Mississippi Money: Getting Financially Fit!
Your physical health is intertwined with your financial health. It is not always obvious, but being healthy makes you more productive. Your children need a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep to keep up in school, staying alert and on task. Maintaining good health means you can get more enjoyment out of life too – just like taking steps to ensure your financial security. Not only are your financial and physical health linked, it may be effective to approach these two partsof your life in similar ways.
Make it goal based! Maybe you want to buy a new car or fit into an old outfit. Maybe you know exactly how many miles you want to run each week or how many dollars you will spend eating out. Your goals can be as flexible or as strict as you like. Importantly, you should be able to measure your progress towards your goal. For a distant or flexible goal, break the process down into smaller steps to make your progress more visible. You wouldn’t go to the gym without a goal in mind, and you shouldn’t earn and spend your money without one either.
Track your progress. I recently got a FitBit to keep up with my fitness. It tracks my movement and exertion throughout the day and compares it to my stated goals. While it can’t force me to the gym if I’m getting in bed without a workout first, it can remind me of my goals and let me know if I reach them or not. Checking my credit card statement each month won’t erase a moment of overspending, but it does remind me of my goal so that I can focus on achieving it next month. Always have a mechanism that lets you look back and measure your progress towards your goals. If you don’t hit them, ask yourself if it is the goal or your behavior that needs to change going forward.
Have an accountability partner. If you have a mortgage or other fixed loan, you have a built-in accountability partner. The bank will be sure to remind you if you miss a payment! When you exercise, you may want a friendlier accountability partner. For years I paid $10 a month membership fees to a large gym that has everything I could possibly need. I have not been to that gym at all in two years now. After joining a regular exercise class, I found myself showing up five days a week to hold myself accountable to my friends in the class. Enlist a friend or partner to go over your finances once a month too. Looking back at your spending and saving with a friendly face is a lot better than a stern letter from the bank!
With improving physical fitness comes improving quality or life. Fewer sick days and a sharper mind are both benefits. If you get your finances in shape too, your quality of life will continue to improve. Having the peace of mind that you are on track for your goals eases stress and opens new possibilities. Your financial might is a muscle, so exercise it!
By Ryder Taff