The people who are most serious about achieving retirement success are also just as devoted to keeping themselves in great shape. And it’s little wonder.
Best practices are much the same in both financial and physical fitness. In each activity, it’s wise to start early, be consistent and ground oneself in reality. In both, you must have goals and a plan to reach them. And in each, having someone to coach, advise or mentor you can also take you a lot further toward your objectives. These are just some of the many parallels between getting in shape and getting fit for retirement.
To master the skills needed for a successful retirement, study what works in physical fitness and apply the same principles to becoming financially fit. Whether a 5k enthusiast or a marathoner, you will likely benefit in the long run.
If you start exercising early in life, you’ll likely maintain some form of activity through your adulthood and into your senior years. Likewise, becoming a retirement saver early in life could help ensure a person remains a retirement saver later in life. How early is early? Experts recommend starting your first day of work.
“Like all habits, saving is a habit just as working out is a habit,” says Kyle Winkfield, managing partner at Rockville, Maryland-based O’Dell, Winkfield, Roseman & Shipp. “The sooner you form a lifestyle habit, the more likely you are to maintain it throughout life, as it becomes the fabric of who you are.”
More important is the chance to stack up piles of greenbacks through the miracle of compound interest.
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Dave Gutzke, managing director of The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, played football for Princeton University. He did not share his teammates’ strategy of working out every day during summers. Instead, he worked out strenuously 3 times weekly. “My plan was more successful than theirs, as it was realistic and I achieved my goals, which kept me motivated,” he recalls. “I arrived in camp in better condition than most of my teammates, especially those who were overzealous.”
He urges people to avoid trying to do too much in their approach to retirement saving, right down to reviewing their finances. Whether you’re working out or scanning statements, taking time away is a way to stay fresh. “For example, set a goal to thoroughly review your finances once a month, and budget the time,” he says. “I find Saturday mornings while my family is still asleep is an optimal time.”
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Get a coach
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Folks pursuing fitness goals often hire personal trainers to provide an array of benefits. Those include encouragement, motivation, safety, individualized instruction and positive feedback. A financial adviser can provide many of the same upsides.
Margaret Paddock, Twin Cities market leader for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, has a personal trainer and understands the similarities between fitness and financial coaching. “Whether in financial matters or fitness matters, we seek out professionals to help us gain from their knowledge bases,” she says.
The world’s most physically fit people didn’t become experts in health and fitness overnight, Winkfield says. “They have spent time learning techniques, strategies and good habits from professionals. Fiscally fit people are no different. Even financial careerists seek guidance and education from their peers.”
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Reid Abedeen, partner in Corona, California-based Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, runs 7 miles 3 days a week. On 2 other days of the week he lifts and participates in cross training. This diversified exercise strategy is not unlike placing assets in different asset classes and instruments with different end purposes.
“If I place money into a defensive posture and markets drop, I’m not forced to sell at a loss,” he says. As with cross training, he says, “I’ve sought balance.”
Winkfield voices this same philosophy a different way. Noting that too many people place all of their savings into market-dependent products, he says that, “It’s no different than spending all of your time in the cardio section of the gym, simply rotating from the elliptical to the treadmill to the spin bike.”
Change is a constant in life. Acknowledging change and adjusting accordingly is a key to success in fitness and finances.
If you love to exercise outdoors, it’s necessary to adjust the type and duration of workouts as seasons change from warmer to colder. Adjustments are also necessary with age. What was good for your conditioning in your 20s may not work in your 40s and 50s.
“Changes in your needs and goals require different strategies, as training for a marathon is much different than training for a physique contest,” Winkfield says. “Assessment and re-grouping of your fiscal plan is just as necessary as your needs and requirements evolve.”
If you employ these strategies in your respective regimens, you’ll find yourself both physically and financially fit.