Getting started with managing your finances can be rather daunting in the face of financial goals like buying your first house, clearing debt that has spiraled out of control, or simply getting into the habit of saving so you have your emergency fund sorted out.
And that’s just the first step. Financial wellness is not just about striking off one financial goal that you’ve set–– it’s a lifetime discipline of achieving your current and subsequent financial goals that you want to meet.
In this case, we’ve likened the art of staying financially healthy with health wellness. Here are the reasons why we feel this analogy fits.
#1 Daily, Consistent Inputs Count
Managing your finances is like exercising a muscle. That’s because the art of managing your finances boils down to discipline. You need to take small, consistent steps that may hurt you in the short-term but move towards your goal. $5000 spent today can be worth $50,000 in future, due to the compounding returns of investment.
Most poor financial decisions are borne out of impulsive decisions with only the short-term rewards in mind. And alternatively, even the most daunting financial goals can be met with small efforts, only if they are consistent.
For example, the goal of saving $10,000 is the result of cumulative and consistent small habits that you instill. Likewise, the goal of investing $10,000 is also much easier with the help of Regular Shares Savings (RSS) Plans that allow you to invest small, manageable amounts so you don’t have the excuse to delay the pursuit of your investment goals.
#2 Your ‘Workouts’ Need To Be Diversified
There’s a reason why most people exercise targeting a specific muscle group for each day of their workout.
Leg day means that they work out their legs, while chest day means they target their chest muscles. This ensures that your body is never disproportionate in muscle growth. It also ensures that you do not experience muscle fatigue from over-exhaustion, and do not exercise based on muscle memory which will not push your muscles to develop new growth.
Likewise in personal finance, your investments and savings need to be worked at from different target areas.
Saving more does not necessarily mean that you reduce the amount of money you spend all around. It could involve making smarter financial choices, such as switching to a cheaper electricity retailer, shopping for house brands at supermarkets, or simply knowing where to park your savings in a bank account that earns you the greatest interest. Doing a combination of any of these can get you to your goal more effectively.
#3 All Work And No Rest Won’t Get You To Your Best
The way you manage your finances should be the way you manage your health and fitness. For example, just like you shouldn’t exercise when you’re injured or over-train your limits, you should apply the same level of risk management depending on the amount of risk you can absorb.
This may include focusing on building your emergency funds first before plunging into high-risk investments. At the same time, if you’re fairly new to investing or savings, committing to a big savings plan or high-risk investment product without knowing more about it or at least have some knowledge on how these products work is not the wisest choice. It may be more prudent to dabble in lower-risk products or get yourself educated before diving into the deep end of things.
#4 No One Fixed Way To Do It
Everyone has a different style of working out. Some prefer quiet sports like swimming, while others enjoy the adrenaline and extra push that team sports offer.
Similarly, in finance, there is no one fixed way to save or invest. Some may opt for a REITs-based investment portfolio, and there are others who would only perform commodity trading, or even invest using robo-advisors.
Alternatively, some prefer to have the entirety of their emergency funds in cash that is easily liquidated, while others may choose to keep their savings in bonds. Ultimately, what matters is that you invest and save in a way that suits your lifestyle and needs, as that would be more sustainable for you in the long-run.
#5 Start Light, Don’t Assume
Small goals are always the easiest way to start so you don’t have the burden of pressure on yourself. When you achieve these small, manageable goals, you gain the confidence of moving on to bigger aims.
On the other hand, if you over-index yourself early on, you may find yourself completely demoralised and unmotivated. Setting ambitious goals to save or invest according to best-case scenario projections may not always be ideal too, especially in the event of surprises or uncertainties that may require you to dip into some funds on hand.
Always Have A Clear End Goal In Mind
Like fitness, achieving your goals becomes that much harder when you don’t know what you should be focusing on or prioritising. Copying someone else’s goals will leave you unmotivated as you wouldn’t know the reason for you in achieving them.
At the same time, no one strives to chase abs, toned legs and the ability to do 50 pushups all in one sitting. It’s important to prioritise your financial goals according to what is achievable from your current standing. More importantly, you should be able to discern the reason behind why you want to attain those financial goals.