Fitness & Finances: When Help Helps the Most

Now that we’re a month into 2017, how’s that New Year’s Resolution going for you? If you’re like 80% of the population, my guess is you’ve already called it quits or will by Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, life gets in the way. It’s not easy.

By far the most common resolutions we all hear about or set for ourselves will involve getting in shape, eating better or losing weight. All those things sound great, but take a lot of time, energy, and dedication to accomplish. And this is especially true if you’re planning to go it alone.

As someone who’s had some success prioritizing my own health and fitness into a daily routine, I see it all-too-often at my gym, especially early in the year. There’s generally two kinds of what I call the “New Year Newbies”, the tortoise or the hare. The hares start out of the gate pushing themselves way too hard. They generally end up hurting themselves or making themselves feel like such a pile of you-know-what afterward that they never want to come back. And then there are the tortoises. They got themselves to the gym but they think that’s all it takes.  Tortoises typically spend their time reading through three gossip magazines while throwing their legs in slow circles on a bike for an hour (without ever breaking a sweat). But hey, can you believe Tarek & Christina (HGTV) are getting a divorce?!…

In this story of the tortoise and the hare, neither win. Because while those people may have taken the right first step by getting themselves to the gym, they probably aren’t going to make much progress. They’ll end up like nearly everyone else when it comes to their resolutions – just another statistic. Let’s face it, this stuff takes time, patience, and a ton of mental strength. And it’s often a process that can feel like lots of small baby steps forward, followed by falling flat on your face repeatedly.

Having someone by your side (that knows what they’re doing) is the key to training.  Specifically, those that seek help from a trusted source, like a personal trainer, tend to achieve far better results than those going it alone. There are several reasons to hire a personal trainer, and it’s not just the motivation that they will charge you if you don’t show up to your work out.  Personal trainers give you individualized workouts that are more likely to provide tangible results. Personal trainers are there to supervise you, tell you when you are using the correct form so you don’t injure yourself. They also provide consistency and a sounding board when you’re not sure your training is going in the right direction (or even progressing like you want).  Trainers are trusted partners who want to see you reach your long-term physical goals.

Now, as you’d expect, herein lies our investing analogy…

Financial resolutions are pretty popular ones too, and they tend to fail just as often. One of the main reasons for this is the complexity of this crazy industry we call “financial services”. There’s so much noise and so many theories. Trust can be tough to come by and going it alone can lead to an overly aggressive or overly conservative mix of investments, just like that person at the gym that goes way too hard or not hard enough to achieve their goals. That’s where a fiduciary, like blooom, can come in. If you aren’t familiar with this particular “F” word, it’s someone (corporations are people too) that you know is required to always act in your best interest, which is somewhat rare in financial services.

Just as someone striving to get in shape will likely get better results with a personal trainer by their side, the same is true of someone seeking professional help with their financial goals. In fact, when it comes to 401(k)s specifically, studies have shown that those who hire a professional to help with their investments can end up with nearly twice as much in retirement. A lot of this comes down to the same principles as a trainer. They give you an individualized strategy for investing to provide the most optimal results for your retirement time horizon. They supervise you, and talk you out of selling when the markets struggle and your account balance drops. They are your financial sounding board when you are confused by what is going on in the market or the media. They keep you focused on what’s important – your long-term goals.

Whether you’ve already fallen behind in your financial goals for the year, or you’re just waiting for the right time to commit to turning your finances around, it can take a lot of time, energy, and lost sleep to stay on track on your own. Make sure you have someone by your side along the way. Or heck, why not have someone that will just do it all for you?! Cough (blooom) cough cough. You have better things to do with your time. And someone that will do it for you lets you have your cake and eat it too (just don’t tell your personal trainer). Yum!

Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas is a Registered Paraplanner® and Investment Advisor at blooom. Andrew has spent more than 5 years offering personalized investment advice to retirement plan participants and helping middle class investors navigate the complex world of personal finance. At blooom, Andrew offers advice to clients and works in Business Development and Marketing.

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