How to Get Financially and Physically Fit

4 Ways to Improve Your Health and Wealth

Read Time: 5 Minutes

We’re about 2 months into 2018, which means our New Year’s Resolutions are still fresh in our heads (cough cough). It’s probably no surprise that the most common resolutions this year, according to a YouGov survey, are to:

  1. Eat healthier
  2. Get more exercise
  3. Save more money.

Basically, people want to improve their health and their wealth. Now I’m an expert at helping people with their financial goals, but know very little about helping them with fitness goals. So I partnered with my good friend, Alex Drachnik, to write this article about getting financially and physically fit. Alex is a competitive bikini bodybuilder and fitness vlogger. You can check out some of her stuff here and here. She’s pretty badass.

After talking, we both realized just how similar physical fitness and financial fitness really are. Many of the principles that lead to one can be applied to the other. Below are mine and Alex’s top 4 tips for improving your health and wealth in 2018. Let’s get to it.

Alex Drachnik is a competitive bikini bodybuilder and fitness vlogger

1. Importance of Cheat Days

Ahhhh, cheat days. The favorite part of everyone’s diet. A cheat day is 1 day, usually per week, where you take a break from your strict diet and eat whatever you want. It’s a way of both rewarding yourself for doing well, and to prevent yourself from getting burnt out.

“A pro tip is to plan your cheat days around celebrations like a friend’s birthday,” says Alex. “That way, you give yourself a buffer that allows you to stick to your plan while still enjoying life.”

The same principle applies to your finances. Being frugal 100% of the time is unsustainable for most of us mere mortals. It’s smart to add in a financial cheat day to recharge your batteries.

One example is when you receive your tax refund or annual bonus. Save most of it, but spend a little on something you enjoy. Another method of a financial cheat day is to reward yourself  every time you reach a major milestone.

The important thing to remember is that you only get to enjoy your cheat day if you stuck with your diet/savings plan the rest of the time. No reward for slacking off. Cheat days are the easy part. It’s earning the cheat day that is hard.

If you do what is easy, life will be hard. If you do what is hard, life will be easy.

2. Shortcuts: Too Good to be True?

Whether it’s cryptocurrency or Snapchat, there is always some new get rich quick scheme. When I was in college, it was Vemma energy drinks (since labeled a ponzi scheme). The point being, people are always looking for a shortcut to financial freedom. And there’s no shortage of people claiming to have “the secret.”

The same goes for fitness. I would classify bitcoin as the financial equivalent to the Shake Weight™. Very few people want to put in the hours at the gym it requires to get in real shape, so they jump at anything that claims to get them the results without the effort.

“I see a lot of people fall for the the latest fad diets, like keto or intermittent fasting, and then give up when they don’t see immediate results,” says Alex.

For most Americans, neither health nor wealth happens overnight. It takes time and hard work. Every plan needs a good base. For fitness, it’s a good diet. And for finance, it’s good savings habits. Bowflex or the next tech stock IPO can’t replace those.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for new and innovative ways to improve your plan. Of course you should! Just remember that these tools don’t replace your effort, they merely supplement it.

So the next time you see somebody claiming they have the next miracle fitness routine or investment idea, it’s probably best to run for the hills!

Don't wish it was easy. Wish you were better.

3. Habits Beat Perfection

All too often I see people fail to act on their fitness or financial goals because they don’t have “the perfect plan.” In fitness, that might be the perfect workout routine, or the perfect meal prep plan. In finance, it’s the perfect investment.

I’ve got news for you. The perfect plan doesn’t exist. That’s because “the perfect plan is different for everybody,” says Alex. “It might be crossfit, yoga, or weightlifting. Each person is unique.” And I agree with that rule for finance as well. There is no best way to get rich. Some people prefer real estate, others the stock market. To each their own.

What’s more important than the mythical perfect plan is building good habits. That is precisely what Nike means when they say “just do it.” Just do something. Just get started. Don’t worry about being perfect at first. In fact, I guarantee you won’t be be perfect right away. That’s okay.

Go to the gym and flail around for 30 minutes. At least you’re getting some physical activity and getting into a routine. Your exercise form will improve naturally with time, but you’ll start seeing results long before that because you are forming good habits. Alex goes even further, saying “Make fitness more than just a habit. Make it a lifestyle.”

With finance, just start saving money in a savings account and worry about choosing the best investment later. It doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Habits beat perfection. That is true for fitness and finance. Don’t let “analysis paralysis” stop you from reaching your goals. Just get started.

Success isn't something you do one time. Success is something you do over, and over, and over again.

4. Set Specific, Measurable Goals

“Getting in shape” is not a goal. Neither is “getting rich.” Those are vague concepts that don’t inspire action.

Running a half marathon by the end of the year is a fitness goal. Now that’s a goal. See the difference? It is specific and measurable.

Making a 20% down payment on a $500,000 house in 4 years is a financial goal. Again, it is specific and measurable.

“I targeted a specific competition I wanted to compete in, and that gave me a deadline that kept me motivated and honest,” says Alex.

Having a concrete goal is only the 1st step though. You also need to track your progress towards that goal. Alex says she takes progress photos to track her development towards her fitness goals.

I do the same for my financial goals. I have regular check ins to see how I’m doing and if I need to make any adjustments to my budget or my portfolio.

To track your goals, you can use an iPhone app or go old school with a physical journal, whatever works for you. Whatever your method, setting concrete goals and tracking your progress towards those goals is critical.

True goals have a time horizon, measurable outcome, and a bigger purpose.

Wrapping It All Up

Finance and fitness have more in common than you might think. This is great, because it means mastering the same set of skills can help you achieve success in both aspects of your life.

Remember these 4 tips:

  1. Use cheat days to recharge your batteries.
  2. There are no shortcuts, so don’t waste your time looking for one.
  3. Good habits beat perfection. Like Nike, just do it, even if it’s not perfect.
  4. Set specific measurable goals to keep yourself on track.

Alex and I hope these 4 tips will help you achieve your goals. Tell us, what are your 2018 financial and fitness goals?

The conclusions drawn throughout this website are not advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor, and they are not intended to serve as the basis for financial planning, tax, or investment decisions. This website is for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any product, service, security or instrument. The opinions expressed throughout this website are my own and not those of any company I work for.