You are ultimately in control of your financial success. As a financial planner, I can help guide and motivate you, but in the end, it's up to you.
To achieve financial success, you must take ownership—extreme ownership.
How do you take extreme ownership of your household finances, though?
Utilizing the Laws of Combat to be a leader of your household and a good steward of your money is a good start.
Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, fellow Navy SEALs and business partners at Echelon Front, published Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win in 2015.
The New York Times Bestseller describes the leadership principles aptly dubbed, The Laws of Combat. Throughout their careers, in training, and as a part of SEAL Team Three, Task Unit Bruiser, they used these principles to lead effectively and produce success on the battlefield.
As Leif says, "the Laws of Combat were the key to not just surviving a dire situation, but actually thriving, enabling us to totally dominate the enemy and win."
The Laws of Combat are:
Cover and Move
Prioritize and Execute
Over the next few posts, we are going to break these principles down one-by-one and see how we can apply them to our personal finances.
In this post, we will be discussing Cover and Move.
In Life: The Roof will Leak.
Beep Beep Beep Beep...click...silence.
In one lumbering motion, I swung out of bed and rose. 0400 always comes too quickly.
I slowly clambered towards the door of our dark bedroom hoping none of my toes would make an acquaintance with a bedpost. I quietly exited the room, trying not to wake Elena and turned towards the bathroom.
The sound of thunder jogged my memory as I flipped the light on. I thought, "man, that was a helluva storm last night."
I turned on the shower, squeezed a glob of toothpaste on my brush, lifted the lid of the toilet, and relieved myself as I brushed my teeth in anticipation of a hot shower.
Mid-stream, a drop of water fell from the ceiling and landed in the toilet. I slowly leaned my head back and watched as another water droplet formed and fell.
I reached up, poked the sheetrock, and a rush of water came through the newly formed hole in the soft sheetrock.
"F*** me," I mumbled to myself.
It was still storming outside, my roof was leaking, and more storms were coming over the next few days. I contacted my officer, described the situation, and he recommended I utilize emergency annual leave to square the situation away. "10-4," I said.
And in these moments, I am thankful we don't worry about how we will be able to pay for this unexpected occurrence.
That is what our emergency fund is for. It's for the unexpected issues that crop up while taking a leak at 0400 that must be taken care of ASAP.
And when the roof leaks, you can financially Cover and Move your way to a better tactical position.
We used our emergency fund as covering fire so we could leapfrog forward, neutralize the enemy, and get back to business as usual.
The Principle: Cover and Move
Leif describes Cover and Move as, "the most fundamental tactic, perhaps the only tactic. Put, simply, Cover and Move means teamwork."
"the most fundamental tactic, perhaps the only tactic. Put, simply, Cover and Move means teamwork."
You might be wondering, "How does teamwork apply to my personal finances?"
Your finances are comprised of a few core areas. These include your cash flow, your career(s), your emergency fund, your insurance(s), your investments, your estate plan, etc.
When one area is struggling, you need the others to be able to cover your six.
If you got hurt on the job—which is likely as a firefighter—and couldn't work, a fully-funded emergency fund along with long-term disability coverage would be a lifesaver.
"3,000 Americans become disabled every hour. A 30-year old is 4 times as likely to become disabled than to die before age 65. Most disabilities (90%) are due to illness, not injury, and most disabilities (95%) are not work-related."
Being able to financially support yourself is essential, so you can focus on rehabbing and getting back to 100%.
Without your emergency fund and disability insurance, you might rush it, come back too soon, and—boom—get injured again.
The different areas of your finances should work together as a team to Cover and Move.
And once you add a spouse into the mix, teamwork is essential. Let's go through the same scenario again. If your spouse typically stays home with the kids and you've been hurt and can't work, it's time to Cover and Move.
While you recover, your spouse can cover you by going back to work and earning an income for your family.
The Strategic Mission: Financial Freedom
The objective of the Laws of Combat is to achieve success. Achieving financial success takes discipline, patience, hard work, planning, and teamwork.
Utilizing Cover and Move within your household finances is an essential tactic on your way to accomplishing the strategic mission—reaching financial freedom.
As Leif says in the book, "Accomplishing the strategic mission is the highest priority. Team members, departments, and supporting assets must always Cover and Move—help each other, work together, and support each other to win. This principle is integral for any team to achieve victory."
Thanks for reading,
Your Friendly Firefightin' Financial Planner
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