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In personal finance and her favorite sport.

2 minute read

The day after Valentine’s Day about six years ago, Tonya from Budget and the Beach, discovered something: She stunk at handling her finances. A tow truck company towed her car and she owed them $300. Instant tears.

“A lightbulb went off, that this is how I was living my life, and it was a disaster!” recalls Tonya. “I felt like I was always robbing Peter to pay Paul. Moving things around in my checking and savings to cover my own ass.”

The price of passion

How did things get so bad for Tonya? Well, she lost her job in 2008 and she found her passion — volleyball, a sport that requires practice, discipline, and also not a lot of money.

“First, I took a ton of classes,” says Tonya. “They run year-round and cost approximately $90 for an eight-week session. It also hurt my wallet when it came to apparel. For me that meant a lot of cute tank tops, shorts, and bikinis.”

Tournaments cost Tonya about $42 a month, and she also says, “Don’t forget the sunscreen. Buckets and buckets of sunscreen.” She also enjoyed the social life volleyball afforded her, even though she didn’t have a steady paycheck coming in.

“I was actually pretty tame in my going out activities, and it still cost me a TON of money, especially eating out,” recalls Tonya. “I was always afraid of missing something if I went home, and truthfully, I wasn’t even thinking much about a budget, even though I really needed to.”

So, while Tonya practiced hard and learned discipline playing volleyball, her finances suffered a lot — until that fateful day after Valentine’s Day. That’s when she slowly came to realize: Personal finances and volleyball have a lot in common.

She says there are three big things they share…

  1. Practice and discipline
  2. Teamwork
  3. Patience

“Both require practice and discipline. You can always learn more in volleyball and personal finances, and practice accomplishes that goal,” says Tonya. “And discipline keeps you practicing and training hard.” You have to not only look at your finances once in a while, but keep a regular accounting of what’s going on — otherwise you’ll be off your game.

“Volleyball also requires teamwork and I like to surround myself with people who make good financial decisions,” she adds. Friends and family need to be on your side and not pressure you into spending money you don’t have.

“All-day volleyball tournaments require patience and stamina. Finances also require patience. You don’t achieve financial independence overnight,” Tonya explains.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Tonya’s finances have changed dramatically now that she understands how her passion and her finances go together. Her volleyball playing has also changed. She doesn’t compete in tournaments and just enjoys the game as a recreational sport.

“I do miss doing more serious training and having a coach,” says Tonya. “He was from Brazil, and even when he yelled at you it was with a Portuguese accent so it still sounded nice.”

Here’s something else that’s nice: All her practice and hard work literally paid off. Tonya says, “In the end, I made some money back by becoming a recreational beach volleyball coach.”

Game, set and match.

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About the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski has been writing about personal finance for over 15 years covering debt recovery, fraud, and credit topics. He has worked on several personal finance books and guides that help consumers navigate the US credit system. When he’s away from the keyboard he enjoys craft beer and fishing — and once enjoyed a cold Sweet Water IPA after catching a sailfish.

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