Do you manage your money like you snowboard?

Do you manage your money like you snowboard?

Learning to snowboard and managing your money have many similar aspects.  Both require dedication and effort in order to master.  At times, you’ll fall in both, and it will hurt.  You need some equipment in both cases, and may not know what is best when you’re starting out.   Both have ways to protect you in case of an emergency or catastrophe.

When you’re just starting out snowboarding you’re going to fall.  A lot.  And you won’t know why.  And it will hurt.  The same thing happens when you’re a beginner at managing your money.  If you have credit card balances that keep getting larger, if you’re running out of money before payday, or you’re late paying your bill and are racking up late fees or bank fees, and you just can’t understand how or why, you are at the beginner level.  The thing is with both snowboarding and managing your money is that they are both hard to learn from trial and error.

Beginner snowboarding, beginner money

Sometimes you'll fall, and you won't know why. Money or snowboarding? Both.

A much more efficient method of learning is to get someone to tell you what you’re doing wrong, and how it fix it.  At this level you don’t have an emergency fund.  This is like not having the ski patrol.  Who is going to help you when you fall and break a leg?  Without an emergency fund, you’ve just got to pull yourself along the snow until you get back to your car.  You want the ski patrol to come and help.  Get an emergency fund.

Intermediate money, intermediate snowboarding

Intermediates can get up a little easier when they fall.

At the intermediate level you’ve gotten a bit of an emergency fund built up, so when you fall and dislocate something, the ski patrol will take you off the mountain and give medical treatment.  However, even though you’re now taking a lift up the mountain, you still fall getting off the automated ride up, and thus aren’t taking advantage of all that automation offers.  You are able to recover from some of your mistakes, you just don’t hit the snow by default, but you’re still not aware of why you’re falling.  You’ve saved up for some safety equipment, like a helmet, and are no longer accumulating new debt, late fees, or bank fees.  And you save some money each month.  You are spending less than you make.  Congratulations!  You may start to give beginners helpful hints, though they don’t seem to help much.

Advanced money, advanced snowboarding

You can recover from mistakes at the advanced level, and you don't fall much.

On the advanced level you’re handling the steeper stuff with ease.  You are considered “very good” by both intermediates and beginners below you.  You’ve paid off your credit cards and don’t carry a balance.  You have an emergency fund at the appropriate level.  You save for retirement automatically and have a robust investment strategy that you follow.  Maybe you’ve started a blog to teach others about what works and what doesn’t.  You know why you fall when it occurs, but it’s happening less and less often.  The lift is great, you’re fully using automation to your advantage.  You’ve learned your lessons from professionals, and are able to apply them.  You can also diagnose what’s going on if you need to, and can adapt to tougher conditions.  You can board near trees and in deep snow without fear of getting stuck.

Expert snowboarding, expert money manager

You are the ski patrol of money management, helping others with their problems

You’re the expert that people ask questions of.  Your boarding may have been on TV or other media at some point.  You have significant income from many different sources, so you’re able to adapt and excel at whatever terrain you are headed down.  You can safely go out of bounds (with the proper safety equipment) because you know when the exceptions to the rules apply.  You probably have a popular blog where you freely share your experience and knowledge.  The mistakes you do make are from pushing boundaries and trying new things.  Perhaps you’ve joined the ski patrol and are actively out there helping people who are hurt and getting them to safety.  The big avalanches are the only thing that really concerns you, as the protection against such huge and rare occurrences are limited and expensive.

A couple of quick pictures from my recent trip.  Both days I spent boarding were beautiful blue-bird days after having gotten about 3 feet of new snow in the few days prior.  Amazing.

Readers, where are you on the skill scale?  Are you still catching an edge and doing a face-plant, or are you at ease with any obstacles or terrain that you come across?  Do you teach or take lessons?  Or are you still trying to self-teach?

About Karl

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17 Responses to Can snowboarding help you master your money?

  1. Excellent analogy Karl between snowboarding and managing money. I’ve never tried snowboarding but I did ski for about 2 seasons many years ago. I was definitely in the beginner stage. Fell a lot, but it was fun!

    Our money management use to be at the advanced stage. Yes we did manage money well years ago.

    But then we took some huge risks with our money and they didn’t pan out. And then we suddenly had serious health issues to deal with. All the things that are talked about when doing your financial planning.

    Life happens!

    We lived off of our emergency fund and when that ran out we began living off of credit cards. Our payments are always up-to-date and current and we have recently figured out ways to reduce the interest on them so that we are paying more towards the actual amount of the cards. We’ve cut costs drastically. The next step is to increase our overall income.

  2. Nick says:

    Fortunately I handle money better than I snowboard, although I do catch a few edges now and again with money when I try to get too fancy… 🙂

  3. Modest Money says:

    Karl you’re quite good with these analogy posts. It looks like you got some awesome days of boarding during your recent vacation. Lucky guy.

    I’d say my finances are still at the beginner level. I’ve been spending some time watching the pros and trying to learn from them, but I’m still stuck on the bunny slope afraid to tackle the more difficult runs. Part of the problem is that my equipment is rather outdated and falling apart. Before taking on those more challenging runs, I’m probably going to have to get all new equipment and take some actual lessons.

  4. Your pictures make me want to go snowboarding! I think you make an excellent analogy here – I’ve never really thought about finances in terms of snowboarding. I think I’m around the intermediate level (both for finances and snowboarding). I’ve got my emergency fund and although I make mistakes, I definitely learn from them fast.

  5. WorkSaveLive says:

    Such a great analogy! I have only snowboard once in my life (about 3 years ago) and it was pretty rough.

    My knees were black and blue after the first day and I’m thankful I wore a helmet because I have little doubt I should have gotten a concussion from a few of those falls.

    I got substantially better by the 2nd day and was really able to enjoy snowboarding, however the next time I go out to CO I will be skiing. lol

  6. AverageJoe says:

    I’m a total beginner snowboarder. I’m the guy people point at and laugh. Then I tell me kids to stop laughing at me….

    Great analogy. Another fun topic.

  7. great comparison of snow boarding and money management 🙂
    same is true for any field or life as a whole. You got to keep trying, keep failing.

  8. Frugal Fries says:

    You just brought back fond memories of the first time I went skiing–I ended up tumbling halfway down a black diamond hill only to roll into the fence, but I can still appreciate the analogy.

    I would say I am on the bunny slopes of managing my money. I’m definitely still learning, but I have all the entusiasm and optimism that comes with being a beginner too 🙂

  9. Does the same apply to just playing snowboarding video games?

  10. Geoff says:

    I like the snowboard analogy. Having balance comes to mind, and that’s certainly the case with money. A balance between wants and needs for example.

  11. […] an express train of blogging activity when it comes to metaphors. He’s a — well, just read Can Snowboarding Help You Master Your Money? You’ll get the […]

  12. Love the analogy. I’ve never snowboarded in my life, but get your point none the less, about the advancing stages of personal money management.

    With both cases, they’re difficult when you start out. You do fall, and you do get hurt. However, if you stay persistent, focused, and determined’ you’ll soon move up the ladder, and eventually become an expert.

  13. I’d say I’m a self-directed learner. I have a strong interest in managing money in smart ways so I read a lot of personal finance books and blogs to stay informed. That and a little trial and error and I’m finding my way. No snowboarding experience here, but the analogy is easier relate to almost any sport.

  14. Hi Cult of Money,

    I have included this post at my site’s weekly roundup

  15. […] lie or a fib? In the end, human nature sets us up for self-preservation.Karl @ CultOfMoney writes Can snowboarding help you master your money? – Learning to snowboard and managing your money have many similar aspects. Both require […]

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