Douglas A. Boneparth is a Westfield resident and Founder of Bone Fide Wealth, LLC, a boutique wealth management firm in New York City, and co-author of The Millennial Money Fix. Contact Douglas to learn how he’s not your parent’s financial advisor
I am a habitual breakfast skipper. Ever since high school, I’ve avoided eating food in the morning. My mom would get so concerned that she’d write a note to my homeroom teacher asking if it would be okay for me sit outside the classroom during the morning announcements and eat something she hid in my bag. I remember the principal finding me outside my classroom one morning, engaged in a staring contest with a cheese Danish. “You can’t skip breakfast,” he said after I explained what I was doing out there. “It’s the most important meal of the day.” I eye rolled him so hard.
If you give me a cup of coffee, I am pretty much good to start my day. To be clear, I have no beef with breakfast or breakfast food whatsoever. Many of its offerings are some of my favorite things to eat. Bagels, bacon, eggs, fruit, pastries, pancakes and waffles are all fine by me. It’s just that once my brain gets thinking about the day ahead, hunger seems to go by the wayside. My natural energy and anxiety kicks in and, before I know it, it’s close to one o’clock in the afternoon. Time to go searching for lunch before low blood sugar does me in. This is how I operate.
Now, you don’t need to search the web too long to learn that skipping breakfast is pretty bad for you. There are endless studies from top universities and researchers around the world on how skipping breakfast can lead to ailments like heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, slower metabolism, anger, bad breath, inflammation and, my favorite, temporary stupidity. Yet, morning after morning, I walk out of my house without so much as a morsel of food in my stomach. I continuously fail to give my body the foundation it needs to function optimally.
If I think about skipping breakfast in the context of personal finance, I can’t help but to feel like an enormous hypocrite. One of my primary focuses when working with individuals is to help them build a solid financial foundation. A foundation that will serve them well throughout their financial lives. I’d never recommend they skip over the fundamentals like goal setting and cash management. Much like skipping breakfast has adverse effects on one’s body, skipping foundational steps in personal finance will likely lead to unfavorable financial outcomes.
Overspending, taking unnecessary risk, lacking financial direction, missing opportunities, haphazard investing and feeling financially insecure are only some of the consequences that stem from skipping over the basic tenets of personal finance. You can have all the drive and earning power in the world, but without fortifying yourself with the necessary nutrients to sustain a healthy financial life, you’re likely to do damage to yourself and, potentially, those around you.
I’d file both eating breakfast and understanding personal finance under self-care because both require giving enough of a damn about yourself to ensure that you’re of sound mind, body and spirit. As my friend Morgan Housel said with regards to matters of personal finance, diet, and exercise, it “Doesn’t matter if you’re not interested in them. They’re interested in you.” Because taking care of yourself, in all its various forms, is the only way to effectively go the distance in the pursuit of any goal, whether that’s making it through the day or trying to achieve financial independence in the future.
Last year, I admitted to needing to speak with someone about what I was going through with my parents. I made a promise to myself to see a therapist and I have since made good on that promise. And while I find myself in a much better spot with myself and my family, I’ve also uncovered other areas of my life that deserve the same kind of self-care I’ve afforded myself mentally and emotionally. Whether that means putting food in my stomach at the start of the day or exercising more often than I currently am, the truth is that we should never really stop building and supporting our foundations, personally or financially.
Note: I started this post yesterday after eating breakfast. For what it’s worth, I had an egg bagel; one half cream cheese with a slice of lox and the other half with a schmear of white fish salad. Coffee was a pour over and a latte. Truth be told, I found my morning to be a lot easier and my day a lot smoother. I was in a relatively good mood despite some early work-related frustrations. I also found my writing to be more fluid because I was able to focus more clearly and organize my thoughts more effectively.
This post originally appeared in my blog.