Will working out make you rich?

It’s hard enough to get folks to stay on a diet – food or money. And, it’s just as difficult to know if you’re on the right track to a future free from financial stress.

You’re putting away money for retirement, but is it enough? As college tuition rates continue to rise, how can you calculate the sum you’ll need to help put your kids through school while also padding your savings for emergencies?

In its 2016 Measuring Optimism, Outlook and Direction (M.O.O.D.) of America on Employee Benefits study, Lincoln Financial Group set out to identify the factors that people who consider themselves to be on the “right track” financially have in common.

Of the workers surveyed, 55 percent said they feel they’re on the right track toward financial well being, and they cited these five factors that they believe contribute to their feeling of financial security and success:.

  • 74 percent of these “right-trackers” say they have created a financial plan;
  • 98 percent say they’re focused on the future;
  • 78 percent say they work out at least once a week;
  • 63 percent say they feel good about themselves mentally, which makes them feel more optimistic overall;
  • 57 percent of employees who are enrolled in more than three nonmedical workplace benefits say they’re on the right track.

It’s notable that three of the five factors (focusing on the future, working out and feeling good about yourself) have nothing to do with money or financial stress levels.

So what can you do to put yourself on the right track for a strong financial future?

  1. Relieving financial stress means looking at more than just financial health. People who are on the right track financially are also taking care of their physical and mental health. And this makes sense: people with physical or mental health problems are more likely to be feeling the strain of big medical bills and pricey prescriptions and won’t feel as though they’re on the right track financially.
  2. Take advantage of the employee benefits offered by employers – especially retirement accounts like 401(k)s. These benefits are put in place specifically to help set you up for your future and if you’re not using them – especially if your employer matches your contributions – you’re throwing away free money.
  3. Make plans for your future finances. Putting money into your retirement accounts and emergency savings is good, but you need to have a strategy behind your savings. For example, if you intend to use certain savings for retirement, those funds should be kept in an IRA or a 401(k) where they’ll have the opportunity to grow, rather than a savings account that only earns a fraction of 1 percent in interest.
  4. Know your end goal. What do you plan to do in retirement and how much money will you need to save to be in a position to do those things? The more purpose you have with your savings, the more success and confidence you’ll feel adding money to those accounts.

Feeling financially secure is more than just looking at the number on your bank statement. It also involves knowing where that number needs to be to allow you to live comfortably in the future and using all of the resources at your disposal to put yourself on the right track to meet those goals.

Identify at least one of these factors above that you’re not meeting and find ways to improve until you’ve joined the 55 percent of workers already on the right track.