One thing I've noticed a lot of lately is people I know or have met not taking control of their financial lives. Instead they're just hoping against hope that they'll have enough to retire when they get older, or that if an emergency happens they'll have enough in their emergency fund. They're not really planning ahead for a rainy day, and in the end they may end up relying on the government or family to take care of them when they don't have enough money for retirement or for their latest “emergency”.
When you don't plan ahead and instead rely on the kindness of others in order to keep you afloat, you're in for a rude awakening.
Last night's Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Seahawks was an example of what can happen when you leave things up to chance and hope for the best.
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Are You Leaving Things Up To Chance?
In the game last night between the Green Bay and Seattle the Packers ended up losing the game 14-12 when what appeared to be an interception on the last play of the game was actually ruled by the NFL's replacement referees to be a touchdown. One ref called it a touchdown for Seattle, one called it a touchback, and then after they looked at each other and had words, it was ruled a touchdown.
After a replay, it was still ruled a touchdown. Everyone stared in disbelief at the replay, which to most clearly showed an interception being made by Green Bay. (view the play here)
The thing is, Green Bay had plenty of chances throughout the game to take things into their own hands. They allowed 8 sacks in the first half, and really didn't run the ball as much as they could. Their offense just couldn't get started. They didn't score until the second half, and really were in a place to have the call go against them because of their own poor play (and admittedly some of the other team's good play).
Similarly, because so many of us aren't planning ahead for a rainy day, we're engaging in poor financial play, and leaving ourselves open to chance as well.
Taking Control And Planning For Every Scenario
So instead of leaving things to chance and allowing ourselves to be subjected to the whims of the economy or your circumstances (or NFL replacement referees), it's time to take charge of your financial life, plan ahead and prepare yourself for just about any circumstance.
What are some things you can do to ensure you get ahead, instead of losing your financial game?
- Track your spending and do a budget: The first thing that you can do is to start tracking what your spending for a month or so, and then figure out what you want to be spending by setting up a budget. Then do your best to follow that budget.
- Get rid of debt as fast as possible: If you have debt, setup and follow a plan to get rid of debt as soon as you can.
- Set goals for short, medium and long term: After setting up your budget and getting rid of debt you'll also want to make sure that set goals for your savings and investment. Set short term goals for the next 12 months. Set medium range savings goals for the next 1-5 years. Finally set long term savings and retirement goals that you can shoot for, for 5 years and longer.
- Start saving for retirement: Once you've setup a budget, gotten rid of your debt and set savings goals, make sure if you haven't already to setup retirement accounts, like a Roth IRA, 401k or whatever makes the most sense for your situation.
- Buy insurance: Don't forget to buy insurance to cover you for big expenses that may happen. Buy life, disability, health, homeowners, auto and even umbrella insurance to make sure an untimely negative event doesn't wreak havoc to your financial plan.
Those are just a few things you can do to start making sure your situation isn't left up to chance, or the whims of our economy and political class.
Don't Be Like The Packers. Play Better In The First Half
So what can you do to avoid the Packer's fate – having to rely on dumb luck or someone else's good will to get by? Make sure that you play well in the first half of your financial game. Make a plan, make goals and work hard to achieve them before it's too late and you have to rely on your own replacement refs. Good luck!