The Psychology of Money x Home Gym

“The Psychology of Money” was the best book that I read last year.

My home gym was collectively the best purchase that I made last year. In “The Psychology of Money”, Morgan Housel explains our sometimes odd financial behavior through stories from recent history.

In my home gym, I try to work out between checking my phone a gazillion times. Let’s take a look at this purchase through The Psychology of Money’s chapters.

1. No One’s Crazy (even if their home gym looks like a commercial gym)

Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.0 0 0, 0 1% of what’s happening in the world and maybe 80% of how you think the world works.

LeBron James spends a million dollars on his body every year. It’s crazy, but he’s LeBron James and it’s not crazy for him.

We’re not all LeBron James, but it doesn’t mean that we should spend $0 on our body every year.

For some people home gym makes sense. For others, it looks crazy for some people.

Going to a luxury gym makes sense. And for other people it’s crazy.

I’ve tried all sorts of different gyms. I’ve had the home gym. All of them have made sense in different ways.

2. Luck and Risk (it’s super convenient to work out and even easier to stop and walk back to the couch)

When I was researching what equipment I should buy the most useful videos were the ones where people had had their gym for a year or two years, five years, and then talked about their experience with it.

I’m excited about mine. I think it’s been a great purchase, but, that also is like recency of it.

One of the downsides of the home gym that seemed to be a pattern across these different videos, was that the convenience of it is great.

But that has a downside because as easy as it is to walk in, get the workout in,it’s just as easy to walk out and then go sit on the couch.

3. Never Enough (you can always add more equipment)

The internet, as mentioned, makes it possible to see home gyms around the world.

And an important thing to remember is that everyone has a different situation. So I probably shouldn’t compare what I have to someone like a CrossFit competitor, and then it’s also a good reminder that it really doesn’t take that much equipment.

I follow a few people that just use kettlebells. That’s what I started with was a few kettlebells. And that can be all you need, or even just body weight and a track or something like that.

You could get a lot done with no equipment at all. So that’s been a good reminder that the internet has provided.

4. Confounding Compounding (it’s almost always worth it if it’s better for your health)

In finance, the compound effect is huge. Same thing with fitness. It is the other side of the coin though. We tend to have this negative compounding that we let our health slide. Sit in chairs all day and then eat snacks.

For me, the home gym made sense because it would hopefully, hopefully, hopefully… you know, it’s not gonna prevent me from snacking, but it will hopefully help me get at least a small workout in every day.

5. Getting Wealthy vs. Staying Wealthy (optimize for a space that motivates you enough to be consistent)

Good investing is not necessarily about making good decisions. It’s about consistently not screwing up.

That’s huge. That applies directly to fitness. But it does help to justify this purchase.

You can’t just have one excellent workout for the month and then not work out the rest of the month. The consistency matters and spending money on. Equipment that will hopefully motivate me to come out here and work out.

Will help me get into that mode of consistently not screwing up.

[Note: I just sort of skipped a couple numbers because they didn’t quite relate to the home gym in the moment. I’ll try to re-do the video in a few months when I’m better at making videos.]

7. Freedom (financial freedom isn’t immune to poor health)

Controlling your time is the highest dividend money pays. Controlling your health is just as important and even more important because if you have financial freedom, all the time in the world, but you don’t have your health you’re not mobile, then that can take away some of the freedom.

Fitness is one thing that money can’t buy.

It can help, but it’s not going to put the work in. I haven’t put the work in. I haven’t put enough work in.

Unfortunately, my own discipline matters at this point. Actually using this equipment.

8. Man in the car paradox (you won’t impress anyone with fancy equipment so get stuff you’ll actually use)

I’m under no impression, especially compared to the rest of the internet, that any of this will be impressive on that level. Pretty normal setup, like a rack and then kettlebells and barbells.

The more important thing to me was just that it would be this motivating space for myself.

The bigger thing for me was getting these lights set up. It made the space feel much better. It was kind of dingy and like dark in here initially which could feel cool, but that wasn’t really what I was going for.

It is nice to have good lighting here or at least have it be very bright so that it was a space that I would want to walk into.

9. Wealth is what you don’t see (reversal: you can actually watch a bunch of people work out now)

A reversal here is nice. You used to not really be able to see the work people put in behind the scenes. But now pro athletes have podcasts. Bodybuilders have vlogs. You can see other people working out and build up that motivation.

I’m not sharing like workouts publicly, but I do have a group chat and it’s been fun to be able to show each other, our workouts, that we are working out that day and having that motivation from friends and that social component.

10. Save money (fitness is as simple as building wealth but our brains make it hard)

What I was hoping to accomplish with the home gym was being able to make fitness something that was more in my control. That the weather or a gym being closed or these other outside factors wouldn’t be things that would make me want to cancel my workout for the day.

With finance, saving money is one of the only things that matters. With health it’s like three big components, at least for physical health.

It is your movement, what you’re eating, and then your sleep.

Those are three big components and I wanted to make this one component more in my control with the home gym.

11. Reasonable Over Rational (You don’t actually need all that much stuff to get fit at home)

With finance, aiming to be reasonable works better than trying to be coldly rational. You can optimize things in the spreadsheet, but if they don’t work in practice, then it doesn’t matter in the end.

Figuring out like what equipment I wanted, you have endless decisions. What I just looked at was what I have done in the past, what equipment and I’ve actually used in the past.

Because I was thinking, should I get a rower or a bike or a better treadmill?

I got the things that I knew I’ve used in the past, and I’d be more likely to use in the future.

I’ve never really consistently used a rower. So I ended up not buying that . Got a bike because I’ve gone for longer periods biking regularly, than using a rower, so it seemed like a more reasonable purchase.

