Money Smart Athlete Blog

The Short Shelf Life of Athlete Earnings: Planning for Financial Stability

By Marianna Kazazi, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy  

In the realm of professional sports, athletes often capture our admiration with their remarkable physical abilities and their capacity to astound us on the field, court, or track. They break records, win championships, and attain levels of excellence that remain mere aspirations for most of us. Yet, concealed beneath the spotlight lies a challenging reality that confronts many athletes: the limited duration of their earnings.

When athletes make the leap to professional sports, they frequently undergo a significant financial transformation, shifting from modest financial means to substantially larger incomes, all while lacking substantial experience in financial management. Moreover, finding a dependable financial advisor can prove challenging, especially for athletes embarking on international careers. Considering the short career of athletes, typically spanning less than a decade, it underscores the heightened significance of prudent financial management for those who enjoy substantial earnings for a brief window of time.

One of the most significant trials athletes encounter, is the unpredictability of their income. Their earnings can wildly change from year to year, making it challenging to chart a financial course when future earnings remain uncertain.

Another common challenge that athletes often face is the temptation of lifestyle inflation, as during their glory days they are suddenly handed a significant paycheck, and the allure of upgrading to a more luxurious lifestyle can be irresistible. This could mean buying a larger house, indulging in high-end automobiles, or embarking on extravagant vacations. While relishing the rewards of hard work is completely justifiable, the issue arises when they are not adequately prepared for the inevitable decrease in income that may lie ahead.

Thus, what strategies can athletes employ to deal with the fleeting nature of their income and secure their financial well-being? The answer lies in proficient financial planning. Below we explore measures that athletes, whether currently in competition or retired, can adopt to achieve financial sustainability.

The initial stage involves the creation of a financial plan. Specifically, athletes can develop a financial strategy detailing their monthly expenditures and earnings. This will help them pinpoint areas where they can save money and ensure they spend within their financial means. Additionally, it is essential for athletes to establish an emergency fund, since this will act as a financial safety net in the case of unforeseen circumstances.

It is also crucial for athletes to diversify their investment portfolio in order to reduce risk. This may involve allocating funds in stocks, bonds, real estate and various other assets, thereby creating a diversified and balanced investment portfolio.

Furthermore, it is important for athletes to seek the help of financial experts, as partnering with financial consultants, accountants, and legal experts who possess significant experience in assisting athletes, can provide valuable guidance and specialized knowledge.

Giving priority to saving for retirement, is an additional measure to ensure athletes’ long-term financial stability. Specifically, athletes can contribute to retirement accounts, to guarantee financial security during their retirement. In addition to that, athletes should start being more cautious when it comes to their spending habits and should start resisting the temptation to overspend, as this will allow them to focus on accumulating savings and making investments for their future financial security.

In the high-stakes world of professional sports, athletes must be aware and cautious of their income volatility. The unpredictability of earnings and the lure of extravagant lifestyles bring about significant challenges. Athletes should always remember that safeguarding their financial well-being is just as vital as cultivating their physical prowess. By taking proactive measures, they can ensure a stable and prosperous future.

The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA). Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes. For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at [email protected].