I recently met with my client, Leslie, to gather information to complete her financial plan. She and her husband, Jeff, own a fitness studio in St. Paul called Equipt Fitness.
During the data gathering interview I always like to ask people about the non-financial parts of their life. Naturally, the subject of fitness came up.
I lamented the fact that even though a person with a desk job may run 3-4 miles a day, they may not be in much better shape than the average smoker. “Sitting is the new smoking”, Leslie told me. If you don’t believe me, you can read about it here.
In my own case, I have run a couple marathons and continue to run pretty regularly, especially in the summer. I was really discouraged to learn that sitting on my rear 8-10 hours a day basically unwinds the benefits of my morning run.
Following are three tips from Leslie and Jeff that will not only help you improve your overall health, but will help you get your finances in top shape as well.
#1 Get up and move.
For about 5 minutes out of every hour “just get up and move”, Jeff told me. It doesn’t have to be much. Go for a walk in the parking lot. Walk down the stairs and back up again. It doesn’t matter what you do. Set an alarm on your phone or computer to go off on the hour. Then, just get up and do something. Even the simple act of standing is far better than sitting.
It’s the same with your personal finances. Most people ignore their finances completely until there is an emergency or something urgent comes up. Once a week, take 5 minutes and devote it to your financial health. Review your IRA or retirement plan beneficiaries. Read the business section of the paper. Learn a new investment concept. Just do something. If you are already doing 5 minutes a week, do 5 minutes more. Incremental steps add up over time.
#2 Small efforts make a big difference.
If I only have 5 or 10 minutes to exercise, I will often skip it because I don’t feel like that’s enough time to make a difference. How much can you get done in 5 minutes? It turns out, plenty. Imagine doing a plank or walking up a staircase for a full 5 minutes. Most of us couldn’t do it.
Small efforts and incremental steps make a big difference in your finances as well. My Grandmother had lots of great financial advice. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know two of her ideas. Another one of her gems is that even little amounts of savings add up. Start with $25 a month. Or $50 or $100. If you are already doing that, then increase your savings by that amount. If you don’t participate in a 401(k) or IRA, start. If you do, then increase your contribution percentage by 1%. 401(k) maxed out? Start a Roth. There is always something more you can do.
For every $100 you increase your savings, you could accumulate $18,416 over 10 years; $59,294 over 20 years, and a whopping $150,029 over a 30 year period. That’s assuming an 8% average annual return (no guarantee, of course).
#3 Even walking helps build your base.
Leslie, who has run over 30 marathons and completed a number of 50-100-mile ultra events, says that “even walking helps build your base”. For non-runners, your “base” refers to your core-fitness level and usually refers to how far and often you can comfortably run. Your base is built by doing the right types of exercise consistently, over a long period of time.
In my case, my “base” is probably about 3 or 4 miles a few times a week. I can go farther or more often, but I have to push it. My base builds over the summer and into the fall, but falls apart in the winter. It’s encouraging to know that if I take one of my off days and add in a walk with my wife or the dog, I am adding to my base fitness level. By continuing to walk or do the treadmill in the winter, I can keep more of my base longer and start off the spring in better shape.
With regard to your finances, I would say your “base” is synonymous with your “net worth”. You can look up the definition of net worth this week as your 5 minute financial fitness exercise, by clicking here.
Every time you make an extra mortgage payment, pay something beyond the minimum payment to your credit card, add to your cash reserves, contribute to an IRA, Roth IRA or 401(k), or add to an investment account, you are building your financial base. Someday that base is what you will live off of in retirement.
There you have it. Three tips to get into financial shape from the fitness experts at Equipt Fitness. If you do nothing else this week, pick one of the tips above and put it into action. In my case, I am going to put tip #1 to work. While I am in the office I will get up once each hour for at least 5 minutes and walk.
If you want to know more about how to get your finances in better shape, just Ask Mike.
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