Boxing and Personal Finance

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Boxing is not just a physical game, as one friend of mine says: it is also a mental game

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BY the time this article is published, the whole country is still euphoric on Manny Pacquiao’s victory: the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.  And rightly so. Ten world titles in eight weight divisions, the Pacman makes us proud in bringing honor to our country. During his fight, the country is at a stand still, traffic is out of our vocabulary, crime rates go down (maybe we should put up in crime-prone areas a widescreen showing all Pacquiao games) and beer sales, cheers, hear beats and TV ads go up.

But as I was thinking over Manny’s fight, there’s a nagging thought inside my head: Boxing is really like personal finance in many respects. They have similar principles and strategies that can be applied in our financial life. Here are a few:

Know your enemy. Knowing the enemy is crucial to boxing: their style, their weakness, their strength, their strategy. You have to know this to out-box him.

In personal finance, what do we consider our enemy that is the target of our attacks? Our undisciplined spending? Inflation? Lack of retirement funds? Lack of funds for future house purchase? Lack of savings? Knowing our enemies or “targets” makes us formulate strategies to overcome them.

Each enemy is different and so requires a unique approach for each one. Hatton’s fighting strategy is different from Mosley’s and so Manny has to adjust accordingly. Similarly, each challenge in personal finance requires a different strategy and set of skills and so we have to approach them differently. For example, lack of savings can be overcome by inspecting our expenses and cutting down on unnecessary items.

Know when and how to fight. Boxing is not just a physical game, as one friend of mine says: it is also a mental game. Manny does not fight every boxer out there every year. He picks his enemies, when he would fight them and strategize how to do it. Similarly, we should know how to handle our finances, knowing when is the right time to buy the right financial products, putting in mind our financial needs. It is like setting aside money for that car purchase once we can afford it, or buying more into investments once the market is down.

Know where to punch. Like Pacquiao, you want each and every punch to land as hard and have a maximum impact on the enemy. Likewise, in financial planning, you also want your effort to have as much impact in your goals and plans in life as much as possible. Knowing where to punch is like knowing the different instruments that makes us achieve our goals and dreams—and make sure they have maximum impact. And work as planned—just like a K.O. as quick as possible.

But like in boxing, things might not go as planned. Roach hoped for an early K.O. for Mosley—but he danced his way away up till the 12th round. Well, sometimes, life is just like that: it doesn’t go as planned. Just like in our financial life, some unexpected expense might come, like hospital care or a shift in career that affects our planned cash flow. But like the boxer, at least we can have ourselves ready for the contingencies and would know how to react, just in case. Sometimes, it really does take the whole 12 rounds to succeed; sometimes, it does not. What’s important is that you know how to fight it out and still emerge as the winner. You will get a couple of hits yourself (losses, setbacks on your portfolio or goals); but hey, a boxer cannot emerge in a fight unscathed. What matters is the victory at the end.

Train. Manny doesn’t go up there in the ring straight from the halls of Congress or from his recording session. He goes there prepared, well-trained, months before. In fact, he has been trained for this fight ever since his boxing career began. All of his trainings and effort led to this fight and victory. He spent hours of rigorous training, pouring in time and effort in order to be fit for the fight.

And a large part of that training is discipline. For his routine, Manny wakes up at 6 a.m., goes jogging for 45 minutes, hits the gym for three hours, eats a strict diet, does shadow boxing, foot work, sparring, does 1,400 crunches per day, the works. In our financial life, do we also have a routine, a discipline to reach our goal? Are we following our spending and investment plan? Do we know the right financial products for us? Do we practice learn more about personal finance technique and practice them? Do we follow our strict diet plan of having a lean budget (less expenses, more savings and investments)? Are we financially fit?

Have a Coach—A Professional One. The coach is every bit part of the fight as the boxer himself. He provides the insight, the training and the knowledge to the boxer to win the fight. They know the game, know the strategy, and know the training. Coach Roach gave that to Manny. If Manny doesn’t have a coach, imagine what he would be like in the ring. In our financial life, do we have a coach available, guiding and helping us towards our dreams?

Enjoy the Fruits of your Labor. Manny isn’t all about boxing.  At the end of it all, he enjoys and shares the fruits of his labor with the people he fights for: his family and friends.  He goes out with his family to vacation, treats friends, pampers his mom, gives the best education to his children and takes care of his wife. No different from all of us. We also want the same thing. At the end of the day, we should enjoy the works of our hands. It’s what we are saving and investing and working hard for, anyway. Once the tree planted bears fruit, it’s not as bad as to pluck out a couple of fruit to enjoy.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, after all.

These are just a few things that I have learned from boxing and personal finance. And they are striking—no pun intended. I hope they help you in your financial life. Now, I’m beginning to like boxing more.

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Rienzie Biolena is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines. He is a Senior Financial Advisor at asset management company, and Columnist of Business Mirror and Rappler.

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