It’s baseball season! What inning is your financial life in?
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” – Bob Feller
Bob Feller, a Hall of Fame pitcher, made his Major League debut at the age of 17. You read that right, 17! Over the next twenty years he would go on to win 266 games, rack up 2,581 strikeouts and pitch 3,827 innings. He also took four years off in the prime of his career to enlist in the Navy and serve our country following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The National Baseball Hall of Fame website shares the fact that, “at the time of his passing on Dec. 15, 2010, Feller had been a Hall of Famer for more years than anyone in history – having earned election in 1962”. What an incredible baseball career and life.
A baseball game is played over 9 innings, meaning Feller pitched the equivalent of 425 games over his career. What can a 9-inning baseball game teach us about our financial life? As a proud baseball and finance nerd – I am so glad you asked.
Let’s break the 9 innings of a baseball game, and the stages most people go through in their lives financially, into three segments. While the segments of a baseball game may not as clearly defined as a football game with four timed quarters or a hockey game with three timed periods, the flow of the game can still be felt sequentially. Innings 1-3 set the table and build momentum. Innings 4-6 allows strategizing to increase your lead or provide opportunity to stage a comeback. Innings 7-9 are crunch time! Successful execution of your strategy can be the difference between winning and losing.
When it comes to your financial life, your education and early career are innings 1-3 of the game. When you are earning and saving at your peak, often referred to as the “Accumulation” years, you are in innings 4-6. As you enter retirement and plan for a legacy, commonly known as the “Decumulation” years, you find yourself in those exciting final innings. A baseball team employs a Manager to navigate their team and players through all nine innings to a victory. A Financial Advisor can serve a similar role, guiding you through financial stages and helping to lay out a game plan for winning in your own life.
As you conclude your education, likely even before, you contemplate your working life and career. There are many things that happen this early on that can have significant ramifications on your financial life for decades to come. For example, what is the earning potential in your career field? Will you carry any student debt into your career? If so, how will you go about paying it off? How soon will you start saving money and how much should you save? Financial decisions made in the early innings could be the difference between jumping out to a 5 run lead or finding yourself in an early deficit.
Maybe the job or career you start in is not the one you will finish in. For most people it isn’t. Regardless, as you progress through life your earning power and ability to save will usually rise. Alas, so will competing priorities and important life expenses. In the middle innings of the game you find yourself starting a family, purchasing a home, supporting ageing loved ones, or wanting to pay for your kid’s education. All while wondering if you are saving enough to support your future goals that feel distant but are only a few innings away. Whew, who said the middle of a baseball game is boring? While the most highlights of a game may occur in the late innings, making fundamentally sound decisions in this stage of life are crucial to winding up victorious.
As you stand for the seventh inning stretch and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, the inevitably of the defining late innings lingers. While the Manager contemplates the right time to send up a pinch hitter or summon his closer for a 4-out save, you consider how much you can afford to spend in retirement…how much healthcare will cost…when you should begin collecting Social Security…what steps you need to take to ensure you leave a legacy to your heirs. And what will happen if you live longer than expected and your life goes into extra innings? The stakes at this stage of a baseball game, and of your life, are at an all-time high.
The questions to answer and decisions to make in each inning of life are seemingly endless and all have implications, good and bad, on your chances of success. Just as a good coach knows what strategies to deploy to give their team the greatest chances of success, so too can a Financial Advisor help guide you to success in every stage of your financial life.
If you have questions about the inning you are in, or find yourself in a rain delay unsure of what inning it even is, I welcome a conversation. Play Ball!