What a personal trainer can teach you about financial fitness

 ·25 Mar 2018

At the beginning of a new year, most of us are still clinging to resolutions to stay healthy – and desperately dodging the post-Valentines/pre-Easter chocolate-crammed aisles.

No one wants to lose momentum when it comes to physical fitness…but as the year gets into full swing, the same could – and should – be said for financial fitness.

Sanlam set out to discover how advice from a personal trainer may help get your 2018 budgeting and saving on track so you can create good habits that build a strong and lasting foundation.

Joe Dorrington is a local personal trainer. With 18 years’ experience, he’s no stranger to the game. He’s worked with super-fit rugby teams and over-70 retirees, to overweight young professionals, injured athletes and the odd celebrity in-between.

It is easy to draw some parallels from the advice he shared. Here’s how fitness advice can apply to your finances:

“Start simply. Walking leads to running, running leads to marathons.”

You don’t need to be fit to start training, but you need to train to get fit. The same goes for investments; you don’t need to be rich to do it. In fact, even if you can start small, your friend compound interest will help you along the way.

Dorrington says 90% of it is mental; the most important thing is to get started and stick to it.

“There are no quick fixes and no short cuts. It’s up to you to do the hard graft.”

Dorrington emphasised the importance of discipline as a way to establish routine, which ultimately becomes a way of life. Sure, no one likes waking up at the crack of dawn, but just like pitching up to those weekly gym sessions, it’s important to be consistent when it comes to committing to monthly savings or investments.

Consistent effort is more likely to yield consistent results.

“If you keep doing the same things every day, you’ll only stay good at those specific things.”

Dorrington bases his clients’ goals on their body type and what they want to achieve, but to really make things work he says you need to adapt the training programme, up the intensity, and mix up the exercises over time.

The same could be said for the way you approach your financial goals – whether it’s paying off a loan, saving for your first set of wheels or that road trip with friends.

Don’t be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone – why not challenge yourself to increase the amount you put away or change up your investment approach if it’s going to do you good in the long run?

“Never compare yourself to your younger self or older people.”

Everyone in Dorrington’s gym is different; he says the key is focusing on each person’s own abilities and working within their specific parameters. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, (especially if skinny Sharon has a coveted thigh-gap or Thabiso is rocking abs of steel).

Similarly, other people’s lifestyles aren’t always a good refection of their financial situation – who knows what debt is hiding under the hood of that new 4×4? Avoid going down the “could have, would have, should have” route and stay focused on your personal journey.

“Make it a lifestyle, not an obsession”

Tracking progress is important but Joe says he sees lots of people getting caught up on what the scale says, forgetting that there’s a much bigger, long-term picture at play. Weight, like your savings account, may fluctuate. So of course, keep tabs on interest you’re earning, money you’re saving and spending but don’t make it such a big part of your life that it becomes an unhealthy obsession.

“Look after your body when you’re young, and it’ll look after you when you’re old.”

Dorrington explained that in many cases, the long-term health benefits of an active lifestyle can result in a better chance of beating cardio-vascular complications or illnesses like diabetes.

Developing muscle memory over time also makes it easier to get back in the game if you happen to fall off the wagon. Your future-self will thank you if you get a grip on your budget now so you can build money habits that’ll last.

This article was originally published by Sanlam, on its blog, here


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