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New Year Half-Time Adjustments

The moment many have clamored for is finally here; 2020 is in the rearview mirror, and hopes are high that 2021 will eventually see a return to something resembling the world we knew pre-COVID. In any year, January is a time we seek out a fresh start, a new beginning, and the desire to do so has never been so strong. If your brain is primed for this thinking, be sure to read last week’s post from Bridgeworth’s Susan Copeland for a helpful list of new year financial tips.

However, in our football-fanatic state, many mark the real beginning of a new year with a familiar event that takes place today: The College Football Playoff National Championship. As you prepare to take in the game, note how a well-known football principle can translate to your own financial game of life.

In games with two evenly matched teams, “half-time adjustments” can separate the winner from the loser. It seems football fans are recently no longer patient enough to wait for half-time to see these changes and instead demand more urgent “in-game adjustments” from their team. Likewise, we often do not have the benefit of delaying a much-needed adjustment in our financial life. So, whether you are in the first half of life, mid-third quarter, or entering the final stanza, here are three in-game adjustments you may need to consider for your financial game.

Responding to Adversity

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” –Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is neither a football player nor a go-to source for financial wisdom, but his famous quote highlighting the importance of dealing with adversity hits the mark. We see it often in football games; a team falls behind early or sees their usual strength stonewalled by the opposition. Their success in making an in-game adjustment is typically due to two factors. First, the coaching staff is knowledgeable and prepared. Secondly, the team avoids panic.

In our financial life, we face similar unexpected challenges that make us feel behind on the scoreboard. It may be a decline in our investment accounts, a lost job or missed promotion, or a down year for our business.

What can we learn from our football analogy? First, great teams have more than one coach to help formulate an adjustment; do you have a “financial coaching staff” to consult as you adjust? Financial staff would include your Bridgeworth advisor, an estate planning attorney, and an accountant (and, at times, other specialists as the situation dictates). Not only does your staff help devise an updated game plan, but their experience and knowledge serve as a calming voice to help quell fears and prevent panic.

Responding to Injury

“If I was smart enough to be a doctor, I’d be a doctor. I ain’t, so I’m a football player.” –Dick Butkus

Football players often fall victim to believing they are invincible, that serious injuries only happen to others. However, some injuries are beyond what one can simply “tough out” and play through the pain, as we so often see. When a team loses a key player to injury, it brings to light two areas. First, their depth: do they have a worthy replacement to fill the injured player’s shoes? Next, their preparation: have they planned for this possibility?

In our financial life, we frequently do not have a back-up to fill our own shoes, so instead, we rely on our depth of insurance protection. Whether it be health insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, or life insurance (for season-ending injuries), that depth, or lack thereof, of protection shows our level of preparation for these possibilities.

Responding to Good Fortune

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” –Vince Lombardi

It is a wonderful problem to have: your hard work allowing you to experience success and thus being faced with how it may change your game plan as a result. However, often we see a team rush to an early lead but then slowly squander it over the course of the remaining game. Other times a big play may be quickly followed by a series of mistakes, and a key opportunity slips away.

We see similar missteps in financial life. An increase in income from a raise, or an exceptional year in a business, is spent without thought of using it for other goals. The excitement of the stock market providing a sizeable increase in a retirement account value is followed by a failure to rebalance the account (and watching those gains disappear quickly). A sudden money event (inheritance, sale of a business, insurance settlement) handled without the trusted “financial coaching staff” mentioned earlier often results in confusion, anxiety, and blunders.

At Bridgeworth, we work hard to help create a game plan (known as a financial plan in our terminology) as preparation for our clients’ financial game of life. However, we know our value is often not in the “plan,” but the “planning” and adjustments needed as the game and circumstances change. If you are looking to hire your financial coaching staff, please reach out as we would enjoy talking with you (just don’t expect a return call or email during the big game on Monday!).


This content does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial, or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.