Money Smart Athlete Blog

Athletes – The time to plan your future is now

By Niovie Constantinou, Contributor

A famous Chinese proverb reads “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is now”. Time is you ally in achieving any goal, so the earlier you start planning, the better. This is especially true for athletes, who, as previously discussed, have short term sports careers and must have a post-retirement plan in place in order to transition as smoothly as possible into their new lives.

If you have delayed certain goals due to the pandemic or for any reason, or fear that you’re too old to pursue something outside of sport, think of this: if you start working towards your goals now, they will be achieved with the passing of time. Change does not happen quickly and you should not let this thought dishearten you. Your plan may even change along the way, there are multiple courses that your life may take and a good plan is a flexible and adaptable one.

To plan successfully, you need to think about all the different areas you may plan for: your education, career, and finances to name a few. Pick your goal for each of these areas and figure out how you can realistically achieve it. Here are some strategies to help young athletes take control of their financial lives and their future:

  • Make a plan early on. Identify the right goals and develop a written plan to reach them; you can include short term and long term goals, even monthly or yearly milestones to keep you on track. As you go about making your plan, be sure it is a realistic one; implementing some of the steps from Day One may build a momentum and help keep you motivated.
  • Consider your education. If you have not had the chance to complete your studies, it’s never too late to continue (or pursue) your education. Michael Jordan returned to finish his degree in geography in 1986, noting: “My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do”. Shaquille O’Neal not only went back to finish his bachelor degree eight years after leaving LSU to pursue his NBA career; but later earned an MBA and an educational doctorate degree. Similarly, Serena Williams went to college at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida and even dragged her sister Venus with her. She later continued her studies at UMass.
  • Plan your finances. Being covered financially will give you the flexibility to experiment and explore your options for the future. You should start building your savings as early as possible and think about the different investment options you have as your income keeps changing. It is vital that you consult a financial advisor to come up with the most effective plan that would best suit your needs.
  • Sustainability is key. Say you want to start saving but your plan is to cut back on all travel and entertainment. This may actually have a counteracting effect since missing out on so many experiences may have a negative impact on your wellbeing, making you less likely to stick to your initial plan. It is important that you find the right balance.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. This could include anything, from getting outside your comfort zone to seek alternative careers, to investing your retirement accounts for long term growth despite short term volatility. If you start now, time will be on your side, giving you room to make mistakes and learn from them so that your next move is smarter and more strategic.

For more information and help on how athletes can plan their future you can contact us at