously track my daily and weekly miles for running and my workouts. I have found it very beneficial as I get older and find it harder and harder to stay in good shape.

    Also – the secret seems to be cutting out sugar. Developed countries are addicted to it and have diabetes, obesity, cancer, and many other issues to a much higher degree than other cultures. Using Stevia and other natural products has become the general rule in our family and we’re much happier for it! Its starting to become more mainstream with products such as a new Coca Cola branded soda using Stevia as sweetener.

    1. Thanks for highlighting the SAT bit! You are the first one. It’s funny how everybody from all walks of life have to conform to the SAT to get into college in America. Everybody who created the earlier versions of the SAT all looked the same and came from the same background. This is why more and more I’m thinking spending a fortune on higher education is BS.

  25. I had an extremely high metabolism in college and could not gain weight staying way underweight. I got used to eating too much and after spending my days working in a cubicle gained a steady 5 lbs per year. I wasnt really that active and like sedentary activities like playing video games. By my late 30s I added 100 lbs total crossing the obesity line for my height.
    A couple years ago I started tracking calories in myfitnesspal and was surprised at how much I was eating. I brought it down a bit and leveled off my weight, but it is still a battle.
    I get obsessed with new topics and for the past decade its been finance. That obsession has helped my manage my money and hit my NW goals. I am now trying to develop a love and obsession with fitness in the same way where I obsessively track my metrics the way I do with money.

    1. Interest Roberts. Curious, would you rather be your defined Underweight or crossing the obesity line if you had to choose one for the rest of your life?

      I’d rather be underweight, as I’m unaware about the diseases that are caused from being NATURALLY underweight. Are you aware?

      1. I have also had a very metabolism so far. I’m almost 40, and weigh 135 at 5’9. I’ve gone between 125 and 142 over the last 20 years. I eat a lot, and although I eat plenty of healthy food I also pig out on junk food in large quantities. One thing I do skip in large amounts is sugar. I don’t work out at all although I did in the past. Regardless of how I eat and exercise, my metabolism and active life (walk everywhere and have 2 little kids) seems to keep me skinny. In the past it had been challenging to put on weight by overloading on protein and working out with weights. These days I count my blessings!

      2. Definitely underweight. High bp, apnea, and related issues creep up on you once you are 30-40 lbs overweight.
        Ideally I would be back at the top end of my ideal weight. Not too skinny, but not too fat.

  26. Romeo Jeremiah

    Tracking for fat loss/weight gain is different than tracking for health.

    If the focus is health, then you don’t need to track calories. The key to eating for health is shopping and eating the majority (90%) of your foods on the perimeter of the grocery store. You auto”magically” will lose weight when you stop consuming so much sugar and its derivitives.

    Sugar and its derivatives spikes your insulin, which is a fat storage hormone. As long as people stay on a sugar “high”, Glucogon, the fat mobilization hormone, can’t remove the stored fat from your cells.

    To simplify, if your food if filled with sugar and/or has more than two ingredients that you can’t pronounce, spell, or recognize, it’s probably not healthy.

    Problem is, people don’t want to cut out the junk or have been education to even recognize junk when they see it. Slap a gluten-free/low-carb/low-fat/ sign on something and the Marketing department wins and everyone is happy.

    There is an entire “new” lifestyle devoted to eating healthy — Paleo. It’s a new trend here in America, I’m guessing. But it’s the most natural way to eat (If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can still eat this way. Just cut out the meats.).

    If you eat like this, the weight falls off. I promise.

    That being said, tracking for fat/loss is different in that there are two things you must know.

    1) Your body’s maintenance Calories and 2) The number of Calories that you consume.

    Your maintenance Calories can be estimated with an online calculator that takes into account your activity level, etc. In short, it’s the number of Calories that your body needs to function. If you create a safe deficit below your maintenance Calories (by eating less, exercising, or both), then you’ll slowing lose weight. This is the bases for low carb, low fat, low [anything] diets really. When you cut out something, you automatically drop your Calorie intake below your maintenance Calories. It’s only a secret to those who don’t understand this concept.

    Eventually, though, the body’s metabolism catches and responds to this “starvation.” Weight loss tends to stall and then people give up on weight loss altogether. And then…back to eating junk and sugar.

    The problem is they don’t understand the “secret,” which is a hormone called Leptin. This hormone decreases over time in response to the Calorie deficit. It needs to be increased again to restart one’s metabolism so that weight loss resumes past the stall. This is done with a reefed of Carbohydrates.

