What does fumbling the ball have to do with managing your finances? More than you might think.

Are you ready for some football? Even if you’re not a huge sports fan, who can pass up the opportunity to enjoy a great tailgating party or celebrate an exciting victory? We have plenty of sports fans at Family Horizons Credit Union in our Indianapolis and Greenfield locations, and we’re always ready to show our team spirit.

Which is why we’ve been thinking about the elements that make up a good football team, and how similar they are to the basics of personal finance. We came up with quite a list. So, are you ready for some good financial planning? Let’s take a look:

Coaching Matters
You can have the best starting lineup in the league, but if players don’t have an effective coaching staff, they won’t have direction or a clear vision. When it comes to managing money, you must be your own coach and lead the way in making sure you not only set goals, but you also strive to reach those goals – no matter what. It might take time and lots of practice, but you can do it!

And speaking of practice, professional coaches and athletes are at such an elite level because they work extremely hard and are dedicated all year around. Whether it’s building strength in the gym, learning new skills on the field or studying game film, players must put in the time and practice in order to succeed. Fortunately, managing your money isn’t quite as physically rigorous, but there’s always something new to learn. And while certain aspects of financial planning might not come easy, it gets easier the more you do it.

Game Plan 
Each week, teams and coaching staff study their opponent and plan for the battle accordingly. By the time they hit the field, a strategy is solidly in place. With financial planning, you don’t have to worry about the stress of weekly deadlines, but the idea is the same. A win doesn’t come with just luck (although a little bit helps). Financial victory comes with having a game plan and knowing how to execute it.

First and Second Downs
When you listen to sports announcers calling a game, you’ll hear a bunch of statistics on every play. When a team gets a first down, it’s important because they maintain possession of the football which allows them to control the pace of the game. Third downs get lots of attention because that’s where all the tension and drama come in. With financial planning, you don’t want to depend on that dramatic third or fourth down to score. By calmly and methodically working your way down your own “field,” you can make progress and control the pace of your savings, investments and payments.

Focus, Focus, Focus
Before any televised game, you’ll usually see footage of players arriving at the stadium, preparing in the locker room or walking down the tunnel. They’ll often have ear buds in, and they are usually looking down or straight ahead, bypassing reporters and fans. Avoiding distractions is important so they can focus on their performance ahead. In everyday life, distractions are everywhere. It’s easy to sway from those financial goals you’ve set. Finding ways to look ahead, stay focused, and avoid pitfalls and distractions will help you get to your end game.

Expect Fumbles
Even with the best intentions, we all experience setbacks. It can be an unexpected health problem, a job change, or a decision gone bad. No matter what, there will be times when we fumble, but the important thing is to get up and get back in the game. Financial planning is an ever-changing process, and it requires continuous adjustments and new courses of action. Setbacks can be difficult, but being able to respond positively and move on will help get you through them.

Don’t Expect Miracles
How many times have you been watching a big game, and it comes down to the final few minutes or even seconds to determine the winner? If only a miracle – that glorious Hail Mary – would happen to save the day and lead to a breathtaking victory! It makes for great television, but such miracles are rarely a part of financial security. With thoughtful planning, you can get ahead early and won’t have to leave your future to chance or a lucky lottery win.