Three Things You Can Learn From the NFL

By now, you’ve likely heard about the issues the NFL and its players are having negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. We surely don’t have all of the details, but like past struggles, this one likely comes down to money.

The popular storyline has been to categorize the issue as Billionaires and Millionaires fighting over money.

We should all have it so bad, right?

Perhaps, but that can be easier said than done. When money is involved,  even the most rational, intelligent people make emotional decisions that often have repercussions years into the future.

Whether or not you’ll ever be in the position to fight of a billion dollar pie, here are 3 things you can learn from the NFL:

  1. What’s in your playbook? Championship football teams execute their play-book with precision, and efficiency to defeat their opponent. Each player has a role to play, and when executed properly, the result is usually success. Professional teams don’t draw up plays in the dirt before each snap. Treat your money the same way. By taking time at least annually, to map out a plan for your future goals, you can determine a strategy to reach them. If you making purchases on a whim, or just saving what you think you can afford, you’re unlikely to be financially successful.
  2. Don’t argue your case through the media Although most everyone knew there could be issues this off-season, little was done in advance to avoid problems. Initially, negotiations were held, and everyone stayed “tight lipped”. Then, things began to deteriorate, and the players and owners took their case to the media. I don’t know about you, but seeing DeMaurice Smith and his silly hat or Jerry Jones please their case to the microphone’s gets old fast. Although it’s unlikely money disputes in your life will be handled through the media, it’s easy to fall into the same trap. Instead of addressing the issues you face, it’s easy to complain to coworkers or family members about how one thing or another has negatively affected you. Just like the NFL dispute won’t be solved over the air, your issues won’t improve by complaining to friends. Focus on what you can control, and don’t waste time on unproductive actions that won’t improve your situation.
  3. Things change – will you be prepared? Because of the current lockout, NFL players are not being paid. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to the players, as the union held meetings, and distributed suggestions to them last year about what to expect. Most advised putting away a large portion of last years pay to live on in the event this years problems drug on longer than expected. However, news reports are suggesting that many players are using risky loans to maintain their current lifestyle. Although you may not resort to financing your lifestyle with a payday loan that charges 20+% interest, you may not be prepared for changes to come in your future. For example, social security may only take in 75% of what it needs to pay out in benefits in the future. Are you planning for a retirement with reduced social security?

I’m sure the NFL issues will be resolved eventually, but we’ll likely have to endure more nonsense over the summer. Don’t fall into the same trap with your own finances. Learn from their very public mistakes to improve your situation. After all, there isn’t an off-season for your money.