Around this time each year, my wife and I watch HBO’s Hard Knocks. It’s a reality sports series that follows an NFL team through training camp as they prepare for the upcoming season. One of the reoccurring storylines of the show and my wife’s favorite part are the handful of players that are longshots to make the team. We both get emotionally invested in the longshots and can’t wait until the final episode to see if they make the team; most don’t.
Then there’s Austin Ekeler. Had the LA Chargers been profiled in 2017, Ekeler would have been one of the longshots. He was an undrafted free agent coming from a Division II college. During training camp, he did just enough to make the team. Not as a running back, which is his natural position but as a special teams player. Fast forward to March of 2020, Ekeler is the starting running back for the LA Chargers and just inked a 4-year $24.5 million deal.
Ekeler was able to make the most of his limited playing time. Each rep got him one step closer to the starting role and a boatload of money. None of us will be the starting running back for any NFL team, but we can have an Ekeler-like opportunity with enough playing time.
Discipline, consistency, time on the field, and talent are all attributes that made Ekeler a starting running back in the NFL. Luckily, talent isn’t one of the qualities necessary to retire. But to retire comfortably, you’ll need discipline, consistency, and time on the field.
There are no secrets to investing, and we often overcomplicate the process. What most investors get wrong is the belief that the investments are what carry them to the finish line. The truth is it’s possible to get to the finish line by owning the wrong investments if you focus on the right habits, though not recommended. Ekeler didn’t become a starting running back in the NFL because he chose Nike cleats over Under Armor cleats. Like him, you won’t get to your goal because you bought one investment over another.
Your savings rate, how consistent you are with contributions, and the amount of time your money is invested is more important than the investments owned. Here’s the proof.
A 35-year-old couple that invests $5,000 a month would have over $5 million in the scenario above. I know a six percent return isn’t as exhilarating as chasing the high of the next hot stock, but it’s not needed if you focus on what matters. Focus on discipline in your saving rate, consistency in monthly contributions, and time on the field or how long your money is in the market.