This week, I am finishing up a 10-week physical fitness program with Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping in LaVista, Neb. Through the last 10 weeks, I have recognized the similarities between physical fitness and financial fitness.

When you start a physical fitness program, particularly at Farrell’s, the first order of business is to assess your current physical condition. Then you go through an orientation where the program is explained and some folks share their stories. Next item is to set your goals.

And then you get to work. It’s a six-days-a-week program for classes, and a seven-days-a-week program for proper nutrition. Your physical condition is re-assessed at the five-week point and again at the end of the 10 weeks.

Being financially fit works the same way. First, you need to assess your current situation.

  • What is your income?
  • What are you spending your income on? The best way to figure this out is to track your spending for 30 days without changing your behavior.
  • What do you own?
    • Home.
    • Vehicles.
    • Investment accounts.
    • Retirement accounts.
    • A business.
    • Cash value in a life insurance policy.
  • What do you owe?
    • Mortgage.
    • Car payment.
    • Credit cards.
    • Student loans.
    • Consumer loans (furniture, appliances, etc.)

Next step is to come up with goals. If money wasn’t an issue, what would you want your life to look like, particularly in retirement?

  • Be honest with yourself and be detailed
  • Break the major goals down into realistic steps

Once you have your goals in mind, develop a spending plan that will help you reach those goals, to move from your current situation to where you would like to be.

  • This spending plan is your plan; you decide what is in it.
  • There may be items you will choose to stop spending money on so that you will have more money to save for one or more of your goals.

Reassess your situation at least once a year.

  • Are there some goals you need to change?
  • Do you need to change your spending plan?

Whether it’s becoming physically fit or financially fit, it’s all about choices and changing your behavior. I may not like getting up early and going to the gym, but I do like have the stamina, energy and fitness to run (not walk) while my grandsons are riding their trikes. I may not like cooking at home instead of going out to eat, but I do like having the money to go on a mission trip to Dominican Republic.

Need help getting financially fit? Contact us [email protected] or 402-502-0250.

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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