How To

Personal Finance Lessons from “The League”

(FX Network)

Sports fans can’t get enough of The League, the hit FX comedy about a friendly fantasy football league. The show just launched its second season on September 16 and figures to be a runaway success. But while The League¬†isn’t just¬†about friends and pigskin (featuring guests like Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco) – and refusing to grow up.

Careful viewers can come away from the next episode with not only some good laughs, but usable personal finance advice.

Remain Steadily Employed

It’s somewhat curious that Pete Eckhart, the imaginary fantasy league’s 3-time defending champion, has no known job. With season two underway, he is still the only character whose occupation is a total mystery. In lieu of employment, all we see from the recently divorced Eckhart are his repeated attempts at tricking the others into making lopsided trades at the game table.

But – obvious as it may sound – remaining employed is actually half the battle when it comes to financial success. Assuming you put a system in place for automatically paying bills, saving and investing, steady income is all you need. By remaining employed, you literally put yourself on a conveyor belt to financial freedom.

Get Involved

(YGX)

Episodes in The League’s new second season involve Rafi, Ruxin’s obnoxious brother-in-law, the newest member of the league. It’s immediately clear that Rafi is not participating by choice – rather, it was Ruxin’s wife Sophia (and Rafi’s sister) who made the push for him to join. The only problem? Rafi has absolutely no passion for football or even a basic working knowledge of the game’s rules. His being there serves more to annoy and frustrate everyone else than to add any real value to the group.

There are plenty of “Rafis” in the world of personal finance, as well. People who are not currently managing their money very well – and who would benefit most from learning how – sometimes resist it more than anyone. A single book or article could put them on the right track, but they’d rather scapegoat people or drag their heels than read it. Don’t be that guy (or gal). Make personal finance something you’re enthusiastic about and happy to do, not a despised chore.

Stick To Your Plans

(Steve Snodgrass)

Speaking of Sophia: we’re all in favor of faithful marriages, but viewers of The League see this character take it to almost laughable extremes. Time and time again, Ruxin’s seemingly innocent behaviors are condemned by the always-pure Sophia, who does not even allow Playboy magazines inside their home (because to her, it’s cheating.) This is just one of many battles between the Ruxin (a permissive Jew) and Sophia, a hard-line, by-the-book Christian forever set in her ways.

It’s easy to point that Sophia takes commitment and sacrifice a bit too far. But we can all take a page out of her book when it comes to sticking to our financial goals. In personal finance as in life, temptation is always there. Like an an excuse to flake out on your budget or spend money you don’t have. Instead, resolve to stay focused. Resist the inevitable urges to stray from the path you know you should be on.

Be Self-Reliant

(bfishadow)

If anyone on The League is a poster child for dependence, it’s Taco McArthur. The younger brother of fantasy league commissioner Kevin, Taco is somewhat like Rafi: having virtually no knowledge or interest in football, but participating anyway because no one else cares to have him around for very long. When he isn’t hooking up with strange women, he survives on charity from Kevin and frugal life choices like barter and making his own food. He’s an eclectic and interesting character (who also dabbles in martial arts) but relies solely on others to get by.

To become a master of your money, you must also become a master of yourself: that is, you need to be self-reliant. This means not only having steady employment (see our first point) but also taking full responsibility for every aspect of your financial life. Setting goals, establishing habits and making smart day-to-day decisions are all examples of this.

Give Credit Where It’s Due

(Beneath_B1ue_Skies)

It was a running joke on season one that Kevin’s fantasy teams were secretly piloted by his much more football-savvy wife, Jenny. When season two began, it became clear to everyone that she was the real brains of the operation. Despite not even being a league member, Jenny’s eagerness and deep understanding of football were just about the only thing sparing her husband’s teams from embarrassing mediocrity.

Naturally, Kevin didn’t go out of his way to make this any more obvious than it already was. But in real life, few of us ever succeed totally on our own. Though it’s important to be as self-reliant as possible, most receive some form of help along the way and it is only graceful to acknowledge the people who assist us on our financial journeys.