Would you like to spend your life pursuing an utterly futile affair? If so, I recommend growing your wealth while ignoring your health.
When you finally hit the holy grail of financial independence, you will likely find yourself spending most of your newfound free time at the hospital. All those years of neglecting your body will take a toll.
In addition, chances are that your journey to financial independence will be much longer and harder than it needs to be.
As expensive as that gym membership may be, I suspect smoking and drinking will cost you more. And don’t get me started on what hangovers do to your productivity.
It’s not easy to side hustle on Saturday morning when you’ve got a sledgehammer operator taking up a permanent residence in your dehydrated brain.
After all, there’s a good reason why we have sin taxes. For all its shortcomings, the government realizes that smoking and drinking have severe, costly long-term consequences.
So it valiantly tries to put some money in the piggy bank to help treat that lung cancer or liver cirrhosis when we finally end up in the hospital.
Like the prognosis so far? Neither do I.
As a matter of fact, we can probably all agree that wealth is useless unless you’ve got the health to enjoy it.
Fortunately, leading a life full of both health and wealth is simple enough. All you need to do is follow a few simple principles that will fill your days with energy, happiness and success:
1. Start With Good Habits
Let’s face it – good habits are the foundation for both health and wealth.
If you have them, you are probably well on your way already. If you don’t – chances are you will never reach your goals.
The good news is that it only takes a few solid habits to set you on the path to success.
After all, the fundamentals of getting healthy are very simple:
- Burn more calories than you consume
- Stop smoking, drink responsibly, exercise four times a week
- Make it a routine
Easy enough? Well, guess what – so is building your wealth. Follow the three guidelines below and you will be well on your way to financial independence:
- Spend less than you make
- Invest the difference
- Be consistent
While getting healthy and wealthy are admirable goals, we are not quite talking about building a spaceship here. In other words, you don’t need to be a genius.
Which brings me to the next principle:
2. Keep It Simple
As someone who has been working out for the better part of the last twenty years, I never cease to be amazed by the constant “innovations” in the fitness industry.
Weight loss pills, “training” belts for your abs, sauna suits, keto diets, raw water, macro eating… you simply can’t make some of this stuff up.
Now do me a favour. Find a healthy person you know and ask them whether they use any of the “cutting edge” techniques above.
I think we all know what the answer is going to be.
As ever, the investment management industry isn’t far behind.
Thematic investing, smart beta, market-neutral strategies, cryptocurrency, leveraged ETFs – and I haven’t even started talking about gold.
Yet we all know that the best way to invest is to put your money in a low-cost stock index tracker fund and forget about it.
Of course, if financial advisors told everyone to put their money in an index fund, they would quickly find themselves out of the job.
And the fitness industry would quickly shrink to a fraction of the current size if they simply told you to eat less and exercise more.
There will always be people who will try to sell you a convoluted solution that doesn’t work. Want to get healthy and wealthy? Then please ignore them and stick to the basics.
3. Set Your Own Goals
Life is not a binary exercsise. The outcomes always lie on a spectrum – and you need to pick the one that’s right for you.
You don’t need to look like these people. You just need to achieve a level of fitness that provides you with sufficient physical ability and mental clarity to live a happy, fulfilling life.
The same goes for building your wealth. Too many people spend their lives daydreaming about making it onto this list.
What’s the point? Why would anyone want to be so rich that you need to look over your shoulder every day for the rest of your life?
Instead, a much better goal would be to reach a level of financial independence that gives you the flexibility to live life on YOUR terms.
That number will differ for everyone. After all, a single person in a low-cost of living area needs far less to be financially independent than a married father of four in London.
Figure out your number. Put a strategy in place. Achieve your goal. Move on with life.
4. Give It Time
All the good things in life take time. Health and wealth are no different. And yet our constant quest for instant self-gratification means that most people quit far too early.
Did you know that 90% of people quit their gym three months after signing up?
And are you aware that 60% of people in the wealthiest nation in the world are financially unprepared to cover a $1k emergency?
I will bet you a hundred quid that when we look back at this post in 10 years, the stats above will be no different.
No matter how hard you try, working out for a month will not make up for years of bad eating habits.
But eat well and work out for a year and wonderful things start to happen.
Your muscles start to burn calories while you sleep. You no longer reach for the bag of crisps at the vending machine. The thought of hitting the gym at 7 am fills you with anticipation, not dread.
Likewise, if you are going to stick to your budget for just one month, please don’t bother.
Stick at it for a year and you will have made massive progress in getting your finances on track.
Your consumer debt will no longer accrue 20%+ interest every month. You will have money left over in your bank account at the end of the month. And your investments will start revving up, generating ever-increasing amounts of income every single day.
Do you want to be the exception and not the rule? Be patient and don’t quit.
Which brings me to the most important principle.
5. Take Action
Wouldn’t it be nice if after reading this post, you could put your phone away, stretch out on your couch, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the latest Netflix show?
Of course you can.
As a matter of fact, 90% of people reading this post will do exactly that. In other words, they will become the rule.
Days, months and years will go by as they stumble forward in their lives, leaving their destiny to chance. Work, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat.
And every once in a while, they will bump into the healthy, energetic, successful people who are in control of their fulfilling, happy life.
Then there’s the other 10%. The people who chose to become an exception.
You know how the other 10% get started?
Perhaps they put the phone away and go for a walk (or a run) around the neighbourhood.
Dust off the tennis racquet and call up an old friend to set up a game.
Swap that that glass of Chardonnay for an apple.
Or read this to take a first step towards building wealth.
The choice is yours.
About Banker On Fire
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Banker On FIRE is an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker. I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence, and living the best life possible.
Find out more about me and this blog here.
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