What the Air Force vs Army Game Teaches Us About Planning

By Geoff Schaefer

Geoff is a Wealth Advisor with Intergy Private Wealth. He writes for The Steadfast Fiduciary to help people live with an abundant heart, open mind, and boundless generosity.

November 9, 2023

In Colorado, it’s no secret that the best football team in the state this year is not Coach Prime and the Buffs, but the boring ole triple option Air Force Falcons. In the first 8 weeks, they were undefeated and put up some incredible and dominant numbers.

One of the best rushing teams in the country. Excellent third and fourth down conversion rates.  A very low penalty and turnover count.  A stifling defense. Overall, a dominant mid major football program.  Locally, there were talks of if they went undefeated, what would the playoff committee do? If we had the 12-team format this year, Air Force would be a shoe in. Can they go undefeated in conference play? Commander in Chief’s Trophy sweep?  All that jazz.

Then… they played Army.  A team with two wins and a defense that disappeared for half their games.  The most unexciting of the service academies this year. A team with no hopes of a bowl game and no chance to match the Air Force offensive machine.  Well, after what was a very long afternoon for Air Force fans, Army managed to hang 23 points on them and held the Falcons to a measly 3 points, forcing 6 turnovers.  An embarrassment for the Falcons and triumph for the Black Nights. 

This quickly made the fan base pause, come back to reality, and reassess the rest of the year.

What does this have to do with finance, Geoff? Are you just venting after your local football team got the pants beat off of them by a team they should have easily handled? Maybe, but more importantly I’m trying to draw the parallel to how we plan our life and finances.

Often times, we are like the Air Force Falcons.  We’ve strung together several great years of income, saved some money and are already thinking what it’s going to be like to retire 10 years early, buy that big house, drive the Tesla (the model S, not those other ones).  We play out the next 10 years just like the last 10 years. It’s all going to go great, we have a plan. Smooth sailing from here…

… enter the Army Black Knights.

Maybe you get laid off from what you thought was your forever job.  Maybe a medical emergency occurs.  Maybe inflation roars for three years, and your budget and cost of living get completely wrecked. Elderly parents may move in and become financially dependent. A premature death or disability in the family could occur. The list could go on. At some point, something will take your undefeated season and completely rock it, resetting some things and causing you to question faster than you can get answers.

The good news is that’s why we plan. Carl Richard’s wrote about financial advisors saying that they, “are not a defender of an outdated map, rather than a guide in a changing landscape.” That means that we count on change. We count on the disruption.  Do we enjoy it or welcome it? Absolutely not, but it does not mean we cannot overcome it.

So, your spending got out of hand and you have some consumer debt? Our plan can readjust and go from here.

You have an illness that will keep you out of work for the foreseeable future?  We planned for the possibility, now let’s refocus, adjust expectations, and see what comes next.

Your parents need care and will add nearly 50% to your monthly expenses? What have we accomplished so far and since taking care of family is more important than retiring early, we’ll add three years of work to the plan.

There is no financial situation that is beyond repair.  The important thing is to adjust to the new reality, accept what happened and plot the path forward doing the next right thing.

We’ll see where the Air Force football team goes from here. An undefeated season may be off the table, but a conference title, best program record ever and a New Year’s Day bowl game are all still well within reach. If you’ve had something occur in the past year that jolted you off your set course, join the Falcons this week and consider all the opportunities that still lie in front of you.

Congratulations to the Army Black Knights on a great win! Beat Navy!


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