Once upon a time, in world far far away, kids between the ages of 6 and 18 played a game called dodgeball. The general concept of the primitive sport involved two teams, 7 rubber playground balls and a mid-court line. The goal: get the other team out before everyone on your team got out by either catching your opponents throw or hitting your opponent with a ball… preferably as hard as possible.
Alright, I am being sarcastic, but does anyone else miss dodgeball?
Maybe it is just me but I learned some great life lessons growing up playing games like dodgeball, culd-de-sac hockey, and manhunt. Yet just like a lot of things these days, we have seen a shift in focus on making sure we are more safe, and so on.
Where am I going with this…
In my early years, I was never the biggest kid. In fact, I was the smallest kid in my class every year my entire life. It wasn’t until college that I finally filled out some (As a junior in high school I wrestled at 119 pounds).
I see it as a teacher, a former coach, and now a personal finance blogger – excuses as to why something can not be done. “I can’t (insert anything) because of (insert a justified reason)”.
However, one of my mantras for 2018 is to be solution seeking. And I think dodgeball is a great parallel to the life lessons I have learned and continue to learn.
1. Life will throw things at us.
There are times when life, especially with regards to finances, will throw things at us. Just like red rubber balls whizzing by our heads, we are not always ready either.
Kid on the way, saving for a house, car emergency, and so on, at times we will are all challenged. In 2016 I had to take my car in to get brakes and tires because of a nail in the sidewall of my tire. As if my fortune couldn’t get any better, I was driving Lauren’s car to work while I had my car fixed and I hit a pothole that broke her rim and popped her tire.
VDOT claimed that the pothole was not identified prior to my issue and now all of a sudden we had a $1500 bill for two cars. The coolest thing about all of this – I just put it on a credit card, took the points, and paid if off that month.
However, not as many people have given themselves the luxury to embrace what gets thrown our way. For starters, if you don’t have a budget, I would recommend you get on one, feel free to use this free budget sheet. One in four will have a financial disruption in their lifetime, if not higher.
Sometimes we will get hit with the ball, sometimes it will miss us. Financial security is almost an oxymoron, you never know what to expect. That is why we must have a plan!
2. Planning and being prepared can make all the difference.
Dodgeball, like life, can be a lot more complicated then throwing and catching. Just like life is not all about working to pay bills, sometimes the best way to win in dodgeball is to have a little strategy.
Whether you are aiming for the other teams best player, or saving for the future, planning ahead is always recommended.
If you did not read my recent post called The Big Bad Wolf, there is a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing what the Federal Reserve calls, “A major financial disruption.” Be it job loss, illness, death of a loved one, or ability to produce, 25% of the United States population will face a financial emergency.
Planning ahead and being prepared can be the difference in resilience or a potentially really bad financial situation. While the events that may occur are not necessarily controllable, our ability to pay off debt, save and invest in our future is.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
3. Sometimes we make the catch, sometimes we drop the ball.
A times, it is like everything we do seems to go our way. Then there are those times where no matter how hard we try it is like we can not get anything right. Just like dropping the lob throw that cuts left at the last second, unfortunately stuff happens.
Whether you are catching everything coming your way, or dropping the ball, realize it is temporary. In addition to things not going your way just being temporary, it is your response to them that is even more important.
Like the broken rim from the pothole, there was nothing I could do other then laugh it off and change the tire. Control what you can control, do your best, and realize that everything is temporary and what you make of it – both good and bad.
4. We don’t always win.
The former coach in me hates this, but we don’t always win. The last time I played dodgeball we lost to the worst team in the pool and beat the best team. How does that happen?
Well like anything, finances, dodgeball or our goals, we do not necessarily always control the results. Work hard, follow the 60/40 rule for saving to spending, and elevate your chances of winning.
Just like losing to the worst team and beating the best, it doesn’t always have to be about wins and losses. Sometimes the small victories like saving your first $1,000 or paying off your car loan are what you need.
Sure paying off all of our student loans will be amazing, but it started with just knocking out my small amount. Set some big goals with small steps to help you get there!
You can read our crazy student loan story here – it was my first blog post ever.
When all else fails, there is still another game to be played.
Realize there is always another game to be played. Chances are if you haven’t made the most sound financial decisions or choices, I know I haven’t, there is always tomorrow.
Draw a line in the concrete and make things happen.
Getting caught up in the here and the now was my modus operandi. When it comes to looking ahead, short term thinking is never a good thing. In regards to personal finance and security, it is really really bad thing.
If you know there is always another chance in the future to make things happen, things that might sometimes get you down should no longer impact you.
Forward thinking is the way to go!