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Steps to Success: The Link Between Physical and Fiscal Fitness


By Joshua Schnelle, AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust Relationship Manager

I’m not a great runner, but I have always enjoyed the sport of running. The ability to get outside, cover some ground, soak up my surroundings, and know that I’m improving myself physically is just a great feeling. 

For the past couple of years, I’ve run two to four miles at a time, at whatever pace I felt like, just hoping to keep my body healthy. But in August, when I found out my employer, AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust (AWM&T), was a sponsor of the Army Ten Miler and was forming a team to run the race, I decided I would challenge myself and sign up. But with only three months to prepare, I knew my approach to training would need to change not just to finish the race, but to really enjoy it. 

With my military background and experience providing financial planning guidance to clients, the first thing I think to do when I have a goal is to develop a plan. I applied the same principles to my training for the Army Ten Miler, and after some research, I found that a running app I’d already been using for a couple of years had a training plan I could adopt to help me prepare. 

Not only did the app feature guided runs, it had a variety of coaches in my earbuds explaining how I needed to pace myself, and chiming in periodically with tips and encouragement. A favorite was Coach Bennett who loved to remind me that, “Every run has a purpose!” And that, “Just by starting each run you have notched a small win for the day!” It was fantastic, and within two weeks I saw my times and endurance change dramatically. Not only was I beginning to run farther and faster, I felt mentally and physically stronger while doing it. 

As my endurance grew, my runs got longer and gave me time to think about more than just the road under my feet and getting back home. I started considering bigger-picture ideas like the similarities between creating my running plan for the Army Ten Miler and developing financial plans for clients. 

To achieve my ultimate goal of finishing my race, I first had to evaluate where I currently was as a runner, and I had to determine where I wanted to be in the end. Establishing my beginning and endpoints enabled the app to help me create a detailed plan including smaller goals throughout the week to keep me on track. If I’d kept the same pace throughout my training, I wouldn’t have improved so quickly; if I ran too hard and fast all at once, I would have gotten injured or burned out. I needed the app to show me the right way to reach my goal effectively. 

Similarly, a financial planner also gathers detailed information about your situation up front, including your goals and timeline, to help develop a financial roadmap between where you are now and where you want to go. 

If you start planning early and have time on your side, your plan will have more flexibility to handle those route detours and speed bumps, which we all know will come along in anyone’s journey. If you wait until later in your career, you’ll most likely need to save more to make up for lost time. Because I decided to start training only three months before the race date, I couldn’t really take a week off if I wanted to reach my goal. The same can be said about financial planning. The longer you wait to create your financial plan, the harder it is to achieve.

Using the running app not only gave me a running plan, but also a coach, guiding me through the runs, encouraging me and reminding me of the importance of each individual workout. Having a plan was the first step, but having a mentor to educate me, motivate me, and hold me accountable was crucial.

A financial planner operates in a very similar way. The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS ™ at AWM&T create tailored recommendations for Members to help them move toward specific financial goals and, in tandem with Relationship Managers, assist them as they navigate their plan. As a team, we work as their guides, helping them throughout their lifetime, encouraging them to stay the course when things get rough, and applauding them as they knock out goals, one after the other. We’re their personal coaches on their journey toward financial freedom and security.

Next time you go for a run, think about all of the goals you have for your future and then imagine how great it would be to have an expert team, who truly cares about your success, guiding you every step of the way.