Why starting a savings plan is a lot like health and fitness
Yes, you read that right. As a new parent you may have a flood of new goals and plans that you hope to put into place. Two very common goals are improving ones financial situation and improving ones health and wellbeing. Funny enough, the strategy for either is very similar.
I realize there are people whose low income, especially at a time in life like growing your family, makes it difficult to even pay for life`s existing necessities let alone start a savings plan. But let`s face it, the majority of households would be able to save if they examined and changed their lifestyle and spending habits—even if it is only is a minor way.
We are usually quite satisfied with our current daily habits but in order to create the results we hope for, we must first decide what changes need to be made. This creates our plan, our goal! Followed with patience, commitment, a slip-up or two, a re-evaluation and your on your way to success and reward. Now let`s break this down through comparing health/fitness, and finance.
Why the Decision:
Health/Fitness: Your favourite jeans don`t fit anymore, you lose your breath coming up a flight of stairs that once were easy or you kneel down to play with your child and struggle getting back up.
Finances: Money-wise, you are making life changes, maybe you just had a baby, looking at or have already purchased a home or want to put money away for retirement. Whatever it is, you`re dissatisfied with your current state of finances and need/want a change.
Why do you want to make these changes? What results are you looking for? You need to be specific and write it down. Goals needs structure, specifically start and end dates. Not that your end date means you quit right there, but that you have reached that target you set out to achieve.
From the Health/Fitness perspective, perhaps your goal is to be a healthy example for your children, to have more energy, be able to go biking with your kids and join in with them while playing at the park, or even to shed a few pounds.
A savings goal could be paying for your child’s education, having an emergency fund, maybe a down payment on a house, a long overdue family holiday, or securing your own retirement plans.
How many pounds do you want to lose? How much money do you want to save?
Setting up for success
For your fitness goal: you need to outline your steps and then keep careful track of your progress.
Go online or dust off those cookbooks you`ve been meaning to use for years. Find recipes that are well balanced, nutritionally dense and especially ones you enjoy eating. This is a long-term commitment. A lifestyle change! Yes, include a sweet or treat. Everything in moderation including moderation. No fad diets for you. Re-stock your cupboards and fridge with healthy foods and of course, start exercising. Find an activity you enjoy doing, one you will stick with whether it be indoor, outdoor, a mommy group, alone, gym or home. Just get moving!
Financial goals are no different…and to be successful you need…oh no, here it comes: A BUDGET. You need to scrutinize and track every single dollar that comes into, and leaves your household.
Ask yourself where is my money going? Budgeting is not guessing, it’s tracking—just like your fitness goals. Knowing how many coffee runs and happy hours are in a week, monthly clothing expenses for your family, last minute dinner take-out, monthly bank fees, really EVERYTHING that costs anything. Knowing how much money you spend and on what, will allow you to scale back your spending and find money in places that could be allocated to your savings without leaving you feeling deprived. When saving is your focus you will be surprised what you are able to cut out!
Set backs, slip-ups and re-evaluation- all part of the process
Life is constantly changing and challenges us on a daily basis.
- Don’t eat, or spend for that matter when you are sad, lonely, upset or stressed.
- Don`t be too hard on yourself if you screw up. None of us are perfect and if making changes were easy, we`d all probably be goal free, healthy and rich!
- Use slip-ups to see when you`re the most vulnerable and re-evaluate how you'll handle the situation next time.
- Share your intentions. This usually helps hold you accountable and builds your support team.
- Whatever you do, DON`T LET A SETBACK MAKE YOU GIVE UP!
- Take a deep breath and keep going!
Success and Reward
It becomes discouraging when you have a long-term goal and it doesn't`t seem like you`re making process. This is where incremental goals become important. So for example setting yourself a goal of losing 1-2 pounds a month, which means by August you will have lost 8/10 pounds. OR: I will have $1000 saved by August by setting up automatic withdraws into a savings account of $50 each week. The goal is the increment—the success is the larger amount at the end!
Keep your motivation high and reward yourself when you reach these mini goals. Enjoy a great night out with friends indulging in your favourite moderation food or wearing a new outfit (or you can choose something that is not food or money based). Simply take a deep breath and realize that “you are actually doing it” and LOOK AT YOU GO!
Think of this as a lifestyle change, not a temporary project. A positive step towards a better future, both financially and health wise. You have become more mindful of what you`re spending your money on or what`s going into your body. Both should give you pleasure, not leave you feeling deprived. Being successful comes down to planning, focus, execution and how bad you really want it!
Personal Trainer turned Financial Advisor, Colleen Gray shares with us her combined experience and insight into these industries-where there is more commonality then you may think!