The Marathoner’s Financial Playbook

October 28, 2019

Around the world, women are toppling marathon records. Earlier this month, Brigid Kosgei broke the standing 16-year record for the women’s marathon, running the 26.2-mile race in a mind-blowing 2 hours, 14 minutes, and 4 seconds. She’s not the only one picking up the pace — seven of the ten all-time fastest women’s marathon performances have happened in the past two years!

Women are putting in the work, and it’s paying off.

As we think about our financial plans, we can learn a lot from these outstanding athletes, especially the value of planning, participation, and creative thinking. Let’s leverage the tools that these tenacious athletes have laid out for us. 

Success takes planning and discipline

Whether you’re a novice or a pro, running a race and achieving your financial goals both take a great deal of planning. Setting goals — evaluating where you are now versus where you want to be — is a crucial start.  

Once goals have been set, a runner has to find the right tools to get her to the finish line — shoes, water, nutritious food, cross-training exercises. We have to find the ones that best match our style and goals. 

The same goes for our financial plans. To achieve long-term success, we can’t just pay the bills and expect to meet our goals. We need to look at the components that drive our financial success, like our debt management, investment strategies, and tax planning.

It takes motivation to meet your goals. Just as runners check-in with their breathing, heart rates, and speed to make sure they’re in line with their goals, we need to stay engaged with our finances. Check-in with your goals at regular intervals to ensure you’re on track.

There’s a lot at play when it comes to large long-term goals. While some runners prefer to approach their race alone, many have coaches and pacers who help them along the way. No matter where you are in the financial planning marathon, always know that you can ask for guidance.

Active participation is key

It’s not only the pros who are changing the face of running. Women are dominating the sport in terms of participation, too. A 2018 report found that, for the first time in history, more women were running in races than men

When it comes to wealth, women are also pulling ahead of men. A study by the Bank of Montreal found that women control 51% of American private wealth.

Yet as women are accumulating greater sums of wealth, their participation in their finances still lags men’s participation. It’s understandable, given that women often feel that their financial advisors fail to empathize with experiences like divorce or a husband’s death, or they simply don’t understand their client’s risk tolerance.

But withdrawing from the financial decision-making process has a cost. If we don’t manage our money, our money will manage us. By taking an active interest in our financial wellbeing, we’re more likely to:

  • Avoid living paycheck to paycheck
  • Eliminate debt
  • Become financially independent
  • Meet our retirement goals

Let’s take a page out of the marathon runners’ book by playing an active role in achieving our goals.

Give yourself a creative boost

For most, running isn’t about the finish line — it’s about the process of getting there. Runners often use this precious time to reset, think things over, and come up with new ideas. Take it from philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who wrote, “the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow.” 

If running isn’t for you, try to find another activity that you enjoy and gets your heart pumping. Exercise of any kind helps reduce stress, focus our minds, increase productivity, enhance our memory, and stimulate creativity.

By activating our brains and tapping into our creative sides, we give ourselves the opportunity to think big. For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to travel to Greece, but for whatever reason, you haven’t had the capacity to make a trip come together. Maybe it’s time to create a dedicated savings plan to accomplish your dream.

Time to bring those ideas to life.

Whatever your hopes for the future, let’s make sure you have a financial plan that aligns with those big ideas.