Change: Why are you Resisting?

This is the result of a company that did not change…

During my childhood, I can remember the excitement I felt when entering one of their ubiquitous stores with the large blue and yellow sign that resembled a ticket on the front of the building. Do you remember Blockbuster?


At its peak, Blockbuster was a thriving VHS (later DVD) movie and video game rental shop with a footprint that stretched over 9,000 stores world-wide. It had excitement, market share and what seemed to be a sure path dominance, but Blockbuster’s hopes were squandered, forcing the company into bankruptcy.

What went wrong?

Blockbuster was not blindsided, but it was rather the lack of or inability to embrace change. Of course, having competitors like Netflix and Redbox chip away at market share and bring forward thinking into the industry did not help, but Blockbuster’s leadership had the resources to adapt.

So why didn’t they?

Change can foment emotions in your life that have a devastating impact.





These are just a few of the emotions that you might experience when faced with change, but you retain the choice to be consumed by them.

Or not?

I have been a part of an ongoing Bible study for a year. The curriculum is included a section on learning how to lead courageously. Recently, the group listened to the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast associated with our study (episodes 10 and 11 specifically). Groeschel discussed embracing change and practical steps on how to achieve and carry that mindset in your day-to-day life. Upon listening, one phrase stuck out:


Craig said there are only two times people change: “when they have to and when they want to.”

As I continue to evaluate my own views on change, the above statement persists. It leaves me asking myself this question:

“How can I live in the quadrant of not having (being forced) to change, but rather staying ahead by always wanting to change (aka. get better)?”

Here are a few things that came to mind to help live in that quadrant:

1. Continuously work on formulating a healthy view of change.
2. Reflect regularly on what needs to change, then focus on the areas that are most obvious (or not obvious, especially if you find you have been tolerating).
3. As Craig Groeschel promotes, “lead with the why (you are changing) before the what (you are changing).”
4. Remind yourself to focus on what is to come (the new rather than the old).
5. Control your controllables… your attitude and your effort
6. Do not wait to be 100%, just go for it.
7. Celebrate the (small and/or large) victories along the way!

In addition, here are a few questions to ask yourself that may reveal you are resisting change:

1. Do I/we have any goals I/we are working toward?
2. Has my or my team’s morale dropped because I/we did not get an outcome I/we wanted?
3. Do I complain about something that I tolerate?
4. Do you get paralysis by analysis?

 Regardless of what your views are on change, what is going to make your storefront (life) empty and what is going to make your storefront (life) full?

Embracing or Resisting?

5 Things to do before you turn 25 to Ruin Your Financial Life (Continued…)


In part one (click here to see part one), we looked at one of the five ways someone before 25 could ruin their financial life. In the first post, I discussed how everyone has an image of their future self that they would like to achieve. The problem is, many do not think about, prepare for, or get started on making that image a reality. Simply put, we want the reward without the work.  

In addition, I discussed the first way someone before 25 could ruin their financial life, which is refusing to accept responsibility. Refusing to accept responsibility is to have a mindset that someone else should be accountable for the decisions you make even though you make themThis allows an individual to avoid expectations and consequences from their own choices.  

The following are the remaining 4 things you should do to ruin your financial life by 25:

2. Accumulate as much debt as possible. 

Look around. Look around. (Maybe you caught the Hamilton reference) Debt is everywhere.  

Nations, federal and local governments, companies, institutions, and the guy next door to you are all caught in the borrow-and-spend cycle. This cycle has become ingrained into our society, so why should you do anything different? Besides, minimum payments can be set just about as low as you want, and you can afford just about anything with the right sales guy on your side. Just swipe with the plastic.  

Then, this could quickly become your life…  

Click this link: What happens when you just pay the minimum payment 

I would imagine you would prefer a different route, so here are some questions to ask yourself.  

  • Can I wait to buy this item?  
  • Have I purposefully saved for this purchase?  
  • Is going into debt for this item a wise decision?  

If you can answer each of these questions truthfully and still have no hesitation to make the purchase, then go for it… but if you can’t answer them without hesitation, then you should rethink your decision and consider what consequences the purchase may have. 

Don’t get me wrong, debt can be a productive tool (If you understand how to use it and you know how it fits into your overall financial picture), but unfortunately our society has become so consumed in debt and our views on its usefulness are rather flawed.  

