Sports fans, it’s been a tough year. I know I’m missing the action of three-pointers, home-runs, and soccer balls striking net. But it’s given me time to think about how I can put the goal-setting and discipline I enjoy about sports into my other passion: personal finances, and in particular savings strategies.
Did you know that a majority of Americans don’t have enough savings to handle a $400 emergency? They’re just one car repair, medical appointment, or home repair away from financial difficulties. At SAFE Credit Union, we offer various ways to help our members save for emergencies as well as larger goals, such as education, new homes, new vehicles, and future vacations. Explore our options including certificates, Perfect Cents Savings®, you-name-it savings accounts, money market accounts, and more.
Financial planning and savings is like a muscle you have to work out to get better and stronger at it. So here are some sports-inspired lessons for you to use to start and grow your savings.
On your mark. Get set. Let’s go!
Discipline is key
From grueling training sessions to early-morning workouts, sports require an endless amount of self-discipline. Athletes must learn to ignore distractions and to devote themselves completely to the game to reach the top. This can mean missing out on social events, and, of course, spending hours upon hours on training sessions and muscle building.
Managing your finances successfully requires a tremendous amount of discipline as well. Will you stick to your budget for groceries this month or blow it all on steak and lobster tails or endless supplies of Gatorade and sunflower seeds? Will you have the self-control to decline an invitation to join your friends at a pricey restaurant when you already used up your allotted dining out monthly budget? Will you remember to pay yourself first each month and set aside money for savings when there are so many things you’d love to buy today?
The good news is SAFE offers several ways to help you save easily. Our Perfect Cents Checking account rounds up to the nearest dollar purchases you make on your SAFE debit card, and at the end of the day transfers that “change” into your SAFE savings account. You can also directly deposit part of your paycheck into a savings account. Set and track your goals with our Money Management tool available in both Online Banking and the Mobile App to track your accounts and spending in real time. You can also take SAFE's no-cost financial education webinars to learn how to budget, save more, and spend less.
Training yourself to be disciplined with money is the key to a lifetime of financial wellness.
Set small goals
Young athletes aspiring to compete on a professional level have a long road ahead of them. To bring their long-term goal within reach, they set smaller, trackable goals along the way. For example, they might work on increasing their muscle mass one season and then focus on bringing up their speed the next year.
Setting small goals is equally important when managing your finances. Sure, it’s nice to dream of acquiring your first million or buying a private island, but how realistic are these goals? It’s better to set smaller, manageable goals for your money, such as saving up a targeted amount of money, putting away a specific percentage of your monthly income for the future, or bringing your monthly discretionary spending down by 10 percent. Just like an athlete, your goals can be progressive, with another, larger goal taking the place of a smaller one you’ve already achieved.
Diversify, diversify, diversify
A sports team cannot be made up of star players. The team needs every player to be an expert in a specific skill. The players then work in perfect coordination, using their talents to compensate for their teammates’ weaknesses and, ultimately, to win the game.
Similarly, it’s best to diversify your banking, with checking and savings accounts, certificates, and money market accounts.
Research, review, revise
Athletes prepare for games beyond training sessions and practice runs. Before a scheduled game with an opponent, coaches will show their players videos of previous games they’ve played against that particular team. This way, the players can get an understanding of what they’re up against, learn the other team’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop the best strategy to help defeat them.
In smart money management, there’s no end to the ways you can build your knowledge. You can check out online financial resources, read the latest in personal finance literature, and listen to podcasts on money topics that interest you. You can also stop by SAFE Credit Union to speak to one of our service representatives about the financial resources we offer members. Use the knowledge you acquire to make smart decisions about general money management, your savings strategy, and your long-term financial goals.
There’s no such thing as the easy way out
Players learn quickly that there are no shortcuts to building their skills, stamina, and strength.
Short of winning the lottery, there are no shortcuts to financial wealth, either. Don’t fall prey to get-rich schemes or miracle investments promising astronomical rewards. Instead, follow the timeless rules of money management to maintain true financial wellness throughout your life: Always pay yourself first, invest early to take advantage of compound dividends, spend less than you earn, and increase your earning potential by investing in your own skills and knowledge.
Schedule an appointment to talk with a member service representative about finding the right savings solutions for you.
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