For die hard runners, running a half marathon is probably not too impressive. And for long-time savers, paying for a wedding in cash is probably pretty easy to do. Considering we were starting from scratch, as in sporadic exercise and minimal savings, both goals were pretty intense for the two of us.
Looking back on our experiences, we couldn't help but find some pretty darn interesting parallels between running and saving...
Anybody that has exercised after a long lay off knows what I am talking about here. It hurts, as it should. Your body hurts, your lungs are weak, and mentally it is so hard to push through. The next day you wake up tired, sore, and you dread the idea of going to the gym that day let alone any time in the near future.
If you have not really saved before, that too hurts. You feel deprived of "stuff" you usually have, like eating out often, shopping, gadgets, etc. The idea of doing this all again the next day hurts your ego. You don't want to bring a packed lunch to work, you are jealous when you see someone else with the newest gadget. It sucks.
You start to see some gains
When you are able to get through that tough beginning, something starts to change. Maybe you start to see some muscle gains, or you are able to run a faster mile on the treadmill. All of a sudden, you start to see that maybe this whole gym thing is not so bad after all. You might even start to look forward to going to the gym.
When you save for a while, a similar breakthrough happens. You might get your first dividend check or you may put a dent in your debt. Whatever it is, you start to see that saving your money actually has a tangible benefit to your life.
It is that feeling of euphoria that follows strenuous physical exertion. "Runner's high", as it is commonly called, is also the mental turning point in my opinion. It marks very clearly the point in time where going to the gym completes the transition from agony to craving.
The "Saver's high" is also a mental turning point. This marks that time where something big happens in your finances. It could be hitting a certain savings goal, or finally paying off that student loan or credit card. Whatever it may be, you feel euphoria for a big accomplishment.
You Feel Bad
You weren't expecting this were you? Hear me out. When you go through all of these stages, you know you have reached the final stage when you start to feel bad. You might have a work function or family obligation, but it causes you to miss a gym day and you feel bad. You really really want to go strong and the inconvenient day off just kills you.
When you are saving this happens too. You get so used to saving that you reach all of your goals all the time. Sometimes, though, you make an impulsive purchase. Before, you felt nothing. But things have changed. Now you feel terrible. You start to think about how much you could have saved and how you didn't need that item. (Like buying that latte at Starbucks!)
If you have ever felt this feeling, congratulations! You have gone through all of the stages and you are on your way to living a long and healthy life. You have probably even added a few years to your long and health life, which is awesome!
If you are saving, even bigger congratulations! You have gone from financially irresponsible to awesome saver. You have set yourself up with a great plan for retirement, or you are well on your way to paying off all of your debt. Keep this up for a few more years and hopefully you are soon enjoying an early retirement!
What parallels have you experienced? Have you ever felt the "saver's high"?