    Again, if you focus on eating healthy (i.e. Paleo), you don’t have to worry about tracking. Tracking is for bodybuilders (to get to single digit body fat levels) and people who don’t want to restrict a diet that’s majority junk. If you don’t understand the science of weight loss, you’ll always be spinning your wheels.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. If you want to know more about what I’m talking about you’re smart enough to do your own research. It’s highly encouraged. This is information I learned from personal experience this year. Went from 184 in December to 167.6 as of last week; Fat loss, with minimum muscle loss. I workout at least 3 times per week but I attribute most of my fat loss to diet.

    Cut out sugar for two weeks, Sam, and I can almost guarantee you’ll lose those 5 lbs!

    1. Good stuff Romeo! Maybe you should run a health and fitness blog as well?! Seriously, you already looked lean at 180+, so I can’t imagine now. Do they still make you do exercises in the military as an officer?

      Paleo diet. Less sugar. Yes sir.

      1. Romeo Jeremiah

        A blog on health and fitness. Ha! My blog will be two sentences:

        “Paleo diet. Less sugar.”


        It depends on the command. Some commands force mandatory exercise as a group, and others are more lenient, as in, exercise on your own.

        The directive from the top to my branch of service is to exercise at least 30 minutes 3 times a week.

        But, again, please note that exercise in and of itself doesn’t make you lose weight. One can lose weight with diet alone.

  27. Ten Bucks a Week

    I used to be on the bubble tea train, but after two months in Taiwan it was lots of donggua cha. Now I don’t buy it at all. 50 cents versus 5 dollars. I’ll forego it for a few years and return to Taiwan and drink to my heart’s content.
    I certainly need to exercise more, but currently a health 6’2″ 165lbs.

  28. Tracking also allows you to learn thriftiness, and you can be thrifty with your food too, not just money.

    There are a lot of great tasting foods that are nutritious, filling, and very low in calories, so why not just enjoy those? You can also do things like stop the snacking (which never satisfies you anyway) and limit food to meal time when you can actually get full and enjoy it. There are many ways to be thrifty with your diet.

    A financial budget helps you make your dollar go far. Well, by the same logic, a calorie budget can help you make your food/calorie budget go far. It’s certainly possible to eat delicious food and be full while keeping the calories under control, but you’ve got to learn how. Just like you’ve got to learn how to budget money. It’s merely an additional skill.

  29. Nice! I work out everyday and eat healthy, calories are just numbers just like the numbers in you bank account. Forget about how much this and how much that. In the end you do it because it feels good and those who do it know what I am talking about.
    Those who don’t, are just missing out and probably wont be here for the long run. What we do know, is that where we all end up going, those numbers don’t mean anything. :)
    We Americans need to be more consensus of our bodies and minds. Its simple your body is a reflection of your mind.
    Remember everyone…. SUGAR is very bad for you just like Cocaine…..Vote for Nobody 2016!

      1. Sam,
        Thank you for all your work and information. It is much appreciated.
        As for 2017 and beyond…Remember…

        WE THE PEOPLE…LETS GO PEOPLE, THIS IS OUR COUNTRY and lets help each other out, the government is not going to help us one bit…expect take from us…

        PS. No one tells us what to do….sorry I am a Millennial. lol…ONE LOVE..

  30. Financial Slacker

    Welcome to the joy of your 40’s, Sam. Wait until you get an injury that would take 2 weeks to heal in your 20’s and now takes 3 months.

    What is so great about apps like Personal Capital is that the app does the tracking for you.

    When tracking your calories, even with an app, you still need to manually enter in what you eat.

    I have developed a bad habit of diligently tracking my eating habits in the morning and early afternoon. And I tend to eat well during those times.

    But in the later afternoon, evening, and night hours when I fall off the wagon, I tend to “forget” to record what I eat.

    If someone could invent a food tracking app that worked like Personal Capital and didn’t require human intervention, it would be a huge success!

    1. That’s one of the beauties of diet tracking though too. It’s such a hassle to find and log exactly what you ate that it’s easier to just skip things. I can’t tell you how many times I just skipped the sauce or the bite of a shared appetizer or the nibble of a sample at Whole Foods because I am too anal to ballpark whatever I just ate and wreck my whole day of perfect nutritional tracking. One bite of hummus could range from 20-100 calories depending on the type and size of the bite! And it could be fat free or laden with oil depending on the brand/restaurant.

