As many of us know, financial stress can impact many areas of our lives. A study conducted by Fidelity Investments in collaboration with Stanford University found that the worse financial shape we are in the more likely we are to have severe stress in our lives. The study showed that taking on more debt caused higher stress levels, worsened sleep patterns, weight gain and lower levels of physical activity. Knowing this, we should prioritize decreasing financial and other stressors.
Seven Ways to Help Improve Your Finances and Fitness
- Recognize your triggers: Are there specific triggers that cause you to overindulge? Do you go on a shopping spree when you’re bored? Attempt to swap these habits with healthier choices; for example, if you binge-eat when you are stressed, perhaps try meditating or going for a walk.
- Set up an Emergency Fund: Sometimes life throws a curve ball and we get off course, be it an illness, death or job loss. While events like these cannot necessarily be anticipated, we can be prepared by setting up an emergency fund. Generally speaking we recommend a family to have 3-6 months’ worth of expenses saved in the event of emergency. If you do not have sufficient savings, setting up a line of credit is a good alternative, as long as you have the will power not to use it for non-emergencies.
- Start tracking: You will want to monitor your health and finances in order to see your progress. There are many apps available (both free and paid) that will assist with tracking expenses and budgeting.
- Clear out the junk: Rid your pantry and cupboards of all junk food. Replace it with healthier options like dried fruit, mixed nuts and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. With regards to your finances, you may have accounts at several institutions, and it can be difficult to keep tabs on all of them. Consider consolidating accounts to bring everything under one roof. Organize your paperwork and get access to your online accounts for easy viewing. Consider automating bill payments and setting up monthly contributions to your investment accounts.
- Be mindful: Try to practice mindfulness when you exercise, eat and spend money. Make a conscious effort to choose healthy habits over unhealthy ones; eat nutrient dense foods, take a walk in the forest, and get a good night’s sleep. Tracking your expenses and budgeting, as mentioned above, will assist in making more thoughtful financial choices.
- Use insurance as a safeguard: Sufficient critical illness, disability, life and long-term care insurance will help you deal with unexpected events. The key is having the proper insurance coverage in place before any such event occurs.
- Hire a coach: Whether it is a personal trainer, nutritionist, dietitian or financial planner, these individuals will help you determine what your goals are, develop a strategy to accomplish them and keep you accountable to your progress. Having an accountability partner is one of the best ways to stay on track.
The Bottom Line
If you need an extra reason to get a workout in or eat healthy, remember that exercise can improve your productivity, stress levels and even your finances. Setting goals to improve your physical health should also include goals for your financial health. We have just as much control over our financial affairs as we do our physical lives. You can make positive changes starting today! Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Source: Haley Thomas, BA(Hons), CIM, FPSC Level 1®
Wealth Adviser with Wealth Stewards