As you watch in awe the performances of Olympians in Rio, with a little imagination you’ll also see that they have much to teach about money.
- Set goals
Making an Olympic team requires setting short and long-term goals. Financial planning, like preparing for retirement, has the same requirements. “You need a sense of where you are going and concrete steps to move in the right direction,” says Dave Littell, who fenced for Team USA in the 1988 Games in Seoul and currently is retirement income director at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Stuff happens. “An Olympian trains for various situations so they are best prepared for all foreseeable circumstances. When life throws you a curveball you need an emergency fund. Train so that when something you don’t see happens, you’re prepared to adjust and move on,” says Lauryn Williams, a four time track and field and bobsled Olympian, whose Dallas financial planning firm Worth Winning focuses on athletes.
Olympians are determined and committed, making endless sacrifices to achieve their goals. When it comes to finances, rules like paying yourself first, saving 10 percent of your income, and sticking to a budget require the same moxie to cross the finish line — financial freedom. “Be patient. Olympians are not made over night, nor are retirement and savings accounts,” says Williams.
The bottom line is discipline. Says Lesley Pearson, creator of the Stronger Wallet blog, “Personal finance is much more about behaviors than the numbers.”