Don’t Cheat Yourself By Living a Life of Half-Assity

do your best

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

I was painfully making my way through a 14 mile run early on a Saturday morning. I was at mile 10, and struggling to find the energy or even the desire to pick up my feet and keep running.

“If only I weighed less, this wouldn’t be so hard,” I thought to myself.

Last October, when I crossed the finish line of the Twin Cities 10 mile race, I instantly decided I was going to run the full marathon in 2014. I had a full year to get lean, train hard, and run my best marathon ever. Yet here we are ten months later, and I weigh exactly the same. I’ve been training hard, working out 6-7 days a week, but when it comes to the nutrition aspect, I haven’t been doing so well.

Let’s not mince words, I’ve been half-assing it.

If you’re not familiar with the phrase, “half-assing it,” let me give you an example. It’s when you go through a day eating all your fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water, only to eat two hot dogs, a bowl of ice cream, and some left over pizza after 11pm.

I’m cheating myself from achieving my full potential by half-assing my commitment to eating right.

I could keep going working out like a beast, but paying little attention to the food I put into my body. I would get to race day, and I’m sure I would successfully finish.   Maybe I’d even complete the race faster than any of my previous three marathons. But it wouldn’t be the best I could be, and that’s disappointing.

I read about, and even know some people that do the exact same thing with their finances. By many indications they’re doing just fine.   But they don’t live on a budget; at least not one they write down and track on paper, in a spreadsheet or in financial software somehow.

Lots of excuses are used:

  • They’re just not the budgeting type
  • They spend less than they earn, so not having a budget is no big deal, right?
  • I don’t like to place restrictions on my spending, I like to just go with the flow.
  • Don’t have time.

Much like my marathon training, if you’re going through life without a budget, you’re half-assing your finances.

You might be living below your means. You might even be saving for retirement, and have an emergency fund. But if you had a budget, a spending plan, or whatever you want to call it, you’d be doing even better.

If you don’t have a budget you have no idea how much you spend on certain activities during any given month. Do you know how much you spent on gas last month? If you don’t, maybe if shown the number you might decide you need to cut back on your traveling because you weren’t comfortable with that number. How about dining out? Are you sure that you’re OK with the amount of your hard earned cash is being handed over to the wing place down the street each month? Maybe if you knew the number you might decide to eat at home a little more.

The point is, you can get by with half-assing your finances , but you’re cheating yourself from getting the absolute most out of the money you work so hard to earn.

Are you half-assing your finances? Are you OK with that?

About Travis

38 Responses to “Don’t Cheat Yourself By Living a Life of Half-Assity”

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  1. Yeah, nights are definitely a struggle for me too! After kiddo goes to bed it is so easy to just snack – and usually on really bad food!

    • Travis says:

      As far as food is concerned, it’s a “just don’t start” situation for me. Once I start eating, it’s like opening the flood gates. I should just call it a night and go to bed!!

  2. I was half assing financial things for years, but not anymore. We’ve seen what not paying attention can do and we are not going back to those ways. Congrats on the workout and run. Good luck on the marathon goal.

    • Travis says:

      Good for you, Brian….you don’t pay off $100K+ of debt by half-assing it. The tricky part is not going BACK to those old ways… and me – we can BOTH do it right!

  3. Sassy Mamaw says:

    I’ve seen a lot of similarities between weight loss, and finances. Writing down what you eat, having a written plan, saying “No” sometimes, will power, etc. You’ve got your finances under control, you can do the same with your calories. Good luck!

    • Travis says:

      Exactly, Sassy Mamaw…I’ve started telling myself before I start eating a meal what I’m “budgeting” to eat for that day. Is that weird??

  4. ha I know what you mean about working out pretty hard but not eating the best always. And it seems after 40 it takes THAT much more effort. I also thought about this the other day with my finances. Right now things are very slow and I DO have money in my e-fund, but I start to wonder how long that can carry me just in case. I think back to all the months this year where I made well over my projected amount, but I also went over budget, thereby coming in under budget overall, but not having a huge surplus. If I would have just taken the stricter spending mentality I’m doing now, I’d be so much better off.

    • Travis says:

      I hear you, it seems like my body knew exactly when I hit 40, and my metabolism went into permanent siesta mode. It’s amazing how once you get used to a certain income, you adjust your budget accordingly assuming it will stay that way forever, right? That’s how professional athletes get into problems, I think…they think they will be making those millions and millions forever…

  5. Kim says:

    I do that too with eating, great all day, then kill all the good at night. I used to do that with finances, but I think we are full on with that now. If only I could stop after the salad…..

    • Travis says:

      I”m right there with you, Kim. I saw a facebook meme the other day entitled “Nature’s skittles.” It had every kind of fruit under the sun in a bowl. It looked SO good. But it’s too easy just to pop a bag of chips instead…am I right?

  6. Travis, don’t know if you’re up for this technique, but I promise you’ll lose some lbs and feel great for the marathon if you adopt a whole food / plant-based diet. Search “Forks Over Knives” to learn more. Good luck!

  7. Mackenzie says:

    Before we decided to move to Oregon, I gotta admit, we were half-assing our finances. Blown grocery budgets come to mind 😉 But once we decided to move, all of the preparation and saving of money and selling all of our stuff, really helped focus us. Now that the move is over, we are still on track to continue to build up our savings!

    Great post, Travis 🙂

  8. It’s difficult to strike the balance between, “I’m not perfect, but I’m doing well and feeling encouraged,” and “If only I had done these things differently, I would be so much further ahead.” In general, I think encouragement works better than second-guessing, but I also know how important it is to recognize the areas in which we fall short, and how small improvements in those areas can really change results. So don’t beat yourself up, but good luck at avoiding those late-night calories : )

    • Travis says:

      I’m not a big “beat myself up guy,” but I am very big on recognizing what I want to do better and making it happen. I really want to make this one a reality! Thanks for your support, Prudence!

