Personal Finance Lessons From 2018 NBA Finals

“With 4.7 seconds left, J.R. Smith was unaware of the score and it ended up costing the Cavs a chance to win game 1 of the NBA Finals.  Learn from J.R. and do not make this same mistake in your financial life.  Keep track of your financial score!”

-Peerless Money Mentor


Basketball Fan

As you have learned from reading No Vacations, No Thanks, Dave Ramsey! I am a huge basketball fan.  If you have not read the article, go check it out now!

While I only watched a handful of games during the regular season (too busy grinding!), I watched the NBA Finals in its entirety.  Now that it is over, I have had time to reflect on this question: What personal finance lessons can we learn from watching the 2018 NBA Finals?

What follows it the lessons I came up with!  I am sure there are some that will disagree with some of my conclusions.  Meet me in the comments section 🙂

Court Awareness

In basketball, court awareness is an asset, especially if you are a point guard.  Here are some things you must be aware of:

  • How many fouls your team has
  • The amount of time that is on the shot clock
  • Where your teammates like the ball
  • The score, especially on the last possession of the game!

A lack of court awareness can cost your team the game.  Just ask J.R. Smith!

With 4.7 seconds left, J.R. Smith was unaware of the score and it ended up costing the Cavs a chance to win game 1 of the NBA Finals.  Learn from J.R. and do not make this same mistake in your financial life.  Keep track of your financial score! Be financially woke!

Financial Awareness

In the game of life, financial awareness is the key to succeeding financially.  It is difficult to improve your financial life without understanding your current financial situation.  Don’t run away from the basket like J.R. Take the first step towards the goal of financial freedom!

Here are some basic things you should know the answer to:

  • What is my credit score?
  • How much money am I saving/spending each month?
  • What is my net worth?
Credit Score/Report

To keep track of your credit score, you can use free apps such as Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, or WalletHub.

Also, you can get obtain a copy of your credit report free every year from Annual Credit Report.

Tracking Your Spending

To track your spending, you can use Mint or Personal Capital.  Or you can try Thrifty by Keep Thrifty, a new app a fellow blogger created.

Calculating Your Net Worth

Total Assets less Total Liabilities = Net Worth


Using one of the apps above, you can calculate your net worth.

Celebrating Dunks/3-Pointers

Steph Curry sometimes does a little shimmy after hitting a difficult 3-pointer.  In basketball, celebrating small wins like a nasty dunk over someone(still 2 points) is a part of the game.  It is fun to watch!

Celebrating Your Small Financial Victories

Celebrating small wins such as knocking out small loans, trimming your budget, or securing a freelance assignment can help keep you motivated to achieve your financial goals.

Why not do a shimmy of your own after a small financial victory?  Just send me a video of yourself doing it afterwards!

Maybe I’ll do a shimmy and upload it next month when I knock out these two loans: my car note and a personal loan.

Switching Basketball Teams

When Kevin Durant made the decision to join the Golden State Warriors, a lot of people criticized him for taking the easy way out.

“Durant is ruining the competitive balance of the league.”

“His championship rings will always have an asterisk next to them!”

In my opinion, Durant made the best decision for himself and his career. Period.  Now he has two championship rings!

And let’s not forget that the Warriors had to beat the Rockets in 7 games.  If CP3 did not get injured, maybe the Rockets would have won. Who knows?

A close friend of mines disagrees with me.  We always end the conversation by saying, “Beauty of America.”  It’s not like we get paid to argue over a multi-millionaire’s decision.

Switching Employers

For us common folks, our moves come with less scrutiny (if any at all).  Sometimes the only way to get a raise is to change employers or become your own boss.

Like Durant, we have to make the best decision for ourselves.

While it is good to listen to our friends and family’s advice, sometimes we have to ignore them.

In my post The Dark Side of Greatness, I wrote about how the founder of Edible Arrangements, Tyriq Farid, had to ignore his fathers advice that his business idea would fail.

We all know how that turned out!

Is the joy of winning a championship fleeting?

After the champagne celebrations and lavish parades (GSW spent $500k on alcohol) come to and end, teams gear up to do it all over again.

I wonder how long the high lasts from winning an NBA championship.  Does it last for weeks, months, or until the next season begins?

Do the players love the journey more than the ending itself?

Enjoy Your Financial Journey Wherever You Are

Wherever you are in your financial journey, embrace the power of now by enjoying the ride.  Just like the stock market zigs and zags, the highs and lows will come and go.  Working on improving your finances is great (reason why I created this blog!). What you focus on you will improve.

However, do not neglect your mental health and other areas of your life.  As we have seen with the latest suicides by Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spades, having money is not everything.

Yes, it creates more opportunities in your life.  The more money you have, the more memorable trips you can afford to take.   But it won’t make necessarily make you happier.

Love yours, keep grinding, and have some fun!  Do a little shimmy 🙂

Community Feedback

  • What are your thoughts on Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State?
  • How often do you check your credit score? What app do you use?
  • What financial lessons, if any, do you think we can learn from watching basketball?
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Author: Jerry

Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.

If you are having trouble saving, he recommends that you join the SaverLife Savings program where you can get a $60 reward after six months (no income requirement). All you have to do is put a minimum of $20 a month into a savings account. Easy, right?

For a fun read, check out his article 10 Signs You’re a Personal Finance Addict to see if you are a personal finance nerd.

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8 thoughts on “Personal Finance Lessons From 2018 NBA Finals

  1. That’s a great take on personal finances, and I especially love this:

    “In the game of life, financial awareness is the key to succeeding financially. It is difficult to improve your financial life without understanding your current financial situation. ”

    Most people will complain that their finances are a train wreck, but absolutely refuse to look at their income and expenditure in a meaningful way.

    That’s the first step to financial freedom for most people!

  2. Absolutely agree with everything. In the past, I looked at this topic and came to similar things. It is very important to celebrate your small financial victories. It provides a great motivation for the future on the way to growth.

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