Achieving Financial Freedom Is Like Building Your Super Bowl Winning Team



The following is a guest post from Leo T. Ly, founder of isaved5k.  He spent 12 years working for 3 of the 5 major banks in Canada before he started to pursue his passion for real estate.  As a real estate sales representative, he has a strong background in this field and provides wonderful financial insight.  Enjoy the read!

Not long ago, I was mostly motivated to build my website to grow my real estate business and to help my clients save money when I assist them with their real estate needs.  I wanted to be the average person’s money saving Realtor.  A few months later, that motivation morphed into something much more meaningful to me and inspired me to start a personal finance blog to educate people about how to take care of their personal financial health responsibly and effectively.  I wanted to show the average person not only how to manage their financial affairs responsibility, I also wanted to share and demonstrate to them through my personal experiences that with discipline and hard work, the average person can build a healthy, sound and secured financial future.

financial freedom
Figure #1: Your football team.

In the personal finance blog space, there are many great bloggers sharing their personal stories and methods on how they got out of massive debt to living frugally and being debt free to paying off their mortgages in record time to creating a dividend income portfolio that will become their retirement income.  While these personal stories are great and I do read quite a few of these bloggers’ posts and learned a lot from them, I feel that some of the strategies are quite one dimensional (hold your fire, don’t shoot yet, I’ll fully explain this shortly.  After that, you can fire at me all you want in the comment section.)

Football Game financial freedom
Figure #2: The game of football

I am a huge NFL football fan so I am going to try to use a sport analogy to explain this.  To be successful in the NFL for the long run, those successful teams need to have a great balance in three different areas of the game: offense, defense and special teams.  The offense is mainly responsible for scoring as many points as possible and using the game clock to their advantage.  The defense’s main objective is to prevent or minimize the opponent’s offense from scoring.  However, at opportune times, the defense can also score too.  Lastly, the special team is responsible for setting up an advantageous position for either the offense or defense to operate.  Once again, at opportune times, the special team can also score. So what does football have to do with personal finance?  Everything.  I’m getting to it…

Coaching football financial freedom
Figure #3: Coaching football

Another important part of the NFL game is coaching, an area of the game that seldom receives a lot attention or being explored publicly and not many people like to talk about it.  The coaches of the game are like your generals/tacticians on the battle field.  They come up with the game/battle plan, put the players in the positions that maximizes their talent and skill sets, making the calculated decision to either kick the field goal (being conservative) or trying to score a touchdown (being aggressive) and use their knowledge of the rule book to give their team any advantage over their opponents.

The one yard line financial freedom
Figure #4: The one yard line.

The process of building a successful financial future resembles that of building a successful NFL football team that can content for the Super Bowl year in and year out.  Your offense is like your income generating assets (just remember, you are one of your greatest assets) – they make most of the money.  Your defense is like your debt, it can help you make money (good debt) or cost you a fortune (bad debt).  The special team is analogous to the structuring/positioning of your assets and debts.  When they are positioned advantageously, you’ll maximize their opportunity to score point – increase your wealth.  


On the other hand, badly positioned assets (overpaying for something) or debts (high interest rate loans) can work against you just like when your offense/defense are being placed at your own one-yard line (for those that don’t know NFL football, your own one-yard line is the worst position that you can start on either offense or defense.)  The equivalent of the NFL coaches in personal finance is your income tax strategy.  If you know the tax rule, you can use it to structure/position your assets and debts in ways that can give your income the preferential tax treatment, maximize the deductions and ultimately pay less taxes.  The majority of successful NFL teams had great balance in these three areas and great coaches.


So for an average person, building a secure financial future is a result of investing in great income generating assets, managing/utilizing debt responsibly, position your assets and debts so they can work efficiently to maximize your net worth and using tax strategies to keep more of your hard earn money in your pocket.


My goal is to show the average person how I built my Super Bowl caliber team (my financial future) with a balanced offense, defense and special team.  Which means that I am going share with you how I acquired my assets, manage/utilize my debts and position them advantageously to maximize my net worth.  At the end of the ultimate game, that’s the end of the Super Bowl game (to me, it’s the point of Financial Freedom), I want to be able to finish as a Super Bowl Champion (for those that don’t know NFL football, every team’s goal is to win the Super Bowl every year) and ride into the sunset with my Super Bowl (retiring at age 48.  This would have been awesome if I was able to retire the year that Super Bowl 48 was played – 2014).  I’ll be celebrating with my fellow personal finance enthusiasts.  Hopefully, I’ll inspire enough of you to build your own championship caliber team – your sound and secure financial future.


