Budgeting For Personal Trainers – Aligning Your Money With Your Values

By: Eric Leider, CFP Ⓡ, RLP Ⓡ, BFA ™️

podcast icon

By: Eric Leider, CFP Ⓡ, RLP Ⓡ, BFA ™️

October 11, 2023

Budgeting for personal trainers is a must-have priority if success is part of your long-term plan.

As a personal trainer or fitness professional, your career is not just a job; it’s a calling. You’re passionate about helping people lead healthier lives, achieve their fitness goals, and enhance their overall well-being.

But like any self-employed individual, you face unique financial challenges.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore budgeting tips for personal trainers and how to align your money with your values.

Why Budgeting Matters for Personal Trainers

Budgeting is the foundation of financial stability, whether you’re self-employed or work for a gym. It empowers you to:

  • Plan for the Future: Create financial goals that support your long-term aspirations, such as owning your own gym or expanding your fitness business.
  • Manage Income Fluctuations: Self-employment often brings irregular income. A well-structured budget helps you navigate the lean months.
  • Control Debt: Avoid falling into the trap of debt that can hinder your financial growth.
  • Align with Your Values: Ensure your money supports your fitness passion and personal values.

Now, let’s delve into specific budgeting tips tailored to personal trainers.

Understand Your Income

The first step in effective budgeting is understanding your income. Personal trainers often have multiple income streams, which can include:

  • Client Fees: The core of your income, derived from one-on-one sessions, group classes, or online training.
  • Online Courses: Revenue generated from selling online fitness courses and training programs.
  • Merchandise Sales: If you offer branded merchandise or supplements, this can be a source of income.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Earnings from promoting fitness-related products or services.

Analyzing your income sources will give you a clear picture of your financial health. Once you have this data, you can start crafting a budget that aligns with your financial goals.

Create a Monthly Budget As A Self-Employed Personal Trainer

To align your money with your values as it relates to budgeting for personal trainers, it’s crucial to establish a monthly budget. Here’s how:

Track Your Expenses

Begin by tracking all your expenses, including both personal and business-related costs. This may involve rent, utilities, equipment maintenance, marketing expenses, and more. Don’t forget to account for savings and investments.

Categorize Your Spending 

Group your expenses into categories such as housing, transportation, groceries, and fitness-related costs (like gym equipment and fitness certifications).

Set Financial Goals

Determine your financial goals, both short-term and long-term. These could include saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, or investing in further professional development.

Allocate Your Income

Distribute your income among these categories. The goal is to ensure that every dollar serves a purpose, and no area is neglected.

Finally, as we are big proponents of using software, technology, or apps to manage your budgeting, below are several that we highly recommend:

  • Mint: Take charge of your finances with Mint’s online budget planner. Their free budget tracker helps you understand your spending for a brighter financial future. Get a full view so you know where to save. Track spending, detect fraud and keep tabs on rising subscription costs. Mintsights™ automatically helps find savings you missed, so you can make your money go further without breaking a sweat. Improve your spending habits with custom goals that keep you going. Save for a home, conquer debt, and prepare for the future.
  • YNAB (You Need A Budget): YNAB (pronounced Why-nab) is a multi-platform personal budgeting app based on the envelope method. Today, YNAB is driven by a small (but growing!), passionate team. We are building the best budgeting software out there. We hear reports every day of lives being changed: debt paid off, marriages saved, opportunities seized, stress eliminated and sleep rediscovered! When you gain control of your money, you gain control of your life and it feels great.
  • Tiller Money: Tiller is the only automated personal finance service for Google Sheets and Excel. Connect your banks to your spreadsheets and gain powerful insights about your money. This is a gamechanger for anyone that already loves living in spreadsheets. If you want flexibility in managing your cash flow and budgeting needs, Tiller Money is a great option.
  • Truebill: Truebill is the easiest way to find subscriptions, manage bills, and even cancel recurring charges with a single click.
  • Monarch Money: Monarch helps you know where your money is going. It tracks how you’re spending every dollar, identifies unwanted subscriptions, and discovers trends in your spending to figure out how to improve.
  • Zeta Money Manager: A free budgeting app designed for couples. Zeta helps you stay on top of your finances together, making money talks easier than ever.
  • Copilot Money: Do money better with Copilot. Finally, an app that puts you in the driver’s seat. Copilot Money integrates with your banks and favorite services, helping you track your spending & boost your savings. Copilot’s smart monitoring lets you know when something needs your attention with alerts that actually help you.
  • Wally: Wally aims to help you reach your goals faster by centralizing all your accounts so you can learn, manage, and improve your finances.
  • Spendee: Manage all your money with ease from one place with Spendee. Track your income and expenses, analyze your financial habits and stick to your budgets.
  • PocketGuard: PocketGuard makes it easy to take control of your money, optimize your spending and grow your savings automatically. This app categorizes and organizes your expenses, monthly bills, and subscriptions into clear, beautiful tabs and graphs, so you will always be on top of your finances.
  • Goodbudget: Goodbudget is a budget tracker for the modern age. Say no more to carrying paper envelopes. This virtual budget program keeps you on track with family and friends with the time-tested envelope budgeting method.
  • Honeydue: Honeydue is the simplest way for couples to manage money, together.

