Financial fitness is not that different to physical fitness. Both take time, moderation and discipline, and both are equally rewarding in terms of improving your quality of life.
Here’s a five-step plan for putting your finances in healthy working order.
1. Know what you want
When you set out to improve your fitness you usually have a goal in mind – maybe you want to look good for summer or be fit enough to keep up with the kids. Do the same with your finances: work out what you want to achieve so that you can make a financial plan for how to get there.
2. Make a plan
To include exercise into your week you have to schedule it in. Maybe you have to wake up earlier? Give up your lunch break? Take the same approach when making a plan for financial fitness: ask yourself what practical actions you can take on a daily and weekly basis to meet your goals.
3. Aim for moderation
It’s easier to stick with a new habit or goal if you give yourself some flexibility. There will be days when you don’t feel like exercising, just as there will be days when you spend more than your budget allows. Give yourself permission to have these occasional treats. Without moderation you are more likely to give up because it all seems too hard.
4. Focus on your weak spots
It’s often the body parts you avoid dealing with that need the most attention. For example, if you hate working abdominals, you’ll fail to build strength in that area. A universally disliked financial chore is tracking spending, yet ignoring it won’t make it go away.
5. Use mental preparation
Starting and maintaining a fitness routine requires willpower, effort and accountability. It’s no different with finances because in both situations there is often a lifetime of bad habits that need to be broken. When faced with roadblocks, remind yourself why you are making these changes – to get out of debt, to afford a new car, to take a holiday.