Exercise regularly

Most well-off people worked hard and saved diligently.

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From the September/October 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Illustration by Jason Ford

Hate him if you must, but let’s be fair: that ripped guy at your gym probably didn’t just wake up one morning looking like a Greek god. He probably got that body by exercising regularly.

It’s the same with most wealthy people. Sure, there are trust fund babies out there, but most well-off people worked hard and saved diligently—probably from a young age.

Take Rachel Jackson, a 24-year-old Torontonian working in digital media, who wants to save $20,000 for a home down payment in five years. Since graduating in 2011, Jackson has wisely kept on top of debt and has socked away several thousand dollars in a TFSA through occasional lump sum deposits. But now her progress has stalled. Since moving into a new apartment and settling into a more active lifestyle in the city, she’s now spending more and saving less. “It’s been harder lately because I’ve been making bigger purchases.”

Here’s the problem: making infrequent contributions to her TFSA just isn’t working. It’s like an exercise regimen based on going to the gym whenever you feel like it. What Jackson needs to do is determine what percentage of her paycheque she can reasonably save (10% is a good target), then set up automatic biweekly or monthly TFSA contributions based on that amount.

Jackson’s sacrifice will pay off later on, says Sandi Martin, a fee-only planner at Spring Personal Finance in Gravenhurst, Ont. “Not just in terms of saving a down payment, but also with her overall financial health through the rest of her life. At 24, there’s so much opportunity to build great habits.”

Complete all 10 steps for optimal fitness!

Step 1: It all starts with a plan

Step 2: Exercise regularly

Step 3: Eat a balanced diet

Step 4: Avoid unnecessary risk

Step 5: Reduce the fat!

Step 6: The wrong kind of supplements are dangerous

Step 7: Weigh yourself regularly

Step 8: The wrong kind of prepackaged food is dangerous

Step 9: Avoid the fads!

Step 10: Get the right help

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