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Financial Fitness: Health Advice for Your Wallet

As we approach summer, you may notice health magazines and websites promoting more ways to get in shape for swimsuit season. What you might not have known, is that these tips could also be used to live a healthier financial life. Let’s take a look at some tried and tested fitness advice to see where you can apply these ideas to your wallet.

Pump up the Volume to See Outsized Results

Lifting heavier weights (safely) to make an outsized impact over a shorter amount of time is a rule many trainers share with their clients. In an interview with Greatist.com, Noam Tamir, founder of Tamir Systems Fitnessrecommends those new to working out “keep in mind the size principle: The higher the resistance, the more muscle recruitment, meaning you shouldn’t be reaching for the three- or five-pounders if you can actually lift 10 or 12 pounds with good form.” Much like weightlifting, if you adjust your loan payments to a value above the minimum that you can still maintain in your budget, those with debt will see the principal decrease more rapidly than those just paying the minimum.

Indulge in Moderation

Like diet and exercise, financial habits are only formed if you are consistent and accountable. Everyone needs a cheat day, but it shouldn’t undo all the hard work you have put in and shouldn’t occur too frequently. I tell my clients to think of foods as “everyday” foods or “occasional” foods,” says Men’s Health Nutrition Advisor, Alan Aragon, M.S. “If you want a scoop of ice cream, go ahead and enjoy it.” Splurging on an expense is part of a healthy financial budget, but all good things in moderation. A treat should not set you back so far that it throws your budget into chaos. 

Get Moving

If possible, trainers recommend walking, biking, or another active mode of getting from one place to another. Not only is this great fitness advice, but also saves you money on gas, ride shares, or public transit fees. For example, biking to work is a great way to find time for exercise in an already busy schedule. Popular personal finance blogger, Mr. Money Mustache, estimates that “doing a couple of bike errands per day (4 miles) in place of car errands will add up to [savings of] $10,752 over ten years.”

Visualize Your Goals

Building up the willpower to work hard for a fitness goal takes a lot of mental strength. Visualizing your financial goals and achievements can be equally powerful when trying to craft a spending habit. Some of the top visualization strategies include self-affirmations, mental rehearsal, and goal pictures. But simply asking yourself, “How will achieving a financial goal change your life for the better?” is a great place to find the motivation to keep up your hard work.

Read the Label

When buying something premade or processed, trainers recommend reading the label and understanding what you are going to consume. Label language can be complicated, so the burden is on the consumer to understand what they are buying. Financial commitments should be even better understood. A mortgage or loan can have a much larger effect in the long-term than a candy bar. If you don’t recognize a word in the fine print, you should look it up or consult an expert before committing to a financial decision.

Make Sustainable Changes

Not every diet or fitness change needs to be a short-term, dramatic adjustment. Some of the best habits are formed from minor changes to your current lifestyle. Ex: swapping one food for a healthier option. As American Council on Exercise (ACE) master trainer, Nancy L. Naternicola, advises in Fitness: Steps to Success, “trying to accomplish too much too fast may set you up for failure and cause you to lapse, which can lead to relapse, so it’s essential to focus on one thing at a time—replacing one unhealthy behavior with a healthy behavior.”

Spending changes should also be sustainable. Don’t swear off buying lunch every day at work if you know Mondays mornings are hectic and you won’t have time to pack a lunch. Instead, allow yourself some wiggle room and forgiveness if a mistake occurs, and set yourself up to succeed in your new spending habits.

For more financial fitness advice please see “You’ve Got Resolutions, I’ve got Rate-solutions”. 

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Earnest is a technology company using software automation, smart design, and exceptional service to restore trust in the lending industry and help clients take control of their finances.