Here is a simple concept to internalize - if you do not have it, do not buy it. I challenge you to educate yourself about the hindrances of debt, learn about effective ways you can utilize it to your benefit, and know the responsibility you take on when signing the dotted line. 

3. Disregard the intangible. 

Live in the moment. Embrace it, enjoy it, and take life as it comes. Do not consider or put any thought to the past and definitely do not think about what you may want, need, or desire in the future, because the future will take care of itself. 

I have lost count of how many times I have heard statements like the above from my peersWith this mindset, ruining your financial life becomes drastically easier. But, what if? 

What if you decided to forgo your instant desire and take advantage of the resource that has been given to you – TIME! 

How does time impact your financial future? 

Time Value of Money - Have you ever heard of this financial concept? 

Time value of money declares that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar at any given point in the future. This concept considers the present value of the money, the interest rate, the time frame, and ultimately the future value.  

Here’s a hypothetical example: 

Let’s say someone owed you $10,000 but said they would give you $11,000 if you allowed them to pay you back in 3 years. You know you can earn 5% in an interest-bearing savings account. Should you take the $10,000 now or wait 3 years? 

If you put $10,000 into a savings account that is paying 5% annually, your $10,000 would become $10,500 after the first year, thus earning $500. After the second year, the account balance would be worth $11,025, thus earning $525. After the third year, the account balance would grow to $11,576.25, earning $551.25. 

Time allows you opportunity and in this case, if you would have forgone the repayment and received the $10,000 3 years later, it would have cost you $576.25 or more (depending if you chose another investment). The opportunity made you an extra $576.25 ($11,576.25 - $11,000) 

Time value of money applies to your investment returns. The more time you allow your assets, the better the opportunity those assets can grow into a larger value. 

As late President John F. Kennedy once spoke, “We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.” 

4. Don’t take the match. 

AKA, “Stick with the ‘YOLO’ perspective.” To benefit from the employer 401(k) match, an employee must contribute money as well. This would require an employee to forgo the money they worked for and tying it up into a retirement account for “x” number of years. To access the funds, the employee must wait until age 59.5 to withdraw the funds without penalty (there are a few exceptions for a penalty-free withdrawal). Why would you want to do that? 

Let me tell you. 

Free money. A 401(k) match is the only place where an employee can get 100% return on their investment. All it costs you is well nothing. You keep the funds you worked for and you get even more, because you decided to implement discipline by preparing for the future. On top of that, those funds can be invested, which gives both your contribution and the match to earn even more. 

***Understand that every plan is different and matching and vesting are different. So, be curious and ask your employer for the plan details if you do not know them already. Employers will set matching limits (could be partial or dollar-for-dollar up to a certain amount). In addition, some employers implement a vesting schedule. In short, this means an employee must stay “x” number of years in order to collect the full match.  

5. Who cares what you think? Let’s follow the Joneses 

Ever heard the phrase, “Keeping up with the Joneses”? What about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”? Yeah, your goal in life should be to do just that. It is a simple concept. If your neighbor, friend, or someone you associate yourself with obtains something, you should obtain one for yourself. It’s fun and it makes you feel really good about yourself… 

Hopefully, you caught my sarcasm and you see the many issues with this thought process. Comparing your social class and situation to someone else’s is not wise. Doing so is an ill-informed thought of comparing what you have to someone else and buying things to impress others you do not even care about. 

  • Why do we constantly fall into this flawed way of thinking? 

Because we do not ask the “Why” questions to ourselves. I encourage you to watch Simon’s Sinek’s Ted Talk:

 Consider, then apply this thought process to your financial life 

Ask yourself the following: 

  • “Why am I currently spending my money on this?” 
  • “Why am I not saving more?” 
  • “Why am I forgoing a match from my company?” 
  • “Why do I need to buy this now versus a few months from now?” 

I hope you take these things to heart. They will help you stray from the all-to-well-known path of the Joneses and will help you follow your own individual, prudent path. 

5 Things to do before you turn 25 to Ruin Your Financial Life

Conveniences, efficiencies, and instant gratification. This is what our world is full of. When we want something, we usually expect to have it immediately. If we do not get it, we simply get annoyed.  

Renowned author, Stephen Covey titled a chapter “Begin with the End in Mind” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A simple concept, yet so hard to follow or implement for many. When we think about the end, that is the position we would like to have achieved or the goals we would like to attain, we tend to be too late. We give no time for our choice(s) or decision(s) to get off the ground, face objections, and allow ourselves time to adjust. 

