Music Mondays – The Champ

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In 2013, I left a job at a well-known retail advisory firm to start my own company focused on financial planning, but a different kind of financial planning. What I do now with my clients who range from 25 to 65 is “financial training.” My end goal with every client is to help them get and stay financially fit, and at the end of the day, I want them to become “champions” of their financial lives. Since next Sunday is the Super Bowl, I thought I would focus my week this week on helping us all get closer to becoming the financial champions we should all strive to be. In my experience, financial champions come in all shapes and sizes, but they have many of the same characteristics, and they are not necessarily big salaries or huge trust funds.

Unlikely Champions

My husband and his parents were all born in Pittsburgh, therefore, they are all Steelers fans. Despite the fact that I grew up in New York in a Giants household, the strength of black and gold was just too strong to fight, and since all marriages require compromise, becoming a Steelers fan was one of the easier compromises I have made in our marriage. The 2005/2006 Steelers season was a particular memorable one for me not just for the fact that they won the Super Bowl that year, but my son was born a week after that Super Bowl win.  I also vividly remember the tight AFC Division Championship against Peyton Manning’s Colts because I was so stressed I thought I would give birth early.  What is truly amazing about the season, though, is that from a probability and statistics perspective, the Steelers never should have won the Super Bowl.

Heading into mid-December, the Steelers had a 7-5 record; however, after a three game losing streak, they went on to win the next four games to secure the last spot in the wild card game against the Bengals. From that point, they won the next three playoff games all on the road to earn a spot in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. This streak actually made them only the second team ever to win three away games to make it to the Super Bowl and the only one in 20 years. The 2005/2006 Steelers also became the first sixth seed ever to win both a divisional playoff and a conference championship. This was all under a 23 year old second year quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

We are all unlikely champions

Why do I share this, other than making my husband happy by reliving a winning season? When I first sit down with clients, no matter how old they are, many of them feel “behind” the game like the Steelers were in mid-December. They feel as though they can never get ahead and win the championship game of their financial lives. And there are certainly many contributing factors in their lives that lead them to feel this way, but the truth is, just like the Steelers, any of us can be champions (at least financially). But just like the road to victory for the Steelers was not easy, neither is the road to financial freedom. On Wednesday I am going to highlight some of the specific factors that lead to a financial championship, but the first step is having the right frame of mind to achieve financial success. I have had numerous clients who have achieved varying degrees of financial success. The clients, though, that have been the most successful, share the following characteristics:

Common features in all champions

  1. Motivation – As a financial trainer, I encourage and support my clients as best as I can, but at the end of the day; the hard work is up to them. My most successful clients find ways to stay motivated even when the world seems against them. I use this song, in particular, as a motivator to help them stay focused on the big prize.
  2. Teamwork – Just as a football team requires the entire team to step up to win a championship, most people need help and support to become financial champions. Team members can be family, friends or significant others. Your financial team helps keep you on track and encourages you to reach your financial goals as soon as possible. They understand when you can’t go out or spend money because you are training for financial fitness.
  3. Mental Toughness – Financial setbacks in life are inevitable. As I always say, $1,000+ “surprises” happen all the time. True financial champions, though, deal with the surprises and come back stronger. The Steelers could have crumbled after the 3 consecutive losses; however, they utilized their mental toughness to come back and win eight games straight to get the title.

Are you a financially champion? What led you to this success? If not, how are you training for your financial success? What works for you?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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