Let's Play Ball! The Start of the 2020 Baseball Season and Personal Financial PlanningSubmitted by MIRUS Financial Partners on June 26th, 2020
While living without restaurants, schools, and amusement parks during the COVID-19 crisis has been hard in many ways, the cessation of sporting events was an emotional hit that added another level of surrealism to the pandemic. That's why it was so exciting to hear Major League Baseball's recent announcement that there will be a 60-game season in 2020 and Opening Day will be July 23 or 24.
The last time the U.S. had to suffer through a Memorial Day weekend without baseball was 1880. Major League Baseball has always been considered essential to the nation’s morale and was played throughout World War I, World War II, and even during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.
One of the best aspects of spring training is that it heralds in a new season full of hope and optimism, something we could all use right about now. Baseball is also full of life lessons, which can also be applied to your approach to personal financial planning.
You Can Strike Out Swinging or Looking, in Baseball and in Investing
Even the youngest little league baseball player knows striking out is inevitable. Striking out is more common than hitting the ball. Famously, Ted Williams is quoted as saying, "Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer." Ty Cobb's all-time record for the highest career batting average record is just .366, or about 36 percent.
A batter can strike out "looking" when he chooses not to swing at a pitch (but the pitch was in the strike zone), or they can strike out swinging and missing the ball.
Strikeouts are a good analogy for personal finances. As an investor, it's wise to come to terms with the reality of hits and misses. Every investment has the potential of being a strike. But that doesn't mean you stop pursuing financial opportunities. "Looking," or not swinging, is also a way to miss chances to improve your portfolio.
You have no control over how or when the market is going to go up, but you can decide what type of investments you'll buy and the mix of investments, bonds, assets, and cash in your portfolio. You can also work with a financial advisor to identify your tolerance for risk.
Warren Buffett, a celebrated investor, advises waiting for the right pitch. "What's nice about investing is you don't have to swing at pitches," Buffett said. "You can watch pitches come in one inch above or one inch below your navel, and you don't have to swing. No umpire is going to call you out. You can wait for the pitch you want."
Note: All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.
Your Personal Financial Plan Should Proceed One Base at a Time
Home runs are exciting to watch and even more exciting to hit. But baseball relies on single and double base hits that allow runners to move forward more methodically. In personal finances, the "one base at a time" approach will require self-discipline and works best within the context of a long-term financial plan. Instead of focusing on the excitement of a home run, think about moving forward “one base at a time” for your financial goals, your financial priorities, and your tolerance for risk. Slow and steady usually wins in the long run.
Cover Your Financial Bases
Baseball players are taught to stand close to their assigned position to protect the bases from incoming runners. What position should you take to protect your financial future? If recent events have taught us anything, it's that life is uncertain. Does your life, health, disability, and long-term insurance keep you and your family protected? Do you have an emergency account in place, so you can avoid dipping into your retirement funds? Are you keeping credit card balances low (or better yet, at zero) so you have emergency funds when you need them?
Every Day is an All-New Ball Game
The past is past, and the future hasn't happened yet. Anything can happen and often does. In baseball, when the losing team catches up, the announcer shouts, "It's a whole new ball game!" No matter where you're at in your personal financial planning, it's not too late to make changes that will protect your financial future. Every day is an all-new ballgame.
If you haven't done well with investments in the past, or haven't managed to save enough, today is the day to rethink your approach to personal financial planning. As pitcher and Hall-of-Famer Bob Feller said, "Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."
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