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Financial fitness is an important aspect of our financial literacy. Similar to athletes participating in several sports, they prepare long and hard for each game. They live with discipline and dedication in order to achieve their goals. The more they practice and prepare for their game day, the better their performance is on game day. They are able to address the needs of the game and quickly adjust as needed.
The same principle goes for consumers in their daily battle with finances. It does not happen overnight. You do not wake up the next morning with all your debts paid off, all your bills paid for, your 401(k) at retirement level and emergency fund that can last you more years than you need. Even if you win the lottery today, it will be a short lived cash happiness without being financially fit and literate.
The Bleacherreport.com even shows that heading to off season, the NBA teams are just as concerned with their financial fitness as they are in keeping their players fit and healthy. The teams need money to pay the salaries of their players and they need the players to generate income for the team. Both area of the business and sport needs to put a premium on fitness to ensure that they can continue their purpose.
Practicing Financial Fitness
One of the world marathon majors, the New York city marathon is one of the biggest marathon events being organized in the world. Now carrying a different sponsor, it used to be ING New York CIty Marathon but is now branded TCS New York CIty Marathon. The event is slated on November 2, 2014 and is set against another challenging course.
The race begins in Staten Island in Fort Wadsworth near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It then passes through Brooklyn and reach the Pulaski Bridge signifying the racers are halfway in the course. The road track proceeds to cover East River via the Queensboro Bridge entering Manhattan. Runners proceed to Willis Avenue Bridge and returns to Madison Avenue Bridge before entering Central Park through Harlem down Fifth Avenue. The race concludes by going back to Columbus Circle near Tavern on the Green.
That is a full marathon circuit and anyone taking that course on November 2 needs to be physically fit. Relating that to financial fitness, that course is similar to the challenges we have to take on in life. As the runners race to the finish line, we practice financial management to get to our goal. But we do not just get up and run the race just as we do not instantaneously get to our financial goals. Aside from the having a financial health checklist, we need to prepare for the actual financial challenge.
Set a goal
The first step is to financial fitness is setting a goal. Just as the marathon runners in New York city has one goal in mind, which is crossing the finish line at a good time, consumers need to also have a goal in mind. This serves as a target to aim for and can regularly remind of the ultimate pay off on all your financial decisions.
Having a goal helps you keep your focus. Say the goal is to pay off your student loan as fast as you can. That goal will help guide you in all your financial decision making. Just like the runners whose main goal is to finish the race, their preparations are all leading to that purpose. They train to get fit to achieve that goal. Your roadmap to your financial goal should be built around your main purpose. It has to lead to your achievement of your financial target.
There are people who are having a hard time grasping and understanding how budgeting works. This plays an important role in practicing financial fitness. Putting together a budget is your blueprint to achieve your goal. It is your step by step process in making sure you are on the right track and don’t go astray.
New York marathon runners train with a specific routine. They follow specific strength training workouts and check their food intake. They measure their performance to check if they are improving and staying on course. This holds true for consumer budgeting.
Your budget needs to keep you on track in achieving your goal. It is there to remind you how much you need every month to cover your expenses. It also lists down all your expenses every month so you can quickly do an audit n where your money is going. It can help you curb unnecessary expense items and save you extra dollars every month
Get debt down
Most runners have an ideal weight that they need to get down to in order to run more efficiently. In financial fitness, think of debt as the excess weight that is pulling you down. Physically speaking, it is best to shed off excess weight until you are comfortable with your own body and you can move and go around as much as you want.
This is the same with your finances. Getting debt down can help you move freely with your finances. It opens more financial opportunities and just gives you more legroom to go around. Debt ties up your income to interest payments which is eating up on what could possibly be your emergency fund or retirement fund.
There will be temptations along the way as you reach for your goal. For New York Marathon runners, it could be skipping a training day or cheating on their diet. It could also be going around not being serious with the preparations for the run like sleeping late and partying all night long. These temptations steer them away from achieving their goal.
Same goes for financial fitness. Steering away from financial temptations can be a challenge. Just like getting that new mobile gadget or putting in your online cart that discounted European cruise. These are temptations when it will keep you away from your main goal. If the money that was supposed to be extra payment for student loans is used to buy a new guitar just for hobby, then that is a temptation. But if your bread and butter is producing music, then that guitar can be an investment.
Get professional help
New York marathon runners are mostly professional runners. And majority of them have had professional trainers guiding them to their peak health and condition to take on the gruelling marathon course. This is the same for consumers on the road to financial fitness.
There are professionals out there that can help you make better decisions with your finances. There are those as well that can help you manage your debts better. They offer professional pieces of advice that you can use to get out of debt.
Benefits of Financial Fitness
Practicing financial fitness can yield benefits for the consumer. Some of these are:
- Less stress. People who are financially fit are able to manage their finances better and are in top of the situation. This gives the peace of mind knowing how they are financially performing. Taking a prevention-stance is better than problem-solving mindframe.
- Better health. Taking on a financially fit goal ripples out to physical fitness. It gives you more sleep and takes away worry. It gives you a good appetite and you are able to eat healthy food rather than wolfing down on ice cream and cake because of too much worrying.
- Improved focus. You are able to concentrate as well on the task at hand rather than thinking of how to pay for the bill coming in at the end of the week rather than paying attention on your current task.
Investopedia.com tells consumers that fitness is a step by step process. This is made up of small positive financial habits that we maintain over the course of time. As we do it over and over again, we build it into our own routine and helps us get to our goal faster.
In most cases, your financial health is connected with your physical health. So if you want to be physically fit, you also have to work on your personal finances. Here is a video from NBC15 about financial health.