Right now, I want you to create a mental picture your future self. The self that is at the end of your life. What do you like about that image?  

Good, bad, ugly, or indifferent; now is the time to think, prepare, and get started on how you are going to make that image a reality. 

Often, we read the thousands of thoughts or ideas that can make our life successful (however you define that), yet we often disregard the hurdles that can severely hinder or even ruin the opportunity to reach those successes.  

After much thought and after initially writing a list that stretched multiple pages, the following are the 5 things you should do to ruin your financial life by 25:


1. Refuse to accept responsibility  

We each have seen someone live a life that is overflowing with stress. Although stress is a normal part of life for everyone, it can be minimized. You ask how? I tell you, simple… by not accepting responsibility.   

If you do not have any responsibility you cannot be blamed, you will have no anxiety from expectations, and you can daily choose what to do! Sounds amazing right? 

Besides, mom, dad, or surely the grandparents will step in and take care of whatever you need. You have more important things to do anyway. 

And then you are 75 

You wake up and have a flashback. You get dressed, hop in your truck and clock in for an eight-hour day only to realize it is not a flashback, it is reality. I am not saying going to work at 75 years old is a bad thing, but when you are 75 you should have a choice. Therefore, it is so important to take responsibility for your choices and actions now. It is the very reason why it is important to ponder the choices you have made and revisit them to make changes when needed.  

Responsibility - the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.

- Oxford Dictionary

By definition you have a choiceto work or not workto spend your earnings or save some of them. The choice you make is the choice you live with.  

The results of your decision is not your parents’ fault. It is not your siblings’ fault. It is not your friends’ fault. The choice was yours, so the consequences are yours. Own it. If you don’t want to own the choice(s) you make, then continue to point fingers at everyone besides the one who made the choice(s) and put yourself on the fast track to ruining your financial future. Remember, the choices you make have consequences. 

I’ll post the rest of the list next week. Stay tuned... 


A Rookie’s First Bear Market

I have heard and read about bear markets, but I have never experienced one with ‘skin in the game’ until April. Everything I heard and most of what I read does not even scratch the surface of what I just experienced. Bear markets engulf investors in fear, loss, anxiety, panic, and regret. I experienced all these emotions.


Background: The Escalator Up


On March 9, 2019, the stock market passed the 10-year milestone from its 2009 lows. This bull withstood punches from all over the globe. A U.S. Federal Government credit rating downgrade, European sovereign debt crisis, U.S. – China trade war tensions, Brexit, and interest rate hikes to name a few. With bumps smoothed along the way with quantitative easing (QE), tax cuts, and the daily expressions of optimism from economists; most individuals began to think the longest bull market in history was invincible.


On February 12, 2020, the DJIA, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 (all major stock indices) finished at record highs. (The NASDAQ and S&P 500 both reached subsequent highs on February 19th).


These highs were short lived.


Bear Market: The Elevator Down


In less than two weeks from the February 2020 peaks, major stock indices were in freefall. Bear markets, defined as a decline of at least 20%, occurred in the S&P 500 (16 days), DJIA (19 days) and NASDAQ (17 days). Since entering the bear market, each index dropped between 32-39% before bouncing.


In 2009, our country emerged from the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). Despite the accusations and finger pointing that occurred, markets declined, homes were lost, and many jobs disappeared. I personally do not recall the turmoil from the subprime lending crisis. I was insulated, sitting in a desk in ninth grade Math and English, and periodically escaping pranks from my football teammates. This put me at a slight disadvantage by not having a first-hand experience of facing the 2007-2009 bear market. Eleven years later, I am sitting behind a desk at LeConte Wealth Management. My position provides me an up close and personal experience of what truly occurs in a bear market.

As a rookie facing my first bear market, here are the top 5 things I learned:

1. The trusted adviser earns their keep, but it is quickly forgotten


“Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory” Proverbs 11:14.


As the Good Book points us toward wise counsel, I believe this principal should flow over into every aspect of our lives. Throughout the past two and a half years of my professional career I have heard a lot. I’ve heard clients talked down from mortgaging their home to chase a “golden ticket”, I participated in meetings where we had to help clients understand the sacrifices that needed to be made to stay retired, and we’ve helped clients wrangle their emotions to avoid common investor behavioral mistakes – like chasing a hot market and selling when things underperform.