Prioritize Your Values As A Personal Trainer

As a personal trainer, your values likely include a commitment to health and fitness. Ensure your budget reflects these values by allocating resources accordingly. Here are some strategies to consider when it comes to budgeting as a personal trainer:

Invest in Professional Development

One way to enhance your expertise is by investing in certifications and courses. Allocate a portion of your budget to ongoing education, which aligns with your commitment to quality training.

Quality Fitness Equipment

If you’re training clients in a home gym or studio, investing in quality equipment that aligns with your values can set you apart from the competition.

Marketing and Client Acquisition

Allocate a portion of your budget to marketing and client acquisition. By promoting your services effectively, you can reach more clients and have a greater impact.

Community Involvement

If community involvement is a core value, consider setting aside a budget for free fitness classes or volunteering at local events. This not only gives back but also helps in building your brand and reputation.

If you aren’t sure or clear on what your true values are as a personal trainer, there are many different ways to find this out. From values exercises to personality assessments, it is 100% worth it to know your core values. With you values, you can make money decisions with much more ease and confidence. Below are several resources that we recommend:

  • George Kinder’s Life Planning website, exercises, & resources:
    • George Kinder’s Three Questions for Financial Life Planning
    • Life Planning For You
    • The real value of using this framework is that you are able to align your life values with your life goals. Instead of just saving money for a time horizon that seems so distant in the future, you are able to create a vision, add emotional depth, and assign meaning behind whatever goal it is that you want to achieve. In many ways, Life Planning embodies several elements of life coaching, therapy, and financial planning.
  • Think2Perform’s Values Exercise: Living in alignment is about matching your “real” behaviors with your “ideal values.” Living out of alignment is a source of stress, dissatisfaction, and poor decision-making. An exercise like this, through Values Cards, provides an interactive way to define what you value most and set the stage for behaviors and performance more closely aligned with your ideal self.
  • Zeta’s Money Personality Quiz: Your Money Personalities have a lot more to do with values than it does with who keeps the tightest budgeting spreadsheets. By understanding your money personalities, it may be able to help you both understand each other’s money stories and ultimately open the doors for better communication.
  • Myers-Briggs Financial Personality Quiz: Created in collaboration with The Myers-Briggs Company, this assessment is designed to uncover your financial personality based on your financial habits. It could also help you uncover the strengths and challenges you may face when it comes to managing your money.
  • MoneyMind® Assessment: MoneyMind® helps you understand how you think and feel about money. The way you think and feel about money affects the financial decisions you make every day. When you understand what your money means to you, you can make clear, smart choices about your financial life.
  • The Enneagram: According to Ian Cron, “the Enneagram is a personality typing system identifying nine types of people and how they relate to one another and the world.” Understanding your personal relationship with money could lead to a more fulfilling and less stressful life. Have you ever thought about what exactly drives your money-related actions, feelings, or thoughts? The Enneagram will help you find out. Here are several Enneagram assessments to look into:

Build An Emergency Fund As A Self-Employed Fitness Professional

Financial security is vital for any personal trainer. Life can be unpredictable, and having an emergency fund can provide a safety net during tough times. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an easily accessible account.

If you don’t have this started yet, that is okay. Start small and make this part of your monthly budget. It is key to establish an emergency fund for yourself and we highly recommend this goal, especially when it comes to budgeting for personal trainers.

Manage Taxes Efficiently As An Entrepreneur

As a self-employed personal trainer, you’re responsible for your own taxes. Consider these tips to manage your tax liability:

Set Aside Taxes Regularly

Don’t wait until tax season to pay your taxes. Set aside a portion of each payment you receive for tax purposes. This helps prevent a large, unexpected tax bill.

Deduct Business Expenses

Take advantage of tax deductions for business-related expenses. This can include equipment, training materials, and even a portion of your home if you work from there.

Consult a Tax Professional

Seek the guidance of a tax professional who understands the unique financial situations of personal trainers. They can help you maximize your tax benefits while staying compliant with the law.

