What is Financial Fitness?
Working on your financial health takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Similar to running a marathon, becoming financially fit doesn’t happen overnight. As with any type of training, you need to learn the principles and best practices that others have used to achieve their financial goals and adapt them to work for you.
How Financially Fit Are You?
You can’t improve your financial health if you aren’t honest with yourself about where you’re at. Take a look at where you are financially and compare that to where you want to be. Who knows, you might even be closer to your goals than you first thought!
Be Realistic & Get Specific
- Spend Less Than You Earn: This is an easy statement to make, but not always so easy to follow. If budgeting isn’t your strong suit, then you may want to follow a pre-established plan. The 50/30/20 rule is a classic, and lays out how much you can spend by using basic percentages.
- Assess Your Goals: What do you want to achieve? And when do you want to achieve it? Thinking about what you want will not only give you a goal to work towards, but help you build the plan to get there.
- Track Your Spending As You Go: An important part of a budget is knowing where your money is going. There are lots of ways to do this! You can track your spending by reviewing your receipts at the end of the month, or using an app or a spreadsheet.
Take Advantage of Technology
Learning to be successful with your finances can be tough, especially if that involves unlearning bad habits! There isn’t a one-size-fits-all roadmap, and we often have to learn lessons the hard way. But in today’s world, there are so many educational resources to help you master the financial topics you may need help with. Look into free online courses, browse the “Money” section online or in stores, and don’t forget the many apps available to you. Maybe consider getting the Nerdwallet or Intuit Credit Karma app if you need or want that extra help.
Beef Up Your Savings
When saving money is a priority, you’re making your financial health a priority. A healthy savings account can give you the peace of mind in case of an emergency – like a flat tire or a broken appliance. With the proper money management and savings, bad things might not be as bad as they could be. If you’re serious about taking charge of your finances, start increasing your savings account in any way possible. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into your savings account
- Set a goal for your savings account and track yourself as you make progress
- Set a budget and stick to it
- Consider a savings account with a higher interest rate
- Decrease your spending on non-essential items
Check Your Credit Report
Just like you track your progress when it comes to physical fitness, you can track your progress to see how financially fit you’re becoming as well. You can get a free credit report once a year, so use that opportunity to know where you’re standing and if you need to adjust your current plan. There are lots of options for checking your credit score. Most banks offer your credit score as part of their services, plus you can look at online sites like Experian and Equifax.
Invest In Yourself
A great way to introduce new income or increase your existing income is to invest in yourself, believe in yourself and branch out. Until you try, you never know what could happen!
Here are some ways you may be able to invest in yourself:
- Continue Your Education: This can sometimes be a daunting (and pricey) goal, but when you invest in your education, you’re investing in your future career and income.
- Create a Side Hustle: If there’s something you already love as a hobby, consider turning it into a business. Or, consider the options listed out here.
- Increase Your Current Skillset: If you’re already in a career you love, think of skills you can gain to take it to the next level. Look for online courses or workshops that can help you gain leadership skills, increase your industry knowledge or stay on top of the latest advances in your line of work.
Reduce, Reuse, and Reimagine
You can often turn your finances around simply by taking a look at the items you’re currently using and buying every day.
- Reduce: Take a look at where you’re spending your money. Then, try to think of ways that you can reduce your spending. For example, you might take a look at your latest purchases and realize that you’re paying for 5 different TV streaming subscriptions. Consider removing the streaming service you haven’t been using as often, or see if you can find a deal on the subscription for a cheaper price.
- Reuse: Items that have a one-time use can be pricey over time, like plastic water bottles, paper towels, sandwich bags, etc. Think about the items you’re only using once and then throwing away. Is there an alternative that you can use again and again? Chances are that you’ll end up saving money over time if you switch from paper towels to washable cloths.
- Reimagine: Financial health can sometimes take some creativity. You can take out your DIY skills and turn something you already own into something you need. This could be as simple as washing out your pickle jar when you’ve eaten them all and using it to store loose change. Or, it could be as fun as turning your old t-shirt into a new toy for your dog.
Summary: The Power of Financial Fitness
Financial fitness can take some time and effort. But just like physical fitness, it’s worth the sweat and tears to become financially fit.