Don't Get Caught Up in the Glamour

Karen in Spokane has a son entering a career as a professional soccer player, and she wants to know how she should advise him to handle his money.

QUESTION: Karen in Spokane has a son entering a career as a professional soccer player, and she wants to know how she should advise him to handle his money. Dave tells Karen he needs to walk right up the Baby Steps and live on the income he’s making.

ANSWER: He’s a 21-year-old with a $30,000-a-year job. That’s not very glamorous. He certainly doesn’t need a financial advisor for that. What he does need is some general common-sense guidance.

Let’s say he took a job at a factory and was making $30,000. I wouldn’t do anything differently. You need to train him to continue to think about living on that kind of an income and not get caught up in the spotlight so that if he starts making $100,000 later, he thinks he has to spend $200,000.

I run into this with the baseball players we meet occasionally. Unless they’re in the big show, they barely make a living. There are quite a few sports like that.

I would just start him out with The Total Money Makeover or put him through Financial Peace University. More than anything, you prepare his heart for the possibility of making more money later and the responsibility that it represents if he does. The biggest negative we run into with pro athletes is they think the money is going to be there forever. We always tell players that “NFL” stands for “Not For Long.” The average NFL career is 3.7 years. It’s not really a long career. The same thing is true here or with baseball or hockey.

Prepare your heart for the idea that this may be a short run and that it will be fun. We’re going to enjoy it, and then we’ll move to the next stage of our life and develop a different career track. The second thing we’re going to prepare our heart for is—if we make a ton of money—it is a responsibility and a privilege. That is a matter of emotional maturity. You have to view the money as a responsibility rather than a lottery jackpot.

This is only cool if it brings blessings to him and doesn’t ruin his life.