January habit

Beginning this year, and true to my theme for 2008, I'm starting a new habit every month. I've read that you only need to do something for 21 days straight to make it a habit, so, at the rate of one habit a month, I'd have 12 new habits by the time 2009 rolls in.

January was for logging my food intake and expenses. I've been doing it for 26 days now.

I first started logging my food intake when I had a weight management trainer at Fitness First. It was part of the process. Having to write down every morsel I ate was frustrating, embarrassing, and very helpful. I observed that I do have stretches of time where I go on a fast-food binge with a couldn't-care-less attitude. I also realized I was an emotional eater.

I stopped logging my food intake for a while when the training was done, but now I'm back to doing it. It's still frustrating, embarrassing, and very helpful. I still observe that I go on fastfood binges--and that I'm still an emotional eater.

I'd tried logging all my expenses before, but I probably wasn't as into it as I am now, because I'd give up after less than a week. But turning 30 made me face the fact that I'm not at all financially independent, nor am I financially responsible--even if I've always made it a point to spend less than I earn, and I do manage to save.

Now, it's my goal to be financially smart. Logging every centavo I spend has shown me that a bulk of my expenses go to--surprise, surprise--food. Unhealthy food, at that! A chunk of it also goes to transportation expenses. I don't have a car, but sometimes, I take the taxi to work. I seriously wish I could go to work on a bike! But it's just too unsafe here.

I made it a point to merely observe this month. Of course, writing my food intake and expenses down made me more careful, but I didn't exert any real effort on controlling them.

At the end of the month, I plan to evaluate my expenses for the whole of January, compute my net worth, and then start a budget, savings, and investment plan for February.

As for the food intake, I don't think I'm the type that will enjoy counting calories, so I'll have to figure out a way to get around this. I'm thinking that I'll just generally avoid processed food, refined sugar, visible fat, and refined carbohydrates.

I've found two useful applications that can help me with this. In Blogspot, I've included a graph from bellygraph.com and a graph from joesgoals.com. Both sites are really useful in helping me visualize my goals.

Wish me luck! White light!