March Madness and Your Finances

by David Bakke

march madnessSo, were you one of the millions out there who decided to throw a few dollars into the office pool and fill out a bracket for the March Madness college basketball tournament? If so, how ya’ doin’ so far?

Are you still in the thick of it and looking for that big payout in a few weeks? Are you regretting your decision already, asking yourself why did you waste money on such a silly thing? Somewhere in the middle?

Well, I have a little confession to make. For someone who is as about as fiscally prudent as they come, I must admit that I did fill out a bracket. Yep, sure did. Maybe I’ll win; maybe I won’t (just so you know, the pay-in amount for my pool was $30, so it was probably a little higher sum than most).

Anyways, I just want to go over a few scenarios that seem to make sense to me. Basically, the question is: should you or should you not spend money on such a thing?I hope you find my thoughts to be helpful.

If you have more than average credit card debt, struggle to pay your minimums, or even struggle to pay your bills on time, then in my estimation, you probably shouldn’t be fooling with March Madness. I would definitely consider sacrificing that to focus more on your financial health.

However, if you have more than average credit card debt, but always pay your bills on time and have gotten on a program to knock down the balances of your credit cards, then hey, reward yourself and jump into the fun!

If you gamble more than the average person and are anything less than completely financially set, then I would consider at least cutting back in this area. I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that most people that gamble regularly lose money in the long run. If it’s something you really enjoy, maybe just consider slowing down till you are more financially set.

Now let me lay out my personal financial situation to you and explain to you why I think it is alright that I dropped $30 into this thing. I certainly would never ever want to come off in this blog a having a holier-than-thou attitude. Am I completely financially set? By no means. I would like to be able to contribute a lot more to my retirement savings plans than I do. Other than that, yes, I am probably financially set. I have no debts besides my house payment, no credit card balances and my bills are always paid on time and in full.

But here is the key. I spend very little money on myself. I don’t go out to eat (and my family rarely does), I hardly ever buy new clothes for myself and when it comes down to it, if you take out necessary purchases for our household I really don’t spend money at all. So if there is someone who could justify losing the $30 in my pool, I think it would be me. Also, I definitely consider it to be a form of entertainment. It is three weekends of fun, of keeping up with how I and my friends are doing, and of watching some great basketball.

And, to be completely honest with you, I can’t really lose. You see, I participated in a similar type pool for the NFL playoffs and won $30, so in the end, I will either break even, or win the whole pot and come out way ahead!

What are your thoughts on March Madness and your finances? Your comments and feedback are appreciated below.

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