How to Invest as an Athlete?
Investing can be a complicated topic, but it doesn’t have to be. The goal of investing is quite simple, position your money now to reach a specific goal in the future. I call this starting with the end in mind. Every great decision I have made has been with the end in mind. What do I want the outcome to be? How am I going to get there? What should my expectations be? With this framing in mind let’s consider what athletes should think about when investing.
Start With the End of Mind
As a professional athlete, you started this journey with no thought that one day it will come to an end. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it will come to an end one day. The good news? You have a massive advantage over 99.9% of people. You have access to a lifetime of earnings by the second decade of your life.
Great investing is built on one principle, time. The greatest investors do NOT produce the highest yearly return. They produce a good return over the longest time frame.
Athlete 1 earns 12% for 10 years on $1,000,000. 12% is an outstanding yearly return but 10 years is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to time in the game.
The outcome = $3,105,848
Athlete 2 earns 6% for 30 years on $1,000,000. 6% is a solid return but nothing to brag about in the locker room. Yet athlete 2 has managed to stay in the game far longer.
The outcome = $10,062,657
The ability to compound rewards the investor with more time in the game. As an athlete, you have the longest runway to compound your investments. It is your unique advantage. The focus should be on the longest-term games to capitalize on your unique advantage, time.
Create a North Star
Delaying gratification for everyone is challenging. Delaying gratification as a young adult with shiny objects all around you can feel downright impossible. Think about it, you are a 20-something with the world at your fingers. Your sport feels like it will never end, all your friends view you as the rich guy, and your teammates are rolling in the latest high-priced vehicle. Delaying gratification is hard.
The best way to build this muscle (it is a muscle you need to develop) is to create a North Star.
This is the thing you are shooting for. It is the same concept you have created in your athletic career. You have spent countless nights focusing on your craft and delaying the immediate gratification that going out with your friends might give you. In sports, that North Star is the highest level of the profession. In investing that North Star should be the lifestyle you are hoping to achieve AFTER your playing career.
Think of this as your rich life. The things on this list might include possessions like a certain car or house, it might include future memories like a yearly vacation, or it might include priceless things like freedom of time. The key is thinking about this list while you are still playing. This is your North Star. Every time that you delay the immediate gratification and save a portion of your salary, remember that it is getting you closer to your North Star.
The ability to live the same lifestyle you did while you were playing.
There are two types of investments. Ones that work and ones that do not.
Unfortunately for your locker room stories, the ones that work are usually the most boring. They are the ones that are about as interesting as watching paint dry. They do not make headlines. Yet, they work and put you in a position to have financial success far after your paychecks stop.
Does this mean that every investment needs to be boring? No.
Embracing a core plus explore mentality with your investment portfolio can be the recipe for success. The core are the investments that are going to sustain your lifestyle. These are the boring ones. The explore are the investments that provide a chance for outside returns and usually a cooler story to tell. You should only put money in the explore bucket that you can afford to lose.
Investing as an athlete is a challenge. You are young, surrounded by a shiny object, and the belief your career will continue for years to come. Those same challenges also give way to your unique advantages. You are young, surrounded by opportunity, and can generate a lifetime worth of earnings in just a few years.
So remember, as an athlete it is best to start with the end in mind. At some point, your playing career (and the paychecks) will be over. The optimal outcome is to create an investment portfolio that can sustain the same lifestyle during and after your playing career The optimal way to get there is through carefully building a core plus explore strategy. One that is rooted in boring, unsexy investments that will be there when you need them.
Just like sports, you should only play games that you are uniquely positioned to win.
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*The investment, tax, and estate planning information offered by JL Strategic Wealth is general in nature. It is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.