While I am on vacation I am letting my readers write for me for the next week. Thank you for your readership and comments, they always welcome!

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” 
~Sun Tzu, Chinese philosopher, born 500 BC, author of The Art of War

The martial arts teach you to be become very aware of your inner power and to understand how your mental and physical energy should interact with  the external forces of the universe. It’s all about finding the right focus within your mind, body, and spirit, and preparing for whatever comes your way by mastering good defensive strategies, tactics and techniques.

The same attitude and discipline in martial arts can be used to help you gain control over your financial life and become financially victorious. Let's look at how the two relate:


When you have self-awareness as a martial artist you can overcome personal weaknesses and harness your mental and physical strengths. For instance, it is said that a ninja warrior can win a battle without ever drawing his sword. Through mental and physical  power he can evade, confuse and “cloud the mind” of his opponent. In certain martial arts disciplines, you can learn certain self-defense moves that will redirect the strength of an opponent and turn it against him, even if he is twice your size. 

With spending habits and money attitudes, recognize your own weaknesses and devise ways to circumvent them. For example, if you’re an impulsive shopper with credit cards, know you need to carry cash when going to the store. Before buying something, research prices in advance, decide how much you can spend and only bring that dollar amount with you. Or, if you have a habit of spending all of your paycheck and can’t seem to save money, take the time to go over your budget, understand what you really need to cover your bills each month then calculate the balance. Pick a portion of that balance, have it automatically deducted from each paycheck and deposited into savings. If you can’t see it in your checking account, you won’t spend it.


The dictionary defines “strategy” as “an elaborate and systematic plan of action”. In martial arts, a plan of action is a way of anticipating enemy moves and defending yourself against various types of attacks. A strategic plan can take minutes, weeks or months to execute. Sparring an opponent in the dojo perfects your ability to act and react to a variety of punches and kicks, recognize behavior patterns and ultimately devise a plan that will effectively overpower your opponent, all within the span of a few minutes.

A financial plan of action is a longer-term strategy that begins with identifying your goals. What do you really want to have or achieve in your life? Do you want to have a comfortable retirement, live in a big house or take a cruise around the world? What will it take to achieve these goals? A good financial strategy.  If you realize early on that executing this strategy using sound personal finance tactics will   save you from adversity and give you what you really want,  it won’t seem like such a chore.


In all martial arts, drills and forms are practiced thousands of times a year for many years. A new student is given a white belt, symbolizing a clean slate. After years of practice,  once you can perform certain skills and forms proficiently, you are permitted to move up in rank. Ultimately, with perseverance, you may be awarded a black belt. (The black shows that you have been practicing for so long your belt has turned dark from dirt and sweat.)  At this level your reactions are swift, accurate and based on muscle memory; they come naturally. 

Building  good money management skills takes time and lots of practice. Effective money management tactics get you in the habit of tracking your income, controlling your spending and building up your savings until this behavior becomes automatic. When you’re in  good financial shape and have prepared for the worst, meaning you are aware of potential dangers and have set aside emergency savings, (not perfected your spinning side-kick) you will survive intact and move closer to your goals.

Focusing your mind and body, building strength and awareness, and creating solid defenses will overcome adversity and lead to success whether it be in finance or on the mat.

“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities”   ~Bruce Lee

Hollis Colquhoun has over 20 years experience in the financial industry, is an Accredited Financial Counselor and co-author of “Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide.”

photos courtesy of R'eyes and stefanravn


  1. finallygettingtoeven.com // Thursday, May 20, 2010 8:23:00 PM  

    Creating a plan is key. While having both short term and long term goals clearly defined and working towards them each & every day one is more likely to achieve what they hope for.

    A budget is completely necessary and even tracking every penny spent can help 'plug the leaks'.

    For years we did none of this, just flying by the seat of our pants. We did okay, not going under but we did rack up a considerable amount of debt in the process. Once we got our heads on straight and saw the light we began a process of digging out.

    Now we are debt free and saving diligently towards our future. Ignoring the consumer driven society that begs us to participate. We have checked out of that rat race.

  2. Parag // Friday, May 21, 2010 4:26:00 AM  

    You post is a complete eye opener for many. Most of the people are confused between he terms tactics and strategy. But now I know exactly what they mean.
    Financial stability takes lots of effort and ways to gain it. But one's we follow effective steps, its ought to reap you good rewards.
    Personal finance