Financial fitness isn't just about having a hefty sum in the bank or a substantial collection of stocks and bonds. I've seen lottery winners and inheritors of large estates come into wealth without much financial savvy. The same goes for college athletes who make it big in the pros. Simply put, landing a financial windfall doesn't mean you're financially fit.
Without a solid grasp of personal finance basics, quickly gained wealth can vanish just as swiftly. It reminds me of a lesson from Proverbs 13: wealth from quick schemes disappears, while wealth built through hard work and diligence grows over time.
So, what is financial fitness from my perspective? It's the ability to make smart financial decisions, because you've gained the skills and knowledge to pursue goals that will enhance your wealth and secure your financial future.
At the start of the year, did you, like me, jot down some resolutions? While resolutions are broad, goals are specific, measurable, and come with a deadline and an action plan. If I resolve to be healthier in 2024, I may just say that I want to lose weight or work out more often. If I set a goal, I’ll write down the number of pounds I want to shed, a date I’d like to reach that goal, and embark on a program that will help me achieve my goal. Better yet, I’ll enlist an accountability partner.
While I'm no personal trainer, the principles of setting goals apply to achieving financial fitness too. Essentially, becoming financially fit is a crucial step toward financial security and meeting your financial goals, be they short-term or long-term.
1. Set Goals: Knowing your destination is key. Without a goal, you're just wandering.
2. Track Your Spending: Understanding where your money goes each month is crucial. Only by tracking my expenses did I grasp the full picture of my financial habits.
3. Live Within Your Means: Accumulating wealth isn't some secret formula exclusive to the rich. It's about spending less than you earn and saving the difference.
4. Manage and Eliminate Debt: I've strategized to pay off high-interest debt quickly. Debt can be a tool for certain purchases, but it shouldn't hinder your financial goals.
5. Automate Savings and Investments: Setting up automatic transfers helps me save without thinking about it. It's about making saving a habit.
6. Invest With Purpose: I save and invest with clear reasons in mind, whether it's for an emergency fund, retirement, or a vacation. Having a "why" keeps me focused and motivated.
7. Seek Expert Advice When Needed: There's no harm in asking for help. Understanding and applying financial principles is key to maintaining financial fitness.
In essence, financial fitness for me is about more than just accumulating wealth; it's about making informed decisions, setting and achieving goals, and ultimately securing a stable financial future.