I absolutely love football. I watch high school games, college games, NFL games, I watch Canadian football, Australian football (I don’t understand it, but I watch it). Football is awesome. But, I understand that not everyone loves football. Those people are dumb, stop being dumb.
It’s bowl season in college football, which is the best part of college football. The selection committee had their hands full this season, and I think we can take some of the lessons they learned and apply them to your personal finances.
‘bama was the most consistent team this year, and they were 1 of only 2 undefeated teams in the country. Personal finance requires consistency as well. You have to stay disciplined to stay prepared.
YOU HAVE TO STAY DISCIPLINED TO STAY PREPARED
Alabama doesn’t lose a lot, they’ve only lost 4 games in the last 5 years. AND they’ve won 2 National Titles in those 5 years. We can learn from their example in our budgeting and in our finances. Being consistent in your saving and in your spending makes you hard to beat. If you can routinely put away a couple hundred dollars a month, when the unexpected happens, you’ve got some reserves ready to roll. Alabama recruits really good players every year, but the trick is that they bring in very similar players every year. If you look at their running backs from the last 5 years you’ll find that they all look like 6-foot-tall bowling balls. They are consistent in their rushing attack and when a player is injured or leaves early for the NFL, they’ve got a reserve ready to take his place. You need to have the same thing in your finances. AND if you can find a way to supplement your income, you’ll be in a great spot to be as successful as the Crimson Tide when it comes to your finances.
Ohio State (Having a Good Coach)
The Buckeyes have had some amazing coaches in their history. In the 40s they hired Paul Brown who went on to start the Cleveland Browns & his son still owns the Cincinnati Bengals. He was one of the pioneers of the NFL. In the 50s they hired Woody Hayes. He lead the team from 54 to 78. During that span of 24 years, the Buckeyes won 5 National Titles, they had 4 undefeated seasons, and won 12 Big Ten championships. After Woody they hired Earl Bruce… He coached 9 years and won 4 conference championships. Next was John Cooper who coached for 12 years and won 3 Big Ten titles. Then Tressel who won 1 National Title and 6 Conference titles in 9 years. Currently, the coach is Urban Meyer who’s coached 5 years there. He’s got 1 national title 2 Big Ten titles. Ohio State lost 14 of 22 starters to the NFL last year, and they return to the playoffs this year. I’ll give you this- there was some controversy around their selection- but that’s really out of the team’s hands. Urban Meyer coached one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the country into the playoffs. He is a good coach. Personal finance is no different. You need some coaching- no one knows everything about money. No One. Read some books, listen to some podcasts, read some blogs- learn. Coaches are teachers of the game. Get a finance coach and learn all that you can from them. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned have come from books like Freakonomics and Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, and The Four-Hour Work Week. These writers have been my personal finance coaches. Get a good coach.
Clemson (Best Defense is a Good Offense)
I know that the saying usually goes the other way around, but not in Clemson’s case. Their defense is horrendous (comparatively speaking- they are still the #2 team in the country right now). Clemson had great game plans every week this season and they scored a ton of points. That’s how they won a lot of those games. The beat the #3 team in the country 42-36 early in the season- obviously there wasn’t a lot of defense in that one- they needed offensive firepower, and they’ve got it. In personal finance, building a solid debt attack strategy is the best offense.
“BUILDING A SOLID DEBT-ATTACK STRATEGY IS THE BEST OFFENSE.”
When the debts are piling up in your credit cards, your mortgage, your auto loans- you need to build an offensive strategy for paying them down. Here’s the best strategy out there:
Washington (Set yourself up for success)
This is going to be a little bit of a cheap shot against Washington. They played the 127th ranked non-conference strength of schedule. What does that mean, Jeff? It means they played very bad teams, and they beat them. Washington ended the season 11-1, they beat some good teams like Colorado, Washington State, and Stanford. But before they got into the Pac-12 games, they played the worst Big Ten team, Rutgers, they played the 3rd best team in the Sun Belt Conference (Idaho), and they played a Division 2 team in Portland State. If they’d played even 1 decent team in that stretch, I would have had to come up with a better subtitle. Thankfully for me, they didn’t play much competition to start the season. They set themselves up to be 3-0 going into conference play.
When you’re doing your budget for next year, try to set it up the way Washington set up this season- give yourself some easy wins. If you are planning on reducing the amount of times you go out for dinner, don’t cut your budget to $0 for dinners. Set yourself up for success. If you’re spending $200/month on dinner, try to cut yourself back to $150. That $50/month savings is $600 a year in savings. That’s not chump-change. $600 is a lot of money. I’m guessing that, if you tried cutting yourself to $0, you’d fail. Once you fail, psychologically, you throw out the budget and go back to living how you were before. Don’t do that- set yourself up for success.
Penn State (Things don’t always work out your way)
Penn State didn’t make the playoffs. They were a very good team down the stretch and won 9 games straight to finish the season including a win in the Big Ten Championship. They lost 2 games in their first 4. After making some early mistakes, they did everything in their power to be the best team in football. BUT, they didn’t make the playoffs. Why not? Well, it’s probably because they lost 2 games- the 4 teams that made the playoffs were undefeated Bama, and 1-loss OSU, Clemson, and Washington. Penn State lost 1 too many games. They won their conference- they beat OSU and they won OSU’s conference… why aren’t they in? Well, things don’t always work out your way.
No matter how much work you do; no matter how much planning you put in; sometimes, things don’t go your way. In the spring of 2015, my wife and I decided to start trying for our 2nd kid. About 2 months later, we found out that she was pregnant. We were excited. We’d planned out our budget for the year knowing how much the first kid cost and what we could reuse and recycle. We were ready. Then, at the 1st trimester, I lost my job. But Universe… I did everything I could to set myself up for success. I was consistent in my savings, I was learning from some great coaches, I built a debt-attack plan, and it still didn’t work out for me… Damn Universe… But it was a good learning experience for me. I learned that my consistent saving was very handy- as I was able to pull from the savings account to pay my mortgage for a month. I learned that my coaches were right about how to plan budgets with some wiggle room- I was able to downsize my car, reduce my cable bill, and cut out some frivolous spending. I learned that my debt-attack plan for reducing my car loan came in VERY handy when I went to trade it in and I got a better car, with better miles per gallon, and saved $60/month on my loan.
Michigan (Stay Hungry)
When all else fails, just remember: At least you didn’t get caught eating a booger on national television.