At the beginning of almost every year, most people’s New Year’s resolutions include some version of a ‘get fit’ goal. Gyms are packed with people looking to get stronger, fitter and better. Locally, the Sea Point promenade is packed with people out and about exercising in January.
The increase in volume on the prom reminded me of the atmosphere in a mall in the week before Christmas. It led me to think about other behaviours during this time, specifically, how much money people spend – and often overextend - during the holiday season. It highlighted the importance of considering another form of fitness as a New Year's goal – financial fitness.
Following a season often marked by indulgence, not only should physical fitness become a priority, but so should financial fitness, given the financial overextension that often accompanies the holidays.
Approaching ‘financial fitness with a level of awareness similar to that of physical fitness helps lay the foundation for a more intentional connection – one where our relationship with money does not take a backseat. Crating a conscious relationship begins with awareness, and this in turn drives positive behaviour change where money becomes an enabler in creating the life you dream of.
How to achieve financial fitness
The CFA Institute highlight 7 steps to Financial Fitness:
- Set clear financial goals
- Understand where your money is going
- Manage your debt
- Put your finances on autopilot
- Maintain a steady lifestyle
- Invest wisely
- Obtain knowledge and advice
In addition to the above, we would add the following:
- Evaluate your insurance
- Consider health, life, short-term and long-term insurance.
- Do your research and compare premiums and packages from different insurance providers to determine the best option for you.
- Be proactive and reevaluate your insurance needs annually as they will change as your life changes.
- Plan for your taxes
- Consider the tax efficiency of the investment structures you are invested in.
- Ensure that you are making the most of the deductions and exemptions available to you.
- Complete your tax returns timeously to avoid penalties.
Financial fitness goes beyond merely having a stable income. It also encompasses the ability to manage money wisely, make informed financial decisions, and build a secure future. It allows you to feel confident, comfortable and in control – both now and with what life might throw your way in the future.
The ability to adapt to what may or may not happen in the future will depend on how much flexibility your finances have. This depends on your liquidity. Morgan Housel, in his book “The Psychology of Money”, explains how savings enables flexibility. Having money to fall back on provides the means and space to figure things out. And it gives you time to do this. Housel says, “that flexibility and control over your time is an unseen [and incalculable] return on wealth…. having options is becoming one of the most valuable currencies in the world.”
While having liquidity and the ability to navigate changes is important, stability in long-term investments and sticking to your financial plan is equally vital for sustained well-being. Financial fitness requires balance – balance between planning for today and for the future.
At Foundation we aim to walk this path alongside you. Much like a personal trainer, we support, guide and challenge you. We help you be accountable to your own decisions and goals you have set; and when needed, we help you adapt.
Achieving financial fitness is an ongoing journey that requires dedication, discipline, and a commitment to making informed choices. Like physical fitness, it can influence your mental and emotional well-being positively and contributes to a stress-free and satisfying life.
To quote Housel again, “Aligning money towards a life that lets you do what you want, when you want, with who you want, where you want, for as long as you want, has incredible return”.
<Foundation Family Wealth is an Authorised Financial Services Provider>