      I track everything religiously for a few weeks a year at least, and I’ve been doing that for close to a decade. I knew most of the answers on that quiz (but to be fair portion sizes weren’t included on several, so it was a crap shoot!), and my husband marvels at my ability to tell him the amount of sugar, carbs and calories in almost anything.

      But knowledge isn’t everything, unfortunately. I love my wine, and my cheese, and my crackers. Knowing it’s not making me any thinner doesn’t generally keep me from indulging! I don’t have the same motivation to be thin that I do to be wealthy. When I had motivation – prior to my wedding – I dropped 15 pounds in 2 months. Easy – cut carbs and limit alcohol. Only eat meat, fish and vegetables basically. But who wants to live like that forever?!

  31. I’m one of the rich, fat bastards of which you speak. Watch my finances like a hawk, every day. A 36 year old woman, I work tons of hours in finance while trying to juggle 2 small children. My day starts at 4:30am with my first conference call at 6am and my day ends ends at 10pm when I drop exhausted into bed only to be awoken several times throughout the night by kids/dog/pee. Every second of every day is accounted for, there is no leisure, no downtime, no TV or hobbies. Had to cut out the gym, friends and any kind of life to make this work. Gained 35 pounds last year while studying for the CFP. I’ve outsourced childcare and housework, never eat out, but have zero time to deal with counting calories. I’m hoping that once the kids are in school I will have time to get back to the gym, but at the moment, my health is the thing that had to be sacrificed to freaking “lean in.”

    1. Sounds like a busy and stressful day! I thought fat bastards was a term only reserved for men?

      Download the fitness app and give it a go. It’s worth it. I’ve found 80% of weight loss is due to diet, and 20% to exercise. So eating less is a solution and it will save you time whoo hoo!

      As a rich person, your goal should be to try to live as long as possible!

    2. Assuming you carried those kids yourself there is also the stress on the body of gestating those little ones. Since mostly men post here I figured that part would get left out.

      My advice would be: don’t count calories or focus on the scale, focus on how you feel. And try to do what you can to get better sleep and a little more exercise even if it’s just an extra 15 minute walk to breathe fresh air. Not necessarily because it is better for you (though it is) but you will be more effective at everything. It always surprises me when I’m running hot like that what setting everything aside to get an extra 3 hour nap or 10 minute workout can do for me.

  32. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials

    I’ve been wearing the same work pants for the last 3 years. When I bought them, I needed a belt. Now I don’t need a belt. I got out of the Air Force and stopped being forced to work out. I really need to get back on the work out bandwagon. One reason I excel at tracking my finances is they’re all automated. Can’t really do that with eating and exercise :(

  33. Sam,

    Great post! While playing tennis is fantastic, your weight gain may be coming from muscle deterioration from age, depending on how old you are. The less muscle you have the easier it will be to gain fat. As we age we slowly begin to lose muscle but it can be preventable.

    In addition to playing tennis, if you get a trainer, or yourself in the weight room twice a week would be a solid supplement to what you’re currently doing with tennis. The issue with tennis is that it isn’t directly stimulating muscle growth and maintenance, like with weightlifting.

    Since you’re already active you really don’t need much. Two times a week would certainly help you in this lifestyle of yours.

    1. You should see my quads though Vincent. Quads of Adonis!

      I hear you on weightlifting. I’m going at least once a week now to work on my pecs, lats, delts, triceps, and biceps. I do situps at home 2-3X a week now.

  34. Go Finance Yourself!

    Financial literacy and nutrition literacy are two of the most important subjects we should be teaching kids in school. My wife is a middle school foods teacher. It’s amazing how clueless kids are when it comes to nutrition. Everything they know comes from advertising (not unlike many adults). Protein, good. Carbs, bad. Fat, bad. This encompasses most of America’s nutritional knowledge and it all comes from advertising.

    I was pretty clueless myself about what was in my food until I got into nutrition about 5 years ago. It’s amazing how much added crap there is in the everyday food we eat. Companies know how to market to the latest “healthy” trends. “Hey look, this healthy bar has 9g of protein in it! Just don’t see that we added an entire day’s worth of sugar to it.”

