6 lessons from World Cup Soccer

World Cup Financial Lessons

Paige Estigarribia

Every four years, the world turns its eyes to the game of all nations - soccer. I admit it, I'm a self-proclaimed World Cup enthusiast. Every four years, my own little corner of the universe slows down to marvel as the best of the best compete. These teams showcase amazing feats of speed, ball-control, teamwork, and persistence. And nations passionately rally with pride behind their stars, as these men display impeccable skill. This year, as I take in each match, I also ponder financial and life lessons we can learn from these special world games. Here's what I've come up with:

1. All "Goals" Take Time and Discipline

Whether it's a header into the back corner, or paying off a mountain of debt, achieving a "goal" in soccer or in your life takes a bit of time and discipline. These soccer players spend time - 90 minutes plus any additional stoppage time or overtime - running up and down the field trying to "achieve" goals. And they remain disciplined to these goals. When they are knocked down, they get back up. When the ball is taken from them, they run after it. They don't quit. They are making strategic decisions - where to dribble, who is open for the pass, where they can take the ball - with the ultimate "goal" of scoring a goal. The same holds true for financial goals. It will take time to save for your 401k. It will take time to pay off a credit card or a mortgage. You might have unexpected hurdles or unforeseen expenses. But keep playing. Stay disciplined, and give it time. You'll eventually get to your "goal."

2. Persistence Pays Off

How many shots on goal does it take to score a goal? It's anyone's guess. Sometimes a goal happens on the first try. But other times, the shot might be too high. Or just outside the goal post. Or even blocked or deflected by the goalie. But the players continue to try. They continue to dribble down the field every chance they get, weaving between players, dodging, or passing. They continue to take the shots on goal, even after they miss. Even if they are blocked. You can't score a goal unless you continue taking shots on goal. You might be paying extra on your mortgage to pay it off, and an unexpected expense comes up and blocks your efforts. Stay persistent and keep trying.

3. Success is Worth Hard Work

The players on these soccer teams have been going through years of practice to get to these games. Playing in the World Cup means that you are a nation's best, and that you are the best of all the nations who tried to qualify. You have reached soccer success. But it certainly didn't come overnight. Between relentless practices and workouts, World Cup qualifying matches, not to mention club-level league games, these players live and breathe the sport of soccer. And their hard work has elevated them to the elite. The same holds true with finances and life. Hard work is often very hard. There will be days when it seems reasonable to just quit or change directions. But success is often in direct equation with hard work. Envision success when the work is the hardest.

4. Bad Choices Often Lead to Undesirable Consequences

On the soccer field, every choice has a consequence - some good, and others not good. From something as simple as kicking the ball out of bounds, to something as serious as harming an opposing player, bad choices on the playing field lead to undesirable consequences. If a player kicks the ball out of bounds, the other team gets possession to throw it in. Depending on the offense, a player can even receive yellow or red cards for their actions. The same holds true in making financial decisions - taking on too much debt, spending money set aside for retirement, not creating and living within a budget - these kinds of decisions will eventually lead to undesirable consequences. Plan in advance. Try to foresee (and avoid) potential undesirable consequences when making financial and life decisions.

5. A Good Team Has a Strong Defense and a Powerful Offense

The best soccer teams have a both a solid defense, with players ready to stand strong against any offensive attack, and a powerful offense, ready at any opportunity to dribble, pass, and score. Both the offense and the defense must constantly be watching for opportunities - the opportunity to deflect an opponent's shot on goal or the opportunity to pass to an open player to score a goal. The same holds true with finances. You must defend your nest egg by building your savings and nurturing your assets. You must protect it, not spend it, and not give it up. But at the same time, you also should be working on opportunities to score. Maybe it's working towards a promotion, or taking on a second job. Do what it takes to build and defend your savings, and be proactive in searching for opportunities to increase income.

6. "Goals" are Often Well Achieved as a Team

Never underestimate the power of teamwork. These national soccer teams aren't made up of one player. Many times, it takes much more than one player to create the perfect scenario for scoring a winning goal. Each player on the team has varying levels and types of skill. When all together, this blend of skills and endurance can successfully catapult a team to victory. The same holds true for financial and life decisions. The best decisions are often made when they are thought through with "team" input - be it an accountant, a parent, a financial planner, or even a spouse or close friend. Many times, another person's perspective, experience, or education is just the piece of advice you might need to make your decision. Don't be afraid to get advice from your "team" for big financial or life decisions.

World Cup only happens every four years. The players are the best of the best, and soccer is the game of the world! Hopefully as you enjoy the World Cup matches this year, these tips will resonate that we can learn a lot more than soccer from watching the games.

Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.

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