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The Relationship Between Time & Intensity Thumbnail

The Relationship Between Time & Intensity

The holiday season is upon us, which means sweater weather and larger family meals! As many of us know, this combination provides ample excuses to put off getting healthier or allows our good health habits to fall by the wayside.

I’ve struggled with my weight since college. At times, it felt like a problem for another day or that my weight was simply an aesthetic concern without any real health implications. Now in my 30's, I've begun to truly appreciate the importance of prioritizing my health.

As a Financial Advisor, I cannot help but see the significant parallels between the consistent habits we need to maintain (or achieve) good health and those that help us be more successful in the pursuit of our various financial goals. We all seem to know what to do at a high level: save more, spend less, invest smartly, eat healthier foods, work out. What I find isn't always recognized is the relationship between the time and intensity of these actions.

Let's explore the idea of trying to lose 20 lbs. At 3,500 calories per pound, you'll likely need to burn about 105,000 more calories than you take in to reach your goal. To reach your goal in a year, a calorie deficit of around 200 per day is required. However, if you are trying to make this happen in three months, you'll face a more intense challenge of nearly 800 calories per day, which is probably both unsustainable and dangerous!

Translate this to your finances, and you will quickly see that your timeframe dictates the intensity of your savings rate and required portfolio risk. For instance, if you are planning to have $1 million saved in 30 years, assuming a 7% annual rate of return, putting aside $820 per month will do the trick. If you only have 15 years, you’ll need to save about $3,150 per month instead. For most people, choosing to save $820 per month, even for double the amount of time, is more palatable compared to attempting to save $3,155 per month.


    1. Create realistic goals
    2. Remain disciplined and consistent
    3. Accept that we can only change the future, not the past
    4. Take action; nothing changes until you take that first step (literally and figuratively)

Obligatory note: please speak with your doctor before beginning any type of fitness or diet plan.

Opinionated note: please speak with your financial advisor before making any important or long-lasting financial decisions.

Written by Alex Richani, CFP® 

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