💸 Top Gun: Money

and wisdom from diapers, double-mctwists, & brain buckets

When Tom Cruise’s character trains the nation's top pilots in the movie Top Gun: Maverick, they establish a “hard deck” of 1,000 feet for the initial training exercises.

What's a hard deck?

It defines the lowest altitude they’ll fly - essentially treating 1,000 feet in the air as if it were zero feet.

Why would they do this?

Even extremely talented people make mistakes.

Diehard skateboarder, snowboarder, motocross athlete, and rally driver Ken Block, may he rest in peace, always wore his "brain bucket" (aka helmet).

Shaun White used a foam pit at the end of his private half pipe to perfect his record-breaking double mctwist 1260. (it's a mind-blowing snowboarding trick)

And Nascar drivers wear diapers.

(fact-check: it turns out they stopped wearing diapers due to fire hazard... they literally just pee their pants while driving when they gotta go... 😂 case in point though, even professionals have accidents!)

Basically, it doesn’t matter how great you are - systematic safety measures can save you from serious pain and struggle. (didn’t mean to alliterate there)

When my wife and I got married, we were stereotypical poor college students. Both studied full-time, and both worked to try and save money.

We decided early on to treat $1,000 in our bank account as if it were $0.

In other words, that money didn’t exist.

If we had $1,075, we really only had $75.

This was one of the greatest decisions we’ve made in our entire married life.

Setting our own financial hard deck has saved us on multiple occasions from going into debt.

The first time, Emmalee had hit a curb in our Mazda, breaking the wheel. We ended up needing to replace all four wheels. AKA, 800 dollars we were NOT prepared to pay for.

There was no choice but to dip into our “nonexistent” stash of cash.

We immediately prioritized saving money to replenish it.

Then, after graduating from college, we were buying a townhome when we showed up to sign the papers and found out the closing costs were $2,000 more than what we previously understood they were.

There was no turning back at this point. We drained all our accounts.

For a few days, we had no more than $20 to our name.

Again, our #1 priority was replenishing that safety net, which we were able to do within a month or two after selling some investments and intense penny-pinching.

There’s nothing worse than suddenly feeling like the metaphorical plane you’re flying in life is screaming toward the ground milliseconds from exploding into a million pieces…

…and nothing better than remembering, “oh.. it’s just the hard deck. I still have 1,000 feet of altitude to maneuver out of this”.

That’s exactly what it’s been like to have our own financial hard deck.

I can’t possibly recommend enough to do something similar.

If Elon Musk can lose 203 billion dollars in net worth over just 14 months, surely you and I can end up in precarious financial situations we didn't anticipate.

Separate from an emergency and savings account (which we also have both), building the habit of choosing a number to be your own financial hard deck, and truly treating it as such, will absolutely save you pain, struggle, and heartache.

(Plus, I'm sure Tom Cruise would be so proud of you)


If you're married, talk with your spouse.

If you're single, decide on your own or ask your parents' advice.

Consider what amount would be reasonable in your situation and stage of life to hold as your own financial hard deck.

Then honor it like your life depends on it.

The habit of keeping a hard deck becomes almost effortless the more you convince yourself the money literally doesn't exist.

Only spend it when there is absolutely no other choice and the only alternative would be to go into debt.

When a true emergency hits, you'll be so grateful you did.

Disclaimer: I’m definitely no money expert, so be sure to consult with your own financial advisor before you make any serious changes to your spending, saving, investing, or anything financial-related.

Character is simply habit long continued.

Plato

Can we grow cereal in our garden?

Thanks for reading!

- Kody

P.S. If you’re a procrastinator (like me), you’ll love this TedTalk.