By Steve Kautz, former Maine mathematics teacher and personal finance expert.
“You make your mistakes to learn how to get the good stuff.” – Quincy Jones
As I make progress on my financial journey, I have an annoying tendency to think about the mistakes I’ve made. I try not to use the word regret as I like to think some good can come from what has passed. I try to use the mistakes as fuel for my teaching, and to help me avoid making new, perhaps even more costly mistakes. For this entry I began working on a list of classic personal financial mistakes.
Coincidentally, I happened to be talking with someone at the gym recently about mistakes people make with their fitness habits. When I say people, I include myself because it’s just in the last few years that I’ve paid more attention to quality over quantity when it comes to exercise.
Hmmm… If Only There Was A Way To Combine…
I have absolutely zero evidence that staying fit is in any way connected to success with money, but I’ll throw some logic your way. #1 – Having all the money in the world won’t matter very much if you are not healthy enough to enjoy it. #2 – I’d rather be healthy & fit and broke than broke and broken down. Let’s have some fun with this, shall we?
I’ve collected a sample list of classic physical fitness mistakes which I will connect with an appropriate financial fitness mistake. Thanks to Joe Schacht and Jill Kelley from Dynamics Fitness for setting me straight.
- LOOKING FOR THE QUICK FIX: Clients who are looking for results in the shortest amount of time invariably find out that a quick fix is not sustainable. While exercise is the best medicine for the mind and body, making exercise a consistent part of your life is sustainable. It further decreases your risk of injury and illness, adds years to your life, and provides dynamic results.
Financial Connection: It would be nice to cash in on the latest app, or to have had the foresight to plop $10,000 on Apple circa 1985, but the reality for the vast majority of us is that there is no such thing as the lottery, and it takes time, patience, and consistency to maintain good financial health.
- DISTANCE RUNNING FOR WEIGHT LOSS: If you enjoy running, then go for it as long as your body will let you and you have good form and proper footwear. Interval training may be the way to go. In a nutshell, “interval training” is a dynamic form of conditioning that consists of short periods of high intensity movement followed by a period of low intensity movement. Great examples of interval training are circuit training, cycling, swimming, and sprinting.
Financial Connection: Ok, this one is hard to find a natural link for. Ah, here we go: assuming that social security will be sufficient for your retirement needs. Social security income accounts for only 40% of income for folks 65 and older.
- NOT MAKING EXERCISE FUN: Too many people look at exercise as a chore or even drudgery. It’s important to test out different forms of exercise to see what you enjoy as you’ll likely stick with it if you enjoy it. Research confirms that group classes and buddying up are not only more motivating but actually fun and invigorating.
Financial Connection: Oh, I know what you are saying, “good luck with this one, Kautz!” OK, you’re on. Getting on a budget and seeing your money grow as you planned is kinda fun! Making the last payment on a car loan or old credit card debt and never making another payment is lots of fun. And I suspect, but don’t know yet, that paying off your mortgage is an absolute hoot! Nailed it.
Exercising like crazy without paying attention to your diet is like maxing out your 401K while you max out your credit cards. (Sorry about the stain, hot fudge is hard to handle when you are typing. It’s OK, I went to the gym today.)
Spending too much time on single joint movements is like investing without diversifying.
Too much of one thing/not balancing your routine is like obsessing about money so much that you couldn’t enjoy it even if you had it.
Invest in Yourself
What we do about our health and exercise habits is, of course, personal preference. I believe it should be near the top of the budgeting priority list after basic needs are met. Exercise classes and gyms can be budget breakers, but they don’t have to be. Shop around. Learn about exercising at home with little or no equipment, see if your health plan has an annual benefit, cut back on another expense, etc. Finally, remember to look at the cost on an annual basis rather than just a monthly payment, and even more importantly, remember to think about the costs of not exercising.
The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the Maine Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.