Here are my offensive strategies:

How I earned a 72% return on my saving the easy way
Freedom 48 Investment Toolkit: Using Options To Improve Investment Returns
Freedom 48 Investment Toolkit: Foreign Market Investment Basics


Defensive strategies:

How I get pay when borrowing money from the bank
Maximizing the rewards and benefits of your credit card


Special team strategies:

How to build access to a $100,000 emergency fund with $0 locked up
How do I love saving money? Let me count the ways …
Freedom 48 Investment Toolkit: Minimizing Your Income Tax



Part 1: How To Improve Your Financial Health
Part 2: How To Improve Your Financial Health
My 2016 Year End Performance Review


Enjoy the road to Super Bowl LI everyone.  Hopefully, your team is in it, and you are on the winning side.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.


  1. Fascinating analogy. And regarding your one demential comment- you’re right, alot of us personal finance bloggers are especially focused on a few specific areas of personal finance, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I just think that underscores the importance of educating yourself from multiple sources!
    Daniel Palmer recently posted…Keeping Finance PersonalMy Profile

    • I definitely agree that it makes a ton of sense to read both sides to help form your own opinion. While some people may have a certain risk tolerance others have zero. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t hit their goals by doing it their own way 🙂

      Anyway…thanks for stopping by Daniel!!!

      • Absolutely, I think it is crucial to educate yourself on all of personal finance (or any other issue)! But I think if you try and focus on all sides as a blogger, just for the sake of being a jack of all trades, and aren’t actually passionate about one area, you’re liable to end up with some lukewarm material.
        Daniel Palmer recently posted…What are Itemized Deductions and Why I Hate ThemMy Profile

  2. Great post and I couldn’t agree more. I see many people focusing on just eliminating debt and controlling expenses. They completely ignore the offensive side – making money! As you said, you are your biggest asset. Everyone’s earning potential is unlimited based on all the opportunities available today. Don’t squander it by just focusing on defense!
    Go Finance Yourself! recently posted…2016 Review: Where I Invest My MoneyMy Profile

    • I think Warren Buffett says it best “Invest as much as yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.”

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Go Finance Yourself!!!

  3. Interesting analogy. I do agree many are to focused on one thing and it really takes a balance in the end. That being said I’d suggest the amount of that balances skew is person dependent. The reason some bloggers focus so much is do to their skew. Risk tolerance drives that skew.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…Gen X Finance BlogsMy Profile

    • Risk tolerance is a huge issue that doesn’t get talked about enough at times.

      I have friends that flip homes and aren’t worried about the risk when they open up the walls. While I know folks that would never flip homes b/c they prefer a safe muni.

      Neither side is wrong it’s all what their risk level is.

      Thanks as always for stopping by!!!

  4. Hi GFY,
    Everybody gotta start from somewhere and build up their discipline to master one area or two in their personal finance. I started the same way by just saving my money and take advantage of free money from employers and governments. After mastering those two areas, I started to look for more ways to increase my net worth. Lucky for me, I got into real estate at a good time and bought a few properties that generated an additional source of income for myself.
    Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…Part 2: How To Improve Your Financial HealthMy Profile

  5. Oh yeah, I wish early retirement were as simple as “Just eliminate debt and invest money or something!” It’s different for everybody and the numbers always surprise me. Sometimes your gut isn’t in line with the numbers and you need to adjust. But it’s all about having a diversified approach and making smart money decisions.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Picky Nikki Tries Hello FreshMy Profile

  6. Interesting analogy. When it comes to investing, I like to think that if you have a great offense, defense isn’t as important. But you still need a little 🙂

    • Just like a real football team, you can do well with just one part of your team being really strong. But sometimes, the strongest part of your team cannot get you the win. If other areas of your team are well built, they can help you pull through even if your strongest area is not performing every single game. It’s good to have a balanced team.
      Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k recently posted…Part 2: How To Improve Your Financial HealthMy Profile

    • I definitely agree that having a great offense can cover up for a bad defense. Although if the offense ever has a bad day (housing market crash) it can definitely throw a wrench in plans 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by Ken!!!

