A few years ago, a study found a direct link between how close you live to your gym and how often you go. And the relationship is highly sensitive. People who go to the gym 5 times a week travel 3.7 miles. People who go once a week have to travel 5.1 miles. There's more here, from the Wall Street Journal.
Keeping your personal finance goals can be as challenging as keeping your personal fitness goals. Here are three suggestions on how to make it easier.
1. Budgeting: Use an online budgeting tool, and don't sweat the detail. Everyone should know how much they spend in a given month. Most people don't. Use an online budgeting tool. There are loads of free or low-cost tools. Our clients have one on our secure Old Peak portal. Don't get distracted categorizing every expense. The most important number is your total spend. If you want to invest a bit more time, focus on the one or two categories that matter. Ignore everything else.
2. Saving: Automate it. Whether it's a deduction from every paycheck or a monthly transfer to your brokerage account, automating means it will actually happen. In a couple years, you'll be pleased with your progress -- and how easy it is to keep going.
3. Investing: Keep it simple. If you're doing it yourself, pick a low-cost "target date" fund -- at least in your retirement account. It's a type of mutual fund that is ultra-diversified and gradually becomes more conservative as you near retirement, by slowly reducing the weighting of stocks. That's the #1 decision an investor makes. If you're doing it yourself and have chosen a lot of funds, you may forget to rebalance or be tempted to sell at the wrong time.
Admittedly, there's more to financial fitness than these three steps. You may need to make hard decisions about spending less or delaying retirement. But these three steps will provide you with the information you need to plan, and they will help you make that plan a reality.
See you at spin class ...