Fall is in full swing. I bring this up because fall is my favorite season. Despite the fact that in Michigan we sometimes hardly get a fall, this one has been a doozy so far. The weather is starting to get nice and cool, (apart from some warm temps the past two weekends). The leaves are starting to change their colors and fall from the trees. The football season is in full swing and those of us who are football fans have been treated to some fantastic storylines and matchups so far in the college and professional ranks. Dare I say the Detroit Lions are looking promising for the first time in what feels like maybe ever? Another staple of Fall for me is the biennial playing of the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is a golf tournament that pits the best players from the United States against the best players from all of Europe. Golf is one of my favorite hobbies and on Friday at the time of writing this I have been keeping some tabs on the competition happening in Italy. Hopefully team USA can get their act together before it is too late. (Update: They didn't. Team Europe wins.) This got me thinking about all of the applicable life lessons you learn playing golf. I have been around the great game in various ways from playing in High School to working at a golf course throughout High School and my first year of college. There are many lessons I’ve learned from golf that are very applicable to your financial life as well.
If you ever watch golf on T.V., that may sound like a snooze fest to some but others of us very much enjoy it, you will see that all of the best players have very consistent and calculated routines on the golf course. A player will have the same pre-shot routine as he/she ready’s to address the ball and hit their shot. Golfers also usually have pretty stringent routines that they go through before hitting a putt as well. These often include reading the putting surface to see whether or not the putt curves left or right as well as taking a few pre-shot practice swings. While it may look a bit monotonous and robotic, these consistent routines have a purpose. These players have not gotten to the top of the sport by free-lancing. Each player has gone through hours and hours of practice and repetition to ensure that their game is fine tuned. By watching these players play you can see that their consistency pays off! It is pretty unbelievable how small the variance is between their good and bad shots. It isn’t hard to connect this to your investing habits. It could be very easy as a 20, 30 or even 40-year-old to view retirement and retirement goals as a far away thing. It is hard to stay motivated when your end goal will take so many years to come to fruition. Consistency is key. Staying within your financial plan and investing consistently to your accounts can be the best way to see future success. This concept also rings true when talking about staying committed to your investment lineup even when there is short term volatility! Last year was one of the worst in recent memory for the stock market and yet we have already seen a bounce back this year. For clients with a long-time horizon until retirement this short-term volatility is part of the ride. Don’t let it knock your game off course.
There is an old saying in the game of golf that I believe rings incredibly true: “The game of golf is 10% physical and 90% mental.” One of the greatest golfers of all time, Jack Nicklaus, is credited with saying this although he may have stolen the quote from legendary baseball player Yogi Berra. In any case, golf is a game that requires an intense amount of mental strength to succeed. There are few other sports where your play and success rests solely on your shoulders. Golf then appears to be simple and yet it continually proves to be endlessly complicated. It is just you and the ball and yet, it is so difficult to get that thing to go where you want it to go. That requires some mental strength. You can be having a great round and then one poor shot can cause you to spiral if you let it. That requires a great amount of mental fortitude.
Isn’t this similar to financial planning? Let’s say you have a good amount reserved for an emergency fund and are excited to start investing more and contributing a higher amount to your retirement accounts. Then, all of the sudden, your car breaks down or the hot water heater in your home needs to be replaced or you have some unexpected medical bills. Those emergency savings are diminished greatly and it is going to take some time to recoup that money. Now you feel it necessary to hold off on increasing your contributions because you know you cannot afford it. That is difficult and emotionally and mentally draining. On the flip side, your financial planning worked and your emergency savings did their job! Imagine in this scenario you had neglected to bolster your emergency savings and had contributed most of your cash to retirement. You wouldn’t have the cash on hand to pay your expenses and you would be in a quite the predicament. Financial planning is not done simply for retirement but also for everything in between. While it can be difficult to deal with the mental strain that comes with financial hardships, planning for those potential hardships makes it so much more bearable. Stay consistent in your approach and don’t let the uncertainty of the stock market make you waver in your mentality.
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Have a great rest of your week!
Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.