What is financial fitness?

4 minutes
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Financial fitness will look a bit different for everyone. We believe it’s about having the knowledge, skills, and motivation to manage your money in a way that’s  going to help you achieve your financial goals and also have the flexibility to choose your path when life doesn’t go according to plan.

That’s why you’re invited to take our Financial Fitness course. It’s a guided tour where you can choose which paths you’ll take and when. Whether it’s taking 5 minutes to watch a short video or immersing yourself in an informative article there’s lots of great information in different formats to suit busy lifestyles.

Being financially fit is going to look different for everyone because we all have different financial backgrounds, different incomes, different lives with different costs, and different goals or expectations.

Essentially, financial fitness has 4 key elements:

1. Financial awareness – there are 2 parts to financial awareness. The first is the practical understanding of your current financial situation, and the second is how you feel about that emotionally.

The practical understanding can come from undertaking an exercise whereby you lay out in front of you all the financial paraphernalia in your life. Things like your payslips, credit cards, bank statements, superannuation reports, insurance policies and so on. Then, organise this information in a way that makes sense to you so you can clearly see what you own, what you owe, what money you have coming in, and how you currently spend your money.

The emotional awareness is a little trickier and does require some self-reflection. Having laid out your financial position for yourself, now be open to how you’re feeling about it. This could range from fear, frustration, or shame through to pride or optimism at the other end of the spectrum. Reflect on where you are now and where you would prefer to be. Deciding you are ready to make that change is your first step to financial fitness.

2. Financial literacy - is the knowledge and skills needed to confidently manage your money.

For many people this will be life-long learning as their financial situation changes and as financial market conditions change. There are many places to source information on financial literacy skills. This financial fitness course covers the basics as you’re  getting started on your financial journey.

As you acquire financial knowledge and skills throughout your life, the next step is then to apply those skills to your own situation where appropriate. This application of skills then becomes a set of financial behaviours.

3. Financial behaviour – how you apply financial skills and knowledge to your everyday decision-making.

Financial literacy helps you figure out the right thing to do when it comes to personal financial decisions. However, as humans we don’t always make the most logical choice as our emotions and values influence our decisions as well. The impact of this is that we don’t always act in ways that are beneficial to our financial situation. It may be helpful to identify and reduce those behaviours so you can make choices that better support the financial fitness that you’re seeking.

4. Financial satisfaction – the contentment that comes from the inner belief that you have made the financial choices that best suit your situation.

This will be different for everyone depending on your experiences and expectations, your financial skills, and the choices that you’re comfortable with. For some it may mean having a budget that you work within and review regularly; it may mean having an ‘emergency fund’ that will cover expenses for a few months should you need it; for others it may mean working diligently towards saving a deposit for a house or building up your retirement nest egg. While each of these things looks quite different, what they have in common is taking control, applying your knowledge, and making sound choices.

 

This Financial Fitness course is aimed at those just starting out on their financial journey, or perhaps it might act as a reminder for those a little further down that path. Getting the basics right acts as a solid foundation for building the financial future you want.

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. © Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.


Bronwyn Lawson thumbnail image

Bronwyn Lawson

As a Financial Wellbeing Specialist with Westpac's Davidson Institute, Bronwyn Lawson draws on her diverse history in banking and finance. Since making the transition from banking to education 15 years ago, Bronwyn has delivered face to face workshops to business owners across the country, and helped people from all walks of life to enhance their financial knowledge. Bronwyn's most satisfying work to date is the time she spent in a number of Pacific Island nations helping educate and empower people, particularly women, to take control of their money and build better futures for themselves and their families.

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