Financial fitness: Learn to get in shape before getting unwell

Updated: 06 Oct 2022, 02:49 PM IST

When it comes to fitness, financial as well as physical, the right time to start is now, regardless of your age, your bank balance, and your self-assessment.

When you are financially fit, you will have enough to invest in a trainer to improve your physical fitness.

Have you seen that photo where I am finishing the 21-km marathon? No? Just give me a little time. You will see it soon.

I was in my late 30’s when I realised that I was already panting while the finish line was yet a long distance away. That’s when I woke up to the reality that I was in bad shape and there was no escaping life’s marathon—the financial marathon.

An agent of some fund had told me that I was in no position to offer good education to my two children at my level of income. It was not possible to walk into a better-paying job the next morning. Nor was there any financial planner around who could offer an understanding shoulder and some sobering advice.

That’s what made me my first client.

Fitness needs a trainer

More recently, after an unpleasant fall, I had ample opportunity to lie back and reflect on my state. Thankfully, there was no need to panic on the money front. Because my planner avatar had anticipated and prepared for such slippery surprises.

My life was largely sedentary. Sleeping a little extra and eating a spoonful more was the way I took affectionate care of my body. The day I attempted something more adventurous, I would end up pulling a muscle or two, which would give me a welcome excuse to take it easy for the next whole week.

Then I realised that I needed to take a leaf out of my financial fitness book for my physical fitness. I needed help from an objective expert who would understand my body and firmly push away my moods and excuses.

Today, thanks to the routine he has punched into my system, even when I am half a world away from my home gym and fighting jet lag, I never miss my long walks.

Now is the best time

“Am I not too young to hire a financial planner? Shouldn’t it wait until I have some good bank balance?”

“Listen, I will retire in two years. I have my PF and some FDs. I think I have enough for my family. What’s the use of engaging a financial planner to help me now?”

Those are two of the most common questions my team gets to answer. I wonder if I would have asked the same question when I had just five hundred rupees and two children to prepare for life.

When it comes to fitness, financial as well as physical, the right time to start is now, regardless of your age, your bank balance, and your self-assessment.

Able and agile

If you find it is getting tougher to chase down your daily bus or train, or your clothes are shrinking uncomfortably fast, you may take it as a crude reminder to get physically fit. Hopefully, you wouldn’t want to wait until you are unwell to start.

The “symptoms” may not be as obvious when you are financially unfit. There are multiple factors that can pull you down financially or give you a boost.

The two main enemies are invisible—inflation and the unexpected. You will understand inflation when you compare today’s price of something commonplace (milk, petrol) with its price five years ago. Would an amount you deposited five years ago have grown enough to cover today’s prices? As for the unexpected, we do not have to look beyond the pandemic.

There are several solutions available in the market to help you beat inflation and to help you absorb the shock of the unexpected. It takes specialised knowledge, considerable experience, and constant learning to understand your financial status and guide you down the ideal path. This is where you need an expert financial planner.

And when you are financially fit, you will have enough to invest in a trainer to improve your physical fitness. Of course, being in good shape physically and financially will do wonders for the equally important third dimension of fitness—your mental health.

Good health overall

The day’s session is done, my trainer pauses, while I cool down. He has something in his mind. I hope it is not a reminder that the next marathon is only two months away. I need not have worried.

“There is this major strength training camp coming up in Bali. It is important for me that I attend it. Would make a major difference to my career.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful! Go for it!” I admit I did fleetingly think I would enjoy the break from his gruelling workouts when he went away. But he had something else in mind.

“If I pay before the end of this month, I can enjoy a better rate. Plus, there is the airfare and hotel charges. I know you are into finance. Can you arrange for a loan? I promise I will return it soon.”

I push an exercise ball to him and ask him to sit. Conversations between two fitness trainers can take long, especially when there is an unexpected reversal of roles.

Yes, you are happy, and you work out regularly. But are you fully fit? Are you financially fit? Let an expert tell you. Right here

Lovaii Navlakhi is the Founder and the CEO of IMMPL. He can be reached here.

Note: MoneyTales of Lovaii with MintGenie is a series that helps investors make better sense of their money. Our aim is to help you make better saving and spending choices.


First Published: 06 Oct 2022, 02:49 PM IST