Dollars for Donuts. Discovering Your Money-Food Connection


When I started Financial Recovery in 1988, I knew my focus would be in creating a holistic approach to overcoming self-defeating money behaviors. Using my MoneyGrit. spending plan, I encouraged clients to keep track EVERYTHING so they could get grounded in their numbers and begin to make meaningful change.

One of the categories we tracked, of course, was food—and for many of us, it’s a category that’s loaded with complicated emotions.

You get out what you put into a Spending Plan, so I encourage clients to track in great detail in this area—down to dividing spending out by sub-category, like groceries, breakfast out, lunch out, dinner out, fast food, takeout, coffee/tea/snacks, etc.

Clients inevitably looked shocked when I would ask them to track their money in such great detail, but I knew if I stuck with it, they’d gain insights that would move them forward on their journey.

My favorite food-money connection came from a woman who I was working with who excitedly told me she added a custom subcategory to her spending plan. When I asked her what it was, she said: “Dollars for Donuts.”

You see, my client was an insomniac, and she often would drive to the convenience store in the middle of the night and buy six glazed donuts and eat them all before she could go to sleep. She knew she needed to stop, but it wasn’t until she was confronted with exactly how much money she was spending on glazed donuts every month that she could make her own money-food connection and commit to making a change.

I would love to encourage you to find the connection between money and food in your life. Here are some action steps to get you started:

1: Start tracking your money and the amount you spend on food

Start tracking how much money you’re spending on food—break into the following categories: groceries, breakfast out, lunch out, dinner out, fast food, takeout, and coffee/tea/snacks. Feel free to add your own custom categories as well—it’s often here that we can find our personal money-food connection.

2: Write your own food autobiography

Writing a food autobiography can help you really understand your relationship with food. I recently wrote mine for the first time and it was so eye-opening for me. It helped me connect some dots between my relationship with food and how it showed up in my relationship with money. To get you started, here are some prompts to help you write yours: What is your first memory of food? What relationship did your parents have with food? What are some key events that you remember about your relationship with food that stand out to you?




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