Solving Life's Problems
Earlier this week on their podcast, Ben Carlson and Michael Batnick had a brief conversation about what is more difficult, following financial advice or fitness advice. It is always fun when different interests intersect. Cullen Roche Tweeted pretty much the same fun sentiment as in the previous sentence and I commented that I get a similar sensation from lifting weights as contributing to a retirement account; in both instances I feel like I am doing something for my future and that is very satisfying.
Keeping your house in order financially and physically are simple, you already have some idea of what you need to do; save money and exercise/watch what you eat. Knowing it and saying it doesn't make doing it easy. That you don't have to figure out what to do helps though even if you still need to figure out how you can do it.
Cullen's advice is to set realistic goals and make it automated which he says makes it easier to stick to. Those make sense of course, do they resonate with you? His ideas will certainly resonate with a lot of folks but the bigger idea is figuring out what it will take for you to take care of yourself financially and physically if you're not already doing so.
My approach might not be as easy to implement as Cullen's suggestion but I have always been a saver and I have always exercised. A joke I used to make is that you're never richer than when you have a job in high school and live at home (this is outdated due to how many 25 year olds live at home these days). I had a job selling sneakers and so I was able to both save a little money and do the stuff I was interested in, life was kind of easy. I had a similar experience for the year I took off between high school and college, I worked at Charles Schwab in San Francisco, but with a little more money.
My parents struggled mightily with their finances, they made some poor decisions and they were often stressed out for it. This had an impact me which fed into the idea of knowing how important it is to save money. My parents would not have been so unhappy in their 40's and into their 50's, I was aware of this and became a saver. I was something of a competitive athlete in high school and college so working out just seemed like a natural fit with no real interesting story.
My motivation is simply that I know these things are good for me, I know my life will be much easier if I am healthy enough to do what I enjoy doing as well as anything I need to do and if I am not stressed out about money. Avoiding stress about money does not have to be about being wealthy, if you spend less than you make you create a buffer for yourself or put differently, a bigger margin for error.
I know these things so I do these things. Based on what we know about savings rates and the number of people who are not healthy, my approach may not be helpful but I circle back to the top, you already know what to do, it's just a matter of doing it.