Of Calories and Cash

There are a number of parallels between the worlds of nutrition and finance. On the negative side, people tend to describe a budget in the same terms they use to describe a diet – it’s something one goes on, as in, “Poor Brian, he’s on a budget.” However, as was pointed out in a New York Times article, there are some things we can learn from nutritionists that may help us make better use of our money. For example, Cornell professor Brian Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating,” says our environment shapes our behavior. He points to research showing that people tend to eat more if they are served more, assuming that the amount of food placed in front of them is appropriate. To eat less, one simple idea he suggests is using smaller plates. For better control over our spending, we would do well to reduce the amount of spending opportunities placed in front of us, cutting back on the number of e-mail deal alerts we’ve signed up for with online merchants.

Another way to limit exposure to spending opportunities is to opt out of catalogs and other marketing materials we receive in the mail. Two places to do so are the Direct Marketing Association and CatalogChoice.org.

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