Human emotions are real, and they can swing to the extremes in a hurry. I was able to see the power of how a trusting relationship with an adviser can provide a practical approach to help individuals and families stay on the path toward their goals. Unfortunately, clients tend to quickly forget the value of a sensible approach that advisers provide in these situations.


I would encourage every investor to seek wise counsel, because as much as we think being sensible would be easy to do; I have seen otherwise.



2. "What do I care about the price of beef when I want milk from my cows”


This quote comes from Farmer Frank, who is one of LeConte’s first clients. His words were etched in my mind from LeConte partner, Hoy Grimm. His farming wisdom applies perfectly to our approach of Purpose-Built Planning. Simply put, this is a reminder to keep the main thing the main thing. If your investment goal is to reduce taxes; focus on that. If your investment goal is to grow your investment; focus on that. Do not expect growth from income investments and income from growth investments. Farmer Frank has helped me learn a valuable lesson by learning not to change your long-term investment strategy because a short-term price change captures your attention (a.k.a. triggers your emotions.)



3. Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid.


This February, valuations crept higher and earnings growth slowed, but money kept piling into stocks. It did not matter what your money was invested in. It was like throwing darts at a board covered with triple 20s. I sat in a 2019 client review and every asset class they were invested in was up. This is what their response was, “Why didn’t I have more money in the thing that made the most. “Without recognizing it, they were asking us why you did not buy (allocate to) more stocks even as prices became irrational.


Bull markets produce this euphoric state in many investors and it certainly did in me. The irrational decisions others made in the market prompted me to follow suit with my personal holdings. In hindsight, I knew what was occurring as we had discussions almost weekly at the office about it, but my emotions overtook my sensible thinking. In their wisdom, the partners at LeConte did not give me trading authority for our client’s accounts. So… the harm was limited to my relatively new Roth. From this lesson, I will take the value of patience and strive to abstain from the herd.


4. "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful” - W. Buffett


Markets can stay irrational both ways, as they go up and as they go down. Following the herd either direction is a mistake. Warren Buffett is the embodiment of disciplined investor behavior. His words above are contrary to the thoughts and emotions investors feel when markets drop 30% plus from all-time highs. Bear markets typically occur when fear enters the market and large “emotional” sell offs begin over a longer period. Throughout a bear market, volatility tends to pick up, which presents more fluctuation than the average investor can stomach. In turn, this creates the opportunities. Investors with a “greedy when others are fearful” mindset think about putting excess cash to work and rebalancing into better positions that will help reach longer-term goals. I saw this firsthand as we asked clients for more investment cash when markets were down to pick up positions at a discount.


5a. Recency Bias is real. (Be disciplined in taking profits)


This may be one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. I remember a year ago investing in an exchange-traded fund that was up ~36% in less than 6 months. It was quite incredible. I remember thinking there was no way the investment would slow down – it had to keep growing (this was a product of recency bias). “If only it could get to 40%; that’s when I will take some profit,” I told myself. Over the next 6 months, I gave back every penny gained, including some of my principal. Looking back, my first mistake was not implementing a rebalancing strategy. This would have helped shelter me from my emotions, kept me disciplined and ultimately kept me from learning the hard way.


5b. Is it for savings or for investing? (Bonus)


This is a question that every investor should ask themselves before they ever put a dollar in a security. Why? Two words, time horizon. Time horizon is a quantified length of time that an investor plans to hold a certain security based on a goal. In a situation that you have a question about whether you should invest, make sure you never put your savings in stocks. Do not be speculative with it. You do not want to be forced to sell your holdings while they are down 20%-30%.

I will leave you with this. Eighteenth century philosopher, Edmund Burke, stated the following, “In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.” As I move forward from the 2020 bear market, I plan to take Burke’s advice by learning from my past errors as an investor and continue to turn disadvantages into advantages. I encourage you to look back as I have done and reflect on what you could have done better. Draw from Burke’s advice and learn from the wisdom that has been unrolled in front of you.

P.S. If you are within 10 years of retirement, just make sure you are

       not investing like a 25-year old before his first bear market.

Your $50,000 Tax-Free Coronavirus Check is In the Mail

When your $50,000 tax-free Coronavirus check hits your hands, what are you going to do with it? 

Wait, you thought it was only $2,400? Think again. 

