Bring It! 

Michael Franks |

I recently began the P90X exercise program. I did so many push -ups yesterday that it hurts a little to type.

For those who are not late night infomercial fans, P90X is an intense exercise program offered by a company called Beachbody. You do everything in the comfort of your own home and are motivated along the way by the super fit, overly chatty coach, Tony Horton.  

A few of Tony’s winners include: “Do your best and forget the rest.” , “I hate it…….but I love it.”,  Get your little bucket nearby my friends, this routine is X-city.” , and the ubiquitous “Bring It.”

P90X is designed to get you in the best shape of your life in 90 days. I completed the program a few years ago, so I know that it works. The website talks about how through the advanced science of muscle confusion, you are able to achieve maximum results. While I believe the program works, I think the whole muscle confusion thing is smoke and mirrors. There is no magic pill or shortcut. It is just good- old-fashion hard work. “Pushing and pulling,” as Tony would say.  

The program involves daily exercising 60 to 90 minutes six days a week. The P90X workouts are intense, but you could do anything for that long and see results. I could learn to speak another language or play an instrument if I practiced an hour a day for three straight months.      

Though I successfully completed the program a few years ago, I begin this time with mixed feelings. I am nervous. I have a lot of work ahead of me. I know it will be difficult to fit workouts into my daily schedule. I will need to wake up pretty early some days to make sure I get my workout done. The program is also really hard. I will be pushing myself, and it will hurt.

At the same time, I have confidence that it will work. I know that if I am dedicated and just follow the program I will succeed. It is a relief to know that I only need to execute. Put in the video and go. The simplicity is comforting.  

I am getting a jump on my New Year’s resolution. It is that time of year again - getting physically fit always ranks near the top of people’s list. The other popular resolution is getting financially fit. The two are not that different.

The benefits are long lasting. Yes, I feel great after getting a good workout in, but the reason I am doing it is not for today. It is for the future. I hope to lead a long, healthy life.  I want to see my kids grow up. I still have so many places I want to visit.  I don’t want to be tooling around Italy on one of those scooters. I want to be able to explore.

Whether you realize it or not, you are already making a financial choice – pay now or pay later. Future “payment” will likely be working longer then you wish. Or not being able to do the things you want. Saving more today can help put you in control, give you the freedom to decide when you will stop working. Maybe you’ll turn a hobby or charitable inclination into a job? Work more for the thrill than for the paycheck.

I am all about balance, as we are not promised tomorrow. We can’t squirrel away every dime and not live and enjoy the present. That said, we still need to plan for the tomorrows.   And the time to plan for the tomorrows is today.

A $1 saved today compounding at 7% is worth $3.87 in 20 years, $5.43 in 25 years, and $7.61 in 30 years. *

No Easy Fix. I need to put the videos in and workout almost every day. All the push-ups, jumping around, and sweating for an hour works. If sitting on the couch drinking a six pack gave you a six pack, we’d all look great. The P90X program works because of the daily commitment to the program. You need the same level of commitment to your finances.

I think it is unlikely that most will fund their retirement dreams by investing in the next great stock.  Your future does not depend on your ability to out-maneuver the entire investment world and uncover a hidden gem.  Years of consistent savings to a well balanced portfolio will be most people’s “magic bullet.”   Sounds boring, but hopefully you find some comfort in that simplicity.

It is hard work and it likely will hurt. One of the main P90X workout is plyometrics, or jump training. It is an hour of lunges, squats, and jumping that leaves you out of breath and slightly dizzy. It is rumored that this workout put the “X” in P90X.

Spending likely helps keep the “S” in USA.  We are pulled and pressured to consume. Without endless resources an honest assessment of needs vs wants is required.  It is hard for anyone today to have it all and do it all. You’ll likely need to make some sacrifices. I hesitate to preach too much specific advice to on cut expenses. Everyone has their own hot-button spending traps.

Eating out is fun, but one less time per month would save around $1000 in a year.  A pre-owned car gets you around as well as a new one and could free up thousands of dollars for saving.   The kids can have as much fun in an “old 70’s style” basement as a modern, tricked-out playroom, while you save enough to pay for the project from reserves.

Again, I don’t think it is fair for me the judge how someone chooses to spend their money. I just ask, if you really want something what are you willing to cut back on?  What are you willing to sacrifice? It shouldn’t be your retirement savings.

Commit to saving 20% of your gross income in 2015.  In the next few days write the number down. And detail how you’ll get there. ($x into 401k, $z company match, & $y into brokerage account.)

It won’t be easy.  “Do your best and forget the rest.”  It might require some life changes, and that could hurt. “Get your little bucket nearby my friends, this routine is X-city.”   But your actions today will determine the options available to you down the road. “I hate it…….but I love it.”  To put yourself in the best position you need to start now, and of course, you are going to need to “Bring It!”