sprinter and marathon runner taking off

When it comes to managing personal finances, we’ve all met those who treat money like a sprint, and those who treat it like a marathon. The sprint mentality is especially trending in the blogosphere with articles like “How to Pay Off Your Loan in X Amount of Time” or “How to Save for Your Vacation in Two Months”. But there’s also the mindset that slow and steady wins the race, encouraging you to save a little for different things over time. So, what do you think, is one approach better than the other?

The Pros and Cons of Being a Financial Sprinter

Paying something off quickly or saving a ton of money over a short amount of time sometimes just feels good—and some of us really enjoy the challenge.

The Pros

Gaining momentum is great for the quick wins—it puts you ahead at the beginning of the race. And focusing on checking one goal off your list at a time can make other goals feel less daunting.

The Cons

You’re not seeing the entire picture because your focus is so narrow. This creates a very reactive behavior when it comes to dealing with money—and that can cause a lot of stress. Sprinters often forget to enjoy the journey between start and finish (you know, that thing we call life).

The Pros and Cons of Being a Marathon Runner

Marathon runners take a more balanced approach. They don’t try and set the bar too high—they set it high enough so they can achieve their goals while also taking a moment to smell the roses. It’s all about pacing yourself.

The Pros

Because your money is more diversified, you have room to react to things happening in your life and shift your focus when something unexpected comes up. And you’re always working on more than one goal at a time—making progress on many goals instead of just one.

The Cons

Focusing on several goals all at once means that you’re going to be making slow progress. So it’s easy to get bored or discouraged with a goal because it takes so long to accomplish and it may seem like others are passing you in the race.

Balance it Out—Be Both a Sprinter and a Marathon Runner

Neither approach is perfect nor inherently wrong. But a mix of both might be what you need to win the race depending on your financial goals. So why not take a hybrid approach? You can choose which parts of each mindset work for you. Focus on one goal, but don’t be afraid to change course if something comes up. Keep perspective and check in with yourself to make sure you’re not at risk of burning out.

So, do you think you’re a sprinter, a marathoner, or something in between? Share and tell us.