    1. GFY you’ve hit the nail on the head! Nutrition! I knew nothing about nutrition! I was a yo-yo dieter until a few years ago; I’d lose weight with some new diet fad (cabbage soup diet anyone?) or protein shake but once I stopped, I’d gain it back with bonus points. Until I discovered I was missing the point. I wasn’t doing what was best for my health and I wasn’t tracking nutrition.

      I may be this site’s financial fool but I think I’m pretty savvy with my weight tracking. I’ve learnt I need to fit my eating to my current work lifestyle – a desk jockey. I know me. I know going to the gym would be a fad that would encourage me to overeat because I’m working out so hard. I did that with pilates classes. I know that I’m hungry from the time I open my eyes at 5am until 1pm.

      I had to work out an eating plan/lifestyle (calorie intake) that works for me so that tracking calories is a no brainer. I’m consistent in my meals. I eat the same thing everyday for breakfast and lunch, supper is mom’s cooking (but at least I’ve learn to portion control – smaller plates people!) and I cheat a little on the weekend. I’m lucky in a way in that I can eat the same things everyday and not get bored or look for variety. I just need to know that there’s food available and want to feel full. That’s why I can’t eat 1 Weetbix or 30g of cereal for breakfast without going stir crazy by 8am.

      I use the online tracker Fitwatch and now I know the ballpark figures for refined food (especially sugar and refined flour products which I try to avoid like the plague because I’m the second biggest sugar addict on the planet, mum being the first). When it’s the festival season I do gain some but as soon as all the goodies are consumed, I go back to my regular size in two weeks. It’s an amazing feeling and a huge relief to open up the cupboard and know everything in there just fits. I also have more energy because I make sure I get the nutrients I need and I walk/stand as much as possible (these cheeks were not made for running people!).

      I’m not at my goal size and these last few kilos are the hardest to shake off but I hope to be someday soon.

  35. I don’t track calories. I’m simply eating a plant-based diet. If you eat a plant based diet, your body automatically knows when you are full because of fiber.

    Calories coming from different food can’t be compare.
    Do you really think a zero Coca-cola is as healthy as Water ?

    I recommend this book “How Not To Die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease”

    Unfortunately, personal capital is only for U.S :/

  36. I am guilty of not knowing the actual calories of most foods. I can figure out what’s likely high in fat and calories but haven’t actually tracked calories of what I eat before. It’s pretty fascinating when you actually start to look at the real numbers. I’m very lucky to have a good metabolism and don’t have strong cravings for sugar, soda and fried foods so that has helped me to maintain my weight so far.

    I am thankful my parents restricted what I could eat as a kid – minimal sugar and no fast foods, so perhaps that helped my palate avoid craving unhealthy foods.

    I need to be better at exercising though. My ratio of tracking my finances vs exercising is very askew. At least I do a lot of regular walking. That’s better than nothing.

  37. I’ve been going to the gym about 5 days/week since school started in September. I’m feeling great, but my weight has been stable. I would love to lose 5 lbs, but I don’t think I can do it. I just love eating too much. I have stop buying beer, beef, and junk food. That should help a bit. I will track my weight more closely in 2017. It’s just tough to track food intake so it’s best to stop buying high calories food.
    BTW, Personal Capital showed $300k drop yesterday. I freaked out until I saw that Zillow dropped our rental estimated value. It still sucks, but at least nothing was wrong with our stock accounts.

    1. Funny you should mention the $300K drop b/c I just noticed THE SAME THING with my net worth yesterday as well, but in reverse due to a stupid $300K+ increase in one home I own. It makes me think Zillow is once again broken and can’t be trusted.

      The other properties I own have seen a drop, even though one of the properties has comps selling for 20% higher over the past 3-6 months. Fun to look at, but only one datapoint.

      I love to eat too man…. love it. I’m always inspired when I see really unhealthy look fellas with very attractive and fit ladies. It’s nice women don’t care what we look like :)

      1. The Money Commando

        I’ve been thinking about looking at,, and to get the values for my rental properties and averaging the results. Have either of you used either or From playing with the website it appears they provide reasonably close but not-identical estimates to

  38. I’ve tracked all my income and spending for the past 6 years. I keep a little piece of paper in my wallet — 3 by 4 inches — which I created using Word and have added and removed categories as my life has changed. I know exactly how much I have spent on food, transportation, gifts, entertainment, etc. It has been essential. In the back of this piece of paper, I track the bills and credit cards I have to pay. I then sit down once a month and plug all that into an Excel spreadsheet. Every couple of months I track my savings, investments, 401K accounts using another spreadsheet for “Net Worth”.

