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Why Working On Your Finances Is Just As Important As Working On Your Fitness

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Just think: If you managed your budget with the same rigor and focus you apply to your physical health, you'd probably have not just a thicker wallet, but a heftier savings account for that new car you need, amirite? One place is aiming to help you change the way you think about your financial health, by using "training" methods and tools you might typically associate with the weight room or a distance race.

The Financial Gym, founded by financial expert Shannon McLay, trains and strengthens its clients' "money muscles" for a refreshing approach to wealth management. You can choose from three different levels of one-on-one financial coaching, depending where you are in your money life—recent college grads vs. married family, for example—and you will work with your advisor, either in person in NYC, on Skype, or via an online portal, for a minimum of three months. An online-only option is available starting at $85, with ongoing memberships going up from there. "Most people understand fitness goals like training for a marathon or losing weight, but they don't feel like they understand money," says McLay, who says these fitness analogies help simplify money and investing for her clients.

So we asked her to share some of her favorite "Cash Cardio" moves you can practice at home to save more money.

Get a coach.

McLay says one-on-one contact with a financial fitness trainer makes a big difference. "It's easy to turn off an app or a website, but it's hard to avoid a person who is sitting in front of you and holding you accountable for the financial choices you are making," she says. "We like to say that we're the Jillian Michaels of your money. You might not always love the hard work and sacrifices, but you're going to love the results at the end."

Make financial training a part of your self-care routine.

"I have an overall frustration that women do not prioritize financial health as much as they do their physical health and wellness," says McLay. She says that confusing jargon and out-of-date practices and gender roles could be making financial literacy more complicated and less appealing to women. "Financial health can be just as fun and sexy as physical health, and it's important for us to communicate this to women, especially since women live longer, make less than men, and pay more on average for goods and services targeted specifically to women."

Commit to scheduled training days.

Just as getting physically healthy takes time, energy, and commitment so does getting financially fit. McLay recommends you schedule time for finance drills and tasks throughout the week, just as you would your workouts and fitness classes. Mark down two or three days a week for financial exercises like no-spend days or cash-only days. The more you practice, the easier it will be. (Related: Did you know being broke actually causes physical pain?)

"Remember that budgets are like diets. No one wants to be on one, but they give you a great idea of how you should spend your money and remain healthy," she says. "Just like you'd weigh yourself regularly to check physical progress, you should check in on your financial health on a regular basis. When you do the weigh-in, check on all of your assets like bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts, check on your liabilities like credit cards and student loans, and check in on your credit score."

Document your journey and enjoy the ride.

You know all those #TransformationTuesday photos you see filling up your newsfeed? Those results didn't happen overnight, but boy is it gratifying to see the "before" and "after" after all that hard work. McLay says you should document your financial journey in the same way, to note the achievements and the setbacks so that when you reach your goal (like simply being in control of your money), you can remember all the work it took to get there. "People do not realize the emotional stress of money—and once you start to take control of it, the stress will subside," she says. So stop tossing and turning every month when your credit card and rent are due at the same time, and start using that anxiety as motivation to get financially fit.

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