March 6, 2014

6 Life and Money Lessons Learned from Baseball


Americans love to root (root, root!) for the home team. Attendance at major league baseball games topped 74 million in 2013 – more than four times the attendance of professional football games that year. And that number doesn’t even include college, high school, little league or farm team games.

Sure, we love to watch baseball, but we can take away more than hot dogs and popcorn from the ballpark. Here are a few life and money lessons we can learn from the sport.

1. Keep stats

Baseball is a numbers game. Just looking at a baseball scorecard can be mind-boggling. But the game’s attention to detail can easily carry over to tracking your home budget. If you don’t already have one, use this online budget calculator to get started. Once you have a general idea of your expenditures, focus on the items where you have room for improvement and keep a scorecard. If you don’t keep track of your spending, it’s easy to forget that $6/day spent on lattes or the $12 cocktail after work every Thursday. By keeping your own detailed stats, you have a better chance of remembering where your money goes and getting your spending under control.

2. Rally support when you need it most

In Bull Durham, Nuke, the baseball pitcher, falls into a slump, and his fellow players gather at the mound in a famous scene meant to distract him. They talk about everything from voodoo to wedding presents – and not at all about baseball. Cognitive therapy employs this same method to treat anxiety, interrupting an internal anxiety loop by refocusing attention on something else. Having a chat with coworkers can have a similar effect when you’re stuck with a problem at work. Gather around the water cooler for some carefree chats and you’ll be able to ease any anxiety by the time you get back to your desk.

3. Use the three-strike rule

Success in the workplace hinges in part on the people we choose to have around us. Their integrity and strength of character serves to enhance or obstruct our performance on a daily basis. The three-strike rule can be a valuable tool in selecting new business relationships. By honing your observation skills, you can become a better judge of character and “strike out” people who don’t share your sense of integrity before they become a liability.

4. Take a seventh inning stretch

In baseball, the middle of the seventh inning marks a break in the action - a chance for players and fans to stretch their legs and sing. Researchers have found that brief diversions in daily life increase our ability to focus for prolonged periods. Doing the same task over a long period causes performance to erode as the brain gradually stops registering input. Even a minor mental break improves focus and performance – even if you don’t sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

5. Keep your eye on the long-term goal

Baseball teams play more than 160 games each season, and while every game does make a difference, it’s the overall season performance that really counts. This long view of an overall goal applies to your savings accounts. Even the lowest interest gains can add up if you look at the long run and not the day-to-day standings. Use this savings calculator to see how consistently putting money in an interest-bearing account can add up to significant gains over the years, and stop focusing on the tiny, month-to-month earnings.

6. Accept that nobody bats a thousand

In baseball, batting a thousand represents the unattainable perfection of getting a hit every time at bat. The average major league player bats .300, which means he gets a hit only 30% of the time. Many of us suffer from setting our standards and expectations too high, a clear sign of perfectionism. But striking out can be a great lesson in judging our own limits, learning humility, and developing empathy, ultimately teaching us to set realistic performance goals.

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Tammy K is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped families make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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