And then another thing with reasonable… In more recent years I’ve thought aiming to be reasonably fit—and that’s the name of a different podcast—but that seems to be a good goal.

And I was thinking, okay, what equipment do I need to be reasonably fit? And I think I’m having barbells for lifting and then a bike for a harder cardio and then a treadmill desk for long slow cardio.

It seemed like all the equipment that I needed to be reasonably fit.

12. Surprise (and trying to avoid it with fitness)

Actually, I kind of wrap this up in the previous one. It can be that you don’t want to use history for the things on a macro scale.

There was a nice reversal here for me — I looked at my own history of fitness and bought equipment I’ve used in the past that I would use in the future.

One decision I made was to get a full cage instead of a squat rack. It added a little more peace of mind for me.

Injury is one of the worst kinds of surprises. For the first few months with the rack I chose not to use it much because I had golfer’s elbow.

13. Room for error (the absolute best thing about a home gym is that it makes you more flexible)

The most important part of every plan is planning on your plan not going according to plan.

That by far is the best reason to have workout equipment at home. The flexibility and proximity of it make it possible to fit into the rest of the day, even if the rest of the day is chaotic.

More recently, I did get that bike and that has really helped for those days where it’s getting towards the end of the day and I’m feeling kind of unmotivated to try to fit a workout in.

It becomes kind of mindless, which I like. The trainers are there. You can outsource your motivation a little bit. I know I just need to put the shoes on, clip in and then get going and that will fit into a chaotic day.

14. You’ll change (but fitness principles rarely do)

I know I’ll change. Even in just a few months that I’ve had it, I’ve changed what my goals are, but not by much. I want to lose weight.

Over the course of years, the fundamentals of fitness won’t change. This equipment will still be useful then.

But maybe my mood will change that. I’ll want to start doing workouts outside. Going to a gym. I still have that option in the future, but having a flexible option at home will never not be useful.

15. Nothing’s free (and man I didn’t realize I’d have to vacuum so much)

If I were comfortable posting a shirtless picture of myself I would’ve done this thumbnail

  • Left side: Before the home gym
  • Right side: After the home gym

And I’m the same on both sides because the gym doesn’t do the work for you.

It can be cool to look at all this equipment that other people have but yeah it was important to remember: it’s not their equipment that they’re putting way more work in.

That was the idea with a lot of the purchases is just whatever would get me to work out more.

Everyone’s different, context matters. I felt like at this time in my life having the home gym would help me do the work and I have been definitely more consistent with working out.

Another thing is the hidden work of maintaining the gym. It seems to be constantly cluttered and even though my dog doesn’t go in there often her hair is always there so I shop vac it multiple times a week.

16., You and Me (Beware the envy of looking at gyms of sponsored fitness influencers)

This is the whole thing of making equipment decisions based on people who aren’t doing the same types of workouts that you’re doing.

I don’t do CrossFit myself, but I loved watching CrossFit competitors and seeing the crazy setups that they have.

But it was more entertainment than anything. I know that I’m not going to do the same workouts that they’re doing. They’re playing a different game.

The more useful stuff was trying to find people that more closely represented my goals of losing some weight, seeing what they bought, and then that helped me pick out equipment.

[Note: similarly skipped Number 17 here…]

18. When you’ll believe anything (appealing fictions and using narrative on yourself)

Rocky has motivated more people to work out than any replicated double-blind study.

That’s the power of narrative. It was something that I wanted to use. It was all about motivation.

The narrative that I bought into is that if I build out this home gym, I’m going to want to work out more. I will. And then I will have better health.

We’ll see if that plays out in the future.

Also now I’m more motivated by this vision of being mobile in older age and that has become the more important narrative to me than how I look at the beach. Which I will never show a picture of.

19. All together now

In the last two chapters of “Psychology of Money”, Morgan Housel gives some guidance for what people should do with their own money.

Reasonable principles that will last for a long time. A lot of it is switching your thinking to the long-term thinking, saving and using the compound effect and remembering how effective that is over time.

The guidance that seems common across all the different workout and nutrition plans:

  • Eat whole foods
  • Walk a little bit every day
  • Lift weights a few times a week

I seem to have enough equipment to do those last two things. Now I need to use it and eat better.

20. Confessions (the psychology of my own home gym)

In the final chapter of “The Psychology of Money”, Morgan Housel talks about why he paid off his mortgage.

We’re so far committed to the independence camp that we’ve done things that make little sense on paper. We own our house without a mortgage, which is the worst financial decision we’ve ever made but the best money decision we’ve ever made. Mortgage interest rates were absurdly low when we bought our house. Any rational advisor would recommend taking advantage of cheap money and investing extra savings in higher-return assets, like stocks. But our goal isn’t to be coldly rational; just psychologically reasonable.

The independent feeling I get from owning our house outright far exceeds the known financial gain I’d get from leveraging our assets with a cheap mortgage. Eliminating the monthly payment feels better than maximizing the long-term value of our assets. It makes me feel independent.

It doesn’t make sense on a spreadsheet. He should just pay off the loan according to schedule, but it frees up so much psychologically for him that he found that it was worth it.

Good news: I did my heaviest weighted pull-up the other day.

Bad news: It’s because I weigh my heaviest right now.

At this point, everything that moves the needle in the positive direction for my health seems worth it. So the home gym feels worth it.

(At the same time, some other things that would move things in the positive direction require no money at all: eating less, drinking less, and sleeping more.)

I’m hoping I can find a reasonable approach to fitness in the future that will be something that I stick to.

This home gym is a part of it and I’ll keep sharing as I go along.