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Treat Exercise Like an Investment

by J. Money on Friday, March 11, 2011

muscles & cigarettes
(Guest post by Jon the Saver over at Free Money Wisdom)

Do you ever find yourself at the gym staring at someone who is completely jacked and wonder why you don’t look like that? Kind of depressing isn’t it? Well, you can take this one of two ways from how I look at it. You could slouch your shoulders, walk away is self-pity and leave the gym early. Orrr you could decide right then and there that you’re going to transform your life and proceed to get on the treadmill and run like the wind. Yup, the second one sounds better!

My hobby and one of my passions is bodybuilding (no, no, not that kind -I’d like to be able to run thank you very much), and I don’t think American culture puts enough emphasis on your personal fitness. It really should be a priority. I mean, what’s the point of saving money for retirement, then finding out that all those twinkies were the cause of your stroke?! It should be one of your first investments with your time.

Fitness and finance go hand and hand

The parallels between the two are astonishing. Like I mentioned above, your mindset is the most critical element to success in both the fitness world and your personal investment decisions. Take a couch potato for example. Void of pride and discipline, the couch potato rots life away eating junk food, watching TV, and lives in denial. This parallels the American with thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt and zero savings. Without initiative, things are just going to get worse and worse. On the other hand, if you take an individual who is a doer, he or she conquers goals, reduces debt and saves for the future.

Don’t jump for the latest fad

I like to use diet pills for this example. Those late night “extreme fat burning solutions” ads crack me up. I feel bad for people who buy into this non-sense. Slow, steady and repetitive wins the race! An ample amount of cardio and cutting down on calories is the tried and true solution! Yes, it’s really that simple. Finances are like this too!

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again from me: don’t chase returns or fall into the too good to be true stock pick, it never works out in the long run! If you’re saving for retirement, investing in “boring” choices like Roth-Ira’s and employer 401k plans are the best way to go and will always be that way. Wall Street is after your wallet and they will tell you what you want to hear, but will never tell you what’s in your best interest. There’s no magic cure, only discipline and diversifying your money.

It’s OK to cheat a little bit!

With repetitive disciple, comes a time of frivolous cheating. I’ll take myself for example. I eat mainly vegetables, meat, and natural carbohydrates like oatmeal. But time to time, I do feel my steering wheel telling to pull into McDonald’s. But here’s the thing, it’s OK to cheat a little bit!

If you are working out regularly, that fast food splurge is going to do diddly squat to your personal fitness goals. This ties back into personal finances. You go out of your way to save money, invest a large amount of your income, and live a frugal lifestyle. To be honest, if you did JUST THAT your whole life, it would be pretty boring. This is where the splurging comes in. It’s totally OK to buy nice things. If you save up for it and it does not put you in debt or take your retirement accounts for a detour, go for it! If anything, it will keep you sane, haha.

Keeping track of your progress is crucial

It makes sense to keep a daily log of what you did at the gym. You should be constantly improving, no excuses. I make notes when I get home from my workouts and use Nike + to keep track of my running times and goals. If I didn’t keep track, where would I know where I stand? Oh, another great tool is the scale because it doesn’t lie! Tracking tools are necessary for physical fitness success. Tracking tools are necessary for your investments also. Even if you are saving for the long term, it’s important to keep track of successful funds and the losers. Looking at what is working and what isn’t, you should re-balance on a yearly basis for your goals. Tracking can also help you achieve goals as simple as saving for an emergency fund.

Yes, even saving on costs is applicable. Who wants to overpay for their gym membership? When I relocate, I do a Google search of the local gyms and find a couple with the lowest prices. Then I find one without a joining fee. Personally, I think new member fees are ridiculous and a scam. If you are limited to gyms with new member fees, you can talk them out of charging you. This is similar to fees for index and mutual funds. You should NEVER pay high fees for your investments (most notably, load-mutual funds). Actively managed funds are bunk. Instead, manage your own investments and avoid the high fees.

In closing, treat exercise like an investment. Make it a priority just like you do with personal finances. You can start today and give your waistline AND your wallet a treat by packing tomorrow’s lunch!

