This post explores how exercise can make you rich by increasing earning potential, savings, and the chances you’ll live longer. Plus, a special social benefit of exercise especially for introverts at the end.
“Dude I got to thinking.”
“What you said about skiing only thirty more times in your life really hit me.”
We sat on a chairlift at a local hill. Nothing like the mountains out west we both craved. A great day skiing with a lifelong friend nonetheless.
Apparently, my friend had taken to heart my well-practiced, passive-aggressive speech that I normally reserve for my wife.
Yes, honey, we can stay on the east coast. I guess I’ll just resign myself to skiing only 30 more times before I die. *Walks off downtrodden*
I’m 37. 37 plus 30 is 67 in my book. I’d be lucky to be active much less downhill skiing in beautiful mountains at that age. So, I’ve got 30 more trips in me potentially.
Or many, many more
if when we hit FI in our late 40s.
But I’m hedging my bets in other ways. Which leads me to a confession.
My Confession to You
I have a confession to make that may cost me my FI community card. Ready?
I spend $380 a month on a personal trainer.
Let me rephrase.
I invest $380 a month in my health via a personal trainer.
One more time. I can do better.
I invest $380 in myself via a personal trainer every month and it is the best damn investment I make.
As you’re tearing up my FI membership, let me throw some knowledge at you. According to the CDC, “people who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40% lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.”
So, I am working over 40 hours a week to get to FI, but I only have to invest 7 hours a week to cut my chance of pushing daisies early by 40%?
Okay. Fine. No big deal. Let’s do seven hours.
My Second Confession
I suck at working out consistently. Seven hours is not easy for me to schedule.
I’ve been around long enough to know my strengths and my weaknesses. Sticking to a consistent workout program with no accountability is not one of my strengths.
The trainer works for me.
Being accountable to someone and making a significant investment is necessary for me in this area.
But if I want to ski (hike, surf, chase grandchildren, swim, bike, etc.) until I’m 110 then I need to make this investment in my longevity.
Plus, there are benefits to this investment that will help you and me reach FI sooner.
Exercise is Good for Your
Math says that $380 x 12 is $4,560. Ouch. That surely has to be killing my path to FI right?
Not so. Multiple studies show that better health equals more wealth.
And being a skinny man can decrease your salary between $10,000 and $15,000 per year.
Is this fair? Don’t look at it that way. You’re getting stronger and healthier and if people want to pay you more to do so because of aesthetic biases, hell, I say let ’em. Plus, it is more than the aesthetic that contributes to an increase in pay from exercise.
Exercise improves mood and increases energy, making you more productive and a friendlier coworker.
It is win-win for you and your employer (or business if you own).
A better mood and more energy make you happier and better able to enjoy time outside of work. Exercise also promotes deeper sleep so your non-waking hours are more…woke?
The point is that getting fit pays healthy dividends. (That right there is what my wife calls a “Dad joke.” I call it great writing.)
Scaleable to the Masses?
“But FIIntrovert, you’re rich I tell ya. What you’re saying to do is impossible. I can’t spend $4,560 a year on a personal trainer like you. I’m outta here!”
Now hold on cowboy. We showed you above that exercising regularly can have a benefit through increased salary. If the studies are right and the increase is 9%, then you only need to be making about $51,000 per year to make that type of luxurious spending pay off by getting a raise to $55,590. Yes, you won’t get that raise every year but after one year you’ll be in a habit and not need a trainer.
And lest we forget, I am not telling you to go get a personal trainer at this great expense! (and neither are the studies)
The Return on Investment in Your Health is Huge
Let’s say you are just slightly more disciplined than me and can get yourself to a group exercise class. I live in a high cost of living area and here is what I found:
- Crossfit = $2,088/year
- Pure Barre = $1,700/year
- Core Power Yoga = $1,860/year
- Orange Theory = $2,040/year
The median wage in the US is a little above $44,000. A 9% salary increase yields $3,960 making even the most expensive option a net positive of $1,872 just on a salary increase alone.
Okay, okay. Even at a median salary and a net positive return on investment, you say this is too much. If you have even more discipline than me and can drag yourself on your own to exercise a few times a week, here is what you might pay for a regular gym:
- 24 Hour Fitness = $568
- Gold’s Gym = $300
- Planet Fitness = $149
Again, even at the most expensive, if you can motivate yourself to do your own workout then the return on investment in year one at a $44,000 salary is $3,392.
For those of you with super discipline and some knowledge, you can workout at home for free by using YouTube videos, making a home gym, or simply going to the park and doing suicides on the basketball court.
There is literally no excuse for not investing in yourself. The ROI is too great. And I have shown that even with my egregious personal trainer expense, the economic benefits nearly accrue to the median salary in the first year.
Enough with the Increases, Show me the Savings!
But wait there’s more! Savings.
Another study says that just walking 30 minutes a day will save you $2,500 a year in healthcare costs.
