Behavioral Finance

Are you Rinsing Your Cottage Cheese?

This past year I have been obsessing about the thought patterns and actions of world-class performers. Not necessarily people who hacked their way to the top in record time. Rather, people who are on the mastery path. People who understand that along the path to mastery there is no top.

Basically, people who “rinse their cottage cheese.” In Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great he tells a story about a disciplined athlete named David Scott who won the Hawaii Ironman 6 times. Despite having a training schedule that had Scott burning 5,000 calories per day, he would still take a dry paper towel and RINSE his cottage cheese to remove all the fatty liquid.

Okay, I know what you are likely thinking:

  1. Rinsing your cottage cheese sounds insane, and I really doubt athletes actually do that.

Would rinsing cottage cheese actually give Scott an advantage?  Well, he is a six time Hawaii Ironman Champion… of course it did! If the advantage wasn’t a physical one, then it certainly helped him psychologically.

How on earth does this relate to personal finances?

The David Scott story is not a healthy eating story. Rather, it’s a story about how having clearly defined goals—coupled with discipline—is the winning combination when working towards mastery.

I often I see clients who are frustrated, stressed or angry that their lives aren’t as “cool” as the ones they see on Instagram or other social media outlets. Yes, we can point out numerous issues with this statement (i.e. Instagram is just a highlight reel), but that fact is many Canadians are feeling the same way. I mean 42% of Canadians reported money as the top stressor in their lives… we’re stressed out when it comes to money and that daily comparison to others just exacerbates the issue.

I feel we can improve our financial health in two major areas:

1.We need to be crystal clear on what our goals are.

Of course, another way to phrase that is to be clear on the things that actually make us happy (in case you missed it, an earlier post discusses the importance of aligning our habits with our values).

Of course, the things that make us happy cannot just be things that look good on Instagram—that’s maybe two-seconds of ‘happiness’ versus a rich, deep life. We want to focus on the things that actually make our hearts sing. Too often we are spending our precious time and money on things that we feel MIGHT make us happy. Perhaps it’s time to throw this thought pattern out the window and start doing stuff that we actually want to do… like running an Ironman?

2. Become DISCIPLINED with our personal finances (AKA rinse our cottage cheese).  

If all we do with our finances is the following, we would be in total control of our money and financial lives:

  • Clearly identify what actually makes us happy/motivated (AKA your Ironman, whatever it may be)
  •  Spend less than we make
  •  Track our monthly expenses (only takes 30 minutes a month)
  •  Automate savings at 15% – 20% of our monthly income
  •  Pay off our credit cards every single month Avoid non-mortgage debt

An interesting thing that I have noticed with happy/fulfilled isn’t the amount of money they have; rather, it is what portion of their money they spent on things that made their lives better. And how they dramatically cut expenses on things they didn’t care about.


Take Warren Buffet for example: he reportedly bought his most recent Cadillac in 2014 (replaced his 2006 Cadillac) for $45,000. Buffet still lives in the same house he purchased in 1958 for $31,500. Today the house is worth $652,619. Not bad for a man who is worth approx. 84 billion dollars.

In order to achieve and maintain great results, we need to be clear on what we want and we must be extremely disciplined to follow through. We will be tempted along the way.

Have you taken time to examine your expenses to ensure you are spending on the right things? Are you rinsing your cottage cheese? Are you being disciplined and following the 6 personal finance items above?

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  • Reply
    July 25, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s about finding out what you value and then spending your time and money accordingly. I have really tried to adopt this valuing mindset lately. Love the concept – just not sure about the cottage cheese😉

    • Reply
      July 26, 2019 at 3:50 am

      Thanks Maria! As for the cottage cheese, next time you eat it, give it a try!

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