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Guest post by Jon the Saver who runs a personal finance blog at Free Money Wisdom. He has a passion for helping people manage their finances, ridding their lives of debt, and making wise investment choices.

(Photo by istolethetv)


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CityFlips March 11, 2011 at 8:49 am

Amen! You are spot on! I agree that our country doesn’t emphasize personal fitness enough. We have national guidelines for physical activity, but I’d say the average Joe doesn’t even know what they are! I get really frustrated that people don’t see healthful eating and exercise as a long term investment. It’s as if people are saying, “No worries…I can eat whatever crap I want now. Later, I’ll let some doc take a saw to my rib cage, break my ribs open, repair my heart and move on. Oh and I’ll let your tax dollars pay for it!” That may be a little on the bold side on my part, but our country spends billions on health care costs. Many of which could be prevented by healthful eating and exercise. Just another way personal finance and health go hand and hand!

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2 Dustin | Fit Marriage March 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

Right on, Jon! Fitness is so critical and so interelated to all aspects of our lives – finances, relationships, productivity and of course health. And anyone can get fit right in their own home and not spend much money at all…so they can still join J’s Million Dollar Club…and get their quicker with all of that newfound energy and productivity!

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3 Jon | Free Money Wisdom March 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

@CityFlips- Oh I know, it’s frustrating isn’t it! Well to be honest, the healthcare industry does not want us to get healthier. They have a vested interest in keeping us sick haha. Lucky for me, I don’t plan on being one of those guys! I really think public school should teach a class on fitness and finances. They’re quite possibly the two most important subjects, yet are never talked about in school, sad day!

@Dustin- It’s so true about being able to get fit for free! I just happen to need weights so I go to the gym. But for most people, simple pushups, situps and morning jogs can and WILL transform your body. I know for me, staying fit has taught me the value of scheduling my time and getting things done.

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4 Jason L March 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm

This is anecdotal evidence for sure, but most of the successful people I know work out regularly. I always marvel at how they have time to run multi million dollar companies, yet hit the gym regularly 5 times a week. It’s actually pretty inspiring.

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5 Jon the Saver March 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

@Jason- Yah, it really is! At the end of the day, successful people know how to manage their time very well. I bet most millionaires don’t even watch tv. I know I don’t, partly because it’s how I’m wired haha. In every situation I ask myself if it’s growing me. If it’s not, I refuse to do it. I never understood how short a 24 hour day is until just recently. Time is a precious asset, use it wisely!

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6 Christine Wilson March 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I agree with most of your article. I have one quibble about the scale not lying. Sure if you’re overweight and need to bring your weight down, it’s a great tool. However, some people are skinny but with no muscle. Unless you have a special scale that measures body fat vs muscles, this skinny person is thinking that they are in good health because their weight is low. I think that a scale that measures body fat vs muscle is a great investment. It gives you an accurate picture of your overall fitness.

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7 Jon the Saver March 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Fantastic point Christine! It really is true though and it would be a great investment. I focused on the issue of “fat” weight for this article. I know plenty of skinny people that weigh less than a feather yet are some of the most ragged people I know! Everyone should be doing cardio and lifting some type of weights on a regular basis. But, if you are trying to lose fat, it is true about the scale, it never lies! I’m in the process of shedding 25 lbs. myself and it’s encouraging to see the numbers fall each week :)

At the end of the day though, the purpose is to take care of your body for the long term, just like investments.

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8 Clare March 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I think about personal finance vs. fitness constantly. I like to pad my bank account and not my thighs.

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9 Jon the Saver March 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm

That’s what I like to hear Clare haha.

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10 MoneyIsTheRoot March 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm

That is a good point, there is a correlation between financial discipline and the discipline required to keep in shape is pretty strong. I have been trying to boost my discipline on both over the past year!

http://www.moneyistheroot.com

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11 J. Money March 19, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Thanks again for guest posting Jon! And for commenting back to everyone. Y’all are awesome.

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12 Salman Khan March 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I agree with you on this. Personal fitness should be the top most criterion for us in life because there is no life without it.

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13 J. Money March 23, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Ain’t that the truth.

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