Financial Boot Camp

About eight months ago, my wife signed us up for a new gym. It was the first time in years that we have been gym members, but she said that she got a great deal on Groupon and couldn’t pass it up. The gym isn’t your typical gym though, more like a boot camp in which I am actually paying to do more burpees than I thought imaginable all while being yelled at by trainers that look like they could be comic book villains. To top it all off, it starts at a very sleepy 5:30 in the morning. “Plenty of time to get to work”, was her comment, as a sense of dread came over me.

The main issue for me though is that I just felt like I didn’t need to go to the gym. Not because I don’t care about my health or staying in shape. Rather because I was doing ok staying in shape on my own. I love to run, and pretty consistently pull myself out of bed a few times a week to bring the dog for a 4-mile run before work. Or, more precisely, my hundred pound yellow lab drags me as I hold on for dear life. I’ve ran a couple marathons in the past, and I really enjoy running. No, maybe I don’t do it as much as I would like, but I did it enough.

Honestly, the first few trips to the gym were kind of underwhelming. The classes were difficult, but I was burning about the same amount of calories on my own jogging. I lost a couple of pounds that first month, but certainly had some more to go. I figured I’d make it a couple months at the gym and back to the early morning runs, which I know my dog would certainly appreciate.

Something funny happened though in those first couple months. The classes were three days a week, and I didn’t miss a class, even went four times a few weeks. I started to like and appreciate when my alarm went off at 5:11, and started to build a bond with my other sleep deprived gym members. Started to go to bed earlier so that 5:11 didn’t come so early and was eating a little healthier, because why waste a miserable workout just to blow it on Taco Bell.

The more I went to the gym, the more I realized how similar it is to hiring a financial advisor, well minus the burpees. Sure I was working out on my own, and when I ran, the workouts were great. Unfortunately, those runs would be up and down. Sometimes it was raining, sometimes it was too dark and cold, and more times than not, it was a lot easier to hit the snooze button. Little by little, I was gaining a couple extra pounds a year and feeling more out of shape by every birthday. No way this body is running a marathon, a 5k might be out of the question.

When people hire a financial advisor they are not going to go from financial ruin to financially fit overnight. Just like when you hire a new personal trainer, you aren’t going to do a workout which burns 20,000 calories and lose 20 pounds and all of a sudden show up on the cover of Men’s Health. The goal of both a financial planner and a personal trainer is to become more fit by keeping a schedule and having more discipline than doing it all on your own. It may be fairly easy to update your investment strategy once and rebalance it periodically, but over the longer term you may start to slip. You put off rebalancing for another quarter, you try to buy the higher flying investment to keep up with your colleagues returns, or  you simply don’t know what to do and move everything into a very conservative account. You hit the snooze button.

My goal is to help you not hit the snooze button. I’m not going to promise you will always “beat the market”, and I’ll never pretend to look into my crystal ball and tell you future predictions of the market. I will create an investment strategy that helps you hit your goals, and I will help you stay on track until you do so. Many financial advisors promise to help you lose 20 pounds in the first month, I hope that you are smart enough to not believe them.

It’s now been nearly a year since I started at the gym. I’ve lost about 5 pounds, still have a few more to go, and have gained some muscles that I never knew existed. I’m in better shape than where I was before and I’m confident I will be in even better shape 6 months from now. Could I have done this on my own and saved a few dollars? Sure, but chances are that after initially going on more periodic runs and eating healthy, I’d go back to some old habits and probably end up being in worse shape. When you hire a financial advisor don’t expect you will be in great financial shape tomorrow. In the long-run, hopefully it will help you lose those financial love handles.

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