The 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics are scheduled to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in just under a month (August 5, to be precise.) Their development has not been without controversy: in a country with widening economic disparities that is currently dealing with a deepening recession, the need for overt intervention and emergency funding of a global sporting event has left some Brazilians calling the Olympic Games a “calamity” for their nation’s finances.
Hosting an Olympic Games can become an extraordinarily costly effort, and while some host cities have put the billions of dollars in venue development to good long-term use once the Games themselves are concluded, others have been left with vast, expensive and underused or even abandoned facilities. Time will be the judge of Rio’s Olympic financial management, but there is a case here to be studied by even the armchair athletes of the world when it comes to personal finance planning.
You’ve probably been in a similar situation: faced with the opportunity for a potential future cash-in or savings, you might be tempted to spend big on an upgrade or alteration to your home, lifestyle or financial plan. Though such an investment may be tempting, it requires careful examination of your existing finances before you can opt in safely. The impulse to assume that “things will be different” at a later date or at the end of a certain term is the one that has found the Rio Olympics organizers in such a pinch on the eve of their event. Unforeseen spending and a lack of longer-term planning have also been the curse of former Olympic cities such as Athens, saddled with significant financial losses in the longer term wake of their Games that have only been made more painful due to global economic shifts.
Sometimes, the best upgrades you can make aren’t those made in the name of saving money later or waiting for a return on investment: rather, they’re the kind that help solve financial difficulties in the present and provide you with a stronger foundational platform from which to pitch your longer-term goals. Becoming financially secure is a lot like the training Olympians endure to reach the pinnacles of their sports: it requires unflagging discipline, a fair bit of sacrifice, and the right support and coaching.