Is There a Link Between Physical and Financial Fitness?

September 9, 2020

Is there a link between physical fitness and financial fitness? This was the question that popped into my head last week as I jogged through my neighborhood pushing my 1-year-old and 3-year-old in a double jogging stroller. I like to exercise without any added visual or audio stimulus because I find this is one of the few times that I can allow my thoughts to organically wander. This particular train of thought began when I started to question why I was pushing an extra 50lbs in front of me. I was enhancing my workout while giving my wife some time off, I rationalized. But how was I measuring the efficacy of that rationale? Did I have a realistic fitness goal or a reasonable timeframe?  And I realized that these are almost identical to the questions I hear from financial clients who may feel like they’re pushing a proverbial financial burden in front of them. “Is what I’m currently doing working, and if so, how will I know?” “What is a realistic retirement goal?”

In their book “The Next Millionaire Next Door,” Thomas Stanley and Sarah Stanley Fallaw point out that millionaires exercise on average twice as much as non-millionaires. While this shouldn’t lead us to broad correlative generalizations such as “overweight equals “underwealthed,”’ it certainly supports a link between the disciplines and habits that produce both physical and financial fitness. We can probably all think of someone seemingly gifted with an especially robust metabolism or perhaps a past financial windfall, but anomalies aside, we do not aimlessly drift into states of fitness. Having a slower metabolism or a greater penchant to overspend may just mean that you will have to lean into these good habits and disciplines a bit harder to stay fit. So, what are some of those correlating disciplines and habits that link both physical and financial health?


Three Habits of Physical & Financial Health

1. Set Goals and Track Progress

Goals should be clearly defined and put into writing. Yogi Berra never disappoints for a good quote and one of my favorites is, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.” This is the exact reason most gym memberships lapse before the mid-year mark. If you only have a vague idea that you want to work out, then you don’t really know where you’re going and will certainly end up someplace. All too often, this place is the living room sofa with a half-gallon of Turkey Hill ice cream. Like fitness goals, your financial goals should be clearly defined and written down. This gives you the opportunity to track your progress and revisit your approach when needed.


2. Discover What You Enjoy

If my physical fitness depended solely on treadmills and weight training, I’d have the svelte figure of William Howard Taft. Fortunately, I’ve found enough outdoor activities from triathlons to bikepacking to satisfy my need for workout variety and fun. The same holds true for finance. Some people will just never meticulously track expenditures on budgeting spreadsheets or apps regardless of how beautifully they’re color-coded or automated. On the other hand, those same individuals may become excited and hyper-focused by simply placing a hand-made thermometer chart on the refrigerator to track progress toward a particular goal. Suddenly, every expense becomes a decision that is weighed against that goal. By focusing on methods that create enjoyment, you tap into your natural strengths and maximize your momentum.


3. Stay Educated and Accountable

I’m old enough to remember when fat used to be a dieter’s worst enemy. Now we’re told that there are actually “good fats” and carbohydrates seem to be the popular enemy to weight loss. Just as new health information changes our approach to nutrition and exercise, changing regulations and market conditions cause us to reevaluate the suitability of our investments. One of the best ways to stay educated and accountable both physically and financially is to partner with a coach or expert in that field. Stewardship Advisors understands that financial decisions are complicated, and our advisors have years of combined experience assisting clients in good decision-making. Don’t let another year slip by without looking for your accountability partner.



Stewardship Advisors

Stewardship Advisors