You’ve been there. That mental limbo of whether you should go to the gym today or not. You know you’ll feel better after going, not to mention the positive long-term effects. But it’s easy to find excuses with “I’m not sure I’ll have enough time” being at the top of the list.
We make similar decisions with our financial health. We get motivated at the beginning of the year or around our birthday to implement healthy financial habits, but then find a way to continue putting them off. Sometimes this is due to the confusion of how to successfully implement healthy habits and other times it’s just needing to do other, more immediately important things, first.
These are the kinds of tiny oversights that can cost you dearly in the long-run. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a healthy balance we all can find to where we are saving and investing like we should while still spending on things we enjoy. But by missing annual retirement contributions, missing tax savings opportunities, or withdrawing from the wrong accounts, you delay financial independence little by little.
How Do You Know When You’re Financial Fitness Is Fading?
When meeting with individuals and families, we’ve seen many situations where people’s financial health has creeped into the danger zone. Most often they don’t even realize it.
Incomes are higher than ever before, but spending has followed suit with larger purchases becoming bigger and bigger. Savings rates continue to decline, and without correction, significant adjustments will be required down the road like working longer, downsizing a home, or reducing overall spending significantly.
My wife likes to remind me, that we need to eat ice cream for dessert in moderation. This is because indulging with large amounts for too many desserts could create real long-term issues. Similarly, finding moderation in your financial health is vital. This is because it extends to all areas of life. Influencing decisions around:
- Does your job give you fulfillment or are you working to supplement your lifestyle?
- Would you rather be working in a field you were passionate about that paid less?
- How easy will it be to travel and see your kids after they move away?
- What type of school would you like your kids to attend?
- Which neighborhood do you want to live in?
- Where do you want to vacation every year?
- How, when and where will you spend your retirement?
- How will your assets be passed on after you’re gone?
In order to evaluate your financial health, you need to have a plan to get there.
This is where measuring your overall financial fitness comes in. Depending on your generation, this would include different components to judge how you’re doing.
For someone close to retirement, you’re more concerned with creating a tax-efficient withdrawal strategy, completing an estate plan review, and determining your need for long-term care. Where if you are a Gen X couple, you are more focused on saving for your retirement and your kid’s college while making sure you can create memories traveling as a family in between track outs.
Being financially fit, starts with a mindset of implementing behavioral controls to assure you are making progress towards your true goals.
Otherwise, you may find it too easy to keep saying, “I’ll get to that this weekend.”
So what steps can you take today to reach your peak financial fitness?
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