What Baseball Can Teach You About Personal Finance

Even as the baseball season comes to a close, I’ve been finding it pretty hard to get the game off my mind, and not for the reasons you’d think. Throughout the playoffs, I couldn’t help but take note of several parallels between America’s greatest pastime and (as odd as it may sound) personal finance. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to share a few pieces of financial wisdom that can be gleaned from the game of baseball.

Discipline is the Key to Success

A disciplined hitter is someone who is able to make good decisions at the plate. They can easily tell whether or not a pitch is good or bad and minimize the amount of times they go for balls outside the strike zone. They’re observant, focused and, most importantly, patient. And while it’s not the most glamorous factor to take into consideration when evaluating a hitter, plate discipline can be the difference between a superstar and a strikeout machine. 

When it comes to our personal finances, it’s important to minimize risk and capitalize on the right opportunities. Much like a disciplined hitter, we need to be able to discern whether or not a financial endeavor is worth our time and effort. Having the fortitude to occasionally say no, whether it’s to an investment or some sort of major purchase, could help set us up for a better opportunity somewhere down the road.  

You’ve Got to Know What You’re Up Against

When it comes to baseball, knowledge is power. Coaches will watch tape of opposing teams to uncover any potential weaknesses they could exploit. Players will observe the opposing pitcher’s windup and release point to see if there are any ”tells” for when they throw a particular pitch. Hitters will discuss the umpire’s strike zone to help each other with their pitch selection. Baseball players are constantly collecting and sharing information, doing whatever they can to give themselves a leg up on their competition.

When it comes to finance, knowledge is equally as important. Whether it’s gathering information regarding your expenses and spending habits or educating yourself on the factors that impact your credit score, arming yourself with the right knowledge can help you stay financially stable. Knowing the best strategies to manage debt, save money, or handle investments could be the difference between reaching your financial potential or or dwelling at the bottom of the standings. 

Mistakes Happen, Even to the Best of Us

In baseball, not even the best of the best are free from making mistakes. Omar Vizquel, considered by many to be one of the best defensive shortstops to ever play the game, finished his career with almost two hundred errors. Mariano Rivera committed two costly errors on his own during game seven of the 2001 World Series, enabling the Diamondbacks to make one of the most famous comebacks in baseball history. In 2009, Matt Holliday flubbed an easy line drive in the bottom of the ninth against the Dodgers, who wound up sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals for the NLDS title. However, despite their mistakes, these players still had incredibly successful and memorable careers.

Chances are you’ve probably made a couple financial mistakes during your life. Whether it was taking on too much debt, waiting too long to save for retirement, or not cultivating good financial habits, financial missteps happen, even to the best of us. What’s important is being able to learn from your mistakes. Errors, whether they’re with the ball or our money, can’t distract us from moving forward. You just have to brush the dirt off your jersey and get back in the game.

As baseball heads into the offseason, many teams will start to evaluate their seasons and attempt to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for the upcoming year. As 2015 comes to a close, you may want to consider doing the same. Taking the time to review your financial achievements and shortcomings from the past year can help you plan ahead and have even greater financial success in 2016. 

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