If you’re 25 years old and married (without kids), you and your spouse are about to receive one of the biggest checks in your life - $50,000. You ask, what do you mean? 

When the Coronavirus bill is passed and signed by President Trump, you and your spouse will be receiving a tax-free check of $2,400. Most will view it for what it is. Found money that you can take a vacation with after the virus calms, a new game system or two while you’re quarantined, or a new set of wheels for your ride. Though, what if you did the contrary? What if you viewed it from the standpoint of your future self?  

Here’s how: 

  1. You and your spouse receive the $2,400 tax-free check. 
  2. You open a Roth IRA (call us if you need help). 
  3. Use your government check to make a Roth IRA contribution. (You have until July 15th, 2020 to classify it as 2019. If contributed after that date, it will be a 2020 contribution.) 
  4. If this one-time investment grows at 8% for 40 years (an assumption, but not an unrealistic one). 
  5. It grows to more than $50,000.  

 I’m challenging you to think about this unexpected windfall with a fresh behavioral mindset. Instead of consuming it, will you make it the turning point for your financial future? 

 One more WOW number - $670,000! 

If you add $2,400 to this new account each year for the next 39 years until you’re 65you could accumulate more than $670,000 tax-free. “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you” could go from a bad joke to your reality! 

Investing in Stewardship

One Million Dollars.

That’s what San Francisco 49ers cornerback, Richard Sherman, received for his 2020 Pro Bowl selection.

After facing a season ending injury in the 2017 NFL season, Sherman was released from the Seattle Seahawks. After sitting out the 2018 season to recover, Sherman negotiated his own contract (saving him agent fees) and suited up with the 49ers. In his contract, Sherman negotiated what we like to call a win-win. Since the 49ers were skeptical about his health and performance abilities coming off a gruesome injury, Sherman gave the 49ers an out after a year, but Sherman also loaded up his contract with incentives incase the opposite occurred.

Fast forward to Week 16 (out of 17 weeks) of the 2019 NFL season, Sherman was announced a 2020 Pro Bowler. For this accomplishment, Sherman received a $1 million dollar bonus. What’s noteworthy from this story is his comments on what he will do with it!


A Stanford graduate, and obvious forward thinker, Sherman had this to say about his bonus:

"It's getting invested in something that gives me a decent return," Sherman said. "So the kids will end up having it to enjoy. I don't get to spend it."

It’s obvious Sherman isn’t set on the now. He’s a long-term thinker that has said no to instant gratification. Difficult to say no to the now, Sherman sees the value and seems to have considered the long-term impact of his decisions.

Not only will his kids get a nice financial jumpstart in the future, Sherman is modeling the valuable lesson of stewardship to his kids and the world.


For more financial literacy thoughts, here’s a link to a LeConte blog post on financial literacy and tips for parents

SECURE ACT Final Update - Highlights

The SECURE Act, or (S)etting (E)very (C)ommunity (U)p for (R)etirement (E)nhancement, proposed to tackle the dismal retirement participation rate was signed by the President on December 20th. So, what does this mean for you and the rest of Americans?

  • Elimination of the ‘Stretch’ Provisions (In short, inherited retirement accounts must be distributed in full by the end of the 10th year following the year of inheritance.) **Although there are exceptions
  • Easier for small businesses to set up a retirement plan (Businesses to get tax credit for establishing a retirement plan)
  • Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) age pushed back from 70.5 to 72
  • 529 Plan funds can be used to pay back qualified student loans (up to $10k annually)
  • 10% early distribution penalty waived for a qualified birth or child adoption up to $5k per-child (If married, both spouses can withdraw up to $5k per-child)
  • Traditional IRAs no longer have a contribution age limit (Use to be at age 70.5)
  • Annuities to enter into employer retirement plans (Is this a good thing? Click for more insight)
  • Part-time employee 401(k) participation available
  • Increased max contribution percentages for employees who are automatically enrolled into a 401(k) plan (was 10% cap, but increased to 15%)
  • Kiddie-Tax TCJA revisions reversed (back to the child’s parents’ marginal tax rate)
  • Disaster relief distributions up to $100k
  • For students – stipend and fellowship payments are treated as compensation for IRA purposes (enables students to make IRA contributions)
  • No more 401(k) credit card loans


Final thoughts:

After surveying thoughts across the financial industry, there are still mixed feelings on the SECURE Act. Many are asking the question; does it really promote security for Americans, or does it just increase exposure to salesmen? I think both, but of course with every new law comes pros and cons. In my opinion, it is the plan participator that must educate themselves on what they are putting their hard-earned money in. With the new landscape set, I’d encourage everyone to read up on your retirement plan and dig into the investments (specifically focusing on the expense portion). For the full implications of the SECURE Act, we will have to wait and see.

