Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What I Learned From an 8th-Grade Basketball Game

As the shot clock ran down, there were a few tense moments at a middle-school basketball game involving my son's team. The game was a slam dunk for financial lessons. Here's what I learned from the sidelines.

  • Momentum shifts quickly : The score was tied with 60 seconds left in the final quarter. We had the ball and momentum was in our favor. Then we turned the ball over, and the other team went on a 9-0 run. The final score 52 to 59.

My final lesson: I can save money all week, but a $90 shopping run in just 60 minutes can create a deficit.

  • Can't control everything: We were sunk by more than a bad turnover during the final minute. When we got the ball back, a clueless ref ignored a flagrant foul that happened right in front of my courtside seat. I would have jumped up and down -- screaming in protest -- if it weren't for a withering please-don't-embarrass-me look from my tweenage daughter. So I just sat down and faced reality. It was painful because in a few heartbeats, the opposing team expanded their lead from two points to five points after the bad call led to a basket and a foul shot (an "and-one," three-point play.)

My financial lesson: Losses happen. Stocks slide; houses depreciate and bounce checks may hit the rim due to forces beyond your call. I have to do my best to make the numbers work and then let go of the rest.

  • Stick to your game plan: After the turnover and the bad ref call, you could see the wind go out of my team. And as the game clock ran down, the lead expanded into a score that resembled a rout.

My financial lesson: Do your best to contain financial slides. Losses can have a domino effect. Stay focused in order to limit cash drains.

And finally, I learned a lot from my son. He plays with so much heart, he's an awesome defender. He's fierce and is just under 5-feet-tall. Given his small stature, he did not get much time in that game, which involved a team of much taller opponents.

But when he came in with the rest of the substitutes in the final 30 seconds of the game, my son played as if the game just started. I should save money with that kind of fierce focus.


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Anonymous said...

Well said! I love that you pulled some good personal finance lessons out of that!

By the way, I just found you via Wisebread's Top 100 PF Blogs. Congrats on making the list!

Gizimmick said...

Awesome post! Agreed you can't control everything. The trick is to Ultra-Control the things we can control.