I am passionate about finances and serving people in this area of their life. Managing financial resources must be in my DNA! Witnessing the consequences of financial neglect compels me to promote wealth health to anyone who will listen.
Grasping how people could pay so little attention to this vital area of their life baffled me until I experienced an “ah-ha” moment with an equally important area in my own life. While I found personal financial discipline came more naturally to me, my physical well-being was suffering from years of neglect. I understood the short- and long-term benefits of exercise, proper sleep, and a healthy diet but I lacked the confidence that I could make it happen. Valuable time to do something about it was slipping away. I finally decided to face this challenge head on and make some dramatic changes. After all, what good was my passion and calling if I didn’t have the health to deliver my message?
It has been a slow, steady process but the rewards that are surfacing one year later are truly significant. If your financial health is off track, let me challenge you with some interesting parallels I’ve drawn from my recent journey.
Assessment. When you make a resolution to live a healthier lifestyle, you get on the scale, create strategies and set goals. This same concept applies when you determine to improve your financial health. First, assess your current condition by reviewing your income and expenses and listing all your assets and liabilities. Next, resolve to grow your net worth by this time next year through a combination of savings, investing in appreciated assets, and/or reducing debt. Finally, set long-term goals that are meaningful to you (for example, paying off your home before retirement).
Commitment. My health concerns didn’t happen overnight. They resulted from years of neglect—all of which I could do something about. The same is true with finances. It’s rarely one incident that brings us down but more commonly years of poor habits or carelessness. Obviously, the longer you let it go, the harder it is to correct. Commitment is key—so dig deep and make a conscious decision to change your financial behavior one step at a time. You alone must make this decision to change and once you understand you can do this, it will truly be empowering.
Accountability. Seeking advice from exceptional health professionals helped me make many small but significant changes that led to big results. Engaging professional financial help isn’t a sign of weakness. It is an acknowledgement that you care enough about your personal well-being, and those you love, to prepare for the future. Financial professionals who help keep you on track can be just as impactful as those who keep you accountable with your health!
No Comparisons. Just as there will always be someone thinner, stronger or faster in the physical arena, there will always be those with bigger paychecks or a higher net worth than you as well. Comparing yourself to others in better “shape” can lead to discontentment. It’s not how much you have but how wisely you manage what you have that makes the difference! As you make incremental adjustments, you will experience a growing sense of satisfaction that your wealth health is improving. With time and consistency, these changes can lead to a dramatic difference in your life.
Are you ready to improve your financial health this year? If you’re not sure where to start, begin with the following five core principles that can help lead to lasting financial well-being (with a little tongue-in-cheek):
- Spend less than you earn (burn more calories than you take in)
- Avoid debt (minimize junk food)
- Build liquidity (exercise regularly)
- Set long-term goals (think marathon, not sprint)
- Live a life of generosity (share your Jamba Juice)
Financial fitness comes easily to me but physical fitness, well—that takes a lot more concentrated effort. It may feel intimidating at first to change financial habits but with the right attitude, a clear vision of what life could look like, and appropriate professional support if necessary, transformation begins to occur! Acknowledging you need to do something is a great place to start, but it takes action to get lasting results. So put those cross trainers on and take that initial transformative step toward “fiscal” fitness this year.
— by Janice Thompson
Thompson is a certified financial planner, and co-founder and CEO of One Degree Advisors, Inc. She speaks on financial topics and is a mentor for financial professionals, she also serves on the board of directors for Kingdom Advisors. Learn more at onedegreeadvisors.com. Advisory services offered through One Degree Advisors, Inc. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. One Degree Advisors and Securities America are separate companies.