I’m talking walking here folks. But that $2,500 easily pays for a CrossFit membership.
Fitness can also save you money by simply eliminating one behavior for a healthier, more enjoyable behavior:
- Walking and biking rather than driving saves on car maintenance and gas
- Hiking and taking in nature’s scenery rather than scenes from a movie saves on sedentary entertainment expenses
- Buying fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meat rather than expensive and nutritionally weak processed meals saves on food costs
- Drinking water is less expensive than sugary soda and other drinks
- Going out and playing sports saves money on mindless cable TV consumption
- Save on alcohol and cigarettes by not wanting to negate the gains from your investment in your health
My work colleague kicked ass in his workout the other day. Here is our text conversation afterward:
Related Reading: How I built my investments from $11k to $210k in three years
Stop Canceling Gym Memberships in the Name of FI
You gotta stop.
(Substitute “gym membership” with guitar practice, ski passes, indoor rock climbing clubs, CrossFit dues, dance lessons, Barre and yoga studios, etc.)
This has to end.
All across FI social media groups and online forums I see people proclaiming, “I canceled my gym membership!” There is pride. Excitement. Even joy!
Why? Did frugality and the path to FI relieve you of the guilt of not using your membership? “Ah! I am on the path so I no longer have to pretend I don’t have time for the gym. I simply don’t go because I’m saving money!”
No my friends! The path to FI is paved with rippling muscles and toned bodies. Studies have shown that with exercise you will:
- Earn more
- Save more
- Live more
How can exercise not be a pillar of financial independence? The FIIntrovert says it is. There is just no point in FI if you are not around to enjoy it actively.
Early Retirement Will Make You Live Longer…But There’s A Catch
An article came out in the New York Times titled “The Connection Between Retiring Early and Living Longer.” Well, here’s the connection. If you live an active life in early retirement that has meaning, you’ll live longer. If you live a sedentary life with no meaning, retirement sucks.
That is why the “Why of FI” get so much attention.
It is all pointless if you get there with no passions, no longevity, and no happiness.
“…no matter where you go, you will always bring yourself. So if you are not in a happy place while pursuing FIRE, you sure won’t be happy once you reach it.” Tawcan in FIRE. RIP. 2014-2018
You can live at home until you’re 35 and sit in the basement eating Tide pods for all three meals but you won’t arrive at FI in very good shape.
Remember, FI is about living well. We’ve demonstrated that exercise is both a means to FI through earning and saving more, as well as a means to living better both in and out of FI. Exercise!
Social Benefits of Exercise For Introverts
Oh hello. I didn’t forget about you. This entire blog is for you! Let’s talk about another benefit of exercising specifically for introverts.
Social Collision. It’s one of my favorite terms.
Social collision is going to the same place at the same time over and over again. You are likely to run into (collide with) the same people. I wish I had understood social collision earlier in my life.
Before I was the FIIntrovert, I used to go out to random bars each weekend at various times with irregular frequency. Each time was like hitting reset. I could not figure out why I wasn’t meeting people.
My understanding of social collision took off when I joined CrossFit. Because I’m an introvert, it takes multiple encounters for me to warm up to someone and get to know them. Hell, to even talk to them.
With CrossFit, I started to go to the same classes each day, at the same time, and guess what? The same people also did that and I “collided” with them just from being in the same place. As a result, I formed friendships with some of the people in class and we started going to…wait for it…events that other CrossFit people and their friends went to. Lo and behold I started meeting people who my friends were friends with by going to the same events over and over. I went out on some pretty cool dates and made some great long-term friends.
This really seems obvious now that I write it but it took me until my 30s to figure out this basic social concept.
So introverts, I highly recommend a group exercise environment. If you don’t want to do a group, try going to your gym or dog park or yoga class or wherever at the same time and day every visit. You will meet people naturally and easily. I promise.
Further Reading on Health and Fitness in the FI Community
- Health and Wealth by ESI
- Skinny Waist Fat Wallet Challenge by ChooseFI (Began February 2018)
- Health And Financial Statistics Alarming; Buck The Trend by LifeZemplified
- How Your Fitness Can Affect Your Finances by Sunburnt Saver
- February Plank Challenge by The Smart FI
- Is A Gym Membership Worth It? by Money Scrap
- How to get paid for working out! by The Cheap Athlete
- Why an Emergency Fund is Good for Your Health by Budget Like a Lady
- How to Look and Feel Like The Vigilante Without a Hefty Price Tag by I, Vigilante via Freedom is Groovy
- Running to Work Again! by The Marsean
- How to get and stay in great shape for less than a yearly gym membership by Sunscreen Your Green
- 5 Morning Rituals For Success by First Habit
- What Training For A Triathlon Taught Me About Personal Finance and Investing by Wealth from 30
- Why you should start P90X3; and a complete review (…it’s a workout program) by MikedUp