February 1, 2016  • Newsletter

To Do This Month: Floss (And Budget Too)

This person definitely flosses.
This person definitely flosses.

Welcome to February! Even with a bonus day this year, February promises to be a short month where we cram in an insane amount of things to do. We celebrate African American History, we celebrate our hearts, we exchange heartfelt messages, and, apparently, we also encourage our children to care for their teeth.


In the spirit of National Children’s Dental Heath Month (I swear I did not make that up), we got to thinking about the similarities between flossing and budgeting.




We Don’t Do Either Often Enough

Pro Tip: Find a Budgeting Buddy and Hold Each Other Accountable
Be honest: When is the last time you flossed your teeth? If you’re like 60% of Americans, it probably wasn’t yesterday. If you’re like 20% of Americans, you’ve never (never!) done it.


The same is true of budgeting. When is the last time you looked at your budget? It probably wasn’t yesterday.


We tend to floss when we notice an appointment with the dentist is on the horizon. And we tend to update our budgets when a report is due to a major funder or when a crisis hits.


But flossing and budgeting are both relatively good for our overall health. And doing both on a regular basis means we don’t have to worry about major events on our calendars (funding deadlines, dental appointments). And if our overall health is good, it is far less likely we’ll find ourselves in crisis mode. (It’s not impossible, of course, but far less likely.)


We Lie About Both

Nearly 30% of people lie to the dentist about flossing. (Based on purely my own anecdotal evidence, this seems really, really low. Perhaps I have fib-prone friends.)


Our ideal self probably flosses regularly. (She also exercises, eats well, never loses her temper, and gets enough sleep.) Our ideal self budgets pretty well too.


Relatively speaking, flossing and budgeting seem easier to accomplish than anything else on that list.


When we lie, sometimes it is because there is a gap between the ideal version of ourselves and our actual selves. (Denial or repression, anyone?) Believe it or not, budgeting is much easier than lying on an ongoing basis. Especially to ourselves.


We’d Rather Be Doing Anything Else

Pro Tip: Connect your budget to your creative and professional goals
Many of us would rather do pretty much anything other than flossing. The American Academy of Periodontology found in a 2015 survey 18% of us would rather wash dishes, 14% would rather clean toilets, and 9% would rather do their taxes. (Be still my heart-healthy heart!)


Here’s the thing though: Washing dishes will always be boring. There will always be more dishes. Ditto for cleaning toilets.
Budgeting and flossing get easier with repetition. Sure, they may be painful at first. There may be bleeding involved. We may have to dredge through sticky places we’d rather not examine too closely.


But both get easier. Both help our overall health—dental, financial, emotional—in fairly tremendous ways. Both take relatively little time, especially compared with cleaning a toilet.


And just a bit of maintenance—a few minutes a day to floss, less than an hour each week to budget—really does go a long way.



Stay on track this month by keeping your budget front and center.

  • Build a budget for the month of February. (Not sure where to start? Check out Budgeting Basics from our Starting SMART online learning series.)
  • Check in with your budget each week, and let it evolve naturally as your awareness does.
  • Use the system you developed last month to help keep you on track.


Oh, and one more thing: Floss.


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