October 23, 2019
Every fall tens of millions of Americans compete in the infamous online competition that is Fantasy Football. This year it is estimated that 21% of the U.S. population will be participating in the 2019-2020 season. That statistic is eerily similar to a report from earlier this year stating that nearly 20% of Americans neglect to save any of their annual income. Of course, these aren’t necessarily all the same people, but the correlation between these two statistics certainly raises some eyebrows. It’s easy to see that running a fantasy football team is more fun than budgeting, but what if someone said that personal finances could be managed similarly to how a fantasy football team is run? Though it sounds impossible, there are several ways fantasy football can teach better personal finance skills (and vice versa), here are three that you should consider!
It’s safe to say that picking players for a fantasy team at random or based on which uniforms are the coolest isn’t an effective practice. Most fantasy league participants do a fair amount of research prior to the start of the season to ensure their draft picks provide winning results. When building a team, one should thoroughly study the players they are considering, learn about the season’s match ups, and stay up-to-date with recent news of player eligibility. Wouldn’t it be a bummer if a draft pick was wasted on an all-star that’s not cleared to play from an injury during the pre-season? It’s always possible to get lucky, but for the most part, skipping out on doing your homework won’t benefit your team or season.
Just like with your lineup, when it comes to finances doing some homework is crucial. Whether it’s finding an account that best suits your lifestyle, or when considering a large investment - such as a house, car, boat, college education, or any other big-ticket item - it’s never wise to make a hefty financial decision without doing research first. Opening a new account without exploring what it has to offer could result in missing features that you truly need or incurring unexpected fees. Of course, it goes without saying, any sizable investment or purchase should also be thoroughly investigated prior to making a financial commitment to ensure there’s no buyer’s remorse. A great example is a home purchase, which requires more research than just finding the right house. There are several different mortgage programs out there. It's important to do research and talk to a mortgage lender to find the solution that's best for you. And, don't lose sight of additional fees - such as private mortgage insurance, homeowners association fees, and property taxes. Ensure your mortgage game plan takes these factors into consideration.
Having a strategy for how to draft and run a team is vital to your success. It’s important to know how your team will be constructed in advance – will it be a stud quarterback and a solid running game or is a strong defense the priority? Each player drafted is essential towards your success and needs to support your strategy. Everyone knows “that person” who drafts all their players from the same squad because it’s their favorite team. But, guess what?! They also all happen to have the same bye week, meaning you may have to scramble to get the players you need for that week’s match up, hurting your intended approach. Unfortunately, it’s also a possibility that the initial team build won’t lead to the desired results. In that event, it’s important to know when to adjust your strategy.
Planning out a strategy for personal finances is just as important. Identifying your financial goals is the first step in devising a successful game plan. From there, you can start assembling the necessary players, such as monthly and annual budgets, or a plan to tackle debt. Just like in fantasy football, it’s important to know when to modify your strategy. Whether that means reallocating investment funds to options that offer greater rewards or recognizing that the monthly entertainment budget needs to be reduced to better satisfy savings goals, a small shift in your lineup could lead to more “wins”.
To ensure the long-term success of a fantasy team, it’s important to stay on top of the latest player news, injuries, and statistics. For example, your quarterback suffered an injury during last week’s game, and it’s assumed that he won’t dress for this week’s game, so you play the backup quarterback instead. Now, the cut-off has passed to change lineups and the announcers are talking about how your stud quarterback is starting tonight and he ends up having the game of his career. After that experience, it will be easy to remember to double and triple check before finalizing your roster.
Likewise, keeping an eye on your personal finances is extremely important. Begin with monitoring every bank account and credit card transaction to help you recognize how much and where money is being spent. You might discover subscriptions or memberships you haven’t used in years, or even fees you didn’t know you were paying. To take it a step further, keep an eye on interest rates to ensure that changes in rates are not negatively impacting your finances. Has your credit card rate gone up, or your savings rate gone down? Maybe there’s a great offer for a rate that you want to take advantage of while it lasts. Whatever it might be, keeping a close eye on your finances will ensure you have the right players in place.
Now you know! There are countless similarities shared between managing a fantasy football team and personal finances. Whether you’re a fantasy football aficionado or a personal finance guru, move forward confidently with the strategy and skills to manage both, well!
Jim Oosterman is the Senior Vice of Melrose Bank and a lifelong resident of Melrose. He can be reached by telephone at 781-665-2500, online at melrosebank.com, or on Facebook at facebook.com/MelroseBank.