Personal financial planning and running have a lot in common. To be successful at both, one definitely needs a roadmap: a plan to materialize the ideas and good intentions someone has into a specific goal. In this way, I wanted to put something together to get you thinking about long term success both physical and financial.
Evaluate Your Current Situation
When evaluating yourself, honesty is critical to growth in both running and financial planning. What kind of shape are in you in, really? Was the last time you ran a couple of years ago? How long has it been since you’ve had a check-up?
The human body is an amazing thing, but it is not invincible and changes with age. Your financial situation is similar, changing with age and requiring constant upkeep. Although it seems commonplace, evaluate your financial status. Are you still handling college debt? When was the last time you took a look at your credit report to know where you are starting from?
Set a Goal
In running, if you never set a goal, what’s the point? Maybe you start small and work your way up, but if there’s no goal, you’re finished before you even start. The same is for personal finance; you need a clear picture of where you want to be financially. Simply stating you want to be successful isn’t specific enough. We all have different definitions of what being successful is. Some people want to retire early, some want to buy that beach house, and so on. You need to define your goals to start being successful.
Evaluating your current situation is important to building your strategy towards success. Can you run a 5k easily? Or would it take some training to get to that point? You need to assess your situation to see how those hamstrings are doing. Could they use a little bit of stretching and a few warmup runs to get back in the swing of things?
The same goes for your finances. What is your current income? What do you spend monthly? Do you have disposable income? Credit card debt? Car loan? Mortgage? Etc… Any combination of those things will require an overlook to see what your current balance sheet looks like.
Plan it Out
Most marathons are completed in the training. Hardly anyone can just show up and go for a 26.2-mile jog, have a few sips of water, and call it a day. Every one of those people have trained day in and day out, built up their running miles over time, broke in shoes, suffered shin splint pains, and all the extras. The training needs to be mapped out day by day building up to your race.
Just like preparing for a marathon, take the time to plan your financial goals and strategies. For example, if you want to tackle a large debt, come up with a payment strategy. You may have to forego some small luxuries in the short term but sticking to your plan will help you accomplish your financial goals.
Give it Time
Runners that rush into races or don’t train properly usually won’t get to their goals. You need to be realistic when you set your financial goals and allow yourself time to get there. That savings plan won’t happen overnight. It will take plenty of time to grow, and with today’s especially volatile markets, you will need to keep your focus and keep working toward the goals you’ve set in place.
No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Investing involves risk including loss of principal.