    This information has allowed me to plan big moves in my life. When a company I used to work for was merged with a larger company, everyone was shitting their pants, nervous about the inevitable staff reductions, but I knew exactly what I needed for basic/mandatory expenses and what was discretionary and I could do without. I also knew that based on my savings, I could cover easily for X number of months.

    On a related topic, I’m sure that many people abuse credit cards and don’t even know about it because they have no idea that they bring in X per month, yet they have no idea they are spending X+$600 on most months and X + 2000 for Christmas or Vacation season. Then again, some people choose to “NOT know” because knowing is just painful and may require drastic changes most are not willing to do.

    1. Good stuff. As soon as you CHOOSE to know about your money and health, you totally get more serious about getting things right.

      Old school paper in wallet. No interest in tracking online?

      I felt a relief linking things up online and no longer having to manually track things starting about 4 years ago.

  39. Newport Ned

    Lift weights and do HIIT, rather than cardio.

    “Until then, I just chalked up my weight gain to old age.”

    There’s nothing inevitable about gaining weight as you age.

    For men, the key is to lift weights, do (limited) cardio, take the right (natural) supplements, and eat right (e.g., Paleo).

  40. In our household, I micromanage every expense and categorize it. I check atleast once a day looking for suspicious activity. My wife on the other hand does the food part as she is more health conscious than me. I’m very aloof when it comes to calories and she is very aloof when it comes to monitoring the finances though she is very spend conscious. She gets me to the gym, watch my diet etc. I don’t have a weight problem but she monitors my physicals.

    I use a bunch of online tools for personal finance. I use Mint for the budgeting and tracking expenses part as they have more categories and sub categories along with ability to carry over your budgets month to month to see how you are doing and monitoring the trends. Personal Capital is better for investments but they don’t have an extensive list of categories – it’s very broad. I do use them for seeing a high level view of my income and spends but that’s not the go-to-place for tracking individual spend items.

  41. Great article – tracking is *so* important!

    I love Personal Capital, but I haven’t found this “email summaries” feature you mentioned. Are you a paid client of theirs or are you using the tool free?

    1. Just use their free tool. I’d just shoot them an e-mail and ask about the You Index and the weekly e-mail updates. Should be easy. I may have confused what exactly the You Index is tracking, so let me know!

      1. I could be wrong, but it’s my understanding that the You Index backdates your CURRENT portfolio allocation over the specified period of time that you’re looking at. If you want to see how your own performance actually did, factoring any trading decisions you may have made along the way, I think you need to click the performance button in PersonalCapital.

        To test the theory, you could change the starting date on the You Index data to various dates before you registered at PersonalCapital to track your portfolio and see what that does.

  42. Financial Panther

    With all the apps and phones out there now, there really isn’t any excuse to not track your financial life. And fitness is such an important thing. If you’re well off, you’re exactly right. You shouldn’t be unhealthy.

    I’m not super fit by any means, but I at least make an effort to try to stay fit. That’s why I work as an on-demand bike messenger deliverer in my spare time. If I need some exercise, I can just turn on an app, grab some deliveries, and bike around town. Helps to not be too “proud” to side hustle.

    1. I love that you are doing the on-demand bike messenger thing with Postmates. Stay fit, make money at the same time = awesome!

      Kinda like Kozmo from 1999 in NYC. Ah, the good ol days are back. I wish Uber driving could burn me some calories too. Maybe I’ll go do some landscaping instead.

      1. Financial Panther

        Maybe we need to invent some sort of Uber pedicab service, haha. Get the best of both Uber and Postmates together.

  43. Aaron Velie

    Great post Sam. I just turned 40 and am able to eat mostly what I want as long as I work out hard enough 5 days a week. Most of my calories are food though…the drinks really sneak up on you with the amount of calories they contain (never had bubble tea, makes me want to try one!).

    Do you use Personal Capital for their investment advice as well or just the free portion where they track everything? I’ve been talking with them but I’m on the fence right now.

  44. robert clayton

    I got 5 right I over estimated on 2 and underestimated on 2. I have struggled with my weight most of my life to due a love of alcohol and bad foods. There was a stretch of 5 years were I maintained my weight really close by exercising 4 days a week, and restricting sugar from my diet. The easiest thing was I didn’t buy food that were bad for me at the grocery store. I also bought lots of fruit and vegetables, and lots of protein. When the craving for certain items hit me (ice cream, donuts, candy bar, potato chips) if I really wanted it I would get a single serving, but 90% of the time I would have a glass of water or some fruit and 15 minutes later the craving went away. I am working on getting my weight back in range (down 10 15 more to go), but it was a ton more fun gaining the weight than losing it!

