Knock Down Your Free Throws

Knock Down Your Free Throws

by Ben Simiskey on Sep 23, 2020

Financial Planning

My boys and I love sports. We love both playing and watching them. Our favorite sport to play is basketball. As I write this, the NBA playoffs are in the Conference Final round, meaning that just four teams remain.


It’s now a well-worn sports cliché that the NBA is a “make-or-miss league.” The sentiment of that statement is that despite all the advanced analytics and in-game strategies, it still ultimately comes down to simply making or missing shots. Make enough shots, and you win. Miss too many, and you lose.


The most straightforward shot in basketball is the free throw. It’s only worth one point, and it’s not sexy or glamorous like a rim-rattling dunk or a miles-deep three-pointer. Players often take free throws for granted and neglect to spend enough time practicing them, despite them often being the difference in a game’s outcome.


Free throws are funny things. There’s no defense allowed. It’s a FREE shot. And yet, so many players struggle with them. To be successful, you can’t take them for granted, you need a consistent routine and you must put in the work on a regular basis.


Personal financial planning is another “make-or-miss league.” There are loads of “advanced analytics” and “in-game strategies” to distract us from doing the mundane work of practicing our free throws. So, what are some of those free throws to help us be more successful in our personal financial planning efforts?


  1. Create a budget
  2. Build an emergency fund
  3. Eliminate debt
  4. Save for retirement
  5. Maintain adequate insurance
  6. Complete basic estate planning


Are there more advanced things that we talk about with our clients? Absolutely. Can some of the “advanced analytics” strategies bring significant value to someone? No question. But we need to make as many shots as possible – especially the straightforward, unopposed ones.


It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you are in your career or how much or little you have in assets. We all need to put in regular, consistent work on our financial planning free throws. We can’t take them for granted.


TODAY’S ACTION ITEMS (Time involved: 5 minutes)

  • Spend 2 minutes right now to choose a day and time within the next week to work on one or more of your “free throws.”
  • Select a frequency of how often you will commit to doing that on a regular basis.
  • Add that ongoing commitment to your calendar.
  • Feel good about taking a positive step toward securing your financial future.