(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!
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)