What The Olympics Taught Me About Personal Finance

I am completely obsessed with these Olympics. When I get home, I plop myself on the couch and sit for house watching whatever is on. I like sports where I can yell at the TV rooting for my team.

On Sunday, I was able to do that in the Nordic Combined, as an American, Johnny Spillane, and two others raced for the finish line, with Spillane winning the silver medal by 0.4 seconds and missing out on gold by the same amount.

Short track speed skating is another fun sport to watch, and watching Shaun White snowboarding last night was nothing short of fantastic. And hockey should be fun this this next week.

I don’t consider myself a big snowboarding fan, but watching the men’s finals on Monday may have changed my mind. Unlike the luge and ice skating, the final consisted of just four athletes, who started from the top at the same time and raced down the hill for the medals.

I watched two Americans try to get medals, but when Seth Wescott fell behind by a considerable margin, I considered him out. There was just no way. But to my surprise, he began a furious comeback, cut corners, passed two competitors in the air, and climbed all the way back to take the lead and held on at the end to take home the gold.

What does this have to do with personal finance?

A lot of people don’t bother funding their retirement when they are 22. Many don’t when they are 25, either. And some put it off until they are 30 or 35, too. After all, why put away money for something 30 years away? That’s a long time from now, and there is a lot of time to catch up, you know, when we earn more money.

The point is that it’s never too late. You may be behind, but there are always opportunities to make a comeback and if you try hard enough, reach your goals.

It starts with getting the company match on 401(k) contributions, continues by opening an IRA, and finishes by fully funding both plans for many years.

So if you’re behind, don’t give up hope. Renew your investing intensity. It may not be easy, but it is definitely possible and with enough effort, you can achieve even your wildest dreams.

9 Responses to What The Olympics Taught Me About Personal Finance

  1. I’m so behind! I think it has something to do with the idea that when I make more money, I’ll stick it away for retirement. Then, I make more money and still don’t stick to my original plan. This year, my goal is to open an IRA, even if that goal doesn’t come to fruition until later in the year. I’m sticking to it darn it!

    • Daniel says:

      Lifestyle inflation is a problem. I’m hoping that if I start now, I’ll be able to keep the percentage the same as I make more money. Hopefully I can make it automatic so I never feel the effects of making more before I sock more of it away. Once we get used to having more, it’s so hard to back to having less!

  2. I am praying your are right! I too started way too late. I spent my early career pissing away the money having fun and buying anything I desired. By the time I woke up at 30 I had a long way to climb out of the hole. Really though I do believe you are right. I am almost feeling confident that I will achieve my goals by the time I retire. Never give up!

  3. Crystal says:

    My husband and I are 26 and 27…we’re trying very hard to save well enough that our future selves will have no regrets. I keep picturing a 50 year old me slapping a 25 year old me upside the head if we screw up now.

    That motivates us to save 35% of our gross income towards our pension, 401k, Roth IRA, Scottrade account, long-term savings, and financial opportunities account. We save an additional 5% a month in a vacation fund and spend an additional 20% a month for discretionary expenses so we can have a full life now too. We pay our mortgage, extra principal payments, and the rest of our necessary bills (including taxes) with the remaining 40%.

    We’re pretty proud of ourselves since we “only” make $78,000 a year jointy as a teacher (him) and an office worker (me). $78,000 sounded like a lot to me 10 years ago, but I never realized how much taxes and home ownership would cost when I was 17 years old. Now I’m surprised that we could save so much for our future and have a great life now too.

    It’s important to start, no matter how late, and find a balance that will make you happy. It’s done wonders for us. :-)

    • Daniel says:

      Wow saving that much is fantastic! I’d call that more than 35% because you’re only really using somewhere around 40 or 50%, and then extra payments and vacation savings are just icing on the cake. Well done!

      I definitely hear about the money, I’m amazed you’re able to do so much with *so little*!

      • Crystal says:

        Low cost of living in the suburbs of Houston, TX.

        We also bought a $114,000 foreclosure in 2007 and put 20% down…our mortgage is $740 a month. Even with taxes and homeowners insurance, it’s less than $1000 a month. So, we’re a little frugal but some luck has played a big part.

  4. Crystal says:

    PS My hubby is obsessed with the Olympics too! It’s rubbing off on me. Did you see the Men’s Half Pipe Snowboarding?! Shaun White is AMAZING!!! How about the Lindsey Vonn with a bruised shin…wow!!!

    • Daniel says:

      Yah Shaun White was the coolest thing ever. Probably shouldn’t have had them mic’ed up, but those were some fantastic moved. Especially at the end. He got no air but somehow did his mcflurry or whatever you call it.

      • Crystal says:

        “McFlurry” literally made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

        When I heard the “expletives” that everyone was going crazy about, I was flabbergasted…they’re freaking snowboarders…they’re lucky that’s all they heard!

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