  9. A good post – personally I can usually get one area of my life working perfectly and achieving my best….but then I realise I’m failing in other areas…… weight vs. finances is a very common one for me, and no doubt for many other readers.

    My finances are looking healthy at the moment, my diet much less so – I didn’t need those chocolates, but I sure ate them.

    Good luck with the marathon, it sounds like your training is going well – I’m doing a half in a few months, and ran my first 10 miles over the weekend – such a great feeling, but boy, did it take it out of me 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Ah, you’re at the magical 10 mile mark, Louise….for me, once I ran my first 10 mile run the fact that “I can run a LONG way” got firmly implanted into my head. Good luck with your half marathon, and stop back and let me know how you do!

  10. I am not half-assing my finances but I definitely am with my diet. I eat great all day then cave in after the kids go to bed. Something about peace and quiet makes me hungry for some reason. =/

    • Travis says:

      For me, I think it’s a control thing. After everyone else goes to bed, I think of all the things I have to do…and I feel like I have no control over things. I figure, if I can’t control anything else, I get to control what I eat, so…..down the hatch goes EVERYTHING!

  11. Tre says:

    I have the same problem. I work out 5-6 days, but eat everything in sight at night. Kinda like my finances. I’m really good for a while and then go crazy 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Yeah, I hear you, Tre…..we go through some times where we don’t pay attention to our finances as much as we should as well. It’s not about how many times you fall down, though…it’s how many times you pick yourself back up. 🙂 thanks for your comment!

  12. Michelle says:

    There have been moments when I’ve half-assed my finances. Even in the past year. I just have to start again and again until it’s a no brainer and I just focus 110%

    • Travis says:

      We can never give up, Michelle…we have to keep restarting over and over. One bad day will not wreck your finances. A couple bad years though…. 🙂

  13. I definitely have half-assed things, and my finances are no different. I’ve really focused on my finances and career the past couple years, though, and I hope to continue to put in the same effort!

    • Travis says:

      Nice work, DC! I would imagine you’ve seen a HUGE difference in how your finances are progressing since you’ve given them the attention they deserve…am I right?

  14. I was more than half assing dietary choices and finally made the choice to change that at the beginning of this year. That night time issue is a difficult one though. The kids go to bed and you’re busy working on something and it can be so easy to grab something. I’ve found that it’s not enough just to be committed to the change, but wanting the end result of denying those things. That has been a huge motivator for both my wife and I. As for the budgetary aspect – I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

    • Travis says:

      It’s SO hard to keep your mind focused on something 100% of the time. I’ll be doing great eating all day…then late at night I’ll grab something crappy without even thinking about it. Kind of like setting a spending plan and tracking every penny…..then walking through Target and pulling something from the shelf and buying it on impulse. Then doing a forehead slap when you get home….

  15. Yes. I am half-assing my finances. I can’t wrap my head around that whole budget thing without feeling total deprivation. Perhaps I need to be more generous with my spending categories and less aggressive with my saving categories. Oh budgeting, why can’t I handle you? Must. Try. Harder.

    • Travis says:

      Sounds like you may have already identified the key, Kate….one of the things you HAVE to do with your budget is be realistic. If you usually spend $150 on groceries each week, but then only put $130 in your budget for it, you’re doomed to fail (unless you make a VERY conscious effort to reduce your grocery spending). Make a realistic budget…try that out for awhile. It may be that you then decide that you’re not happy with the savings level and that will help motivate you to shift back towards more aggressive savings. Whatever you do, stop by and let us know how you’re doing. Now you’ve got me interested in your story….sounds like I’d better checkout your site. 🙂

  16. During my marathon training last year, I had a lot of trouble committing fully until the last month or so. The heat of the summer and a million other excuses made half assing it so much easier.

    • Travis says:

      Oooooh, you didn’t give yourself much time to really train, Stefanie! I think you would agree that being fully committed would have helped you do much better, right?

  17. Something I couldn’t help but to “half ass” do is distance running! Haha

    Most of the time when I half ass do something it is because my support system isn’t in my ear. What I mean is when read blogs such as yours and the others, listen to podcasts about personal finance, and read books I gives me a mental kick in the butt to stop the half assity.

    It correlates to the principle of the people you surround yourself with. If they are positive influences it will rub off on you and vice versa. Great post!

    • Travis says:

      I agree, Cedric – internal motivation is great, but having a support system to push you when your motivation fails is key to success. Glad you count EOD as part of your support system. Thanks for stopping by – haven’t heard from you for awhile!

  18. Jefferson says:

    I tend to bounce back and forth between living life to the fullest and “making things happen” and periods of half-assery where I find it hard to do much more than the minimum..

    I have been stuck in a period of the latter lately, but am hoping to reverse course this week

    • Travis says:

      Turn that ship around, Jefferson!!!! I think we all go through periods of half-assity, the key is to not stay there. Thanks for your comment!

  19. Winning with fitness is a lot like money. You need very specific, actionable goals, with steps in the middle.

    I think diet is similar to money automation (bill pay, etc…). If you try to deal with it on the fly, you’ll fail and spend somewhere dumb, you forget where the money goes. With diet you need to put together meal plans, pre-cook for multiple days, and keep the junk out of the house. That’s how I’ve dealt with it at least.

    • Travis says:

      I agree, Adam… need very similar skills to succeed at fitness AND finances. A Body can only take on so many calories in a day before you gain weight…it’s like living on a budget! 🙂

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