Being a personal finance blogger, I can only hope I fit into the category of “financially fit!” Does that mean I’m absolutely perfect with my money, though? Nope. Most of us aren’t. We always have something to learn or improve on.
If I track my spending, make sure it’s in line with my goals, steadily pay down my student loans, and save on the side, where can I go wrong?
Perhaps you’re asking yourself the same question, especially if you’re a fellow PF blogger. But the truth is, money is complicated. While it may seem like we’re doing everything right on the surface, we need to take a deeper look at what’s going on below the numbers.
Train Your Way to Financial Fitness
When Shannon over at Financially Blonde kindly asked if we willing to review her new book, Train Your Way to Financial Fitness, I knew I was in for a treat. If you’ve never read Shannon’s blog before, you should (but after you finish reading this!). As a financial planner, she offers some of the most practical advice for getting control over your money.
This book is no exception. If you haven’t made the connection yet, throughout the book, Shannon uses easy fitness analogies to follow along with, including details of her own journey to get back to being physically fit. The book is a breeze to read, yet packed with “financial exercises” you can use to work your way to being in the best financial shape possible.
I am only going to cover the Financially Fit type here, but Shannon does go over Financially Skinny and Financially Fat in the rest of the book. You take a quiz at the beginning to see which type you are (Skinny = living paycheck to paycheck; Fat = over-spending). The book has three separate sections dedicated to each type with personalized advice for each. Shannon strongly believes there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach with finances, and I agree.
Financially Fit and Frugality
The words staring back at me in the first chapter really resonated with me. Shannon said the biggest issues that savers face are 1) spending money, 2) using credit, and 3) investing.
I can say I definitely have an issue with spending money! That sounds a little silly, doesn’t it? Well it’s not, and it’s a real problem for some people, including myself. I am constantly having internal battles over whether something is worth spending money on or not.
Let’s see what else Shannon has to say about this:
For whatever reason, you have always known that it is better to save than to spend. From an early age, you probably had no issue with staying at home on a Friday night rather than going out with friends if you didn’t have the money. Most Fit people experienced financial hardships at some point in their early lives, and those hardships left a lasting impression…
I think she pretty much nailed it right on the head there, at least for me. Do any of you feel similarly?
A Brief Story
I’ve mentioned it a few times, but I grew up watching my parents face their own struggles with debt. They were trapped under a small mountain of credit card debt, to be exact.
As a result, their stress and worry became mine. I was too young to fully understand what was going on at the time, but it did have a lasting impression, as Shannon said. I have never been okay spending my money freely. I have always been a homebody (though there’s nothing wrong with that!).
I’m still learning how to deal with this. I have saved up enough for both R and I to be okay in case something happened, but I am stuck with the feeling that it’s never enough. In turn, I have a difficult time parting with my money. I always wonder if it could have been put to better use elsewhere. And this is with any amount – not just large amounts.
Being Okay With Spending
The solution Shannon provides is to simply tell yourself that spending is okay. Nothing terrible is going to happen if you decide to splurge on something that will make you happy. The fear that something will happen is likely irrational, especially if you’re truly Financially Fit and have been saving for many years. I have to keep reminding myself of this!
Shannon shares a client’s story of how she decided to give in and go away on an international trip with her sister. She was against spending so much money at first, but when she arrived back from her travel, she was ecstatic that she went. It provided her with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience. If she had insisted on not spending her money, she would have missed out!
If you spend your money on things that will bring happiness to yourself or others, chances are, you’re not going to regret it, and it will be money that is spent meaningfully. There’s truly nothing wrong with that, especially if you have the money sitting there.
I have personally found this to be true. Letting go just a little isn’t going to hurt you if you’re 100% on top of your finances. Shannon suggests planning for the spending or creating a separate “fun” account so that the money is clearly labeled for such use.
Even the most frugal people can think of things they would really like, whether it be a material item or an experience. Make a list, spend the money, and evaluate how you feel after making the purchase. It’s all about taking baby steps and feeling good after spending. Remember, you worked hard for your money, and it’s not doing anything for you sitting in an account.
Overall, I think the book is useful for everyone. Shannon uses many relatable analogies and breaks everything down. It’s not boring or dry by any means, and if you’re familiar with Shannon’s blog or style of writing, you’ll find the same consistency and flow in her book. At the very least, it makes a great present for anyone you know who might need a little help in getting Financially Fit!
Do you think you’re Financially Fit, Skinny, or Fat? Have you made the transition from one to the other? Do you ever struggle with spending money?