Planning Lessons from the Gridiron

Planning Lessons from the Gridiron

October 14, 2020

For many around the country (particularly down south) the college football season began over a month ago. But for those of us who’s loyalties lie in the B10 Conference, October 24th can’t come soon enough. The season will finally be underway for my beloved Wolverines and I couldn’t be more excited. Although I am saddened that I will be unable to make my annual pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, I am looking forward to tailgate parties with friends and family. Of course, being a financial advisor, I can’t help but see the many parallels between the great sport of American college football and financial planning. But don’t worry! I will do my best to make this read (almost) as exciting at U of M vs. The Team Down South!


                1st and 10

                When the offense takes the field, it is important that they have a plan in place before they begin the drive. Likewise, the defense needs to be prepared for whatever the offense throws at it. Will it be a pass? A run? Maybe a QB sneak? The first play of the possession can set the tone for the remainder of the drive. When watching at home or in the stands, we see the result of that careful planning and play calling unfold in real time. What we don’t see are the many hours that the players and coaches spend on the practice field, in the weight room, and watching film. That work is far less glamorous and oftentimes overlooked.

                In much the same way we tend to overlook the steps necessary to build a solid foundation for financial success. We care more about the result and look for easy ways to get there. This leads to making rash decisions and taking shortcuts that ultimately harm our overall financial health. Any football player will tell you that you have to put in the reps if you want to be successful. This is true in financial planning as well as on the football field. I wrote an article about the five DIY steps you can take to begin building your strong financial foundation without cutting corners. Check it out here!


                3rd and Long

                Sometimes, even the best laid plans can come to a screeching halt. Other times, the plan is flawed and now the team is finding itself in a difficult position. Does the team have faith in it’s running back to come up with the big play? Or is a hail mary going to be more effective? Either way, the team is going to need to do its best to avoid punting to their opposition. Whatever the team decides to do, we at home will once again see the result of many practices and drills designed to simulate this exact situation.

                While it is impossible to plan for every situation, it is important to test your plan under extreme circumstances. At Provisio, we like to call this “stress testing” your financial plan. What would happen if we had another financial crisis like we did in 2008? What if we had three bad years in a row just as you were heading into retirement? We attempt to find the worst possible scenario and plan accordingly. In doing so, we hope to be prepared for the worst outcome while seeking the best!


                4th and Goal

                Your team has fought valiantly and now they stand on the brink of victory. One play and only a few yards stand between them and the goal they have strived so hard to achieve. Again, the team is faced with a choice. Run it up the middle? Throw to the star receiver? Maybe play it safe and kick a field goal to send the game into overtime? Whatever happens you can rest assured that the team has planned for this moment too. Every player on the team has likely ran this scenario over in their minds hundreds of times and the quarterback anxiously awaits the play call from their coach.

                There may come a point in your life where it feels like you are in a “4th and goal” situation. But as the head coach of your financial plan, you should have faith in the team you have built to succeed. And as the quarterback, we will be ready to communicate your goals to the rest of the team. That team might include your CPA, estate planner, mortgage lender, and insurance agent. All members of the team need to be engaged in order for the plan to succeed at this crucial moment.

                Of course, it would be much less stressful to win in a blow out instead of facing 4th and goal as the clock winds down. Just like in football, it is impossible to guarantee success but there are some steps that you can take in the middle of your life that can help you avoid the pressure of a bleeding clock later. I recently wrote an article on this topic which you can find here!



                This was a fun one to write, and hopefully you enjoyed it as well! My song this week should be obvious. It is the anthem of victors and the song of the valiant (not being dramatic at all). Enjoy!