For an in-depth, deep-dive into all things Tax Benefits For Self-Employed Personal Trainers, read on here – ‘Tax Benefits For Self-Employed Personal Trainers That You Can’t Miss‘.

Plan for Retirement As A Movement Professional

Retirement planning is often overlooked by self-employed individuals. However, saving for retirement is essential to secure your financial future. Consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA, which are tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts.

Diversify Your Income Streams As A Fitness & Health Pro

While client fees are your primary income source, it’s smart to diversify your revenue streams. Here are some options:

Online Training Programs

Create and sell online fitness programs. These can generate passive income while reaching a wider audience.

Affiliate Marketing

Promote fitness-related products and earn commissions for referrals.

Merchandise Sales

If you have a brand or a strong online presence, merchandise sales can be a lucrative side income.

Diversifying your income can provide financial stability, especially during slower months.

Keep An Eye On Cash Flow As A Self-Employed Personal Trainer

Managing cash flow is crucial for personal trainers, as income can fluctuate. Here’s how to do it effectively:

Create an Income Forecast

Predict your income for the upcoming months based on your current client schedule and projected income from other sources.

Monitor Expenses

Keep a close watch on your expenses to ensure they stay within budget. Look for areas where you can cut costs if necessary.

Build a Cash Reserve

Maintain a cash reserve to cover expenses during lean months. This buffer can help you avoid financial stress.

Review & Adjust Your Budget As A Personal Trainer

A budget isn’t set in stone. This is especially true when it comes to budgeting for personal trainers.

Review it regularly and make adjustments as needed. Life changes, and your budget should adapt to reflect those changes. For instance, if you have a significant increase in clients, you might allocate more funds to marketing or savings.

Seek Professional Financial Guidance

If you find budgeting and financial planning overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a financial coach, financial planner, or financial advisor. They can provide personalized guidance and help you align your money with your values effectively.

There’s also power in a DIY approach by using technology or leveraging hybrid options. Below are just a few that we are very keen on:

  • Work with a Financial Coach & Life Planner, like me (Eric Leider, CFP Ⓡ, RLP Ⓡ, BFA ™️), at MVMT Life Planning. Learn more here – ‘MVMT Life Planning‘.
  • Facet: Facet is a financial technology company that provides personalized and accessible financial planning services. Through their platform, they connect clients with dedicated certified financial planners, making financial expertise more attainable and convenient. Facet offers tailored advice and solutions to help individuals and families achieve their financial goals, encompassing areas such as investment strategies, retirement planning, tax optimization, and more. By leveraging technology and human expertise, they aim to democratize financial planning, ensuring that clients receive high-quality, comprehensive financial guidance without the traditional barriers of cost and complexity.
  • Personal Capital: Personal Capital’s robust financial planning and retirement planner tools allow you to get deep insights into your goals, success rates, and more. You have the ability to run different scenarios, add multiple income events, plot out ongoing & large expenses, and ultimately see how you’ll be able to achieve the success that you want (with any goal – from retirement to paying for college).
  • Monarch Money: Monarch is the modern way to manage your money, serving as an all-in-one platform that brings together everything you need to optimize your finances. With Monarch, you can create a financial plan in minutes. Forecast your cash flow monthly and annually to know where you’re headed. Monarch will notify you if you get off track so you can make adjustments.
  • ChroniFI: ChroniFI aims to show you your financial plan and personal finances in terms of time. The ethos and mission of ChroniFI is to help plot your course to financial independence and build a happy life you don’t have to escape along the way.
  • Maybe: While not fully live yet, Maybe is shaking things up and has a modern and very tech-forward approach to financial planning & investment management. Maybe isn’t a budgeting tool or a simple stock tracker. It’s the entire view of your finances and investments … the 30,000 foot view that helps you understand where you’ve been and where you’re going.


As a personal trainer, your work is deeply tied to your values and passion for fitness. To succeed financially and align your money with your values, budgeting is key. Budgeting for personal trainers involves a lot of work, but it is well worth it.

By understanding your income, creating a monthly budget, prioritizing your values, building an emergency fund, managing taxes efficiently, planning for retirement, diversifying your income streams, keeping an eye on cash flow, and regularly reviewing and adjusting your budget, you can build a strong financial foundation that supports your fitness career and personal goals.

Remember, budgeting is a dynamic process. Embrace it as a tool that empowers you to live a fulfilling life while helping others lead healthier lives too.

Make your money work for your values, and you’ll be well on your way to financial security and a successful career as a personal trainer.

Thank you for reading this long and in-depth article on budgeting for self-employed personal trainers.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Additional Reads & Resources:

For more resources, you can always visit The MVMT Life Planning Blog, The Human Potential Podcast, and the Life Planning For Personal Trainers podcast.