"Moneyball" and Family Finances

"Moneyball" and Family Finances

I'm not sure if anything has amazed me as much as the movie Moneyball did. I was flabbergasted by so many things: the mathematical equations, the dollar amounts floating around, the basic premise of saving money by booking baseball's most undervalued players, and the human interaction that was needed to make the rag-tag team of players cohesive. But I'm getting ahead of myself; let's look at the basic premise of Moneyball and then get into the amazing financial and mathematical principles that can be applied to our lives.

Show me the...Moneyball

First, let's look at the movie's basic premise. In the film, Oakland Atheletic's general manager Michael Beane (Brad Pitt) teams up with mathematical genius Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to change the face of scouting. The pair uses an innovative saber-metric approach to find the most under-utilized players in the league. Beane then books these players for a fraction of the usual millions-of-dollars annual salaries that major players receive.

The new team is off to a really rocky start until Beane realizes computers cannot do it all; he then offers encouragement and pointers to the team, helping them turn around to 20 consecutive wins.

Connecting to Finance

What can we learn from Moneyball? Most of us don't have the millions of dollars to play with that the National Baseball League throws around, but that doesn't have to stop us from making the best use of our own finances. All it takes is a little math, a little determination, some research on deals, and some human interaction to turn our family teams into financial winners.

Just like in Moneyball, we can turn a financial nightmare (like the A's strapped-for-cash situation) into a knock-out win. Although I don't have a saber-metric approach to personal finances to offer (I wish I did – wouldn't life be easier?), we can all follow some basics to save us some much-needed cash, like the following:

  • Make a Budget – The first thing Billy Beane did when faced with a small amount of cash was look at the finances, and you can, too. Taking a look at where your money is currently going and how it can be better spent will save you boatloads of cash.
  • Seek Out Deals – Spending some time researching deals and waiting for sales can really help the bottom line. Similarly, researching/clipping coupons can help save some dough.
  • Don't Forget Undervalued Players – Some of the best deals can be found at thrift stores, garage sales, and freebie or used-item sites. These places can save your family a ton of green (while being green!).
  • Interact – All of the above tips make saving possible, but it's just as important to remember the human element in family finances. Take some time to check in with your family to ensure you're all on the same financial page.

We may never save millions of dollars trading baseball players, but we can take some of the same principles and save money elsewhere. To me, that may be better than winning the World Series.

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Kris @ Everyday Tiups's picture

Kris @ Everyday Tiups wrote:

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 13:05 Comment #: 1

Interesting post.

I have not seen the movie Moneyball (or read the book) but the premise is very interesting. You are right, the points are just like real life. You never know what 'unknown' will end up surprising you in a great way.

I chuckled when I read that Jonah Hill was a math genius in the movie. Somehow, that doesn't seem right. :)

Alex | Perfecting Parenthood's picture

Alex | Perfecting Parenthood wrote:

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 16:33 Comment #: 2

Neat application of the movie!

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 03/05/2012 - 21:07 Comment #: 3

Thanks, Kris -- I loved the movie, and it can definitely be applied to personal finance. (Still chuckling about your Jonah Hill comment!).

Alex, thanks! If you haven't seen it, it's a pretty great movie -- and very clean for the kiddies!

Leigh's picture

Leigh wrote:

Thu, 03/15/2012 - 07:27 Comment #: 4

I absolutely loved Moneyball! All of the statistical analysis in it definitely appealed to the math geek in of me :)

Plus, Jonah Hill (like the other commenters said) as a math genius? Amusing.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 03/16/2012 - 20:03 Comment #: 5

Leigh, I loved Moneyball, too, but I actually found Hill to be a believably geeky math genius (once I got past envisioning him in Superbad and Knocked Up!).