5 Finance Lessons I (Accidentally) Learned from… My Gym Trainer.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Smith


Monday Night
At the Gym

4 Sets. 
12 Repetitions each. 
Go!!! (with simultaneous clapping of the hands)


That’s my trainer barking orders at me. It’s sort of a odd arrangement if you ask me – I’m lifting weights that feels like a ton, sweating down my back like a waterfall, yet, I’m the one PAYING him???


Ok, I’m not a sadistic nut, well I think I’m not. Anyway, the only reason I subject myself to this torture workout is… RESULT.


I never imagined myself getting a personal trainer – I’ve always taught hiring one is too expensive for me and felt it was just a waste of money. 


So what changed?


You see, my wedding was fast approaching and I’ve always been on the wrong side of the body scale. I wanted to try and look my best on my wedding day. And my numerous failed attempts to workout solo proved to me that I simply can’t do it alone.


So I bit the bullet and hired a drill sergeant  personal trainer to help me out.


And here is a glimpse of the result.

Allan Ngo's Before and After 


Ok, so what does pumping iron have to do with one’s finances? Hmm… well you might be in for a surprise. To start off, no, you won’t get additional income for each repetition you do, I can tell you that. 


But my trainer made me realize that the reason I’ve not been achieving the results I want was because I was sabotaging myself. Without realizing it, I wasn’t pushing myself as hard,  giving excuses not to go to the gym & allowing myself to be tempted by the wrong kinds of food.


I KNOW what to do but it’s a whole different thing to DO it. 

Self-sabotage is what holds us back from achieving our goals, including personal finance. He introduced some simple yet profoundly effective habits & I’ll give a quick rundown here before he catches me here talking to you:


1. Get 2 Goals or Get Lost! 


Yes, two! You have to set-up your dream goal and your realistic goal. Sure you want to have the body of Thor but if you look like Palito then it’s going to take a while. If you don’t see the results in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll lose motivation. You can make the Thor body your dream goal. 


You should have a more realistic goal first like Phil Younghusband first. A (not easy but) more reachable goal.  That way you’ll stay motivated and driven while marking milestones along the way. And we’ll be seeing you swooping down from the skies field with a big old hammer in no time!


The same thing goes for finances. Do you want to be a millionaire? Great! Make having Php1,000,000 in your bank account by Dec 31, 2014 your dream goal. In the mean time, break that down into smaller realistic goals like earning Php5,000 additional income in January 2014. Having more “makataong” goals will prevent you from going insane and make that piggy bank as big as the lechon you’ll be having at year-end.


2. Incremental Wins Count (So Count them!)


When I started, my trainer measured my body and something odd struck me. He was using millimeters instead of inches or centimeters. He told me that it would be easier to measure change this way. 


People tend to get frustrated and give up if they don’t see progress, we (wrongly) expect massive changes from the little that we put it and when it doesn’t happen, we quit. Measuring in small increments is a HUGE way to achieve your goal – one millimeter at a time. 


Is your wallet empty 2 days after pay day? You might want to keep track of your expenses. A cup of coffee here, a new shirt there and before you know it… voila! wala na! Small expenses add up. It doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself with a nice dinner out, but you do need to be aware and responsible of where your money goes. It’s the first step to controlling it


3. Getting “Sexy” is NOT Sexy 


No pain, no gain. 4 simple words that speaks volumes. A very important lesson I’ve learned is that of the 12 reps you do in an exercise – it is only those last 2 repetitions, when you think you can’t pull it off anymore – where you actually grow. You have to break out of the comfort zone in order to reach new ground. 


If you’re wondering why you’ve worked hard yet you’re income stays the same? Perhaps your just doing the first 10 reps of the exercise. Try to break out of that comfort zone – step up and get involved on the next project to get promoted, lead the next presentation and close the sale or use your weekends to start a sideline. You might be surprised on what you can do.


4. Consistency is Key


Muscle or any skill for that matter develops when you consistently use it. That’s where I failed when I trained solo, I wouldn’t be disciplined to show up everytime I needed too. Thus instead of compounding on the progress of the last workout, I had to start all over again, hence I didn’t see any result. 


Savings are built by consistently setting something aside every payday. Don’t even make it a decision anymore, find a program or product being offered by your bank to set aside a part of your income automatically to a savings or investment account every month. One less decision to make, one less chance to make a mistake. The savings/investment will multiply upon itself and with enough time and consistency, you will feel the full might of the compound effect.


5. It’s OK to admit you need help. 


I stink at training solo. It’s hard to admit something you can’t do. But sometimes, you just to need to be honest with yourself and tell it like it is. 


I’ve always thought hiring a trainer is expensive, but I was looking at it from the wrong perspective, I must not see it as an expense but rather an investment in myself. That decision is a game-changer. Instead of just complaining and quitting, I tried to do something about it, it was a risk, but what I was to lose was nothing compared to what I could’ve gained. 

I won’t be reliant on a trainer for far too long, everything is a learning experience and I’ll do workouts solo again but the experience, lessons and results I got was definitely worth it. 


Regardless of how good you are at certain areas of life, you can’t do it all. If you have trouble with your finances, you can find a mentor to help you out. Now mentors can come in many forms – family, friends, books, professionals etc. Money is a delicate issue and you must find somebody you can trust. Always be careful of scammers. To give you a step in the right direction, here are a few people/groups who have built their credibility in the personal finance field.

Stock Market Investing

Bro. Bo Sanchez’ The Truly Rich Club –> A highly regarded group headed by Bro. Bo Sanchez helping Filipinos, from any income level or background, invest in the stock market. 

The Global Filipino Investors –> A collection of like-minded individuals advocating smart investing among Filipinos.

Personal Finance

J. Randell Tiongson, RFP –> Renowned advocate of life & personal finance
Chinkee Tan –> Author, “Till Debt Do Us Part: Practical Steps To Financial Freedom”


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