Personal Finance column: Your finances — strengthen, stretch and build stamina |

Personal Finance column: Your finances — strengthen, stretch and build stamina

Danielle Howard
Personal Finance

We live in a valley that values physical, mental and spiritual health. We are fortunate to have access to a multitude of outdoor activities, a wealth of intellectual stimulation and an abundance of educational opportunities. With hearts full of gratitude, we need to make the most of the privileges availed to us as we pursue to better ourselves and serve the world.

Food in the fridge and a full pantry doesn’t equate to healthy eating choices. Owning a Peloton doesn’t mean you are optimizing its functionality. Having more money is not the end all, be all of financial wellness. Your financial health is integrally woven throughout all areas of health and life fulfillment.

When we understand the mechanics of what works in one area, we can relate it to and replicate it in others. We are well versed in the benefits of staying physically fit. For those who choose to pursue physical fitness, the three components — strengthening, stretching and building stamina will be familiar territory. Here are some analogies in your financial life.

Strength: Strength training as part of your physical workout will help you maintain optimal weight, builds muscle mass, increases your energy and improves your mood.

We can strengthen our dollar decisions. Tell your money where to go instead of asking where it went. An intentional spending plan will eliminate the weight of consumer debt. Increase your energy level as you are empowered to make spending choices that align with what is important in your life. When you prioritize saving and investing, you build financial “muscle” to be utilized now and in the future. You can find your optimal weight in your asset allocation or asset location.

Create a strong financial identity as part of goal setting and healthy habit implementation. “I am financially savvy” packs a punch over “I’m not good with numbers.” Pick an area of your financial life that you would like to refine or create better definition in. When I found out I was going to be a grandmother about four years ago, I hired a trainer to focus on upper body strength as I envisioned lifting a quickly growing toddler. Financially, we set up a 529 after her birth to build resources for future educational opportunities. It all requires discipline, pushing past your comfort zone, safety in execution and consistency.

Stretch: When we increase our flexibility on the physical side, we improve our range of motion, increase overall performance, decrease the risk of injury and build strength. The duration of a stretch is important as well as understanding the kinetic chain (how everything is connected).

Financial flexibility is knowing what tools you have, how they work and when to use them. Economic agility entails understanding market or tax conditions and what needs to change to keep you performing optimally. The financial “tool” you purchased 10 years ago may need a tune up or replacement depending on what you are trying to accomplish. As we transition through life, financial and economic seasons, maintaining flexibility in how we maneuver and manage our financial lives will help us savor joy and avoid regret.

You may want to “stretch” your monetary mindsets. Are your financial scripts hindering you from your potential or supporting you in moving forward? With financial flexibility, we maximize opportunities, understand and manage risks — striving to become the best next version of ourselves. Be patient. It took me a while to hold some yoga poses, and I continue to work on others. Stretching in different aspects of your financial life will take time. Dedication and diligence are key.

Stamina training entails getting your heart rate up and pushing through. It builds the ability to withstand fatigue, stress or pain. It reduces the risk of most debilitating diseases, improves the circulatory system, helps you to sleep better and gives you an enhanced quality of life.

What financial tools do you have in place to get you through tough times or to optimize long-term sustainability? Are your investments and other assets working as efficiently as possible? For longevity you may want to consider how to optimize Social Security, pensions or annuities. These are income streams that will last as long as you do. For liquidity, you want to look at efficient income streams based on current tax environments. For legacy planning, consider leaving assets that currently receive a step up in cost basis.

I utilize professionals to help maximize my workout and keep me from hurting myself. I take lessons or get guidance to hone my skills and to have more fun with the experience. Build your version of true wealth in the same manner. Find the right professionals based on what you want to accomplish. Be proactive instead of reactive as you strengthen, stretch and build stamina in your financial life.

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at

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