Skinny Waist. Fat Wallet.

in Financial Planning by

Our culture is obsessed with fitness and physique. A new workout and diet craze pops up every month, fueled by millions looking for a faster, better, and easier way to reach their fitness goals. People will try workouts like TRX, kettle-bells, CrossFit, Anti-Gravity Yoga, Bar Method, and Spin, and trendy diets like juicing, Atkins, gluten-free, Raw-food, Paleo, and even one called a Caveman Diet; seems like we are willing to try anything – hoping to finally uncover the secret that will help us reach our goals.

Some will be in search of that ever elusive six-pack and others will be trying to get back to their long-lost high school weight.

But what about financial goals?

Why not aim to for a six-pack AND a six-figure savings account? Why not lose weight AND lose debt?

Fitness and financial health are lifestyle choices that share the same guiding principles. I believe that an overall healthy lifestyle will help you reach your fitness and financial goals at the same time – so I created a challenge to show it.

The Core of Success

1. Passion

It all starts from a true desire to be better – otherwise every pursuit is just another phase that you will grow out of, and revert back to your old behaviors. No one benefits more from you reaching your goals than you do – so success should not be a burden. You should not dread going to the gym or budgeting; they should be things you look forward to doing because your rewards will be that much closer.

Whether it is to get a six-pack, run a half marathon, to get out of credit card debt or to pay off your loans – you must want it. And you must want it bad enough to make some changes and sacrifices.

2. Goals

Goals gives you focus. Goals will keep you motivated and on track. They will help you prioritize what is important and breakdown your big (intimidating) dreams into smaller reachable milestones.

Tangible and specific goals, like running a 10k versus just getting in shape, will keep you accountable for your progress, and failures.

Start small and specific so that they are scalable; let your goals grow with your confidence and successes.

3. Dedication

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. There is no substitute for hard work.

Consistency is the key to sustainable success. The difference between a phase and a lifestyle is that a lifestyle has no end. A lifestyle is a framework of how you evaluate all of your decisions with the simple goal to continually become better – not to just go through the motions of the latest fad.

It will take time, but the journey is what makes the destination great in the first place. To stay motivated, take pictures to see your before-and-after transformation; keep track of your runs so you can see how much farther you can go and how much faster you’ve become; watch your bank account grow and your loans shrink as you save more.

You Already Know How: Simple Math

There is no super workout or miracle diet, nor is there any secret investment plan – but you already knew that.

The biggest component to reaching physical and financial health is simple: it’s an equation of input vs. output.

Fitness – calories

Calories Burned (output) – Calories Consumed (input) = Weight Loss

One’s diet/nutrition can account for 70% – 80% of their health and fitness. At a high level, the more calories you burn versus the more calories you take in, the more weight you will lose. Depending on your current physique and diet, it is estimated that a daily deficit of 500 calories (weekly 3500 calorie deficit) equals one pound of fat loss per week.

Finance – cash flows

Income (input) – Spending (output) = Savings

It is a matter of budgeting. Income can be from multiple sources like a paycheck and/or returns from investments. To increase your savings, you can either make more money or spend less – the easier aspect to control is spending (even though we all wish we could control our income).

Two Birds with One Budget

You can reach your financial and fitness goals at the same time by consciously planning your budget and diet together – you can save money by budgeting your spending on food/restaurants while planning a healthier meal plan.

Below is a simple table of my biggest physical and financial vice – food. It shows the overall cost of food: in calories, miles and time required to burn off those calories, dollar amount, and the potential opportunity cost if you were to have invested the money instead spending it on food.


The Challenge: Gain While You Lose!

To help everyone get started on reaching their personal goals, below is a challenge that aims to help you be healthier, lose weight, and save money – and show you the link between a healthy fitness and financial lifestyle. It essentially allows you to pay yourself (in savings) to lose weight!

Make this YOUR challenge. Scale the daily caloric deficit and weekly budgeting goals to meet your personal needs, those below are meant to be guidelines.


The Tools

You’re going to need to be able to measure your calories and spending to track your progress. You can do this by indexing everything with pen and paper or creating an excel spreadsheet – but lucky for all of us… there are amazing apps designed to this very thing! Although the market is saturated with apps, I will share with you my favorites.

