We all know the old adage healthy body…. healthy mind… but is there a link between physical fitness and financial fitness?
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night worrying about your finances and you just can’t get back to sleep?
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed can cause digestive issues, tension headaches, and an increased risk of heart attack and strokes. Not only does it directly cause issues with your health, but can also lead to an increase in stress-eating, drinking alcohol and smoking – all of which exacerbate both physical and financial issues.
We know the benefits of a good exercise regime. Exercise helps improve your mood, your focus, and most notably your brain’s capacity to function. It helps to combat depression, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Long term goals are hard
If we know that following a healthy and active lifestyle has all these positive effects why aren’t we all doing it? If we know the benefits of budgeting and saving for a financially secure retirement, why are we all not doing it?
It’s because long term goals are hard. We need a short-term focus like a brisk walk for 20 minutes, four times a week. We build up our strength and resilience and start stretching ourselves further from there.
The same process can be applied to your finances. Set some short-term financial goals like setting up and tracking a monthly spending budget for example. These are achievable goals that create small wins that build confidence.
Physical fitness and how it relates to financial fitness
As you set up a plan for your week with regards fitness and exercise you should do the same for your finances.
Set goals and targets for both your physical fitness and your financial fitness. These should be easily measurable and more short term in nature.
Be careful of the goal that is too long term-focussed or that is too lofty. While you may well have a goal to run the Comrades, it’s better to have more short-term goals that will lead you there to keep you focussed. So plan to run a half marathon in the next three months and a marathon by the end of the year. The same principle applies to your finances. You may have the goal to leave a legacy for your grandchildren but your focus is more short term. Start by setting up a tax-free savings account for each of them and save monthly.
It is important to be flexible and adaptable. Circumstances change and you will need to be able to deal with this. You may, for example, injure yourself and need to adapt your training or reset your goals.
The same applies to your financial goals. Life happens, and dealing with change is inevitable. You may have a goal to save a certain amount each month for an overseas trip at the end of the year, but your car needs four new tyres this month, which throws everything out. You need to adapt and be flexible.
Making use of a professional
Many people prefer to try and achieve physical fitness goals singlehandedly. In many cases, this is achieved successfully, but more and more people are now looking to get some help.
Using a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals is hugely beneficial. A personal trainer holds you accountable and makes sure you turn up. You may want to hit the snooze button at 6am and skip a session but if you are meeting a personal trainer you can’t do that. You may want to leave the last set of push-ups or lighten the weights, but a personal trainer is watching you and keeping you motivated. A personal trainer does a whole lot more than just count to 10! They have knowledge and experience and will be flexible and adapt the training to how you are feeling or whether you are injured.
A personal trainer and a financial planner
Much like a personal trainer a financial planner will hold you accountable to your stated financial goals. A good financial planner will first help you discover and define your goals. A financial planner will assist in setting short term achievable goals with you. Just like a trainer, a planner will keep you motivated and adapt the plan as circumstances change.
By using their knowledge and experience, a financial planner can guide you through life events and common pitfalls which will keep you on track financially.
Working with experts is massively important, as you can take their advice on board without needing them with you all the time.
Working with a financial planner or coach, whether it’s regularly or just to help you get started so you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, is the same. You need support and advice from a professional.
If you’re interested in more information on the brain-changing effects of exercise, watch this Ted Talk by Wendy Suzuki