You’d be hard pressed to find someone that is more resourceful and cunning than Jack Sparrow. He ends up in some extremely precarious positions and somehow finds a way out every single time. In fact, in almost every difficult situation he is confronted with, he manages to squirm into one with an even better outcome. Even after the Kraken ate him.
“Worry about your own fortunes, gentlemen.” - Jack Sparrow
In your own life, you can use pieces of the pirate code to better manage your money. The stakes for your financial freedom and escape from debt are just as high as a swashbuckling fight for your life on the Black Pearl. Stick to the code and learn from Captain Jack to really blow your finances out of the water. Don’t worry; the puns keep coming.
Plug Your Leaks
When we first meet Jack he is sailing into the docks on a sinking dingy. The boat was full of holes, but he used it to get him to exactly where he needed to go and no further. By plugging the biggest leaks and quickly throwing out buckets of water he was able to make it to the next stage of his journey.
If you are like me, your financial boat is filled with holes. Determine your worst spending habits and eliminate the leaks. When you plug the biggest leaks, you then can focus on the smaller ones. A few leaks are okay, but too many and your boat will sink.
“But Why’s the Rum Gone?”
When Elizabeth sets the rum ablaze, Jack is a bit upset… However, if Jack had paid attention to where all the rum was at all times, this would have never happened. Also, if he would have kept a reserve of rum in a different hiding place, he might not be asking this question.
In the same vein, you need to realize where your money is going.Track your spending and keep track of how much you are spending each month. Categorize your expenses and set up a budget to stick to. When you know where, when, and how your money is being spent, you can more effectively manage it.
Stay at the Helm
When Jack Sparrow is captain of his ship he is always at the helm. Navigating with his compass, he makes sure the boat is always headed where he wants it to go, not where someone else thinks it should. His crew trusts that he knows where he is going, even when it doesn’t appear that way.
Don’t let other people, like a fast talking financial advisor or a Bernie Madoff, steer your financial ship. Take charge and set your own course. Determine what you want your future to look like and when you want to reach your goals. Then, make sure you are continually in control and keep making adjustments along the journey.
Hang onto Your Hat
To say that Capt. Jack is a bit possessive of his hat would be an understatement. When he loses it and has to find another one, it’s just not the same. In order for him to be himself, he needs to have his bloody hat!
No matter what life throws at you, you have to keep your head. Figure out what’s most important to you (family, friends, freedom, etc.) and never let go of it. When someone or something tries to change what you most believe in, stick to your guns. Keep control of how you spend your money so that you can take care of the people and things you cherish most.
When Barbosa left Jack for dead on a deserted island, did he just give up? I don’t think so. He bartered for passage off the island with a group of rumrunners. When he needed to escape the grasps of the British on Port Royal, did he just go into hiding? No sir. He commandeered the huge boat they weren’t guarding, which in turn let him leave on the smaller, faster boat.
Make your own luck. When life hands you lemons, sell them and start a business. When you are feeling down and out, pick yourself up off the ground, dust yourself off and give it another try. There are always a thousand reasons not to do something. Instead, just think of the best reason to get out of debt: freedom. Use that to get you going in the morning.
Hoist More Sails
When you are trying to outrun a fast ship like the Black Pearl, you need to hoist every sail you’ve got on board to try to gain a few more knots of speed. You can’t just put up a main sail and expect to be the fastest ship on the high seas. You have to give her all she’s got!
The same goes for your finances. When you only have a single job that you rely on for all your income, you will be stuck moving slowly towards your end destination of retirement. It is also more risky to just have a single source of income because if you lose your job you are left dead in the water.
Instead of just having a single sail for your ship, create multiple income streams. Start earning money from one of your hobbies. Learn a new skill and look for people to help. Start connecting with people online and figure out an untapped market you can service. By differentiating your income you will learn how to make more money than you ever thought was possible.
Save Your Last Bullet
Captain Jack Sparrow carried a pistol with a single shot, a token gift from Barbosa. There were many times that Jack could have used this single bullet to help him escape, but he saved it for when he desperately needed it.
Save and treat your emergency fund in the same manner. It may be hard not to tap into it when your checking account is running low or you want to go on vacation, but save the fund for what it is meant for. If before spending the savings you have to ask yourself, “Is this really an emergency?” it mostly likely isn’t.
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And really bad eggs…
(images via 2011 © Walt Disney Pictures)