    1. It’s interesting, b/c I LOVE watermelon and fruit in general. I was eating an entire 15-20 lbs watermelon EVERY NIGHT! But holy crap… each one has 1,200+ calories.

      Seriously clueless I was about how much I was eating.

  45. Regular health monitoring is definitely crucial! I started hitting the gym about five months ago to get healthier. I go about 4 times a week for 1 – 1.5 hours and also do yoga once a week and I’ve never felt better!

    I have a lot more energy than I used to and most importantly I feel healthier. My gym membership costs ~$30/month, but that’s a very small investment compared to the future healthcare savings!

    A good friend actually gave me a fitbit tracker on my last birthday. However, I must say I haven’t really used it. While I do like all the sexiness of budgeting, I find tracking calories to be a nuisance and very tedious. Plus I always graze throughout the day so it makes tracking even more difficult!

    Wow! I can’t believe bubble tea is so loaded with calories! Luckily I haven’t had some in a while…I can never find one that I like near me :)

    1. Bubble tea shops are EVERYWHERE in the SF Bay Area due to our large Asian population. Don’t start. Hard to quit!

      The funnest thing about the gym is seeing other very fit people. So motivating. I like to watch college/pro tennis, and every time I see them I am super pumped to workout and eat right b/c they are so LEEEEEEAN. Crazy.

  46. Honestly, I would say that my biggest overall mistake in life was letting my high level of fitness go. I’ve discovered that getting unhealthy leads to a sort of cascade effect, where small problems accumulate, then become larger problems, to make it very difficult to get back to fighting trim. Age doesn’t help either.

    I share the following with the young people that I’m around, learned from my own failure (they are fit, future military officers): weigh yourself prior to college graduation and then add ten percent. NEVER let yourself exceed that weight. If you begin to, fight the battle of a lifetime to trim back down. (Yes, this is a generalized bit of advice– some person that massively adds muscle, etc., will need to think differently). I imagine you could replace this with some sort of body fat, waist measurement, etc., but this seems easy and about right to avoid most pitfalls.

    1. I like that 10% rule! I entered college at 155 lbs, so lean, so mean. So 155 X 110% = 170.5! I’m at the max.

      There is no way I’m exceeding that number, ever.

      What type of problems did you experience gaining weight and what was your heaviest and pre college weight?

  47. I’m already on Personal Capital, and I like the analogy to tracking health parameters. All the money in the world doesn’t do any good if you are so unhealthy you are unable to enjoy it.

    My employer has an on-site annual health screening that includes height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Results help employees make healthy lifestyle choices or start a conversation with a doctor.(Participation is optional, fully confidential, and incentivized with company HSA contributions)

    Biking to work helps me keep my numbers in the black.

  48. It’s indeed essential to have at least a monthly overview on your personal finances and the way you do it could be a good example for everyone. It’s a pity that we don’t have something like Personal Capital in Europe (if anyone knows something like that, please share!), so I need to rely on my good old excel sheets. What I really want to do is to compare my performance to a benchmark (which seems like PC automatically does), but since I add new positions every month, I haven’t figured out yet the best way to do it. Any good suggestion on this?

      1. Well yes, but especially the Scandinavians really do pay the price of that safety in huge taxes. I believe Bianca in your article was under a special tax scheme, in reality personal income tax in Sweden is well over 50% (closer to 60%). From that amount of tax, besides of an indeed good health care system we would really deserve a free financial app :)

  49. Lenny Nurdbol

    You take these things way too seriously. Eat what you want to eat but everything in moderation. Follow basic rules of thumb. These charts and what not could easily be redefined one way or another years from now. They are approximations.

    Either way, you’ll die as certainly as everyone else on this planet, sooner or later.
    As the bumper sticker says: Eat right, exercise–and die anyway!

