Financial Recovery and Fitness

Now that I've already been working on my emotional and mental well-being in addition to my physical well-being, I've decided to start working on something I've been postponing for a long time - my financial well-being - or to be more precise, achieving full recovery from some serious temporary financial "disease" and maintaining financial fitness for years to come through some "workout". Of the several self-help books about personal finance I've found Financial Recovery by Karen McCall and The Net Worth Workout by Susan Feitelberg especially helpful.

The most important advice I've learned from the first book (and started to try to implement) is distinguishing between need and want. She write, among others:

A need, when filled, sustains us. A want, when filled, entertains us. Attempting to substitute wants for needs eventually drains us. [...] The urge to buy on impulse is a good indication that something is a want, not a need.

Now I realize that the main reason why I haven't been so successful in saving money is that I easily give in to the temptation of satisfying wants, especially when they are books and/or cost a small amount of money, and these wants sum up to quite a large amount after a certain length of time. This financial urge may even be compared to addiction.

What I like best in the second book are the physical metaphors it uses in talking about finance. The author uses the term "workout" to refer to a series of efforts we are supposed to make in order to recover and maintain our financial health. She makes the following metaphorical comparisons:

  • Earning = metabolism
  • Spending = calorie intake
  • Saving = strength training
  • Investing = cardiovascular workout

Since I've been doing various physical workouts, these metaphors help me estimate my current financial "shape" even intuitively, which is already a progress for me. But the harder part is how to set my financial goals and make plans to attain these goals. Unfortunately, being a total novice in financial workout, I still don't know exactly how to accomplish these two tasks. I'll probably have to read these two books again (and again) and/or even take a course in financial planning as I've never taught it as part of the school curriculum or in any other formal setting. Another important thing I've been planning (and postponing) to do is to start using a personal financing software program (such as GnuCash) to track what comes in and goes out and in what forms.