8 Ways to Improve Your Financial Fitness

Gilda Green, treasury broker, mom of two, health advocate and fitness franchise owner, helps you find your fiscal freedom.

For the past 18 years, Gilda Green has worked in sales and trading on Wall Street. Formerly a fixed income institutional salesperson for large financial firms, she now splits her time between New York City and her hometown of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida as a U.S. Treasury broker. When she got married and started her family in 2007, she realized that, in order to create the life she desired, she needed to gain financial freedom. Armed with a degree in Finance and International Business from Georgetown University, she knew she had the foundation to start making the necessary changes to thrive. With a strong affinity for fitness and health, she joined Shaklee, a leading natural nutrition, personal and home care brand in 2010. After turning her own health around with their line of supplements and weight-management tools, she became passionate about their offerings and wanted to share them with others—turning her interest into a profitable side business. As a distributor, she used her interpersonal skills to distribute products she believed in and created an additional income helping others transform their health and financial futures. “It was a very turnkey way to create an income stream without having to worry about the exorbitant financial costs and time investment usually associated with starting a business, something I didn’t have time for because I had a full-time career,” Gilda says. 8 Ways to Improve Your Financial Fitness She also recently purchased a fitness franchise with her husband as a way to further diversify their
investment portfolio. Her side hustle and new investments, coupled with being a stellar steward of her finances, helps her remain in control as the costs of living continue to rise. According to My Budget 360 and Mother Jones, the lifestyle in the United States has become more expensive yet income levels are remaining flat, necessitating that Americans make significant changes to their spending and saving habits. “If you look at the last decade and account for inflation, most people are making a lot less today than they were ten years ago because there has been very little wage growth,” Gilda says. “Year after year, companies are paying the same or less and yet the cost of living keeps rising. Especially with the baby boomer demographic, we’re seeing people retire thinking they have enough money to do so, but they’re spending their money a lot faster than they anticipated.” From budgeting tips to savings strategies, Gilda gives you her personal best practices to transform your financial
future—for good.

Practice restraint

Just like you would need to be disciplined in working out everyday to achieve a strong, healthy body, you have to be disciplined about your finances, too. We live in a society where credit rules and people spend a lot more than they have. The statistics don’t lie. The average American has little to no money saved. In fact, The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported that, when it comes to retirement savings, “the median retirement savings account for all families in the U.S. is just $5,000.” You look at the average debt the American household carries and it is mind-blowing! Nerdwallet.com reports “overall U.S. household debt has increased by 11% in the past decade.” Just like you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, no matter how much you run or lift weights, you can’t out-save a bad budget. You need to know your income and expenses and have a clear understanding of what is coming in and going out each month. When you have that clear picture, you can start making adjustments on where and how to spend your money. Be realistic about what you can afford.

Start saving from a young age, but remember, it’s
never too late to start!

Try to target saving 10% of your income in your twenties and work up to 15% as soon as you can do so comfortably. The earlier you start investing and stashing money away, the more time that money has to grow because of compound interest. I didn’t start seriously thinking about saving until I was 32 and had my first child. I wanted more time with my kids. I had money saved through my company 401k but that was definitely not enough to retire early! So that’s when I really started being more intentional about saving.

Identify additional streams of income

Now with the internet and social media, it’s much easier to have a side business because we are so highly connected with people. In my situation, I signed up to distribute a line of products I absolutely loved and believed in because they had made a meaningful difference in my and my family’s health. I wanted to help others experience the same health transformation and I leveraged my network to do it. Just having day-to-day conversations with people would turn into sales and friends joining me to build businesses of their own alongside mine. I think network marketing and direct selling (where you are basically a sales rep for a brand and are compensated for what you sell and for helping others build successful businesses with you) is a great place to start because there is a very low cost of entry with the potential for a huge upside.

Save separately for emergencies

Stash away a percentage of your income in a cash account to be used for emergencies only. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three months of living expenses in cash available to you (six months to a full year is wiser) to help you be prepared for the inevitable life changes that happen when we least expect them.

Round out your reading list

A few of my favorite resources that outline additional steps to becoming financially fit include: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey as well as Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams
by David Bach.

Keep the plastic in your wallet

Don’t be married to a credit card. In fact, cut them up if you can't restrain yourself! It’s a lot harder to have cash leave your hand than to swipe a card. Who cares about accruing points when you’re in debt? Only use your credit card when you know you have cash to pay for it. Credit card interest rates are astronomical. A $2,000, $3,000 or $10,000 balance compounded in interest over time triples and quadruples very quickly.

Lose the non-essentials; leave your non-negotiables

I’m a big believer in shopping second-hand, like buying a used car instead of a new one. There are many ways to splurge while keeping a budget, such as buying clothes on sale or at a consignment store or clipping coupons. Small tweaks and adjustments pay off in the long run when it comes to saving. We live in such a crazy, consuming society that sales are rampant and people consign things that are basically brand new. We’re lucky because if you’re looking for a good deal, you can find it.

Your expertise is your moneymaker

You’re paid, in any industry, for your skill set and your talent. If you want to make more money at a job you like, look at your financial situation and ask yourself the tough questions. Are you doing the best job you can for the company? How do you see yourself climbing the corporate ladder? How many people have gone up that corporate ladder and do you have the skill set to do it? Surround yourself with people that have gotten there and learn from them!

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Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo