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Long Distance Running and Personal Finance

This post was featured at The Skilled Investor.

We've all seen them: those early morning, up before the dawn, running in freezing cold or scorching hot conditions, dressed in funny clothing, die-hard runners. Incredulously, they seem to be enjoying it. Many people feel this same unbelief towards their money; they can't believe that they could enjoy running their finances the way those joggers enjoy running their daily route.

As a runner, and one who runs the family finances, I can tell you that it is possible! The more you know about your finances, the more fun it is to manage them. There is much to be learned about personal finance from long distance running:

It has to be done one step at a time. It's not possible to run any other way. The same is true of running your finances. If you think about all there is to do, it's easy to be overwhelmed. Instead, start with one small step--perhaps saving money in one new way, or learning a bit about investing--and build from there. Before you know it, you'll have covered miles.

It helps to find a mantra. A mantra is a commonly repeated word or phrase, literally an "instrument of thought," and is thought in Hinduism to contain "mystical potentialities." Mantras are very important during long runs; they are repeated over and over to get you through difficult stretches and help you find inner strength. Why not have a mantra for getting through difficult financial stretches? Our mantra is 'happiness is living beneath your means.' Choose your financial mantra and unlock the "mystical potentialities" of your money. Here are a few other ideas:
  • I will not be a slave to debt.
  • Make it automatic!
  • I want it, I don't need it.
  • I am responsible for how my money is used.
  • I control my money, it doesn't control me.
It takes time...sometimes a long time. I have run long distance races of varying lengths, but they all took time to complete. No matter how fast you run, you can't finish a race at the drop of a hat, and you can't fix your finances in a day. Deep in debt? It will take time to get out. Saving for retirement? That takes time, too. It once took me almost 4 hours to finish a race, but I did...and that's what matters.

Small investments up front make a big difference later. When you are new to running, the first advice you usually get is 'Get good shoes.' The small investment of new running shoes will result in big rewards: incentive to get out there and run, less and more minor injuries, faster recovery from lesser injuries, sticking to your routine longer, and finally fitness, weight-loss, etc. Likewise, investing now will allow your money to grow more than if you invested it later, with amazing results.

The more you do it, the easier it is. As much as I love to run, when I haven't done it in awhile, it hurts like mad! The same is true for learning about your finances. If you just read about it now and then, it can be confusing and overwhelming. If you find a way to learn regularly, you'll find that things make sense, stick with you, and become applicable to your financial life.

These running principles will lead you to financial fitness. And when you see how fun it can be to manage your money, perhaps you'll think about donning spandex for regular 5am runs in the middle of January. Then again...maybe not.
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1 comment:

Shamelle said...

Very useful advice. You have put the message across in a unique way.

Thank you
Enhance Life