When I was an undergrad at OU, my wife and I would use the school’s awesome student health center to work out. Besides working out, the school’s gym was a great place to people watch. It was a proverbial meat market. The girls would get dolled up with make-up and wear the most revealing gym clothes as possible, while the dudes would were tank tops to show off their buff bods.
Another thing my wife and I noticed was that many of the dudes had the weirdest looking physiques. These testosterone filled young men would spend all their time working out their upper body, but no time with their lower body. As a result they had bulking torsos, but little scrawny chicken legs. Why did these guys just focus on their upper body? Well, the upper body seems to get all the press. When was the last time you heard E! News go on about how some guy has an amazing quadricep? That’s right. Never. It’s always about the pecs and the arms, so American males focus on working these muscles to the neglect of their lower body. What they don’t know is that not only does it look ridiculous, but they’re setting themselves up for injuries.
These misshaped individuals got me thinking about personal finance. How many of us have an imbalanced personal finance physique? Do we focus on one aspect of personal finance to the neglect of others? For example, one could focus all their time and money to investing in the stock market, but totally neglect living a frugal life. And vice-a-versa.
Just as having an imbalanced physical physique can set you up for physical injury, an imbalanced personal finance physique can set you up for a personal finance injury. Take our example of the person who invests in the stock market while neglecting to cut expenses. What happens when the market takes a tumble? Does this person have an emergency savings account developed from living a frugal life? Would they be able to adjust to the decrease in income from dividends? What about the person who only lives frugally, but doesn’t invest? What are they going to do when they retire and they no longer have a job? Living frugally doesn’t do any good unless you have money to use.
Many Americans have imbalance personal finance physiques for the same reasons college males have huge torsos and small legs. Instead of listening to sound financial principals, many Americans get their financial advice from slick TV shows and magazines. While these can be helpful resources, often the media just presents personal finance fluff. They tend to focus on the get rich quick with little or no sacrifice route. The reality is that a blanced and healthy personal finance life requires work, dedication, and discipline. Just like a well balanced physical physique.
So, take a look in your personal finance mirror. If your personal finance physique looks a little top heavy, bust out some frugal (or saving, or investing) squats to even things out.