  7. Well said! I firmly believe in the offensive side of the ball with some great special team play. Defense only can limit opponents points but rarely put up many of their own.
    Upside is limitless while downside protection is finite. Play conservative offense and keep trying to score!

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing Ian!!! Too often we get stuck in the defensive mindset which definitely hinders us. Even a conservative offense is better than no offense at all 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Hi Ian,
      Any strategy that’s applied with discipline and hard work can be successful.
      I am really excited that the community is having an opened mind about this post. I was a bit nervous at first when I first wrote it as some bloggers who specialize in one particular area may view it as a criticism of their strategy.
      Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…Part 2: How To Improve Your Financial HealthMy Profile

  8. Hi Leo, thank you for the post. Everything I know about football I just learned from the post (seriously!). I read through it twice but didn’t click through the offense/defense links because I know it will take me down more than one awesome PF rabbit hole and I didn’t want to stray too far from the original post but I will go back and start investigating. I agree with Daniel about the importance of reading/learning multiple sources. So many great ideas/paths to be explored.
    Amanda recently posted…Kids & Money: Nurturing the Next Generation of PF NerdsMy Profile

  9. I like the analogies, especially the defense. Bad debt is going to mean a lot of first downs for the other team. The one-yard analogy & goal line defense is also great.

    If you have a bad defense or high debt load, you won’t be able to make a stop or change the momentum when a “big play” is most needed.

    Look forward to reading the linked articles so I can win my own Super Bowl. Thanks!
    Josh @MoneyBuffalo recently posted…2017 Money Saving ChallengeMy Profile

  10. I like the fact that you point out the difference between good debt and bad debt. Obviously, paying off credit card debt is a good idea, but trying to pay off a mortgage may not be. I’ve seen so many people try to pay off their mortgage and after paying down for a few years, a financial tragedy happens (usually a loss of a job) where they desperately needed that money but couldn’t get it out of their house.
    One real example: A couple paid an extra $1000 a month for three years in the hopes that they would eventually pay off their mortgage. Then the husband lost his job and wasn’t able to find another one for over a year. The wife’s income wasn’t enough to cover all expenses. They couldn’t get a 2nd mortgage or equity line on their house to pull that $36,000 out because they could no longer qualify for a loan. Guess what happened?
    Maintaining a mortgage can have several benefits:
    – Deductible interest
    – Leverage (Providing a higher net return on cash invested in your home if you ever sell)
    – Allows surplus income to be allocated to other liquid investments when not used to pay mortgage principal.
    Fred recently posted…Corporate Stock Earnings Reports for the 2nd Week of JanuaryMy Profile

    • Hi Fred,

      I had the same view about mortgages and I never want to pay it off. To protect myself from 99% of the unforeseen disasters, I secured more that $100,000 in access to emergency funds. The key thing is to plan ahead and secure access to the funds before you need it. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of others when you are in trouble and it won’t be pretty that happens.
      Leo T. Ly @ recently posted…Part 2: How To Improve Your Financial HealthMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Fred!!! As someone that paid off their mortgage I can definitely see both sides of the argument. Having done the analysis the difference for me was 0.1% that I could have earned in the stock market. So not something that made a huge difference to me. I was lucky in that I was working for the government and single. So I wasn’t as worried about losing my job which made me feel more comfortable being aggressive paying off my mortgage. But like I said you bring up excellent arguments 🙂

  11. Interesting analogy. Football is a team sport – it takes a good offense, defense, and special teams. Having a great offense is of little use of you’re defense can’t stop anyone. Having a good defense won’t be enough if your special teams set you up in disadvantageous field position. Same goes for personal finance. Making a lot of money won’t get you very far if you’re bleeding debt and overspending, while not paying attention to tax drag and fees can cost you thousands of dollars down the line. Great post!
    SomeRandomGuyOnline recently posted…2016 Fourth Quarter UpdateMy Profile

  12. Interesting analogy. In football, all aspects of the team are important – offense, defense, special teams, and coaching. Having a great offense is of little use if your defense can’t stop anyone. Having a great defense won’t help if your special teams is leaving you in disadvantageous positions. Just like in finance. Making a lot of money doesn’t help if you’re bleeding debt and overspending. Much like ignoring tax drag and high fees can cost you thousands of dollars down the line. Great post!
    SomeRandomGuyOnline recently posted…2016 Fourth Quarter UpdateMy Profile

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