Are You Financially Fit?

Financial Fitness Important at All Stages of Life

Many of us often think about our physical fitness, but do we consider what it means to be financially fit? If you haven’t, you are certainly not alone. However, personal financial fitness is essential to our overall well-being. It should rise to the top of our daily thoughts.

What is financial fitness exactly? It is living within your means so that you can provide for yourself and honor your commitments. It is a lifetime skill that is as important to someone just starting out as it is to someone ready to retire.

Below are 10 best practices to help keep you on the healthy side of the financial fitness equation.

Best Practices for Long-Term Financial Fitness:

    
• Personal Awareness. Identify your emotional connection to money and recognize any misconceptions you have: money controls me; I am not good at math; I don’t have enough to save; I have to buy things when I am feeling down to make myself feel better. Explore how your financial responsibilities may be influenced by your misconceptions.
    
• SMART Goals. Align your daily choices with your larger sense of purpose. Make these daily choices SMART: Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Results-oriented. Time-bound.
    
• Personal Financial Plan. Understand how much you make and where your money is going each month. Prioritize your expenses and be sure to make room for savings.
    
• Team Work. Make financial decisions with your significant other and involve your family in discussions about where you want to be financially and how you will get there.
    
• Prudence. Learn to live within your means and control impulses. If you find something you want to purchase that is unplanned, give yourself 24 hours before you buy. Make a grocery list—and stick to it.  Determine how much you are spending on the little things (daily coffee, lunches out, convenient store items, etc.).
    
• Debt Management. Use credit responsibly, such as buying a house or car that fits within your financial plan.
    
• Cash Flow Management. Meet your financial obligations when they are due to avoid overextending yourself and affecting your credit score.
    
• Planning for the Future. Build a strategy for major life events, such as your child’s education, owning your own home and your retirement.
    
• Planning for the Unexpected. Create a nest egg for life’s emergencies.
    
• Lifelong Learning. Enroll in classes to help you achieve your financial goals, such as the United Way Financial Literacy Bootcamp.

    A lifetime of disciplined spending is the best avenue to achieve long-term financial fitness, so don’t wait another day to get your financial house in order. When you manage your expenses properly, you not only relieve the stress of a lopsided financial life, you allow yourself to focus on other things besides your financial health.