"Broke" last night, a documentary in their 30 for 30 series, which highlighted the financial problems that many professional athletes face. While it may be difficult to feel bad for people who earn in one game check more than most of us earn in one year, the reality is that the same traps that lead to most consumer bankruptcies are exaggerated by the big paychecks that professional athletes receive at a young age.
The consumer culture of America glorifies spending over saving, and youth are at the greatest risk for falling into that trap. Spending and creating debt on a larger scale by professional athletes gets out of hand in the same way that those habits bury the average individual.
Even living within your means when you have a job is not enough of a plan to reach the goals of safe retirement and ensure staying out of bankruptcy. If you don't save as well, you won't have a safety net in the event of injury, unemployment, or other unexpected events. The reason that bankruptcy is so likely among professional athletes is because injury and retirement at a young age are almost guaranteed in that business.
But you can learn from their mistakes by budgeting realistically, and having a plan for disability and retirement. Even if you've found yourself in a position to file bankruptcy once, you can learn from that experience and use your fresh start to plan for your goals this time around.
In "Broke", Herman Edwards, a former NFL player and coach, was interviewed. He speaks at the NFL rookie seminar about the importance of financial planning and in his interview he pointed out that "a goal without a plan is a wish."
So are you wishing, or planning?