We all know that the best way to save money is to set a budgeting plan and stick to it. But successful budgeting requires discipline.
Unfortunately when I think of discipline I imagine an evil drill sargent barking orders at a skinny recruit too petrified to wipe Sarge’s spittle from his face. Or I recall the monotonous “wipe on, wipe off” of the Karate Kid learning the right moves while washing Mr. Miyagi’s car. Or the crazy people who wake up at 5:30 am to work out with a trainer.
The truth is, discipline can be a real jerk. In many cases, having the right discipline means foregoing instant gratification. Discipline squashes the whiny voice in your head that says “But I DESERVE this!!!” It makes you wake up earlier than you really really want to, and sometimes makes you go to bed later in order to get everything done for the day. Discipline forces you to leave parties earlier, pass up offers to meet for a drink or a bite that might break your budget. Discipline makes you work out, fill your plate with veggies and (gasp!) forego dessert. Discipline makes you break up with that hot young guy because, although he’s A LOT of fun, you know it’s not going anywhere:(
Sharon Richter: The Shot-Caller with Discipline
While being disciplined may be tough and sometimes boring, setting goals and being vigilant about reaching them can be rewarding in the long run. Discipline is what took Sharon Richter from a pre-med major to becoming a certified nutritionist with a successful, diversified business, clients who love her and numerous TV spots under her belt. Discipline also helped Sharon fulfill her ultimate dream: to own a beautiful spacious apartment overlooking Central Park, with a shoe closet that rivals Carrie Bradshaw’s on “Sex and the City,” and a kitchen in which she can cook and entertain friends.
Sharon’s road to Carrie Bradshaw Shoe Closet was not easy though. It took Sharon many years, a lot of risk, strict budgeting and smart investing to get her to where she is today.
Grocery Store Tours, Nutrition for Kids and Equinox–All In A Day’s Work
While studying pre-med in college, Sharon found herself interested in health and nutrition and made the choice to switch to nutrition. After graduate school, she worked for doctor’s offices and then with Tiger Schulman’s Karate until she saved up enough money to quit and start her own business.
Now that she was on her own, Sharon knew there was a lot at stake, so she started networking like crazy, getting involved in different aspects of nutrition and working around the clock. Sharon focused on educating her clients to make better food and fitness choices. She worked with clients on their specific goals, often going food shopping with her clients and teaching them to read the labels on the back of products in grocery stores, and advising what foods and aisles to avoid. She aligned herself with doctors who would refer their patients to her as part of their treatment plans. She conducted seminars all over the city with companies like Tiger Karate and Nike World. She was involved in implementing a nutrition program for kids called “Days of Taste” that helps kids discover food, teaching them about taste, nutrition and creating their favorite meals.
In addition to education and consulting services, Sharon also worked with various companies like E Boost to help them develop supplements, and worked closely with fitness companies such as Equniox.
In the ten years since Sharon started her business, http://www.therichterreco.com/, she has seen it grow from an idea to a dream to reality. In the past few years, her specialized expertise, friendly and approachable personality, and no-nonsense attitude, coupled with amazing networking skills has landed her various television spots, including on NY1, the Today Show, Channel 11, the Dr. Steve Show and a recurring spot on the infamous “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
Sharon’s “Aha!” Moment
All along, Sharon never let the success get to her head– or let it affect her wallet. While building her business, Sharon lived in a modest apartment she had purchased with money she saved from college graduation, her bat mitzvah, and past jobs. Her dream was to save enough money to own her dream apartment in New York City. Two years ago, she saw this dream realized when she bought and renovated two adjoining apartments in a charming building along Central Park. With money she earned from the sale of her first apartment, along with smart investing, saving and budgeting strategies, she was able to purchase the two apartments and convert them into one larger apartment.
As Sharon puts it, this was her “aha moment.” She recalls watching “Sex and the City” and being jealous of the characters’ fabulous New York apartments. When she finally was able to buy and build her own dream apartment, she remembers thinking, “Oh my God! I’m like living in it!” as a real-life “Sex and the City” character. Her coup de grace was the closet she had custom-built to house her shoe collection. She laughs, “You have your babies, SJP, these are mine!”
And with a spacious apartment comes a large, bright kitchen that allows Sharon another victory. As a nutritionist, Sharon focuses on creating and cooking delicious dishes that are healthy and yummy–check out her website and subscribe to her newsletter, “The Richter Reco,” to get some of these scrumptious and guilt-free recipes. She had always wanted a kitchen that would allow her the space to create these recipes and entertain her friends and family. Now she uses her kitchen every day, cooking for herself, her clients and friends who reap the benefits too!
Take Notes, Carrie Bradshaw!
But Sharon insists that building a successful business and buying your dream NYC apartment takes hard work and discipline. Here are some great budgeting habits from Sharon:
– Make and pack your breakfast and lunch every day. Even though Sharon is on the move everyday, meeting with clients in their homes, gym or her office, she continues to pack her meals and bring them along. It’s healthy and budget-friendly.
– Many times when she wants to keep costs down, Sharon will forego meeting friends for a full dinner and will come after for a drink. That way, she saves herself $40-80 but can still be social and connect with friends.
– When she was younger, Sharon had money saved from family and graduations so that may have helped her in the long-run. Instead of splurging on expensive blow-outs and manicures, she chose to save the money that allowed her to buy her first apartment.
– Later, when she was ready to renovate her second apartment, she spoke to the contractor to get an estimate of how much time the construction would take. Then she went to different banks and shopped for competitive CD rates; she found a bank with the best interest rate and invested the money she would be using to pay for renovations in a short-term CD. By the time she had to pay the contractor, the CD had allowed her money to grow and earned her more than enough for construction.
– Sharon’s weakness is expensive designer shoes. The great thing about Sharon though, is that while she has an impressive closet full of designer shoes, she has never paid full price for them. When something catches her eye, like a pair of Jimmy Choo boots, instead of grabbing them and plunking down her credit card immediately, Sharon backs slowly away, goes home, takes out an envelope and writes “Jimmy Choo Boots.” Then for the next few weeks, she watches for a sale all the while stuffing tens and twenty’s into the envelope. Usually, Sharon notes, by the time she has enough for the boots, they’re on sale and she can buy them, or she’s over them and can put that money into savings.
– Most important, Sharon has a created a system that works for her. She keeps a specific amount of cash in her wallet for the week but tries to charge everything and then enters all purchases and expenses into Quickbooks as personal or business expenses. And most important, she continues to stuff money into her savings and 401(k).
Sure , discipline can be an ugly hairy mole that you want to run away from. But if you can fight those initial instincts of giving in to every whim and weakness, you’ll see that, like Sharon, by taking control and playing by the rules you set for yourself, you can actually fulfill your dreams.