Don't Get Caught up in the Glamour

Dear Dave,

Our son is 21, and he's embarking on a career as a professional soccer player. The beginning money isn't huge. He'll only be making about $30,000 a year, and we want to know how we can help him manage this money and not get caught up in the idea that he has to live a glamorous lifestyle.

Karen

Dear Karen,

The whole soccer thing is pretty cool, but you're right about the money. "Glamorous" isn't the word I'd use to describe a $30,000-a-year job, even for a 21-year-old. I think the biggest thing here is to make sure he develops some emotional maturity and uses basic, common-sense guidelines to help keep things in perspective. If he makes a habit right now of budgeting and living on less than he makes, he's going to have a lot easier time later on if he starts raking in the big bucks.

The biggest problem with professional athletes is they think the ride is going to last forever. I always tell players that NFL really stands for "Not For Long." The average pro football player's career lasts 3.7 years. That's not a long time, and the same is true in other sports, too. There just aren't a lot of Brett Favres running around out there.

Help him prepare his heart for two things. First, that it will probably be a short run. Enjoy it, be smart, then prepare to move on to the next part of your life, and develop a different career track. The second thing is that even if he beats the odds and ends up making a ton of money, he's got to view the money as a responsibility and a privilege. This is when the common sense and maturity really come into play. You can't run out and buy a bunch of houses and cars and expect even big money to last for long.

This could be a very cool thing for your son. But it's only going to be cool if it brings blessings to him and doesn't ruin his life!

-Dave

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