Money Smart Athlete Blog

Sports Professionals- Why a budget matters when cost doesn’t

Apr 18, 2019 | Guest Blogs

by Amobi Okugo

Following a budget as a professional athlete is more difficult than it may seem. You get money from your salary, bonuses, appearances, per diem, etc and can spend money without accounting for what category it falls in. When it pertains to non essential expenses, staying in line with your budget and being smarter with where you spend your money will help you stay on top of your financial playbook.

A budget is the process of making a spending plan over a set period of time based on your expenses and income. Budgets are unique to set goals and specific targets. Your  budget depends on where you are at financially, the lifestyle you want to live, and future aspirations.  There are many different type of budgets depending on what you are looking for. Some common budgets include:

50/30/20 method

50% percent of income allocated towards necessary expenses, 30% percent of income allocated towards discretionary expenses, 20% percent of income allocated for savings and paying down debts

Envelope method

Proportionally allocating funds via cash for predetermined spending categories

Zero based method

Purposefully allocating the total amount of your income to be used on a specific theme within spending and saving ultimately leaving with “zero” at the end of the month.

Value method

Proportional budget based on values emphasized in order to allocate funds according to values. For example, if one likes to eat out then they allocate more money for the eat out category and lower money for other category to offset total budget

Pay Yourself First method

Budget based on allocating funds for  existing debt or savings goals and then subsequently paying using remaining income for necessities

When it comes to budgets, there are various methods that you can use. It’s not a one size fits all but more of a case by case circumstance. With technology now, there are also financial apps and spreadsheets that you can use to help track spending and organize  your own budget.

In most cases, professional athletes make enough money where having a budget is more of a service than a necessity. You are in a fortunate situation in that you can essentially buy whatever you want within reason. This is EXACTLY why a budget is necessary however. When you control where your money is going you are able to control  your overall financial well being.

When it comes to non essential expenses, that is where professional athletes can lose track the most….

Take a moment to account for how much money you spent on entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Spotify, Tidal, etc. last year

After that, take another moment to account for how much money you spent on Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Grubhub,and other eating out services last year

How much money are you spending on unnecessary fees from your manager or advisor? (Do you really need an advisor to charge you a portion of your salary to pay your bills or set up autopay?)

Notice, how I haven’t even asked you to account for instances where you paid family and friends non pertinent expenses …(we’ll save that for another day)

What do all these different expenses have in common? They are non essential expenses.

Non essential expenses are expenses that you can live without. Cable, Entertainment, Shoes are examples of non essential expenses. Not having these, will not change your life. On the other hand expenses such as a mortgage, health insurance, food, car payments would not be considered non essential expenses because you need those to function comfortably.

NOW I’m not saying don’t spend money on entertainment and fine dining but it’s important to create an allocated amount to keep track of your spending. If you don’t have a budget, compulsive spending on these non essential items start to add up. A budget gives you clear understanding of where your money is going. Professional athletes unfortunately sometimes let their money control their spending habits and as a result, fall to financial instability because of it.

Professional athletes are fortunate enough to be in a situation where they are making good money. Simply creating a budget and giving yourself a road map to understand how much money  you a divvying up makes sense. You will not only have enough money for your non essential expenses but also get  a great head start in building your financial stability.


Amobi Okugo is a first generation Nigerian American who is professional soccer player and the founder of A Frugal Athlete, an online platform meant to highlight prudent financial practices and smart career decisions amongst professional and student athletes. In his free time, Okugo enjoys flying his drone, traveling, reading, and hanging out with family.