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Financial Planning

How Financial Planning Is Like Playing Sports

Both can help you improve your life by boosting your confidence and encouraging smart decision-making.

The pavement is hard to dent while wearing small tennis shoes. If more young girls joined in, they could shake the ground and make an imprint in concrete. On February 9, we celebrated the 30th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day. The theme this year was "Leading the Way," which was in appreciation of all those individuals and organizations on the front line for girls and women in sports.

I'm honored to have been a Girls on the Run coach for two seasons and to be the mother of two confident daughters. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world in which every girl knows and uses her limitless potential and is free to realize her goals. Coaches reach these girls through interactive lessons and running games. The 24-lesson curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large.

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I believe that playing sports builds confidence. I see the fire igniting inside every girl when she dons her bright running gear, messy ponytail and flushed face. I want the girls on my team and my daughters to have that fire—and never let it be extinguished.

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Girls on the Run is about more than running. It is a fundamental part of their journey toward higher self-esteem and greater confidence. My 10-year-old daughter, Karolina, has been on the team for three seasons. If she stumbles, she has the confidence to get up and keep striving toward the finish line.

It is also about teamwork. My older daughter, Sarina, is 19 years old and often runs with Karolina to encourage her. Women need to support each other and bond together to create a more powerful network.

The financial world is no different: You need confidence and a good support system to achieve your goals. As a Certified Financial Planner professional, my passion lies in ensuring that women are financially confident—and I coach my clients just as I do my girls. I always challenge myself to inspire and empower those around me to believe in themselves and reach their full potential.

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Here are four more ways playing sports and financial planning parallel each other:

1. Both help reduce stress.

Stress causes the immune system to weaken and depression to seep in—and dealing with finances can add to your burden. Playing sports is a great way to burn off stress and feel good. Similarly, taking control and being proactive with your finances can reduce the stress you feel.

2. Both encourage smart decision-making.

Women and girls need to understand science and math to succeed in sports. There are a lot of calculations that go into making a basket or figuring out what the opponent's next move will be.

Having financial literacy is equally as important to achieve financial wins. Financial education helps everyone—particularly women—gain clarity, confidence and control over their personal finances. You need to understand money matters in order to make big decisions such as whether to attend college, which student loan payment option is best for you or what kind of car to purchase.

3. Both allow you to give back to the community.

Sports connect the participants with the community who watches the game. In fact, as a Girls on The Run coach, I urge the girls to identify and champion a community impact project and earn money for charity.

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With smart financial planning, you can incorporate giving money to charity into your budget and put your money to work for a cause you believe in.

4. Both give you reasons to celebrate.

The Girls on The Run season culminates with a 5K. It's so exciting to see them each cross the finish line—whether she comes in first place or last.

I celebrate the success of my clients the same way. Whether you pay off your student loan, contribute the maximum to your retirement plan, open a 529 college savings plan for your child or grandchild or make a charitable contribution, reaching your goal—no matter how long it may take—is a great accomplishment.

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. Marguerita is a spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and is often featured in national publications. As a CFP Board Ambassador, Marguerita helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning. She proudly serves on the FPA National Board of Directors and is a frequent speaker on on financial planning, Social Security, diversity, elder care, and retirement.

About the Author

Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®

CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, Retirement Income Certified Professional and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. She helps educate the public, policymakers and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.

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