Exercise Toward Financial Fitness, Too

Most women have gotten the memo on physical fitness. If we're not going to the gym religiously, we're fretting about making more time to exercise. We spend hours thinking about whether to eat this rather than that -- especially when a zipper doesn't zip or a button pops.

Though we may devour every article about a diet that promises quick weight loss, an exercise routine that increases heart health or a cream that reduces wrinkles, too often, our eyes glaze over when the conversation turns to financial health. We'll force ourselves to commit hours and hours to a treadmill or yoga class, but we just don't have time for a seminar about financial planning or a self-help book on fiscal health.

But the two go hand in hand: For a long, active and productive life, you need both physical and financial health. A strong and healthy body needs the financial resources to feed both the essentials and pleasures of life.

As I watch many family members navigate their 80s, I see how important it is to have the resources to stay independent, both physically and financially. Those who have maintained some level of physical fitness often have the strength and mobility to stay in their own homes, drive and keep active in their communities. Those who have achieved financial fitness often have the resources to hire helpers -- who allow them to maintain their homes and get helping hands for many daily activities without burdening adult children.

So, if you've resolved to maintain a physical exercise routine, apply that same resolve and discipline to your financial fitness as well...

  • Reach out to family, friends and colleagues for recommendations of financial advisors who listen to and fully understand the challenges and opportunities women face in all of life's ages and stages.
  • Jog your memory about every facet of your finances: organize all account numbers and contacts, wills, insurance policies, etc. If you're married, don't be the spouse in the dark about critical financial matters.
  • Stretch your thinking beyond today: Create long-term life plans and determine how much money you will need to fund your daily living, passions, dreams and goals.
  • Cycle away from haphazard spending and toward wise budgeting through easy online tools like Mint and Saver.
  • Flex financial muscle through a regular savings discipline both within and outside employer plans.
  • Learn about the investment risk that makes sense at your age and stage and know when you should swim against the current.
  • Take a long, cleansing deep breath and face the toxic "you never knows" -- all the unexpected life twists and turns that could require funding from paychecks earned by you or your spouse down the road.

Women are in charge of their own physical health and they need to be in charge of their own financial health, too. We can't ignore our physical health or hand over full responsibility for making the exercise and nutrition decisions that will get us to age 92. The same is true of your financial health: The more actively you participate in saving, investing and spending research and decisions, the better your long-term quality of life.

This post was originally published on Kathryn Sollmann's blog, 9 Lives for Women, where she helps women navigate 9 stages of work and life from college through retirement years. Follow her practical advice on "Finding the Work that Fits Your Life".

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