Entering the new year with a vision of financial freedom and healthy living…
I hate going to the gym in January. It’s crowded with folks who have no idea how to work the equipment or how to work out in general. They are there for one reason – a New Year Resolution that for a vast majority will fall by the wayside by February 1. Then it’s back to the regulars I see on a daily basis.
The #1 and #2 New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 (and pretty much every year) are improving diet, fitness, losing weight (#1) and saving more, spending less, getting out of debt (#2). Sixty percent of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions but only 8% feel like they ever keep them. So where does it get us?
How We Doin’?
In reality, fewer than 1/3 of Americans meet the total amount of exercise recommended for their age – some type of muscle strengthening activity at least twice a week, paired with moderate aerobic exercise for 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes per week if vigorously working out.
In the same vain, fewer than 1/3 of Americans are deemed to be financially healthy – individuals spending, saving, borrowing, and planning in a way that will allow them to be resilient and pursue opportunities over time.
The math on these are painfully simple:
- Burn more calories than you consume
- Spend less money than you earn
It’s fundamental, right? It’s a pretty simple set of rules until you just have to have that nicer car or until someone sits those cupcakes in front of you. Then it’s back to the drawing board for most of us with a little debt here and a few calories there… Below are some strategies that might help.
Diet & Exercise
For diet and exercise it’s hard to know what you are doing without a baseline. I love the Lose It app. Go ahead and pay for the premium version (no affiliate links here). This allows you to enter your meals, track your calories, track your exercise, and develop a plan for weight loss. Even more important it allows you to keep track of your macros. For me I found a 40/30/30 diet of carbs/protein/fat is mandatory in terms of both feeling good and losing weight. I do not subscribe to the no carb, all protein fads. Carbs are actually really good for if you eat high quality carbs. I stick strictly to 40/30/30 at around 1,750-2,000 calories per day and feel great doing it!
Spend an hour exercising per day. I do this in two 30-minutes blocks. I walk for 30 minutes and then in the second block I get my heart rate up into my target zone. My goal is to do this 5 times per week for 300 minutes/week of exercise. I also do a weight circuit twice a week for muscular strength. On those days I substitute the walking portion of my exercise regimen for 30 minutes of weights. While I exercise I listen to podcasts, books on tape, or music. Drink plenty of water – you’ll need it!
For finances, the first step is easy. Get a written budget down ON PAPER. Then use a budgeting app to help you track it. This is about the only way you’ll ever be able to spend less than you make – you’ve got to track it! Dave Ramsey’s “EveryDollar” app is great. I also like the “Moneywell” app and “YNAB” as well. Scrub your expenses and plug the holes in your budget.
Next up, get an emergency fund in place of at least 30 to 60 days worth of expenses. That will help you rest easy while you use the extra money in your budget to pay down debt as aggressively as possible. After that your aim is at least 15% of your income going to retirement. Much like exercise, you’ll have to work at this regularly. Inspect your budget monthly often, stay aggressive with debt re-payment and saving, and then seek ways to increase your income. I’m not going into much detail here because much has been written and the plan is easy to find. If you want a guided study enroll in Financial Peace University.
This is the year. If your goal is health related, strap on the tennis shoes and get it done! If your goal is related to finances then it is time to go. If you need help with the finance part give me a shout. I am officially a Certified Master Financial Coach – I can help you get started, tweak your existing plan, or dial in your needs for college, retirement, etc. Just give me a shout.
My resolution for 2019 was to simplify. I feel I was very successful in that regard. I simplified everything I could find in my life – finances, household items, workout regimens, relationships, etc.
My goal for 2020 is efficiency. I am looking to make sure everything in my “ecosystem” is running at maximum efficiency. No extra steps, wasted time, or unnecessary effort to be wasted. Simplifying was about removing the unnecessary while efficiency is about taking what’s left and making sure it is working at 100%.
Also for 2020 I am planning some type of “official” or “structured” financial coaching program. I’d like to do this via a non-profit that I set up or work alongside. I have both www.methodmoneymanagement.com and www.themanonthemove.com under development. I’m not sure what will happen but if you have any ideas I’d love to hear them…
Cheers! Merry Christmas + Happy New Year! And thanks for reading!