Spring has sprung, and many people are starting to focus on getting back outside after a long winter.
At XYPN, we have a number of advisors who recognize and enjoy talking about the connection between physical fitness and financial fitness. To learn more about the relationship between the two, we chatted with XYPN member Jason Reiman.
Jason is a CFP®, Accredited Financial Counselor, and IRS Enrolled Agent. He has than a decade of experience in client-facing positions serving in the areas of law, tax and financial planning.
The founder of Get Financially Fit!, Jason is also passionate about sharing the awesome benefits that come with remaining physically and financially fit -- and he helps his clients achieve both.
Curious about the connection between physical and financial fitness? Let Jason explain:
XYPN: Can you share a little about yourself?
Jason Reiman: I love staying active and physically fit! Whether it's CrossFit, hiking, or simply kicking around a soccer ball with my kids, I love it all. I haven't always been that way though. Over the years I've come to realize the awesome benefits that come with remaining physically and financially fit.
It's not about the muscles or money you're lacking. Becoming fit requires properly using what you already have to build what you ultimately want to achieve.
XYPN: How did you develop a passion for finances?
JR: I didn't come out of the womb wishing to be a financial planner. In fact, truth be told, math really wasn't a strong point of mine growing up. I found my way into my current profession simply by living, making the same mistakes most people make, and becoming intrigued about the process I went through to make my situation better.
As a rather young military member...with about $26,000 in debt, I opened my home to a guy who knocked on my door. He said he wanted to be our "financial coach." He ultimately sold me a life insurance product that was horribly incorrect for us at the time (which I cancelled the next day).
A short time later, I came across Dave Ramsey, established his Baby Steps in my life and less than five years later (age 27) had a positive net worth approaching $100,000, that consisted primarily of cash. During that half-decade, I pretty much decided I wanted to be a real financial coach - someone who really cares about helping people meet their goal and live out their dreams.
XYPN: How did you find your own way to physical fitness?
JR: I never was really into anything athletic. In fact, I still recall my freshman year of high school -- skinny little me had the wild idea of playing football. Well, it didn't work out too well. I got a pretty bad case of Achilles tendonitis (which I now know was likely due to poor-fitting shoes and horrible coaching).
The pain pretty much scared the bejesus out of me -- so much so that I decided to have nothing to do with physical fitness! It wasn't until I enlisted in the Air Force nearly a decade later that I started to become more interested in physical fitness.
Fast forward to 2008. I deployed to Iraq in the heat of Operation Iraqi Freedom. There, you could follow one of two possible mantras: eat a lot, work out, and get physically fit OR eat a lot, work out, and get FAT! Thankfully, I chose the former.
I experienced my first taste of physical fitness and what it actually meant (and felt like) to be FIT! I lost a good 3/4 of an inch on my waste line and gained a good 25 pounds of pure muscle! It was awesome! In addition to all that, I really learned proper exercise technique (at least the basics) and had my first real tastes of CrossFit.
XYPN: What does it mean to be "financially fit"?
JR: Financial fitness is simply the epitome of being truly financially independent. That is, when you have sufficient streams of income that allow you to live the life you want.
Just like physical fitness, each individual is going to have a slightly different view of what this looks and feels like. Additionally, each person is going to have slightly different strengths and weaknesses -- just as in the physical realm.
Ultimately, though, being financially fit means you look, feel and love your "financial body."
XYPN: Is there a correlation between physical and financial fitness?
JR: There are HUGE correlations between physical and financial fitness! So much so that I've crafted the entire message of my financial planning practice around these very correlations.
I love the CrossFit "Sickness, Wellness, Fitness Continuum" which basically says the various measures of health (e.g., blood pressure, body fat, bone density, flexibility, muscle mass, and so on) can be plugged directly into this continuum. In doing so, we end up with a pretty good understanding of where one's physical fitness resides: sickness, wellness or fitness.
Similarly, various financial health measures can be plugged into the same continuum. Measures like work-life balance, spending habits and cash flow, debt, savings, investments, insurance, and estate planning can be applied to see where an individual's financial body lies on the continuum. The end result is an understanding of where the financial body resides: sickness, wellness or fitness.
Another strong correlation is simply the way we feel. Now, I'm no expert on the human body or the brain, but I'm willing to bet that just like a great successful workout, there is a similar endorphin release that comes with paying off the last bits of debt, or successfully entering a planned retirement.
We get great feelings simply from becoming, remaining or even progressively working toward being fit - whether physically or financially.
XYPN: Why does this relationship exist between finances and physical fitness?
JR: I think the relationship between financial and physical fitness exists because of the similar feelings we get from both areas. If you are sick physically, you feel awful. The same is true if you sick financially.
Feeling awful harbors negativity and continual discomfort. Physically, if you are merely suffering from a common cold, the negativity goes away when the virus has run its course.
But physical sickness can also take hold as a result of consistent poor decisions (e.g., smoking, over eating, lacking exercise, etc.). Conversely, physical fitness can be found by making conscious positive decisions (e.g., good habits, eating right, exercising regularly). The same can be said about financial fitness.
XYPN: How can someone start building both kinds of fitness?
JR: I admit, I'm biased in my response to this question because I live to be a financial coach. Or, rather, I coach financially so I can live.
Either way you look at it, the truth is that starting out alone has the potential to open up a whole huge can of worms. Are you going to make the right decisions? Will you try to run too much, lift too much weight, lack proper form and technique?
If so, you might find yourself injured and suffer even greater frustrations and costs due to injury.
It is the same financially. How do you know how much to spend, how much to save? What if you do too little? Is it possible to do too much? What about injury? There are myriad topics to address!
The best advice I can give, if you want to truly become fit, is to hire a coach -- financial and physical!
Can't afford coaching? Well, then, start simple! Physically, use your body: air squats, push ups, sit ups, pull ups...those four movements can give you one hell of a workout! Don't believe me? Try doing 10 of each, as many times as possible for 15 minutes straight! That won't cost you a dime and chances are you won't end up injured either.
Financially speaking, if you don't hire someone to help you, try reading at least one book on personal finance per month. Subscribe to a podcast on the subject. Build your knowledge.
A coach isn't someone who takes advantage of you for his own benefit or ridicules you until you change behavior. A coach has an innate ability to look within, to see something that isn't quite formed but has the potential to be.
Then, that coach reaches in ever so eloquently and slowly helps you take the shape you desire. Whether physically or financially, a great coach can help you achieve.
XYPN: Are there any actions we can take to improve our finances and our fitness simultaneously?
JR: I absolutely love Darren Hardy and his awesome book, The Compound Effect. Allow me to quote Darren as I believe it answers this question perfectly:
When you're having trouble doing the hard work of achieving your goals, it's common to believe you simply lack willpower...What's going to keep you consistent with the new positive choices you need to make? What's going to stop you from falling back into your mindless bad habits?...You've tried willpower before and it's failed you...Forget about willpower. It's time for why-power.
This is so profound! What Darren ultimately gets at in his book is that you'll find meaning in your choices only to the extent they are connected to your very desires and dreams. That is, "you've got to want something, and know why you want it, or you'll end up giving up too easily."
So, the exercise you can perform daily is to align your thoughts, search within and determine WHY you want to be fit - financially, physically or otherwise. Write it down. Draw a picture. Embed the image in your mind! Then, when the going gets tough or you simply don't feel like pressing on, remember WHY and derive the power from it you need to press on!
Want to learn more about Jason and how you can reach physical and financial fitness? Visit him at Get Financially Fit!, check out his profile on XYPN's Find An Advisor portal, or tweet him @jasonwreiman.