Marathon is a sport that is fairly technical. You don’t just wake up one morning and go for a 42.2 km run, much like buying a house — unless you are very, very, VERY rich. In which case, this article isn’t for you and you can go back to browsing the internet for something funny to read.
If you are an average Joe and happen to be a runner, you’ll know what we are talking about. If you’re just an average Joe, and not a runner, then one of two things will happen after you read this. You’ll either become a runner or you’ll find the road-map you were looking for to be able to get that money saved.
Personally, we are hoping both happen because then you can turn one room in your villa into a shrine for those finisher’s medals. 😉
Anyway, back to finance. Odds are that you, like a lot of us, have dreamed of the day you will buy yourself that car, or the house, you’ve always wanted. The only thing that gets in the way are the flies buzzing around in your empty bank account.
So stop planning, start executing
Much like us, you too made a solemn promise to yourself that you’ll start saving money the moment you get paid. “No more unnecessary spending…it’s time for the serious saving to begin”, you thought. But come the end of the month, we are broke and it’s like someone hit the repeat button.
To solve this problem we decided to take a marathoner’s approach to running and see if it could give us the wisdom we needed to save for, say, a house. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume a couch to marathon situation for the runners and 0 savings to substantial savings for the urban poor.
So, here goes.
1. Get the goals right
Set the main goal first
Runners generally pick an event they want to participate in, based on how interested they are in that event and how much time they have to prepare for it. For example, they may choose to run the Boston Marathon in the coming year. Which could give them up to a year to prepare. They will also choose a time they want to finish the run in; like a 3 hours 30 min finish when they attempt the Boston Marathon.
With saving you could do something similar. Decide when you want to buy that house or car you’ve always wanted. Calculate the down payment and give yourself enough time to save for it. The trick here is to not choose a time that gives you too much room to relax but also not pick a time that isn’t too close and won’t let you have enough money unless you rob a bank (Not a good idea).
Set the intermediate goals too
Now that the main goal has been set, the training needs to be planned. Runners will usually set interim goals like, get to a 10 km run in 6-8 weeks, get to a 21 km run in 14-16 weeks, etc. This plan is usually synthesised from each person’s ability to run and gym work needed to hit each goal on time. Its different for each person.
This is something that we could use to get to our goal too. You can plan to start saving at least 10% of your income for the first few months/year. Going on to year two, you can up it to 20-25%. Just like the uniqueness of the training plans, savings plans will also have to be custom built for you.
The best way to do this would be to write down every single thing you spend on for 1 month. Then see how much the target 10-25% comes to. Now that you have the number you need to save each month, start adjusting your expenses to ensure that you can make the savings without losing too much of you your quality of life.
Basically, create a budget and stick to it.
2. Train hard
When the time to train comes, there are several things that runners do to ensure they hit their training goals. Some of these are things like strict diet plans and ensuring that nutrition doesn’t suffer. They also ensure that they stick to the plan and not have too many cheat days.
What this means to our plan to save is that the new Assassins Creed game (with the season pass) is not an emergency and doesn’t need you to break into your savings to buy it. Nothing should change your plan to save that 10-25%.
There is actually a great video by Your World Within on this very thing. It’s called Running in the Rain and you should probably check it out too.
3. Don’t lose focus
Focus is key to savings or running but it’s not something that’s easy to maintain. So to help you along, here are a few tips that, we think, will keep you focused on the task at hand.
a. Count down, not up
Instead of thinking about how you have only done 32 km, think that you only have 10 km more to go before it ends. Say your goal is RM20,000 and you have saved RM5,000. Instead of looking at it as just 5 grand, look at it as only RM15,000 to go before you reach your goal!
b. Keep pace
We’ve said this before but we’re going to say it again. Every runner has a target pace in minutes to get them to their goals and the same applies to savings. Don’t slow your commitment to the savings for anything. Keep putting money aside at the same pace as your plan dictates. If you fall behind, you’ll get left behind.
c. Learn to zone out
One of the most important skills for runners is the ability to zone out. Sounds like a contradiction to staying focused but bear with us. A long run is… long. If you keep looking at the distance covered, you’re either going to get bored or demotivated. The best thing to do is to not bother. Check on the progress from time-to-time but for the rest of the time, just let it be and forget that you have money in another account.
d. Get a partner
While running is largely a solo sport, there is no doubt that having a running partner can help you crawl out of bed on those cold cold mornings. Similarly, if you get a partner, someone to save with you, you could bolster each other’s resolve when it shows signs of weakening.
Now that the lecture is over there are just two more things you need to know.
- The Standard Chartered KL Marathon is scheduled for the 29th of September, 2019.
- The OCBC Booster Account offers an interest rate of 3.25% p.a. if you maintain a balance of RM 30,000 or more.
Remember it can’t happen overnight – marathons can’t be run without training and houses/cars can’t be bought without money. So stay the course and soon you too shall have a bank balance you can be proud of.
Easy training, tough marathon. Tough training, easy marathon. We’re sure you know what to do with this saying.
The author is an avid runner who regularly participates in long-distance running events and hopes to take part in the IRONMAN World Championship someday.
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