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This Financial Planner Agrees: “Take Care of Y’all Chicken”

Rooster in the yard

Great game! And unlike the disappointment that comes with being a University of South Carolina Gamecock fan, the team I root for, the Green Bay Packers, actually won. But the Seattle Seahawks have several players I cheer for including Jadeveon Clowney (USC), Russell Wilson (Wisconsin), and the eternally interesting Marshawn Lynch.

How delightful that Marshawn decided to wade into (ok, beast mode, drive powerfully into) my scope of expertise, financial advice. Marshawn was advising young NFL players to be fiscally responsible with the money they earn today so that it is less likely that later in life they might be in financial distress.

We can all benefit from taking care of what we earn whether we call it chicken, bread, dough, bacon, cheese. Ok, I’m making breakfast casserole after I’m done with this article.

Spend Less Than You Earn

So much easier said than done. None of us make as much money as we could spend, which means we have to say no to lots of things and experiences we want to have in order to pay for the basics like rent and food and the debts we’ve already incurred. For those who make enough to cover the basics in life, nothing but consistent discipline can get you to stop living beyond your means. For many people, however, it’s not like you are wasting your money; if you’re a teacher’s aide or are cobbling together two retail jobs for a yearly income of $14K, no amount of “being careful” is going to help here. We need to enact policies, training programs, and social safety nets to solve that problem, which is a bigger issue for a different article and a smarter writer than me.

Put Some Away in a Hard-to-Access Account

When you get your finances set up so that you have extra each month, it works best if you squirrel it away somewhere that ensure that it is a hassle for you to get to it. Use your company 401(k), a separate savings account at your bank, or an online higher-yield account like Ally Bank. Putting in that extra step of having to transfer savings from a special account into a form that you can spend it is sometimes just the ticket for not spending it.

Get a Second Job

These days it’s a bit easier to get a second part-time job. If you take an extra job in addition to your regular job you get the double benefit of (1) bringing in more money and (2) using up time that might otherwise drain your bank account. Example: if you drive for Uber 10 hours a week, that’s 10 hours less a week that you’d be out shopping, partying, socializing, or otherwise spending money.

Spend on Things That Make a Long-Term Positive Difference

Some things are worth paying for and even going in debt for. Things like additional job certifications, classes, and degrees get you promotions at work, a better job, or a career change to a higher-paying industry. A house can be a great expense if you can afford it and you plan to stay put for a while because you end up with something when the mortgage is paid off. Healthy food to keep your good health as long as possible is a win, as is dental care. Evaluate your spending choices in terms of your long-term goals.

Cut Back Spending on Things That Make Little Difference or Hurt You to Be Your Best Financial Planner

You know what these unhelpful things are: alcohol, high-end bath towels, all the movie channels on cable, more books for your already-crowded bookshelves, mixed drinks, air fryers/waffle irons, almost everything at Sephora, cashmere sweaters, soda. Did I mention booze? Going out for a night on the town is cool but doing it too often and running up high bar and food tabs isn’t. You’re trading away longer-term good times for too many immediate good times, and it’s not worth it, especially when you put your financial planner hat on. You gotta have fun, but it has to be in measured doses that let you save some money along the way.

Thanks, Marshawn. And go Packers!

Updated 7-8-24

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