A Financial Marathon

The following is a post by Tonya at Budget and the Beach. Enjoy!

I’m in my last week of 1/2 marathon training.

I think what’s coming as the biggest shock to me is how hard the training has actually been. I wasn’t expecting it to be a breeze by any means, but I also wasn’t expecting it to be as physically demanding and somewhat grueling as it has been. A lot of people have equated your financial life as being a marathon, not a sprint, and I couldn’t agree more. Here are the lessons I’m learning about both simultaneously.

The Beginning

Everyone starts somewhere in marathon training. You may be a serious couch potato, or someone who already runs around 10-20 miles per week already. I fall somewhere in the middle. I’m in pretty good physical shape, but my legs were not prepared for long distances on cement (I was always a barefoot beach runner).

The same could be said about my finances. When I got really serious about my financial journey I wasn’t in the worst shape possible, but I certainly was far from being in good shape. But I think like a lot of people who make new resolutions or goals, you get pretty pumped in the beginning even though you know you have a long way to go.

My big goals in the beginning for my financial life were to stop spending so much money, or more importantly, stop spending mindlessly and over what I was bringing in. It also meant tracking my spending and learning new disciplines I wasn’t quite used to, like not going out to eat as much, and saying no to friends when they invited me to do things that cost too much money.

As far as training, that meant following a pretty tight workout schedule, which included three days of running, and two days of strength training. And a lot less volleyball since it’s recommended to avoid that type of sport when you’re training for a distance run.

The Middle

The middle is where the fun and excitement starts to fade. When it comes to my training, I’m doing the work, and I’m following the training plan, but something is happening…or should I say not happening. My expectations were that I would get faster and my tempo would start to pick up. Also that my legs would totally be used to pounding the pavement. But neither of those things seemed to be happening. I might have a mini-breakthrough here and there, but for the most part sometimes I almost felt like I was going slower! And when the hell would running actually become enjoyable and fun?

When it comes to finances, I think the middle is where people, including myself, start to get tripped up. You’re beginning to realize that becoming financially responsible, which for a lot of people that means paying off a lot of debt, is no fun. You feel like you’re putting in all this effort and you hardly make a dent in your progress. I know for me I would feel that way when I felt like I was working hard, but my income still felt too low as a freelancer. Or I would have a great month of income, only to have to dump thousands into my car.

The Setback

I think there comes a time in both training for a marathon and in your financial journey where you experience a setback. That setback can be both something that was in your control, like going on a shopping spree or taking a vacation,  or out of your control, like car, house, and medical expenses.

When it came to my finances, I had both happen.

When it came to my training my big setback was a nasty chest cold. It’s fine to train when symptoms are above the neck, but if they are below, or you’re running a fever, you need to rest and should not exercise.

When it comes to either kind of setback, it’s a good time to regroup and re-strategize. What was working in the beginning may not be working now, or perspectives may have to change. Either way you have to find a way to keep going, otherwise you lose all that hard work you put in.

Digging Deep

When it comes to my training I have to dig deep to find the mental, as well as the physical strength to keep going. My new perspective from my setback is that it might have to be OK to sometimes take a break and walk, or if I do run the whole thing, I may be the last runner to cross the finish line. Either way, I’m still doing it. I’m still putting in every effort I can, because I want to cross that finish line SO BAD!

When it comes to my financial journey the finish line is a bit more vague, but the perspective is still the same. Some days you go slower, some days faster. Some days you feel stronger, other days weaker. The point is to keep going. To dig deep and know WHY you are doing what you’re doing. For each person that reason is very different.

For me it’s knowing that I can live my life financially stress free. To know that I have enough money to enjoy my life now, as well as in retirement.

Where are you in your journey? 

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