A Richer Understanding: Playing to Win

Brian Tramuel helms this series. He lives with his wife Michelle, their children Geneva and Brian, and their Cocker Spaniel Maestro in Charlotte, NC. They, along with his two older children from a previous marriage, Davina and Aaron, provide a constant source of inspiration. Aaron lives, works and plays in Charlotte and Davina lives, works and plays in Roanoke, VA.

RS A Richer UnderstandingWhen I moved to Charlotte I worked for a small Equity Real Estate Investment Trust. They acquired and leased units for two apartment communities in Charlotte. One had an A+ rating and because of its amenities, short-term lease options, convenience to the airport, interstate, coliseum, stadium and Uptown Charlotte, it became a favorite for newly signed Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers players.

As part of the due diligence I performed site visits and worked directly with the community manager. We developed a rapport and our conversations often moved beyond the scope of business.

The recent stories of Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks and Ryan Broyles of the Detroit Lyons bring to mind an older story. A resident stormed into the community manager’s office after receiving a letter about moving one of his vehicles, he owned three. Two apparently never moved from spaces close to his apartment building and although there was no assigned parking, other residents complained. Aside from fairness, he could have easily accommodated the request to move them and allow other residents the opportunity to park their vehicles closer. Garages were available (for a premium) and he was given approval to move both to parking allotted for guest / visitors. Later she told me that he was a member of the Carolina Panthers and had signed a short-term lease as he was building a home.

I didn’t recognize him or his name, what stood out were the vehicles, clothes and jewelry. I don’t know his specific situation but we read about many professional sports players failing to plan for their future and lacking a basic understanding of money management. According to the NFL Players Association the average career is about 3.3 years and I imagine most professional athletes, no matter how celebrated and internally invincible, have no money in a 401(k), no savings in case of a career-ending injury and no trusts held for access at a later in time.

I believe many professional teams are starting to offer financial counseling (if not, it has been widely suggested) for their players. Nothing is ever promised to any of us, especially a pro athlete and making our money last is a financial challenge we all face whether we make millions of dollars per year or thousands.

Lynch announced his retirement and along with it came a report that he saved all of his playing money and lived strictly off of his endorsements. While Broyles and his wife live on a $60k year budget despite a contract worth more than $3.5M.

Being mindful about how we save, spend and invest our money; an education all of us can learn.

Play to win.

Brian

Brian Tramuel is a regular contributor and helms the 'A Richer Understanding' series. He lives with his wife Michelle, their children Geneva and Brian, and their Cocker Spaniel Maestro in Charlotte, NC. They, along with his two older children from a previous marriage, Davina and Aaron, provide a constant source of inspiration. Aaron lives, works and plays in Charlotte and Davina lives, works and plays in Roanoke, VA.

8 Comments

  1. I’ve always been frugal since College, but even I had not really started putting money into retirement accounts until last year. I’ve been out of college for around 5 years, only a couple years ago I started putting in a minimum amount in retirement accounts, to last year where I turned around and completely maxed out my work’s retirement account and a personal IRA. 3.3 years seems so short it makes sense to me why a young guy wouldn’t have much saved by then. Most of these guys get into spending battles regularly with their peers, it’s a social thing.
    Hopefully the statistics and crash course on money management early in their career is hitting home with some of them, enough to make a difference.

    • No doubt that the sooner someone becomes financially savvy and understands the impact of saving/investing – and not saving/investing – the better served they will be. Thanks for stopping by, my friend and adding your voice to the conversation.

  2. For every athlete that is good with their money, there are a handful that only live for today. I loved the story earlier this year about a bunch of Washington Redskins players who were all frugal and saving for the future since they never knew when they might not be able to play again.

    • I haven’t come across the story about the Washington players … I will have to check it out. The life of a pro athlete, particularly those in the NFL, is relatively short and it is essential to have a long-term plan.

  3. It’s good to hear stories of athletes who are doing it right. James, isn’t there a former player covered in that ESPN series, who is now a financial advisor? And he’s helping other players? I saw that in a documentary but I’m not sure it’s the same one.

    • Indeed. There are some that are trying to live more wisely because they understand their careers – and the crazy level of income – is relatively short lived.

      With respect to the former player, I believe you are referring to Reggie Wilkes, a former linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles, who is now a NFLPA Registered Player Financial Advisor.

  4. You would think that pro players have gotten smart enough to save for the lean days.

    There are too many stories about broke pro players. The entourage will disappear when you are broke.

    I was shocked when Kayne announced his 53 million dollars debt. Although, I am not surprised because he blew his money like a king.

    • “You would think that pro players have gotten smart enough to save for the lean days.” You would, but clearly, and unfortunately that is not the case. If you have a chance, you should check out Broke, part of the ESPN documentary series, 30 for 30. It gives some insight into why that is not the case.

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