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You Have to Start Somewhere

I still remember the nerves I had when I walked through the doors that morning, the type of nerves that come with doing almost anything for the first time. While exercising on a regular basis wasn't new to me, doing so at a gym was. My normal routine of lifting weights at home and running at local parks had become monotonous. I needed variety, and I hoped joining a gym that programmed daily workouts for me would provide it.

Although I had already toured the gym a few days earlier during my introduction session, I was still surprised by how much different it looked compared to what I knew typical gyms to look like. There were no treadmills or ellipticals, no stair steppers or leg press machines—just an open space with what looked like a jungle gym that also held barbells. To the side of the open space was a television that prominently displayed the workout of the day. When I read what I would be doing that morning my nerves only worsened. I was unfamiliar with the majority of the movements included in the workout, many of them requiring equipment I had never used. My face must have shown how out of place I felt because the next words one of the gym’s trainers said to me after introducing himself were, "Get in where you fit in."

Although it can be a helpful piece of advice for people of all fitness levels, "Get in where you fit in," is usually directed at a gym's newcomers, encouraging them to focus less on performing the workout exactly as it's written and more on doing what they can as best as they can. This allows the workout to be just as effective for newcomers as it is for those who have more gym experience or physical ability.

This approach works in personal finance, too. Are you familiar with the "50/30/20 Rule"? The rule states that 50% of your take-home pay should be used to pay for the essentials, like groceries and utilities. Of the remaining 50%, 30% should be used to pay for the non-essentials, and 20% should be saved. Rules like this one are popular because they're simple and useful, but they can seem complicated and useless if those percentages don't jive with your financial situation.

So how do you get to the point where you’ve overcome common financial hurdles, like burdensome student loan debt, and can follow the rules of personal finance as they’re written? Start with this financial workout.

  • Warm-Up: Run the numbers. Review your cash flow to determine if your spending habits are working for you or against you. Are they in alignment with your goals and values?

  • Workout: Lift the balance of your Emergency Fund, then crunch your debt. Your Emergency Fund should hold three to six months of essential expenses but can hold more if that makes you feel more secure. As for your debt, strive to have no more than 36% of your monthly gross (i.e. pre-tax) income allocated to your monthly debt payments.

  • Cooldown: Stretch. Flexibility is key to handling life's unknowns.

Tony Horton, a fitness guru known for his roles in popular commercial home exercise programs, said it well. "Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was your body." The journey to financial success is no different. It’s not completed in a day; it’s completed over many years, years filled with sound financial decisions. The first decision is to begin the journey, so get in where you fit in.

The opinions expressed are those of PYAW’s Investment Team. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. Forward-looking statements cannot be guaranteed. 

PYA Waltman Capital, LLC (“PYAW”) is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about PYAW’s investment advisory services can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. PYA-20-58

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