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5 Money Lessons Learned From the Gridiron

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At first glance, football might seem like a complicated sport. Especially when you listen to guys like Peyton Manning bark out strange code words in the huddle.

“Blue 22, Razor 17, Counter, Omaha, Omaha, Denver 20 … 55 is the Mike, set, go!”

Do you have any idea what that means? Neither do we. And unless you make plans to attend the Manning Passing Academy, you’ll probably never know.

The good news, though, is that you can learn some other stuff from football—important life lessons about money, leadership and more—even if the play calls don’t make sense. Here are five major points:

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1. Trust the people who’ve been there before

In the football world, these people are called coaches. In day-to-day life, we know them as mentors. If you want to win with money, you need to talk to people who have won with money. To increase your chances of success in running a small business, you should speak with successful entrepreneurs. If you want to be a top real estate agent, you better make an appointment with the agent who sells the most houses in your community.

This concept is pretty simple, but it’s amazing how many people jump into something new without ever consulting someone who’s been there before. Seek out wisdom.

2. You might get booed

Here’s the deal: When you start getting out of debt and making serious lifestyle changes, people like your friends will notice. More than likely, a few of them will poke fun at you because you aren’t spending $50 on dinner with them every other night.

Related: Financial Fails: Listening to Your Broke Friends

But you know what? That’s okay. A lot of football players get booed for a reason, and it’s not because they’re sitting in the locker room the whole game. They’re out there on the field, getting their hands dirty and getting things done. Who’s booing them? People in the stands who sit and do nothing.

3. Practice doesn’t make perfect

The old saying isn’t exactly true. The best football teams practice for hours each day for weeks at a time before the season begins. They go through drills, sprints and scrimmages constantly. But when that first game rolls around, every team still makes mistakes—penalties, interceptions, fumbles, missed tackles and blown coverages. Mistakes happen.

Does that mean you shouldn’t strive to be perfect or you should slack off and just get by? Of course not. Whether you are getting out of debt, starting a business, or paying off your house, you should always shoot for perfection. The point is, you shouldn’t become such a perfectionist that you beat yourself up when you make a mistake. That could cause you to lose momentum or even give up—don’t do that! Keep practicing. Keep reaching for 100%. But don’t let one setback get you down. Learn from it and move on.

4. The Hail Mary rarely works

In football, the “Hail Mary” is the final pass, usually at least 50 yards, at the end of a game. It’s the quarterback’s last attempt to lead his team to victory. It works maybe 5% of the time. And even when it does succeed, it’s usually because of a fluke tip or weird bounce off another player.

In your life, the Hail Mary might look like a loan from your brother to pay off a credit card and keep the creditors away. It could be the $50 you spent on lottery tickets. Or perhaps it’s the adjustable-rate mortgage that you’re hoping you can get out of before it adjusts. This stuff just doesn’t work. If you’re trying to Hail Mary your way out of debt, good luck—because luck is all you’ll have to rely on. Make a plan for your money so you aren’t praying for a miracle when the bills are due.

5. Defense wins championships

It’s another old saying, but this one’s actually true. In the NFL, defense does win championships. A good offense is important, but the best teams know that a group of hard-nosed defenders is a must.

What does that mean for you? It’s health insurance, car insurance, life insuranceall of the things that protect you from life’s offensive attacks. It is a solid emergency fund that will help you stay on your feet when you blow a tire or break your arm rescuing Whiskers the Cat from an oak tree. Without a doubt, you need a good defense.

So, you see, it’s true! You can learn a lot from football. Ultimately, the winners are the ones who put in the time, work hard, and stay focused, even when they’re having a bad day or a bad game.

Has football taught you life lessons about money or goal setting? Tell us in the comments below!

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