What Soccer (Futbol) Can Teach you About your Finances



Regular readers of my blog know that I’m a big basketball and football fan.  But like the rest of America, I have been stricken with a case of World Cup fever.  I hardly ever watch soccer, but the games in this year’s World Cup have been really exciting, especially in the knock out rounds where there has to be a winner.  And in my never ending quest to equate sports and life, and specifically personal finance (click here to see how baseball is related to your finances), I have thought about some ways that the “beautiful game” is a lot like your financial life.

Make BIG goals

One very unique thing about soccer compared to most other American sports is that scoring doesn’t happen often.  In basketball, most teams will score a basket on 30-40% of possessions.  Scores are routinely in the 100’s.  In American football, touchdowns are scored in pretty much every quarter, with the good teams scoring multiple times.  And in baseball, you do have your 1-0 score once in a while, but most games will have at least a couple of runs by each team.  But in soccer, scoring is much tougher and you will regularly have games ending in a score of 0-0.

To an outsider, this can make it seem that it was a slow game and nothing was really going on.  But the exhausted players and torn up field will show that hard work was definitely being done.  The players and coaches can evaluate the game tape and find out what they did well and what they need to shore up.  And eventually, when a team scores a goal and is able to win a game, that hard work in the scoreless game was definitely worth it.  This should be similar to our approach to our financial goals.  While making lots of little scores is nice, we should try to make big and worthwhile goals and work tirelessly towards them, constantly evaluating what works and what doesn’t.  While it may be frustrating not to reach a goal quickly, the worthwhile goals almost always take some time.  Finally hitting that goal will make that effort all the more sweet.

It takes determination AND skill

A soccer game is 90 plus minutes of constant play.  That’s a long time.  With hardly any breaks in play and few substitutions, all players have to be constantly on alert.  Even a momentary lapse can produce disastrous results.  This is where the determination to stay involved and alert comes in.  Having this constant determination will help you play great defense and maybe even get a shot or two at the goal.  But you also need players who have the skill and creativity to overcome any defense that comes their way.  You need those type of players to have any long term success.  This is particularly seen in the US team as they are described as having a lot of “grit” and determination but hardly ever make it close to the World Cup finals since they lack the talented players that the Brazils and Germanys of the world have in abundance.

This concept applies to our personal finances as well.  While we definitely need consistency and determination to achieve any big financial goal, such as having a comfortable retirement, it also takes skill and creativity find ways to cut your expenses and make more money so you can increase your chances of being successful in the long term.  Things like inflation and changes in your field will be there, so you have to find smart ways to overcome those to stay on track.

Diversify, diversify and diversify

Some people say that the NFL is the ultimate team sport since you need offense, defense and special teams working together.  But there are plenty of examples of teams that do well while having a poor defense or a poor offense.  Heck, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 with an offense that couldn’t score a touchdown for 7 straight games!  I would argue that soccer is even more of a team sport because any deficiency on offense or defense will severely hinder your chance of winning.  Most games are decided by a goal or 2, so if you have a defense that is not playing very well you almost have no chance to win no matter how good your offensive players are.

This couldn’t be more true in our finances as well.  The two sides of the personal finance coin are making money versus spending money.  If you make good money but spend it with reckless abandon, you’re gonna be in bad shape.  If you are also frugal with your money but don’t start making more, you’re not really going to go far.  It takes a combination of a good income and good spending habits, with adequate insurance serving as your goalkeeper, to have a solid and balanced financial team.

I meet a lot of people that hate sports, and even more people that hate sports analogies.  If you’re one of them, you probably didn’t read this far.  And you should get some professional help.  But if you did, I genuinely appreciate that and will ask you to add some analogies of your own in the comments.  Here’s hoping for an exciting finish to the World Cup!


Speak Your Mind