Train Your Way to Financial Fitness Review - Journey to Saving

Are You Financially Fit?

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

Train Your Way to Financial Fitness Review - Journey to SavingWhen 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?

Erin M.

Erin is a personal finance writer and virtual assistant who loves talking about money and how to use it as a tool to get what you want out of life. When she's not obsessing over numbers or working (which is rare), she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cat, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, or any random combination of the above.

40 thoughts on “Are You Financially Fit?

    1. You are very welcome Shannon! Just glad to spread the word =). I think it’s a book just about everyone can relate to, and I don’t think there’s many personal finance books out there like it.

  1. I really like the idea of the fitness metaphor to discuss financial health. It makes so much sense to me! I’ll definitely have to read the book myself. I have a feeling I’ll identify with a little in each skinny, fit, and fat section, but of course I hope that more of my tendencies would fall into the fit category. I go through periods where spending is an issue, and it takes sitting down and evaluating our budget to bring it in.
    Natalie @ Budget and the Bees recently posted: Limit Your Packing and Moving Stress with 5 TipsMy Profile

    1. It sounds like you would get a lot out of the book! Shannon offers so many great “exercises” in reviewing your spending and your budget. She recommends looking over the plan quarterly in case your situation changes during the year. So many goodies in there!

    1. Shannon’s Financially Fat section goes over how to stop spending impulsively; I would definitely recommend it! I’m sure reading PF blogs will also help =).

  2. Sounds like I definitely need to read this. I’ve got some if the same baggage as you, Erin, and it would be nice to read some descriptions in black and white with solid advice on how to overcome my hesitancy. I’m even a fraud to pay off debt because I fear needing money for some unknown thing!

    1. Oh Kirsten you’re so not alone here! I am guilty of having a large emergency fund and I always feel torn about putting more toward debt. It’s something I really need to work on.

  3. The fitness metaphor is spot on. I can’t wait to review the book, too. I think I have moments of frugality in my lifestyle, but I’m also prone to moments of just not caring because of stress/exhaustion. Luckily, I’ve been able to do away with some of it. Nice review, Erin!
    Melanie @ Dear Debt recently posted: Life and Debt RecapMy Profile

    1. Thanks! Sometimes I find myself wishing I could spend without a thought, but overall, I’m thankful for my experiences. I liked how Shannon mentioned that we may face saver’s fatigue, which is true.

  4. I’ve been through all the fit phases that Shannon describes in her which I also plan to review. I spent far too many years being fat and skinny. Now that I am reaping the rewards of being financially fit is something that I wouldn’t trade; ever. I don’t get very strong urges to shop without careful planning anymore but when they do creep up, it’s usually when I’m traveling or on vacation.
    Kassandra @ More Than Just Money recently posted: Don’t Let Debt Amount To A Life SentenceMy Profile

    1. Can’t wait to read yours! While I don’t like struggling with spending money, I know I’m much better off having that problem than debt. Traveling and vacation does lend itself to that carefree spending attitude, doesn’t it?

  5. Great review, Erin. I was hesitant to read it because I’m not finished the book yet (in fact I just started!) but I’m glad I did. I just love Shannon’s style of writing so I’m waiting to have time to savour it and let things sink in, instead of being rushed to read it, because I know it’s gonna be right up my alley!
    debs @ debt debs recently posted: Six Month Blogiversary!My Profile

    1. I think it would be up anyone’s alley! Shannon has a great way of presenting ideas in a clear and easy-to-understand way, which was why I was able to get through the book pretty quickly.

    1. You’re not alone at all! I really struggle with treating myself, and I’m trying to take baby steps (a few dollars here and there) to spend on little things that will bring some happiness. I always thought having “fun” money was a good idea, but I never bothered to enact it myself.

  6. I’m kind of all over the place right now. I’m financially fit as far as my spending and savings habit, but with a job loss and not money coming in, or when it’s a slow month, I do feel like I’m still living paycheck to paycheck. I guess at the very least I can make my money stretch more than I used to.

    1. I think, overall, you’re financially fit! You’ve overcome a lot in the past years and I think those experiences are helping you stay on track right now. It’s a challenge, but I know you’re doing what you can with what you have. I think being financially skinny is to be perpetually in a state of living paycheck to paycheck, which you’re not!

  7. Using a fitness metaphor for finance makes a lot of sense!

    I don’t have a problem with spending, ha! I tend to save up for a long while and then take on a huge purchase. Then once I’ve spent after saving, it is hard to stop! But not too hard : ) My biggest problem up until recently has actually been low income, IMHO.
    Brooke @PFTwins recently posted: September Goals & BudgetMy Profile

    1. Oh I definitely hear you on the last part. I was very lucky to be able to live with my parents for a year after college, which enabled me to save up a decent amount even on the low salary I was being paid. I miss those days of being able to save so much, but I have to remember that earning more factors into things.

  8. I haven’t read Shannon’s book yet, but it’s on my list! I think the analogy is great. Think about it – even if you go to the gym for a half hour workout every day, there’s still more you can do. You might be in decent shape, but you can always learn/try a new workout or spend more time in the gym. In the same way there’s an endless number of ways to become more financially fit.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted: 5 (More) Things Every Blogger Struggles WithMy Profile

    1. It is a fitting analogy, and one I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. There are an overwhelming amount of strategies you can use to get physically fit, and financially fit!

  9. I couldn’t agree more with the biggest issues. Based on my experience, how spending money should be dealt with faces us everyday and test our strategy. It’s even worst when I have to buy something but no money in hand so I end up using credit card, then I will expect an interest. It’s so hard and takes more than a strategy because it is commitment I believe which is very important in becoming financially fit.

    1. Yes – Shannon actually talks about developing a strategy in her book. She uses an awesome analogy of taking a road trip, getting from NY to CA, and needing a GPS (a plan) to get there.

  10. Thanks for reviewing this book, definitely going to check it out!

    I think I’m financially fit but have definitely struggled with being skinny and fat all in the same year. I go from extremes – spending too much and then being afraid to spend anything at all. I think I’ve found the right balance!

    1. I’m glad! Finding balance is a challenge sometimes. I think it will always be somewhat of a work in progress for myself. I need to get to the point of at least saying spending $20 on something isn’t going to kill me, especially if I actually need it.

  11. Right now, I think am a financial skinny :( Not pretty, but am doing everything to get fitter…by tracking my spending and sticking to a budget.
    As with Shannon’s fitness analogy, I know what ultimately clinches it is consistency. Exercise consistently and eat right and you will get fit eventually…so it is with finances…getting financially fit reqiures patience and consistency.
    Simon E. recently posted: Barnes and Noble MasterCard® ReviewMy Profile

    1. Yes, it does! Things don’t happen overnight with finances, and we need to be patient with ourselves in making the necessary changes to get fitter. Tracking your spending and sticking to a budget is a great start!

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