How Getting Financially Fit Is Just Like Your Resolution to Get in Shape
The new year is here, and many people’s resolution is to get in shape. Not surprisingly, it remained the top goal going into 2017 according to a poll by Statistic Brain. But also in the top five resolutions for 2017 is people’s desire to spend less/save more. When you really look at the two resolutions side by side, they’re very similar, so why not get started with both at the same time?
Get Started Today
Often the hardest part of exercising is getting started. And if you have a demanding job, busy work schedule and kids, you know the challenges all too well. Consider these three ways to get yourself out of the starting block and begin your fitness journey:
1. Make fitness something you enjoy. Your body doesn’t know (or care) if you’re sweating in a gym or hiking amazing trails with your family. The point is, make your fitness plan work for you.
2. Overcommitting to exercise is a quick way to never start. Committing to a simple 15-minute walk every day can be a great start.
3. Make exercising part of your personal time. Think of it as your personal time to decompress from stress and your daily obligations.
Getting started down the path to financial fitness can also be tough because it’s easy to put off. The sooner you start, the better position you’ll be in later. A 25-year-old who saves $381 a month can accumulate $1 million by the time he or she turns 65. If you wait until you’re 35 to start saving, you’d have to contribute $820 per month to reach the same goal. Start at 45 and you’d need to save $1,920 per month to hit that same $1 million goal.1
Set Goals, but Be Realistic
The fastest way to fail at getting in shape is to have no fitness goal or to set unrealistic goals and have no plan to achieve them. Whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle and/or increase endurance, it’s important to tailor your approach and your outcomes appropriately.
For many, the new year signifies a fresh start, a time to think about personal and financial goals and the “new” commitments you plan to make. Yet, for all the initial enthusiasm, keeping yourself motivated, committed and moving toward the accomplishment of those goals is often tough.
Most people tend to set financial goals that are more about money than about things that motivate them emotionally. Yet goals that are tied to what you truly value are often easier to achieve than goals that are simply tied to money. Part of what gives this goal its power is that it’s SMART—in other words, it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and has a Timeline.
As you define your financial and fitness goals for 2017, prioritize what is important and what you can realistically achieve. Be sure to set a time frame for reaching your goals, and figure out whose help you might need to get there. Then review your goals periodically to make sure you stay on track.
Consistency Is Key
Exercising on a consistent basis can yield better results than fits and starts or even extreme regimens or routines. The classic “slow and steady” approach to exercise not only wins the race but will help you get to the finish line in much better shape and avoid potential injuries.
The same is true when it comes to your finances. Save a regular amount every month and automate it. Before you know it, you won’t miss the money because you never had it in the first place. And over time, it can grow to be a sizable amount.
Stay on Track
We can’t all be experts in everything, and sometimes we all need a motivation or support to do things that might be difficult but necessary.
Personal fitness trainers may help you attain the best possible results in a short amount of time as they assist you in prioritizing your fitness goals (fat loss, muscle gain, endurance increase) and determine the appropriate exercises to achieve those goals. A personal fitness trainer may also teach you proper form and technique to use in your exercises to help you avoid or reduce the chance of injury.
Most importantly, a personal fitness trainer can keep you on track and dedicated to your fitness goals. He or she can cheer you on when you hit milestones and support you when you’re feeling less than excited to exercise.
Whether you want to maintain your current financial fitness or step up the pace, it is important to keep an eye on your long-term goals and have a comprehensive financial plan to meet them. A financial professional can help you create a customized plan and guide you at all stages on the path to financial security. And as your circumstances and priorities change over time, he or she can help to ensure you stay on track to meet them, no matter which ones take priority.
So if 2017 is your year to get your body and your finances in shape, start small—but start today, and leverage a support system to motivate you and keep you on track to hit your goals.
1 Scenario assumes a 7% rate of return compounded.