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4 ways saving money is like training for a half-marathon

22 April 2016 Cebisa Mfenyana, Metropolitan
Cebisa Mfenyana from Metropolitan.

Cebisa Mfenyana from Metropolitan.

As South Africans, we love our sports, and long-distance running is one of them. If you are a running ‘fundi’, chances are that you are currently in the thick of training for an upcoming race, such as the Slave Route Challenge that takes place on 8 May in Cape Town. Like any avid runner, you probably started planning for the race weeks – even months – in advance (depending on your fitness level), and are sticking to a training and eating plan to get you across that finish line without requiring an ambulance!

But did you ever think about the fact that training for a half-marathon is very much like saving money? “If we put as much discipline and consistency into our financial planning as many of us put into the physical training of a race, we would all be experts at saving,” says Metropolitan’s Cebisa Mfenyana, who shares some ways in which the principles of training for a race can be translated to saving money.

1. You need to think endurance

Any runner will tell you that physical training for a race is only half the battle. The motivation to train for a race starts with the end goal in sight, which is your mental preparation. For most runners it is the thought of the adrenaline of crossing that finish line that sees them through the challenges of training. They know they are in it for the long haul – and not a 100m sprint! Before you even start saving money, ask yourself: What is my “finish line” (personal best)? What do I want to achieve? What am I saving for? Having a set goal in mind will help you to endure on those days when you are tempted to “sprint” and expend all your energy/money on short-term gratification.

2. You need a training plan

A goal without a plan is wishful thinking. In the same way that training for a race requires a schedule that builds up strength over time, with reachable short and long term goals, saving money is not a random occurrence. A runner might want to build up to running a certain amount of kilometres in a period of time, for example to be able to run 10km at a steady pace by week six of training. In the same way, it is advisable to draw up a savings plan with reachable goals that you can track. For example, perhaps your goal is to save R5000 by the end of the year – you can turn this into a reachable goal by assessing your budget and saving a monthly lump sum that will get you there. When you have a plan in place, it is easier to track your progress to see where adjustments need to be made.

3. A “running” partner is an indispensable asset

Many runners stay on track with their training by either joining a running club or running with a partner that is also training for a race. In this way, not only is it more motivating knowing that you are not getting up to train alone at 5am in the morning, but you also have someone to help keep you on track. Find a qualified financial adviser to be your “savings partner”. This person can guide you through your training plan and can help keep you in the race so that you can achieve your financial goals.

4. No pain, no gain

It may be challenging to get into a financial fitness routine, but once you do you’ll start finding it easier to save. That sense of accomplishment when you reach a savings goal is similar to beating your personal best – it can be an addictive high that you’ll want to keep hitting. It all starts with discipline. While the word ‘discipline’ tends to be viewed in a negative light, we can turn this around by rather viewing it as a means to an end, or a bridge that will get us to where we want to be. Discipline goes hand in hand with consistency – it is the will to not live for the “here and now” but to get into some good regular training habits – day after day after day. Sure, skimping on one training session is not going to damage your training plan (in the same way that spending money on a little luxury now and then will not eat into your savings) – as long as you are consistently sticking to your plan as the norm. And nothing will beat the reward of the gain after the “pain” – crossing that finish line and receiving your medal!

 

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