The Santa Raid

Have you made a list and checked it twice? Chances are, you haven’t… 

The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers’ will spend upwards of $730 billion this holiday season. Perhaps this is due to a well performing stock marketlow unemployment and wage increases. Each of which has helped put extra cash in consumer pockets.  

Though, this time of year there is one question that every consumer must answer for themselves - Are you going to allow Santa to slide down the chimney and raid your bank account?  

Amid the many distractions that occupy your attention throughout the holiday season, lays a decision that you must make. Will you try to keep up with your friends? How about your kids friends parents? Or, will you say no to Santa and spend modestly? 

Whatever you decide for yourself and your family is the choice you must live with. It might be too late for some of you to light a fire to keep Santa from sliding into your bank account, but for those of you who are not quite done shopping or still haven’t hit the malls; slow down and take a minute to think through the true meaning of Christmas, what you want to spend, and what your financial situation allows you to spend.  

Here’s a short list of things to think about and focus on financially throughout the Christmas season: 

  • Ask yourself what Christmas means to you. Don’t adopt your neighbors view. 
  • Check your bank account balances 
  • Make a list to keep you from window shopping
  • Compare prices (Add the Honey extension for online shopping) 
  • Create a budget for each person/group you buy for 
  • Save your receipts to compare to your budget 
  • Check your list twice 
  • Ask yourself if debt is worth it 
  • Wait for after Christmas sales (Usually the best day is the 26th of December) 
  • Track spending compared to the budget 
  • Remember you have to pay the credit card bill next month
  • Give group gifts to family members 

Enslaved in a Plastic Prison

Ever been sold on the payment instead of the price? Yeah, me too and so has everyone. Salespeople make it quite simple to get you in that new car, help you get the new bedroom suite, purchase a new boat, and even get you into a new wardrobe. 

It’s a Big Problem 

Millions of Americans don’t even need salesperson because they do this to themselves. They’ve bought into MASTERCARD’s tagline.    

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MASTERCARD.

 Are you the master of your Mastercard or are you enslaved to it like some Americans who are part of the 828-billion-dollar pile of credit card debt? 


This is the amount of credit card and other revolving plans debt that Americans had at the end of August 2019. 

828 Billion!  

The number alone stirs up many questions for me, but one question persists – how? 

After much thought, my conclusion isMinimum. Minimum. Minimum. 

Here’s what happens when you only pay the MINIMUM on your credit card: 

ExampleNancy purchases a $500 wardrobe on her Mastercard. It has a 17% APR. Her minimum payment is 4%, which equates to $20 per a month. After she pays the minimum for 42 months, Nancy’s $500 wardrobe will cost $659.75.   

Breaking Free from the Plastic Prison 

To get out of debt, intensify your payment strategy. Sacrifice right now in other spending areas to make it happen. No, it’s not easy and yes it can be painful, but it will be worth it. Be intentional and stay focused.  

Once out of debt, begin taking steps to stay out of debt. Delay your gratification until you have intentionally saved for a specific purchase. Self-impose a credit limit on your cards. Take Dave Ramsey’s approach – CUT UP your cards and progress to a cash only budget. In addition, always pay off the balance at the end of the month. We saw a horrendous example of what happens if you don’t in the video above. 

 Final thoughts:  

In the wise words of a colleague, “we don’t have an income problem, we have a spending problem.”  We must continually check ourselves and our motives regarding our purchases.  

Series: Essentially Essential – Thoughts from the Press box: The Phases

As a service to my local high school football team and town, my Friday nights are mostly spent in a press box with a headset on. I’m not a high school football coach. I have a pretty neat opportunity to color commentate during the local radio station.  

**In short, a color commentator is someone who assists the play-by-play commentator and adds details or interesting facts about the teamsindividual players, and the game as it progresses.   

With this unique opportunity, coupled with the recent and on-going lessons from co-facilitating Dave Ramsey’s 9-week Financial Peace University course, I’d like to give you my insights from the press box. No, this post is not about a recollection from a specific play or even a specific game, but a realization from a game that our society devotes countless hours to and how you can apply it to your financial life.   

