Recipe for success

Recipe for success

Cheyenne Knight, LPGA golfer, Sponsored by Empower Retirement

It’s my other happy place.

Besides being on the golf course, there’s nothing quite like being in the kitchen with my family and making good food together. I’m proud to admit that I’m a “foodie” at heart. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved the fun, the pride and, most of all, the anticipation that comes with serving up a great meal. The joy I feel after preparing a delicious dish — like my yummy Thai spring rolls! — is hard to beat.

Over the years, I’ve stayed on top of my grub game by attending many creative culinary classes. I even traveled to New York City once, where I was able to learn a few tricks of the trade from some amazing chefs.

Now that I’m older, and out of college, I think more and more about what it would be like to cook in my own kitchen and welcome people into my own home. I can’t wait to throw dinner parties with friends, host backyard barbecues in the summer (yes, even in the Texas heat) and bake cookies over the holidays. More than anything, as a young adult, I’ve just been looking forward to growing up and settling down.

So, at the beginning of 2020, I started making plans to buy my first home and enter the real world as they say. I didn’t want to rush into anything or make a large purchase that I would regret down the road. House hunting takes time. It’s a huge investment! I wanted to be patient and find the perfect place that fit my budget. In fact, that’s even the advice I received from several veterans on the LPGA Tour. They encouraged me and my up-and-coming peers to be smart and stingy with our spending early in our professional stage. My hope, though, was to move into somewhere special at some point in 2021.

I was ready, too. I’ve lived at my parents’ house with my mom and my dad since I graduated from the University of Alabama in 2018. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve cherished every moment with them and learned so many valuable lessons along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today, and living my dream on the LPGA Tour, without their guidance and support. They’re my two biggest fans. Plus, while they’ve always made me laugh, I wasn’t sure I could handle another “we may have to charge you rent soon” joke. I know they’re just kidding around, but I was definitely motivated and excited to get the ball rolling.  

I also thought the timing was right from a financial perspective. After completing my rookie season in 2019, I was finally getting more comfortable at managing my income, which is unpredictable and inconsistent as it’s based on my performance. And, slowly but surely, I was building a cushion so I could establish some security moving forward. Like my dad tells me, “If you want something big, you have to save.”

However, as we all discovered in 2020, no matter your personal aspirations, things don’t always go as planned.

Not in golf.

Not in life.

I can’t believe a whole year has already passed since the sports world and the entire world, I guess — shut down last March due to the global pandemic. I was in shock when I found out several LPGA events were being postponed, including the first major championship of 2020. Everything happened so fast. One day I was gearing up for another tournament, the next day I was wondering about my career.  

After all, playing golf is not only my No. 1 passion, but it’s also my primary source of income. It’s my full-time job. Without the chance to compete, buying a home was suddenly the last mission on my to-do list.

The LPGA Tour eventually returned to action on July 31 with a revised schedule that wrapped up in December. During the five-month layoff, which I spent at my parents’ house in Texas, I decided to relax and unwind. Keep in mind, the LPGA Tour calendar is usually 10 months long, so I typically don’t have a lot of free time. Once the season tees off in January, my main focus in on practicing, training and winning.

Like most people, I totally watched too much TV and too many movies throughout the “quarantine” period. I did puzzles. I walked my dogs every morning. And, yes, I cooked like crazy! You name it, I made it. My mom and I experimented with all sorts of ingredients and had a blast sharpening our skills together. With grocery stores low on some items, we whipped up dinner with whatever was in our pantry or fridge.

But I also used the opportunity to hit the reset button on my financial approach. You know, when you’re in your mid-20s like I am, things can move at a rapid pace. There’s so much to do, so much to experience and so much to understand. It was actually kind of nice to breathe and assess my savings priorities.

Because I wasn’t earning an income during the stoppage, I knew that buying a home in 2021 was going to be difficult. Deep down, I was disappointed. Instead of stewing over it, though, I chose to put my energy into improving my financial future. That meant creating healthier habits to conserve cash, like limiting my online shopping, and gaining more control of where and how I was spending my money. Obviously, it has required plenty of discipline and a ton of willpower, but that’s just par for the course.  

I realized that while the extraordinary circumstances in 2020 may have caused me to hold off on purchasing a house until maybe 2022, I’m not just going to call it quits on reaching my goals when faced with adversity. I would never concede before 18 holes, so why would I ever throw in the towel on my financial journey?

Challenges will always exist. It’s OK to fine-tune your savings strategy and adjust your expectations when things change. The bottom line is, regardless of what hurdles come your way, keep giving it your best shot!

That’s my “recipe” for success.

Recipes — and reading — for success:

Saving For a First Home, and Then Some

The pandemic’s effect on women

The Pandemic Inspires a Focus on Saving

Serving up hope

What Kind of Home Should I Buy?

More “Knight Life”

Fun and Focus