Four Steps to Financial Fitness this April

by Nicole Dugan April is Financial Fitness Month

Many people look at spring as the opportunity for a new beginning. Since we are nearing summer time and swim suit season, many people are starting to focus on physical fitness. April is also national financial literacy month and the chance for you to focus on your financial fitness. Here’s a few ways to jump start your financial fitness this month.

1) Find a Buddy to Keep You Honest

Studies have shown that people who work out with a friend lose more weight than those who sweat alone. There are multiple factors behind this including accountability, motivation, and friendly competition. You can use your support system to help get on the track to financial fitness as well. Partner with a friend to work towards financial fitness and keep each other honest about your progress!

2) Set Some Goals and Benchmarks

It’s always easiest to get in shape when there is an “end game.” If you know you want to shed a certain number of pounds or slim down for a certain event, you are more motivated to stick to your plan. If you set savings goals, whether for a trip, retirement, or a new laptop, it will make it easier for you to make smart spending decisions.

3) Decide on a Plan Beforehand

Many people find that they are more productive during their workouts if they have a plan beforehand. For example, some people plan to workout their arms on Monday, legs on Wednesday, and do cardio on Friday. Planning can help your financial fitness too.

Once you identify your goals, the first step in planning your financial fitness routine is to calculate the amount you need to save and invest in order to achieve them. If one of your goals is to pay off credit card debt over the course of 6 months, calculate how much you will need to pay per month and build your budget from there. Also make an effort to carve out an amount to save and invest each month.

Next, make a budget and stick with it.  Identify the areas where you spend the most money, prioritize your spending, and evaluate where you can cut back. Decide what your “must haves” are; you may need to sacrifice some luxuries for the sake of necessities.

Then, once you have an understanding of what your necessities are, you will need to create budgets for other areas of spending.  A good place to start is to allocate a certain amount each month to spend on entertainment. You can save more money than you think by simply cooking meals at home a few nights per week or bringing your own coffee to work. Cutting back on social expenses can be tough, but keeping your goals in mind will help motivate you.

4) Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself (Once in a While)

Even the staunchest dieters and fitness enthusiasts know that extreme deprivation leads to overindulgence or falling off the wagon. The same is true when it comes to your finances. You should make every effort to budget, save, and invest, but enjoy life too. Use some of the money you’ve saved and pick a time to enjoy a weekend trip or a night out.

Take the bull by the horns this April and get on the path to financial fitness!