    So many details in the medical field are constantly in flux. Every month you’ll hear about how vitamin X cures Y and you should practically overdose on it for better health. Then next month it’s disproven. Indeed, for some people it’s Natural to have higher or lower than “standard” life sign specs, whereas some doctors claim that anything out of the norm is a death sentence! Speaking of which recently scientists are saying that high cholesterol is Not the killer they’ve always said it was–rather, high Sugar intake is the real killer, as well as the cause of obesity… Prescribed drugs we later learn (more often than not!) have life-threatening side effects which often kill…

    Do you want to die worrying yourself to death about food And money?
    Fear can contribute more to your overall poor health than anything else…

    I think Big Pharma is the only one to win from this game in the end!

    1. What is serious but a whole lot of FUN?! My fitness app has made eating and playing tennis more fun now b/c I get to see the numbers as they add up. It’s totally like a game now to me, and I love games. The game of money is fun, and so is feeling good, looking good.

  50. The Green Swan

    You can bet I track our family expenses religiously! However, can’t say we track calories, workout routines and anything along those lines. We do try to workout regularly and a two year old keeps us active. I will say that having a super healthy diet (buying only organic or shopping at Whole Foods) gets expensive. That can’t be an excuse though because eating and being healthy is possible on a budget!

  51. Crunchygreens

    Finances and food go hand in hand. When we were first married, my wife and I spent close to $1000/month on food, alcohol and health memberships. We lived down the road from a whole foods so swinging by for a $15 organic chicken breast was easy!

    A year into marriage we realized how much we ate and drank and we were mortified. We made drastic cuts and over time we wiggled down to a $250 grocery budget and $100 night out budget. We also invested in road bikes, some running shoes and a pull up bar. We have never been in better shape.

    We do it all by taking 15 minutes on a Sunday night to plan out meals for the week, and only buying what we need when at the grocery store.

    1. It’s great you guys are working on your fitness TOGETHER. In my case, I’m the athletic one, and she’s not, but she’s super thin. So, it’s always up to me to push us, which can get tiring. The best balance when both sides push each other!

  52. Apathy Ends

    I don’t track calories, but am not an overeater by nature either and oddly am not really a desert guy as well. The calorie dense foods they make are crazy – now we know what to stock up on if there is an apocalypse

    I do need to get my ass on the treadmill though – more for general health than dropping LBs

  53. Full Time Finance

    Honestly I’m very rigorous about wealth tracking but not weight. I’ve been blessed with a hyper metabolism for most of my life where my food choice didn’t matter much. However as I’ve gotten older that’s started to change and I have to pay closer attention. I could have done real damage if I didn’t pay attention to things like cholesterol and sugar which I always have, but calories were a non issue.

    Financials have a lot of similarities in that way. On a fixed income or at the top of the wage pyramid for your chosen profession diligence is forced, no diligence means debt. Earlier on you need to watch at least some to avoid meltdown, but you can get away with more missteps. That’s not to say that tracking at a young age wouldn’t be beneficial, it just means the need to do so increases with your salary growth reductions.

  54. Michael @ Financially Alert

    Thanks for ruining bubble milk tea for me, Sam! ;) I was fine before not knowing it was 1000 calories!!

    Actually, I felt the same way a couple years ago. I just couldn’t shake any weight off. Instead, it was creeping in. So I started using an app called Lose It! which is a simple tracking tool to see where I was allocating calories during the day. It was incredibly eye-opening and it helped me to lose 10+ pounds in 6 months (150 to 140). I’m 5’8″ and a small to med frame. I really became more cognizant about what I was eating.

    Interestingly enough, once I was satisfied with my new weight of 140lbs, I stopped tracking my daily calorie intake. I was able to keep my weight consistent another 6 months, and then my frequency of drinking bubble milk teas and frappucinos increased slowly. Over the next year, I found myself right back at 150 (present day)!

    So, thanks for the reminder to get back to tracking that. Finances are much easier to track. Perhaps someday a pair of google glasses will help me to automatically analyze everything that I’m consuming over the day. For now, back to the app!

    1. That would be funny if some electronic glasses automatically told us the calories and nutrition before ingestion! That would change behavior FOR SURE!

      Yes, bubble milk teas are 500 – 1,000++ calories. It’s cool they have the less sugar options and stuff now.

      The bubble tea customers tend to be getting larger whenever I walk by the lines! Not so much the salad bar restaurants.

  55. I have been using myfitnesspal since November 2015. I’m down about 20 lbs and have maintained it for many months. Biggest issue is solved for is awareness. Americans have access to so much food and portion sizes are so large that we have no idea how much we are shoveling down our throats. Tracking everything makes you super conscious.

