5 Things I Learned about Personal Finance from Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

By Grace

Wealth accumulation and saving present the largest challenge, both financially and socially, in our nation at this time. Training to address this concern is similar to preparing to climb a mountain.

In 2014 I summited the tallest mountain in Africa: Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The most approachable of the famed seven summits, this mountain reaches 19,431 feet and takes a week to climb.  As I prepared for this climb, I discovered significant similarities between developing my skills and portfolio in investing and wealth management and preparing to face the mountain.  From the roof of Africa to the boroughs of New York, training must be done with care, focus, and determination.


  • Team: The first step to any grand adventure is the putting together a strong team. Skills and personality must compliment to allow for success. Each member of our “Kili” team was selected for their capacity to handle the rigor of the hike, their commitment to thorough preparation, and their ability to remain pleasant without a shower for seven days. Similarly, you must obtain a diverse financial support system. This should range from stock advice locations (such as Stocks for the Week or Barrons), an investment site, potentially a portfolio manager, and you!
  • Plan: Any significant task requires careful preparation. For our “Kili” adventure, each team member was tasked with a different aspect of the planning.  Clear communication and strong cooperation resulted in a well planned experience. In finance, you must find the correct items that work for you, it cannot be too lax or too strenuous.  It needs to be able to also have the right level of detail for your current finance education level – of course, this can become more advanced as you become more of a wiz!
  • Train: To train for such a climb, I engaged in an interdisciplinary training regimen. Since altitude training was not an option in Brooklyn, I biked to work, ran with a weighted backpack, lifted weights, and ran long distance. Similarly, in finance you may not be able to afford some of your ideal “training options,” but don’t let that stop you! Seek out a diverse set of education as well as a diverse portfolio. Your muscles can get use to a training type, but it is just as dangerous to put all your financial goals into one stock or bond. Try out diversifying your stocks and looking into index funds!
  • Act: Though we arrived in Tanzania well prepared, challenges still arose.  On the day we summited Kili, our water froze, so that we completed the final assent with no hydration.  We discovered, no amount of preparation will ever be perfect.  Similarly, the complexity of the finance landscape defies perfection.  This ever-evolving arena demands flexibility and strong teamwork to make progress.  Furthermore, don’t be discourage when you have a misstep – keep your eye on the long-term goal. On the day of our summit, our team banded together to reach our final goal.

at the top

I hope you found this inspirational as you begin you financial journey. Each step toward your goal is very important, as is building “your team” of educators and a strong diversified portfolio.

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