Financial Fitness in Troubling Times Part 2: 'Take a financial physical!'

Part 2 of a six part series.

In part 1 of this series, we asked ourselves, “Am I a thermometer, or a thermostat?” Do I allow myself, like a thermometer, to be controlled by my environment or can I, like a thermostat, send signals out which will control my environment, through a feedback loop? There is a strong correlation between being financially healthy and physically healthy. Stress and anxiety resulting from financial challenges affect at least 25% of us all most or all of the time. Reducing financial anxiety can greatly aid physical wellbeing!

Most of us probably have a good sense of what it takes to improve our physical health. We may be driven by competing in a sporting event, invest in a gym membership, commit to weekly exercise with friends, become better informed about our food choices or be guided by a dietician. A regular checkup helps to evaluate how we are doing to stay healthy.

How is your financial fitness? Are you standing tall and healthy, or are you gasping for air climbing a steep hill? Research repeatedly indicates that financial health and physical well-being go hand-in-hand.

One of the purposes of becoming financially fit, just like physically fit, is the ability to deal well with adverse circumstances. When sickness comes, those who are otherwise fit and strong will have a much better chance to overcome the illness.

Regular evaluation of our financial fitness can help us cope with challenging times. Evaluating our finances, just like our health, can be confrontational and is often put off. Who likes standing on the scales, looking in the mirror or listening to chastening words of the medical staff?

This practice of testing your life is described in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourself whether you firmly trust in God, test yourself..." Jeremiah admonished his people with the words, "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." (Lamentations 3:40)

Paul used the discipline and self-control of an athlete to illustrate a controlled life of a disciple “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

The starting point of responsible, proactive money management is to determine the state of our finances. Most people are not realistic about where they are financially. A lot of people don’t know where they are or even don’t want to know, because it is too confrontational. We must show self-control, face the facts and act as necessary.

Solomon gives an illustrative principle when he says, "A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls". (Proverbs 25:28) Protection is gone and the city is open to all kinds of attack. Temptations work on our inability to control our desires, our tongues, and our expenses.

Financial disciples should regularly test their motives, thoughts and attitudes, to check how they are effectively carrying out their responsibilities as stewards of God’s money. Unfortunately, we tend only to examine our lives when things go wrong or when we are faced with a crisis. Crisis investigation is better than no investigation, but a faithful and reliable disciple makes a habit of regularly evaluating himself as part of his daily life.

A financial physical involves answering three questions, each of which we will tackle in the next three parts to this series. How much am I spending - is this hindering or helping my financial fitness?

What do I owe – is this bad for my financial health? How strong are my reserves – do I have resources when most needed in tough times?

This is part 2 of a Series: 'Financial Fitness for Uncertain Times.'

1. Get ready to change

2. Take a physical

3. Get financially fit

4. Loose fat

5. Build muscle

6. Build endurance

Peter J. Briscoe

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