    1. Completely agree—biggest thing I’ve learned using MFP is portion control. (I could eat an entire frozen pizza, when a serving size is 1/4 or 1/3 of the pie.) Went from prediabetic to normal (reason to start tracking in the first place) and lost 12 lbs along the way.

      1. 5’10”, 170ish. Been at this weight for months now. Pretty damn lean – full six pack etc. Now I focus on performance – stronger, faster etc.

        PS Sam it’s Eric F from the phone consult a few weeks back .

        1. Eric! Great to hear from you my man. Thanks for ppointing yourself out. I don’t pay attention to email addresses, just the content in a comment to respond to.

          I wish I was ripped at 170 pounds in the same height as you. It’s funny how body types are so different.

          I don’t think I’ve had a six pack since… Ever! What I had was like a four pack weighing in at 152 pounds or something in high school. I got to lift the weights more and eat healthier.

  56. Dividends Down Under

    I’ve often said to my husband that rich people have it EVEN HARDER to try and stay skinny – they’ve got all the money in the world to stuff whatever tasty thing in their mouth. Rich people have to have arguably more self-control and motivation to work out. Those Kardashians aint nothing if they’re not disciplined and monitoring their food.

    It’s actually really reassuring to know that money doesn’t buy you the ability to stay slim and healthy. We are all on an even playing field when it comes to the control needed for what we put in our mouths, or need the determination to work it off after we eat it.


    1. Maybe! Not sure about that. If I’m rich, I can buy ridiculously expensive fruits and veggies at the organic produce section. But, I can also buy $100 Australian wagyu ribeyes every day as well!

      It is interesting to witness very unhealthy looking rich people and poor people. So perhaps it really is how much self control one has, regardless of wealth.

  57. Weight management is just as important as wealth management, my scorecard is a 35 inch waist. I am 6.3 200lbs

    1. JockInvestor

      That’s a fairly big waist for 6’3.

      I am the same size with a size 33. Was up at 210 and the size 33 was very tight.

  58. Biglaw Investor

    From my experience, people have a decent understanding of how many calories are in food (will be interesting to see how your survey tracks) but they have a gross misunderstanding of how much they eat each day. If you’re really only trying to eat 1,500 calories a day, that’s not a lot to go around across three meals and one snack.

    1. I try to shoot for 1,500 a day, and if I fail, I’ll just do cardio for 1 hour to burn 500 – 600 calories. It’s actually VERY motivating to track my fitness now. Eating 2,100 calories a day is pretty easy for me. So I am always so excited when I see a RED -500 get expunged after I input 60 minutes of tennis.

  59. Nice post. I got 5 right. I need to get more disciplined though as I’ve been slowly eating junky food and letting my weight creep up (170 lbs on a 6’2″ frame). Fortunately I know what to do and will easily get back to 160 lbs, my fighting weight in due course over the coming months.


  60. I enjoyed all of this article and am a bit of a health nut myself. A few years ago, I started running pretty much everyday and I have to say it has given me more energy and generally increased my mood and made me more productive. I don’t monitor my caloric intake, but I probably should…I eat like a pig and even though I’m not fat it probably wouldn’t hurt to lose a few pounds. All that aside, I have to say the one thing that sticks out for me is that you invest $5,000 to $20,000 a month! That’s awesome!

    My wife and I never really tracked our spending, we just committed to investing 50% of our combined take home pay and the rest seemed to take care of itself. I’m a pretty firm believer in the pay yourself first philosophy. Certainly we spend time tracking our investments and are continually looking for better ways to invest our money though. Tracking anything ensures it is top of mind and keeping it top of mind and having a plan will ensure action. Procrastination and it’s evil twin Indecision can certainly inhibit the accumulation of wealth.

    1. Hi Tyron,

      Yeah, I’ve been investing $5K – $20K a month on average for probably 12+ years now, so it really starts to add up over time. I’ve really tried to stay consistent with spending, eating, exercising, and investments. Having a baseline automation helps keeps things going at a minimum. Then I press when there’s opportunity.

      I bet if I just focus on the past couple years, the monthly investment range is higher on average as CDs come due and cash flow increases. But I’ve been investing more conservatively as well. For example, yesterday I paid off $6,000 in mortgage debt b/c I have a monthly extra principal payment goal. Then I bought $12,000 worth of California Muni Bonds as the 10-year bond yield rockets higher today.

      If you invest 50% of your take home pay every month for 10 years, FIRE is an inevitability! Great job!


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