Fooldom is opposed to fad diets as much as it is to get-rich-quick schemes. This is because they're both about the same thing: trying to find a quick and easy secret to replace a slow and difficult truth.

The trick to becoming thin is to eat right and exercise. The trick to becoming rich is to save and invest. Entire industries have grown up offering expensive and ineffective alternatives to the endless stream of people trying to deny the obvious: The stuff that works isn't a secret.

The truth, however, can be shouted from the rooftops and still have no impact if people don't want to hear it. To lose weight, you need to discipline your eating. To save money, you have to discipline your spending. And the results accumulate over time, not overnight. In a country where minute rice is too slow, this is not a popular message. We want to have our cake and eat it too, and we want results now. Pfen-fen and Wade Cook seminars aren't good for your body or your bank account, but they've been popular because they tell people what they want to hear.

The Motley Fool does not offer instant gratification. We haven't got any. Like the Elizabethan jesters from whom we took our name, our job is to tell you the unpleasant truth in an amusing way. If you want to be thin, eat fewer calories or grams of fat. If you want to be rich, spend fewer dollars. It may not be what you wanted to hear, but it works. If you want something instant, try coffee.

Aerobic exercise can accelerate weight loss, and investing your filthy lucre in stocks piles it up much faster than leaving it in the bank. But that doesn't make the accelerant more important than the foundation. No amount of exercise will burn calories faster than you can eat them, and no investment can possibly produce money faster than you can spend it. The big trick to achieving a million-dollar portfolio is not spending it when it reaches $100,000. Everything else is just details.

These columns address investing more often than saving because there's more to say about investing, not because it's more important. We really can't tell you much about not spending money that you don't already know. (For more on that, check out the popular Living Below Your Means discussion board.) But this is why we add $500 a month to our portfolio. Saving money is important, and the best way to show that is by example.

Financial discipline is the foundation of any portfolio. Make a budget and stick to it. Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Live not just within your means but slightly beneath them, so you have leftover money to regularly deposit somewhere. Only then does all this "investing" stuff come into play.

Whether you're a new Fool or old, I encourage you to check out the Fool School's Investing Basics series. These articles do a great job summarizing the key points to saving and investing.

If you want to talk more about saving, investing, or anything else, just click right over to any of our three Rule Maker discussion boards:

Enjoy your evening, and Fool On!


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