Football fans know the basics of the game - offense, defense, and special teams. To be consistently good, all three must be accounted for. The same applies to a good financial life: 


From springtime, through summer, to scrimmages, and throughout the actual season, a progression occurs. Teams start with the basics. Laying the foundation to get the team moving in the same direction is crucial. The team sets goals, lifts weights, and practices different movements/drills. As the season nears, implementation of the playbook occurs. Then week by week, as new teams are faced, talent is discovered, and game plans change; ultimately opportunities are capitalized on. 

This is what we must do in our financial life. Realizing a good offense doesn’t just happen is a big keyIt begins with intentionality. Laying the foundation by setting individual or joint goals, then implementing a scheme/strategy, taking action to accomplish those goals, maintaining discipline throughout, and adjusting when necessary based on new challenges or discoveries that life introduces. 

In short, here are a few things to think about: 

  • Just as a head coach sets the vision/goals for the team, you set the vision/goals for your future
  • Just as teams adjust from quarter-to-quarter in a game, you have stages in life that you must adjust in to capitalize on opportunities around you 
  • Just as the offensive players practice their plays for the game to score points, you must practice discipline in paying yourself first (contributing money to a retirement plan) 
  • Just as the quarterback manages the play clock by choosing when the ball is snapped, you must manage your budget/spending plan


Defense is about protecting your side of the field, especially keeping the opponent out of your endzoneThe goal is to stop the opposing team from scoring more than your team. Defenses do this by working together as a unit. They take an inventory of their skill sets, they implement different coverages and blitzes, they tackle the ball carrier, cause turnovers, and execute the game plan.  

This is what we must do in our financial life. Just like offense, realizing a good defense doesn’t just happen, so taking steps to be intentional is keyIf we know the goal is to keep the opponents from scoring, we first must study their products, learn their sells techniques, and put a guardrail up for ourselves to stay off their turf. We then take an inventory of our assets and implement a strategy based on an evaluation on what assets should be protected. Nextresearch coverages that make sense and that are most effective (cost and protection). As time passes, reevaluate your defense to determine if it’s effective and make sure it’s helping you win the phase. 

In short, here are a few things to think about: 

  • Just as defenses take inventory of their skill sets to build depth in positions, you should build depth in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses
  • Just like the eleven guys on defense that are working to protect their endzone, protect your large assets
  • Just as a defensive lineman occupies offensive linemen to keep the linebackers free/safe to make a tackle, occupy an appropriate amount of term insurance to keep your family safe if something happens to you
  • Just as defensive secondary change their coverage, review your current coverages and see if they still provide proper protection

The adage, defense wins championships is true, but it also ensures your possessions will be protected and your family will be taken care of regardless of unforeseen events. 

Special Teams 

This phase of the game is most often overlooked or downplayed by spectators until a dynamic play occursMostly focused on the kickersmomentum or even the scoreboard can swing to the opponent in just one kick. Whether it’s a missed point after touchdown (PAT), a 55-yard field goal to end the first half, a punt stopped on the one-yard line by the coverage teamor a punt return for a touchdown, this phase is extremely important.  

Most of the time, people group actions into offense or defense, but I view special teams as financial life occurrences that can significantly multiply your chances of winninggive peace of mind, or be a detriment to accomplishing your goalsSome may only happen once in your lifeso as former University of Tennessee head coach General Neyland put it, “Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.” 

In short, here are a few things to think about: 

  • Just as the kickoff team working hard to get the returner in for a touchdownworking hard at an extra job to maximize your retirement account in the early years can rapidly increase your chances of a successful retirement  
  • Just as a field goal safe or punt safe is called (this means that the rushers do not rush the kicker, but drop back in case a fake field goal or punt is called), have a professionally drafted will to ensure your familyassets, and last wishes are safeguarded
  • Just as a team kicking a twenty-yard field goal at the end of a half producing three points forgoes the opportunity to score a touchdown (which means the ball is on the three-yard line), review your investments at year end to harvest any losses, if necessary
  • Just as a snapper snaps the ball over the punter's head into the endzone and the punter tries to pick the ball up, but fumbles it to the other team for a touchdownan individual can inherit a bunch of money and change their spending habits and fumble the inheritance away 
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