How to Identify and Remove Financial Toxins

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In January, I signed up for a 3 week nutrition bootcamp (or as I called it “food rehab”). I hate diets and I always fail when I’m on one, mostly because I don’t believe in financial or food diets of any kind.

Depriving yourself of certain things for a short time, is great if you want to quit cold turkey. But for anything to actually stick, you have to make a lifestyle change.

And to be frank, up until this year, I didn’t want to change my eating habits. And when I’m not interested in doing something whole-heartedly, I don’t bother doing it at all.

However, this year I made a decision to “Make 2012 Epic”. That’s become my mantra!

So I took the plunge, paid the $65 and went to the weekly seminars hosted by my nutritionist. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only for my physical health, but my overall mental and emotional health as well.

I won’t go into all the details, but to say that I learned a lot about myself by putting the laziness aside, and pushing through. Here’s what I learned from my nutritionist as it relates to finances and money.

It’s all about your attitude

The first thing the nutritionist said when we started, is that we all need the right attitude. If we were only there to “get skinny quick” then we should leave.

Your heart has to be willing to change, and your ears open to hear.

This same principle applies to personal finances. If you’re looking for a “get rich quick scheme” your attitude is completely wrong. You won’t make a change unless your willing to break the cycle, and willing to make the sacrifice to see the results you want.

Just get past the first 3 days

The basics of the “food rehab” was to cleanse our bodies of all the toxins and processed foods. So that meant cutting out sugar, carbs, sodas, coffee/caffeine and basically all other man-made food.

She told us it would be hard the first 2-3 days, as our bodies would be going through withdrawals, especially if we were big soda or coffee drinkers. I don’t drink soda, but I do love my coffee and I had a serious migraine for 3 full days!

Much like getting on a budget, those first few days and months can be really hard. It’s painful, you’ll want to throw in the towel, you’ll want to cry and scream. But if you can just make it past those first few “days” of withdrawals, it will be smooth sailing.

Looking back at those 3 days of painful migraines, if I knew I would never again experience one, as long as I keep my diet right, I would have JUMPED at the chance to endure them.

Side note: I’ve had chronic migraines since I was 12 years old. I’ve had a headache or migraine every few days for over 15 years. Since changing my eating lifestyle, I haven’t had a single one in 43 days (and counting). Is it worth the sacrifice? A thousand times over!

Become your checkbook’s detective

The point of getting on this cleanse, is so we can identify what causes our bodies to react in a negative way. Too much processed carbs/sugar causes my blood sugar to spike and I get really sick, really quickly.

By going cold turkey, then slowly adding food back in, I can watch my body and identify if/when I’m having a reaction, whether it be positive or negative. I’m becoming my very own detective.

We can apply this to our finances as well. By going on a financial fast, and removing all the toxins you will identify the problem areas.

For some it’s a shopping addiction, for others it’s eating out or over spending on entertainment. You may “think” you know what your weakness is, but without during a thorough “investigation” you can’t know for sure.

Identify financial toxins

Every person’s body is different, just like everyone else’s finances are different. What works for me, may not work for you. There are some general financial toxins we should all avoid, like:

  • Impulse spending
  • Not sticking to a budget or spending plan
  • Caving to peer pressure
  • Abusing credit cards and online loans
  • Using family members as “emergency funds”
  • Not realizing your bad choices affect others
  • Other dumb decisions

I like to live a minimalist lifestyle, so I don’t really have a shopping problem. My problem is letting people treat me like an ATM, and spending way too much on guilty pleasures.

You might not have any of those problems but for me they are toxic. They are the things that create stress, and cause my bank account to have starvation pains.

What exactly is a financial toxin? Anything and everything that causes your finances to react negatively.

After you make a decision with your money, does it make you feel stressed and anxious, or peaceful and happy? Look at your spending patterns, and study why you spend the way you do.

Are you compensating for an emotional problem? Or are you just eating shopping out of boredom?

Dealing with financial toxins

Since identifying my issues, both with food and with my finances, I’ve been on a path to making better decisions. I’ve removed almost all of the toxins and have felt so much better. I’ve made great strides with my debt and plan to become debt free by this summer.

I’ve embraced this detox plan and it’s much easier to get back to the simple things in life. As humans we create these complicated financial schemes, and try to borrow our way to wealth.

Well it hasn’t worked for us yet. It’s time to forget all the man-made products and embrace the methods that really work.

What are some of your financial toxins?


  1. Funny. I have the same issue with running. I don’t want to go, but when I do, I think clearer, get more done and am in a better mood. I think the discipline to make the life change you’re talking about opens up so many “unintended” doors….

    I wish eating doughnuts and pizza opened doors…..

  2. Awesome to hear how the nutrition thing is working for you! I’m all about how food affects my body, though I still occasionally indulge in things I shouldn’t. And to parallel it to finances? It works. My main money toxin is impulse shopping, and I’m working on curbing that right now.

    • Thanks Bethy! I still eat things that I shouldn’t, but since I’ve been eating so cleanly I can definitely feel it afterwards. With any temptations like shopping, I find it’s better to avoid it all together than to resist it. Like staying away from Taco Bell (or the mall in your case) completely, instead of tempting myself by trying to pick the best thing off the menu. Likely never happens. 🙂

  3. I really like this analogy between nutrition and finances.  My financial toxins, that I’ve slowly started to do something about, are: giving into peer pressure, abusing credit cards, trying to keep up with the Jonses, and just making stupid decisions.  I’m starting to realize it’s okay to say “no”, especially to people.

    • Me too, I feel that food and finances correlate a lot with each other. 

      I can honestly say I used to abuse credit cards and I’ve been guilty of making some stupid financial decisions. At least we are acknowledging them and moving forward! Saying NO to people is a big thing too. Definitely still working on that one.

  4. Monica says:

    I love this post Carrie, you always amaze me with the way you can tie real life issues to finances, because they are interrelated! Job well done on staying focused and disciplined on both your eating and money goals. I have several weak areas that I need to improve on and you have certainly provided me with some inspiration.

    • Thanks Monica! I definitely view finances, diet, career, emotional stability and all that, as one big part of life. It’s all intertwined and important to balance properly to become a successful individual. I too, have some areas I can totally improve on, but that’s the fun part of life.

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