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Playing for Perfect Personal Finance

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Like many football fans who grew up around Boston, I am a huge New England Patriots fan. Unless you've been living on Mars, you probably know that this Saturday night the Patriots are trying to become the first football team to finish the regular season with a perfect 16-0 record.

Take everything one game at a time - Winning 16 games is an incredibly daunting goal. If you think about too long it will seem impossible. You never heard the Patriots talk about winning all 16 of their games. Instead they focus on the task at hand - winning just the next game. Many of them preach simply trying to win one game sixteen times.
Apply it to Personal Finance: Excluding the extremely rich, everyone has a daunting financial task ahead of them. For some it's getting out from underneath a huge pile of debt. For others, it's amassing enough wealth to retire. Take this one month to focus on accomplishing your financial goals. After this month is over, do it another eleven more times.

Play a better game this week than last one - The Patriots are relentless in this goal. They can win a game 52-0 and they'd look back at the couple of balls they dropped or the few tackles they missed. They know it may be impossible to make every play perfectly, but it doesn't stop them from trying. In the Patriots way of thinking, wins are just a by-product of learning and executing excellent fundamental football.
Apply it to Personal Finance: Review what you did right and wrong in the last month of focus. If you found that spending a lot of money on DVDs prevented you from meeting your financial goals, that gives you something to practice for this month. It may be impossible to have a perfect financial month, there's usually another dime that could be saved or made. Reaching your financial goals are simply a by-product of learning and executing excellent financial principles.

Talk is Cheap. Action is Key. - One of the members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Anthony Smith, decided he'd guarentee a win against the Patriots(though it was taken a little out of context by the media). When Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady was asked his opinion the comment, he simply said, "Well done is better than well said." The Patriots went out and won the game.
Apply it to Personal Finance: I've been writing this blog for more than 18 months now. That's an awful lot of talk. And though I've taken action in a number of ways, I need to do more. I have an Roth IRA account with E*Trade with $24 that didn't transfer when I made a move to Ameritrade to consolidate accounts years ago. I called E*Trade and began the process of closing the account as I wrote that last sentence. Take all those things that you've been thinking about doing, and get them "done well."

When appropriate, focus on long term priorities - During the football season the Patriots focus on the short-term of winning the next game. However, in the off-season, they focus on other longer-term priorities. This past off-season the Patriots found value where other's did not by acquiring Randy Moss, one of the most talented players in the league. They've also mastered the concept of compound interest in the NFL, by trading an average draft last year for a tremendous draft pick this year.
Apply it to Personal Finance: There's no off-season in personal finance. You have to fit this during the months you are focusing on. Keep your eyes open for tremendous value and when the opportunity knocks be prepared to pounce. Always keep an eye on the future. If someone is willing to give you twice as much value next year for something this year, as long as there aren't any gotchas, seriously consider it.

In the end, you have it easy. In personal finance there are no 350 pound linemen from the other team looking to crush you into the ground. If the Patriots can be this motivated for a 7 pound piece of sterling silver, can't you motivate yourself for a lifetime of financial freedom?

Posted on December 28, 2007.

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8 Responses to “Playing for Perfect Personal Finance”

  1. I think sports analogies are one of the best ways to get through to men who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in money matters. Especially when you look at stats and how closely we track/know them, it’s really scary sometimes how deep this knowledge goes. And when it’s applied to “complicated” things like investing in the stock market, I’ve found men can warm up to it and show some interest.

    Oh and I lived in Boston for 4 1/2 years so go Pats!

  2. Jeremy says:

    The Patriots suck ;)

  3. Lazy Man says:

    If you are already a dynasty what comes after that?

  4. JvW says:

    After dynasty comes Legend.

    I really like this comparison and need to use it in my personal finances – one month at a time.

  5. Brip Blap says:

    Don’t forget making sure that you videotape all of your neighbor’s financial dealings secretly.

    Go Big Blue! Last hope of the free world to stop Surly Bill (at least until he loses to a healthy Colts team in the AFC championship)!

    Good analogies. I’d throw in something along the lines of “you don’t have to have a team full of superstars to win.” In personal finance, too many people are looking for the superstar stock or real estate investment or job or whatever to help them “win”. In reality, you can take a lot of dull, average investments and pull them together to create a winning “team” that will carry you to the Super Bowl of financial success, and from there to the Disneyland of financial freedom.

    Did I stretch the analogy too far? :)

  6. Think Ryuko says:

    Fantastic analogy from a great team. I’ll try to use these tips as I make my slow way into financial freedom.

  7. Good post – I would add one from Gretzky:

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

    How it applies to PF:

    If you have done your research and are comfortable with a stock selection or index fund selection, then act on it.

    Just a thought,

    The Dividend Guy

  8. Some people also compare it to training for a marathon or a tri.

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