Every summer, I play women’s softball. It’s dear to my heart (and forces me to exercise). Even though my current league is slow pitch, injuries do still occur. Verrrry sloooowly. Just kidding. Shortly after taking a softball to the face last week, I was pretty tough on myself about how the injury could have been avoided. That’s when I realized the same thing happens with money.
In my personal experience, injuries hurt worse when they are a result of doing something dumb.
I’ve played softball for 23 years. I’ve broken bones, had the wind knocked out of me and incurred countless scrapes from sliding and diving. It’s a great game.
This black eye…was a first. I got up to bat, swung at a wild pitch, nicked the ball and sent it straight back into my face. It connected with my right cheekbone, causing an immediate goose egg with purple stitch marks from the impact. I counted my teeth and thanked God for not letting it be worse.
The umpire asked if I needed ice. “Nah,” I shrugged, completely embarrassed that I’d even let this happen. He leaned in a little closer with his brows furrowed. “Are you sure?” he asked. I felt everyone’s eyes on me. “Jerry, I DON’T need ice. Thank you.” Come on, Jerry, I thought. I’m trying to be tough here.
Oh pride, my fickle friend…
I swung at the next pitch and got a base hit. That helped a little. But by the time I got on third base, the swelling was starting to restrict my vision in my right eye. I finally reached up and felt the golf ball shape jutting out from my face. There was a reason Jerry looked concerned.
When I got home, I spent the rest of the evening with a bag of frozen peas pressed against my face, listening to my 2-year-old chant “I have a black eye, mommy. I need ICE!”
How softball injuries are a lot like money problems:
While I wallowed around with a frozen veggie bag slowly dripping condensation down my neck, a thought came to me: Why did I let this happen? I knew it was a terrible pitch. It’s just like when I totally blow a budget.
Just like blowing a budget…and what else?
After a few minutes of contemplation, here are 3 ways I discovered I could have avoided calamity at the plate AND how you can avoid it in your spending habits:
- Keep your eye on the ball. If I would have watched the ball all the way in, like I was trained, I would have hit it squarely. I mean it’s SLOW pitch. It’s a lot like committing to a monthly budget, then getting to the 25th and losing sight of the end goal. The debit card comes out – swipety, swipe – spending goes haywire, and your financial momentum screeches to a halt.
- Don’t swing at bad pitches. That pitch was high and inside. It wanted to hit me all on its own. Everyone around me was crying “No!” Still, I swung. Every advantage I had to get ahead (or simply advance one base) ceased with that wrong decision. With money, it’s no different. We buy a house we can’t afford. We lease a car. We buy something while our instincts are telling us “No! Don’t swing!”
- Have patience. I reached for the ball, rather than let it come to me. That does such an ugly thing to your swing. Makes me cringe. Then, I realized it’s a lot like going into debt rather than saving up. Believe me, I have a great deal of experience with both. Think back to a time when you saved up for something and paid for it in full. Wasn’t it like hitting the sweet spot on a bat? Or like finding your groove? Now think about debt. Don’t reach.
The next time I get up to bat, I’m going to do my best to adhere to my own advice. I kind of like my face.
What will you do differently?
Join the Discussion: Which one of these three points do you struggle with the most financially? Keeping your eye on the ball, swinging at bad pitches or having patience?