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Guest Post: Back to the Basics for Financial and Physical Fitness

Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme is new to the blogging community and my goodness is he ambitious! He’s all about frugality and wise money management…and living really really really well within your means. In today’s guest post, he’s got some ideas for us about discipline in personal finance and exercise. If you enjoy this post, consider subscribing to his feed!

Modern personal finance and modern fitness have many things in common. While the world of personal finance is riddled with payday loans, get rich quick schemes, and credit card consolidation offers, the world of fitness is riddled with 30-day diets, supplements and machines that promise an easy six pack.

The enormous amounts of solutions offered suggests that many people have a serious problem with their finances and their level of fitness. However, I bet that many people try these offers and after an initial period find themselves back to square one.

As they say in the commercials hawking many such products: “Results are not typical”. I think the problem is that in our quest for easy solutions, we have forgotten or ignored the fundamental cause of the problem.

For instance, as this post notes, it may all be fine and well to speculate on various debt repayment strategies such as building a snowball, consolidating, asking for lower rates, but these things do not solve the fundamental problem namely that they need to spend less than they earn. Then and only then should they start thinking about specific strategies.

The problem is even that with all these strategies on offer, people may be stymied as they don’t know what to pick. It’s like having lost a hand in an accident and wondering what color band aid to use.

Several personal finance bloggers have seen the light though. Lazy Man and Money also owns Lazy Man and Health and GetRichSlowly recently started GetFitSlowly. The fundamentals of success in personal finance and fitness are the same.

Self-discipline, consistency, and simple hard work.

If you are not used to these concepts, and mind you, a person can be in full control of his finances but be completely out of shape and vice versa, the best method I have found for personal change is:

1) Start immediately.
2) Commit fully.
3) Announce the commitment to the world.

Thus if you want to get in shape, take action now. Don’t wait until next week because there is this new years dinner you have to survive first or this important project that is currently stressing you out.

Start now.

Second, you should commit fully. For instance, if you want to get in shape to run a marathon, you should decide when you want to run it (maybe 6 months from now), devise a plan and stick to it.

Finally you should establish some form of accountability. Loudly proclaiming your goal to your friends seems to work for me.

To get in shape, it is important to focus on fundamentals. Showing up consistently is half the battle. Working hard and pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone is the second half. Only when the fundamentals are in order should one get technical.

In case you are out of shape and want to get in shape, here is a routine, you can get started on right now.

So step 1. Do it now (finish reading the rest of this article later).

Step 2. Do it again tomorrow, and every day from then on.

Step 3. Announce it loudly here in the comments section or on your own blog, I dare you :).

Here’s the program:

  • Jump rope for 2 minutes. (if you don’t have a jump rope, find a rope or a large belt, improvise)
  • Do five push ups and ten situps. (If you can’t do a real pushup, put the knees in the ground)

Repeat this five times. Take as much time you need to catch your breath. Strive to finish a bit faster every day. The eventual goal is to complete the five rounds in about 12 minutes total. These are the fundamentals and reaching that goal will get you in a decent shape.

Only when you can do that should you start thinking about joining a gym or buying some fancy exercise equipment. Similarly, for those who are in debt and are thinking about consolidation, etc. Get your spending under control first. As mentioned above only when the fundamentals are in order should one get technical.

[Mrs. Micah’s note: Some other blogs I’ve noticed which deal with fitness discipline, etc are Blogging Away Fat, Finance and Fat and Four Pillars]

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Weekly Roundup #11 (January 5, 2008) - My Investing Blog
January 5, 2008 at 8:00 am

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Eden January 2, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Good advice. I have found the relationship between debt and weight problems to be very interesting, which is why I started my site and chose the rather unusual approach of focusing on both issues on the same site (thanks for the mention Mrs. Micah).

Without a doubt, I would say that ‘start now’ is the best advice for dealing with both problems.

moneymonk January 2, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Jacob is the Man !!

RacerX January 2, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Nice tie in!

It isn’t just dieting, but in general, Life is easier in small doses!

My Dollar Plan January 2, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Thanks for the mention!

deepali January 2, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Great post. As a nutritionist with a research background, I’m fascinated by the whole weight loss industry… there is definitely similarity with getting finances in order too.
I agree with the 3 steps outlined above, though I’d maybe switch the order. Accountability (aka, announce your plan to the world) is one of the two biggest factors in successful behavior change (at least when it comes to health). I’d add another step, which I think is implied above – find a support network. The second biggest factor is involving your social net in your plan.

FourPillars January 3, 2008 at 12:01 am

Thanks a lot for the link! And yes I am pretty big on fitness (not that I’m all that fit or anything).


Early Retirement Extreme January 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm

@deepali – I didn’t think of the support network, but it is a good idea although I think, like goals, which I didn’t mention either, they come _after_ the decision/proclamation to start.

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