Fitness – MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and exercise tracker. It has a great intuitive interface across platforms and makes it easy to keep track of your meals and various forms of exercise.

You can tell MyFitnessPal what your goals are, whether you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight. The app provides a recommended calorie goal for each day based on how aggressively you want to reach your goals, and allows you to track your progress along the way.


Finance – Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a comprehensive personal finance app that is designed to simplify and enhance your financial life with free, award winning technology. Personal Capital can quickly and easily aggregate all of your financial accounts (i.e. bank accounts, credit cards, brokerage, 401(k) etc.) so you have a holistic picture of your financial situation.

Personal Capital gives you the tools to manage your budget by breaking down your cash flows – it can categorize all of your spending and also shows you where most of your money goes.

However, what really separates Personal Capital from other apps are its investment tools. There really is no other app on the market that can aggregate, analyze, track, and even give guidance on your investments. Personal Capital has tools that will give you a better understanding about your asset allocation, portfolio performance, underlying fees, and an outlook on reaching your retirement goals.


The Healthy Choice

Health, regardless if it is financial or fitness, is a lifestyle. One healthy meal and one boot-camp workout will not get you in shape; same as saving to pay off one credit card will not give you financial independence.

You must want your goals bad enough to put in consistent hard work and make changes in order to achieve them.

The rewards are all yours if you are willing to work for them, yet we are often our own biggest obstacle.

Whether for a smaller waist or for a bigger investment portfolio (and better yet both!), choose a lifestyle that is conducive for all of your goals – and make them easier to obtain by using the right tools.

Join Personal Capital today to get financially fit!

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Hudson Liao

Hudson Liao

Hudson is a Research and Investment Associate at Personal Capital. He was a Student Resident Fire Fighter at UC Davis and graduated with bachelors in both Economics and Sociology. He recently received his CFA designation. Hudson is a San Francisco native and die hard local sports fan. He is passionate about helping people and very active in the local community.
Hudson Liao

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  1. Faatuaiitaua Seumanutafa

    I love your posts I am definitely going to give it a go.

    thanks Hudson!

  2. Kat

    I like the concepts here and the idea of putting them together but who spends $250 in food a week?..I’m confused on how to do the money/savings part for the food part. so if you only spend that much money that is saving money???

    • Claire

      Maybe the first week is eating out every meal the entire week? That would be an awful lot of money and calories. We don’t spend $500 on groceries in the whole month for a family of 3. Admittedly we might spend an additional $60-90 on eating out 2-4 times. And we have plenty of room for improvement.

  3. Tina

    I just want to know HOW to jump start another career? I’ve been unemployed for 8 months. I worked 7 1/2 years for an IT Company that went through a merger doing Accounts Payable. People tell me my income is to high even though I didn’t have a raise in 3 years. I tell interviewers I will work for less but they tell me that’s demeaning to my years of experience so they won’t consider me for employment. I just want to work at something! I don’t know what other type of work I’d like to do. I just turned 53 yrs old. I’ve prayed about it each day!
    I’ve had to tap into my 401K to meet the rent & expenses, which I hated doing. I’m also raising 3 of my grandchildren (ages 16 yrs, 6 yrs, & 3 yrs) HELP ME PLEASE ! I’d appreciate any feed back.

    • Kat

      HI Tina, Sounds like you have a lot going on with raising 3 grandkids besides having to look for a job…I have “heard” that it look good to be at a job when looking for a job so I wonder if there is something you can do even part time? Or if you have such a wealth of experience, can you consult or due short term work, like for a stipend? Sounds like they may be using , ” you made too much before”. as an excuse. I am wondering if there may be other issues that they can’t divulge “legally” like age? I know in the past, when I was out of work I applied to ANYTHING, just so I could work so I could eat. Also, maybe there are temp agencies that can provide work, You get your foot in the door and then eventually a full time position opens up. I now my current job was part time and after a year it became full time, so I was working 2-3 part- time jobs for a number of years. I myself had a BA and a K-12 Teaching Credential. Best of luck..take it one day at a time..


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