What does financial fitness look like to me?
I think it’s important to understand what Financial Fitness looks like so we can take the necessary steps to achieve it.
But before we dive in, let’s get a few things sorted out first. Because we throw around adjectives such as poor, rich, broke and wealthy so haphazardly, those words have lost their true meaning. They all have completely different meanings.
I think it’s best to start by defining what Financially Fit is not so we can better understand what it is.
Poor vs Rich
My main objective in starting FinanciallyFitz.com was to help people who had questions on how to properly manage money. I do not use the terms of “poor” and “rich” to describe my target audience for one simple reason – I’m not a psychiatrist.
These terms do not tell of a person’s financial condition, but rather tell of their mental condition.
Poor – a toxic state of mind.
Poor is not broke. We have abused this term for so long that its meaning has been stripped. Not having much cash does not mean someone is poor. Living paycheck-to-paycheck does not mean someone is poor. Not being able to afford sending your child to a private school does not mean someone is poor.
What is poor? Poor is when someone decides they were destined to be poor. When they stop believing they are in control of their circumstances and instead believe that their circumstances control them. When they believe that they, as a result of their bad luck, are owed something from those more fortunate.
Rich – a toxic state of mind.
Rich is not wealthy or financially fit. Having a well-paying job or driving expensive cars does not mean someone is wealthy.
What is rich? Someone is rich when they are motivated by money. The money they earn is their money; money used to satisfy their immediate pleasures and viewed as indicator of worth.
Broke vs Financially Fit
FinanciallyFit.com is a resource to be used by the broke and financially fit alike.
Why? Because there is one common denominator between the two: A belief that our behavior with money determines whether or not we are broke or financially fit; a belief that we can move up and down the spectrum from Broke to Fit when we so choose.
The Broke to Fit Spectrum
I like to think of the financial conditions of broke and financially fit as if they were on a spectrum. We don’t just wake up financially fit; just like we don’t wake up broke. There is a process that takes place which moves us in one direction or the other.
It’s not a question of whether or not we are broke or financially fit, but rather a question of where we are on our financial journey.
Notice what constitutes my definition of broke, specifically the “or”. All it requires is to meet one of those criteria.
As you can see, it is very easy to be broke. A lot of people, who presumably think they are doing okay financially, are going to be classified as broke.
Are you one of them? Did I hurt your feelings? Well, let’s think about the good news! First, you are not poor (unless you want to be). And second, this is only temporary (unless you don’t want it to be).
Are you in debt? Get out of debt! Are you living paycheck-to-paycheck? Build more margins! Don’t have any savings? Start saving!
It’s as simple as that for a broke person. Now for a poor person, I can see where this might be impossible. But you’re not poor, you’re just temporarily broke.
What if you’re not broke? Are you financially fit by default? Is the game over? Nope, it’s just getting started.
The ultimate financial goal is to become (and stay) financially fit. I can’t say with 100% confidence, but I would imagine that very few people are financially fit. It requires of us things that we inherently hate doing; delaying gratification, practicing moderation, being held accountable, and planning for the future while still enjoying our present experiences.
Whereas just meeting one of the five criteria of broke would put us on that end of the spectrum, becoming financially fit requires us to meet all five criteria simultaneously. We have to be debt-free (hopefully that even includes a mortgage), and giving substantially, and saving, and spending and investing to protect the nest egg.
It becomes hard for most of us to just do one of those things.
But fear not. Becoming financially fit is possible…if you want it to be possible.
What Is Your Goal?
How do we know if we’re doing okay, financially? I use to think, and would venture to guess this is how most other people think, that “okay” meant “not broke”. As long as I’m not broke then my job is done.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, not being broke is a good starting point. But when it comes to the game of personal and behavioral finance, not being broke just means you showed up to the correct field. You actually haven’t even started playing.
Is your goal to not be broke?
Or is your goal to be financially fit?
Where you live life on your own terms? Where you’re able to make an impact in other’s lives, rather than just aimlessly wondering through your own life? When you wake up in the morning and think of all the things you get to do rather than the things you have to do?
It’s never too late to become financially fit, regardless of your age or current financial condition. Of course, the best time to start was yester-decade but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There are varying degrees of financial fitness that anyone can achieve.
For some financial fitness may be when you’re financially secure, where housing, food, transportation and health insurance are all covered for the rest of your life even if you must quit working.
Or it might be when you’re financially independent, where your current lifestyle could be sustained for the rest of your life even if you quit working.
Or maybe it’s the ultimate financial goal of financial freedom, where your current lifestyle can be substantially increased without working another day of your life.
Financial fitness is the goal Megan and I share. We’re not there yet and won’t be for years to come. But we’re trying our best to get there and in the process found joy in working as a team. This is why FinanciallyFitz.com was started.
Question: What does financial fitness look like to do? Do you agree or disagree with my criteria of broke and fit?