Personal Finance Bootcamp: Are You Financially Fit?

Like maintaining your physical health, finances fitness takes consistent effort and discipline.

Amy Clover, the founder of the self-help site Strong Inside Out, is a friend of mine who knows all about physical fitness. Amy overcame her debilitating clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder through exercise. Her mission is now to help other people discover their inner strength. Recently, she and I chatted about getting physically and financially fit, and how similar the principles are.

I want to share them to help you kick-start the journey toward healthy body and finances. So get your sweatbands and dolphin shorts on, and let’s get to work.

Moderation is key. You hear it all the time: The secret to a healthy diet is moderation. Amy lives by and teaches her clients something she calls the 90 percent principle, which means that 90 percent of the time, you eat healthy (whole or minimally processed) food, and reserve the 10 percent for anything else your heart desires, like chocolate covered pretzels.

Trying to cut yourself off altogether is a recipe for disaster. Without moderation, people become more likely to give up because it is too difficult to resist all the goodies you love.

The same thing goes with your finances. How many times have you said “I’m going to stop eating out,” or “no more Starbucks for me,” only to find yourself giving in to the next invitation? You can allow yourself a little treat, but set a dollar limit to it. When you’re out of that money, you’re done. Keeping yourself within limits allows you to strategically plan for other purchases and savings for goals.