At the start of every year, a physical fitness craze sweeps across America. But, you should also consider financial fitness when deciding on your resolutions. Whether it is saving more money, paying off debts, or sticking to a budget, you should take your financial fitness serious. Financial strategies differ on a case by case basis, but we are here to provide the basic first steps for your journey towards financial fitness.
Step 1: Understand why you want to be “financially fit”
Your “why” is unique to you and will be different from your brother, best friend, or co-worker. Whether it’s to save your marriage, live well after retirement, send your kids to college, or finally have financial freedom, make sure you know what motivates you—not anyone else.
It’s a lot easier to become financially successful when you’re working towards your own goals and dreams.
Step 2. Establish your “financial workout routine”
Just as most people usually have a physical fitness routine, you must have a financial workout routine. Evaluating your spending habits, keeping tabs on your credit score every month, and lowering unnecessary debt will help whip you into financial shape.
Many people skip these essential steps, but just as you wouldn’t run a marathon without proper training, you can’t expect to get financially fit without covering the basics.
Step 3. Identify your workout buddies
A workout buddy helps to hold you accountable, and a financial buddy will help to keep you in good financial shape. Solicit advice from a financial services representative or supportive family and friends who are already financially fit. Write down your financial goals and ask your buddies to hold you accountable to these goals.
A lack of accountability can lead to erratic behavior and falling back on old negative habits that got you into trouble in the first place.
Step 4. Push yourself for growth
This is a decision you have to make for yourself. Just as nobody else can force you into physical fitness, you are the only one who can decide to get financially fit. Overcome the challenge of being comfortable with a bad diet (no savings and/or poor spending habits) and create a habit of financial discipline.
If you don’t get enough cardio (earning potential), seek ways to generate additional income.
Step 5. Reward yourself
Dangle the carrot. Set a goal for yourself, and when you reach it, give yourself that carrot. If your downfall is spending, for example, allocate a small amount of money to treat yourself to something nice once you have reached a specific financial goal.
Step 6. Set measurable goals
Just like physical fitness, a financial fitness program should be seen as a long-term strategy for life, not something you do for a few months and then give up on. Set small goals or benchmarks to track your progress, and don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture, or you’ll become easily overwhelmed.
Start by identifying where you want to be in six months, for example. Maybe it’s paying off $5,000 in credit card debt, or maybe it’s putting $5,000 into a savings account.