With the London Olympics been and gone and the new financial year upon us, now is a good time to think about getting fit financially fit, that is.
How many times have we promised ourselves that we will shape up this time for real only to collapse and fall in an exhausted heap after our first jog around the block? Probably more times than any of us would like to admit!
And when it comes to financial fitness, some may find motivation even more challenging without the immediate visual reward of fitting into our skinny jeans. The road to financial fitness might be less visible, but the prize is just as sweet.
So how do we stay on track financially? Like any top performing athlete, it takes planning, training, time and perseverance to stay on top of your game.
On your mark
The first step to becoming financially fit is to set some goals and identify what you want to achieve. If you have no fitness at all, start with short distance events, such as paying off one of your credit cards or saving $5,000. Once you've identified your short-term goals, you can then highlight some medium and long-term goals. It's important to set a clear finish line whether it's a new home, an overseas holiday or a comfortable retirement. It's a lot easier to achieve something when you have a clear reason for doing it.
Just as an athlete will test their fitness level before an event, you should also have a good understanding of what financial shape you are in. Go through your filing cabinet and take stock of what bank accounts, superannuation and insurance you have. Also go through your bills and take a good look at what you are spending your money on. Once you know where you stand, work out a game plan for achieving your Olympic-sized dreams. It's a good idea to factor in a few easy warm-up exercises, such as reducing spending by taking your own lunch to work.
Once the starter's pistol has fired, it's important to stay focused and keep your eye on the finish line. Athletes are very disciplined and to stay on track financially you need to be equally committed. Simply understanding the principles behind a solid financial plan isn't enough to get you to the winners' podium. If you have a shiny new pair of sneakers, it won't be until you take them to the track, that you will see any results. Don't forget you have to be willing to make sacrifices to come out on top this financial year. There is no room for excuses in this exercise regime!
Sound daunting? If you find training on your own difficult, it might be worth considering a coach.
A financial planner can help to set goals, plan for your financial future, and keep you on track.
Remember, good money management is no different to training for a big race you have to put time and energy into your training and lead a healthy lifestyle to improve your chances of success.
So what are you waiting for? On your mark, get set, go! Don't let your financial fitness ruin your chances of winning gold.
Dianne Charman is an AMP financial planner and mother of two.
Dianne Charman is an Authorised Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd, ABN 89 051 208 327, AFS Licence No. 232706. Any advice given is general only and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on any advice, you should consult a financial planner to consider how appropriate the advice is to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
To find your nearest AMP financial planner visit www.amp.com.au/findaplanner.
Video: How to maximise your savings