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Where Finance and Fitness Meet – Guest Post

This is a guest post by Ryan of Uncommon-Cents. If you enjoy the post, why not subscribe to his RSS feed and read new posts from his site?

When I first started getting serious about my personal finance blogging, one of the things I noticed is that many personal finance bloggers also maintained personal fitness blogs. The blogger behind NCN, Blogging Away Debt, and Get Rich Slowly all had blogs that talked about their adventures in fitness or their quests to lose weight.

Why personal finance bloggers–many of which are telling their stories about battling their issues with debt–also have issues with their fitness is not clear to me. I’ve had both, and I’ve dealt with both with some success. Really, there are some common threads between fitness and finance which may tell some of the tale:

Unhealthy eating and unhealthy spending are both often about instant gratification–Ever wonder about where all that money goes every month? A lot of times it’s to things that we don’t use or at least are low on the “need” scale. Sometimes we spend lots more than we need to because we don’t comparison shop; instead, we need something now. Same goes for eating. We can carefully consider the food we want to eat, shop, and cook in advance, or just hit McDonalds for lunch every day. Both can have huge impacts on the bottom lines of your health and your wealth.

Improving your health and improving your finances require discipline and sacrifice–It’s hard to give up that latte; it’s hard to get up at 4:45 am to jump on the bike for an hour of riding. It’s also hard to keep doing that day after day, week after week, month after month. We try, we have a tough day, we go back to our old habits–we fall off the horse. The trick is to get back on and not give up, to remember that these are marathons and not sprints. It may take years to get to where we want to be, and those years need to be taken one day at a time.

Neither your finances nor your fitness can be fixed quickly–Yes, you can do 100 sit-ups tonight and wish you never had to do another one again, but that won’t give you abs of steel. You can go a day without spending any money but that won’t rid you of your credit card debt. These things are going to take time–no shortcuts.

Making wise choices about your money and your health requires research–You wouldn’t go into investing blindly–I hope!–and you can’t go about making decisions about your health that way either. Eating a diet that makes sense for you, like deciding on an asset allocation or an individual stock, can involve wading through tons of material. Choosing a sport to take up or an exercise regimen is best done by considering many options and weighing pros and cons–just like deciding on which mutual fund to buy.

Improvement in both your fitness and your finances don’t show up quickly–Bringing lunch from home instead of buying it from the cafeteria isn’t going to make a huge difference in your bottom line in a week, or even a month, but in a year, it can be substantial. Increasing your exercise routine may make you sore for a week, but the changes in your body take awhile to show up. Both require you to keep your eyes on the prize and not to get discouraged quickly. If you work hard, both of these will result in great changes later!

Both better health and better finances are critical to our long term well being–It won’t matter how well your finances look if you die tomorrow; and it’s going to be tough going forty years from today if you’ve got no money to live on. If we want to live long and well, we need to take care of both our finances and our fitness.

There’s a surprising amount in common with your health and your money, and I think many personal finance bloggers have discovered that. I’m not sure if I’m more successful with one than the other, but I think it’s critical to work on both. Just remember that with both of these areas, if you set goals, work hard, keep yourself motivated, and don’t give in to instant gratification, you’ll go a long way to being healthier and wealthier.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frugal Urbanite April 28, 2009 at 9:07 am

I often compare the fitness to finance too. Too many people treat their first attempts at cutting finance like a crash diet and end up yo-yo-ing right back up in their debts when they realize they don’t want to live like a miser.

Frugal Urbanite’s last blog post: Bad Money Moves – Multi-Level Marketing ‘Jobs’

Writer Dad April 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

True that. It’s easy to get into the mindset, “I’ve already gained so one more won’t matter” regardless of whether it’s pounds or dollars, or pounds or pounds in the UK. : > )

Writer Dad’s last blog post: Rolling Through the Rough Draft

Jeff@StretchyDollar April 28, 2009 at 11:11 am

I think this post is right on. The determination it takes to get physically in shape is the same as the determination you need to get in financial shape.

Jeff@StretchyDollar’s last blog post: Buying When You Don’t Need – A Money Saving Tip

Rob Bennett April 28, 2009 at 4:00 pm

There’s a comparison between saving and fitness that I often keep in mind. It’s better to focus on short-term goals than long-term goals. If you are thinking “it would be great to have enough money to retire 30 years from now,” the goal is too distant to motivate you effectively. If you think “I want to save x amount in the next six months,” the odds of success are much better.

Similarly, it is better to focus on a time-period of a week or so when trying to eat sensibly or exercise effectively. Thinking too far ahead makes the goal seem too unreal for it to motivate positive behavior.

Rob

Ryan S.@uncommon-cents.net April 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Thanks for using my post! For those interested, my fitness blog is at http://www.athletic-diabetic.com/

Ryan S.@uncommon-cents.net’s last blog post: What’s in My Portfolio: Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund

TStrump May 2, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Financial and physical health are one in the same.
It’s amazing how many unhealthy people are actually broke.
There is a strong correlation.

TStrump’s last blog post: Selling Off Our Water

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