Written by Connor Lowery, Professional Athlete Division Financial Advisor
We tend to associate major league athletes with having major incomes, but it doesn’t always start out that way. I’ve had the privilege of doing life personally and professionally with Caleb Joseph, MLB catcher, and his family for some time, and I recently had the opportunity to join him on the Sports Spectrum podcast. In this episode hosted by Jason Romano, Caleb shares insights from his journey through professional baseball and answers the following questions for listeners:
- Do the money and family challenges professional athletes face relate to the challenges I experience in my own life?
- Do athletes ever wrestle with the “everyday” financial struggles I have whether I have a little or a lot?
- How do professional athletes handle the sudden changes in income level?
It’s no secret that professional athletes can earn a significant amount of money in their short careers. Their income often amounts to levels that most of the world can’t imagine having a fraction of in their bank account. Endless stories flood our newsfeed about the homes, cars, and trips purchased by professional athletes, but then we see documentaries like the “Broke” episode in ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, or we read statistics such as more than 70% of professional athletes are either broke, divorced, or unemployed within two years of retiring from the game, and we think to ourselves “how could they mess that up?!” What’s so hard about being a professional athlete?
At Ronald Blue Trust, we provide financial, investment, and other advice grounded in biblical principles. We believe principles, such as “God owns it all” (Psalm 24:1) and “Spend less than you earn” (Proverbs 27:23) are relevant no matter your level of wealth. We teach our professional athlete clients these same principles because they face all ends of the wealth spectrum in their lifetime. A professional baseball player experiences rice and beans in the minor leagues and then can be catapulted into substantial wealth in a matter of one day. The human response is often extreme: scarcity or abundance mentality.
Caleb says it so well “I went to hoarding because I had nothing, and now, I feel like I have this nice safe nest egg, and as long as I keep my little nest egg perfectly intact, then nothing can ever hurt me. And when the bad times come, I’m totally fine and nothing can ever ruin this little nest egg.” He later adds “Honestly, I might have missed a little bit of joy through the fruits of my labor [during that time].”
Clients of our Professional Athlete Division ask, “how can we do it all as an athlete when so much money is coming in so fast but over such a short period? How can we give, save, and enjoy it without guilt and shame?” I continue to come back to our firm’s verse, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, where we learn that if we first live generously, our tight grip on money is relieved, and we’re free to enjoy His blessings.
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Jason later asks Caleb what allowed him to move away from his scarcity mentality. Caleb said “Once we sat down to work through our cash flow and our budgets, it started to allow me the freedom to understand I’m hitting my giving goals. I’m hitting my savings goals. I’m doing a lot of good with this. It is okay for me to use some of that on my wife [and] kids and not be upset when my wife buys a really nice TV for our house.”
I hope you’ll listen in to Caleb’s journey from working overnight UPS shifts in the off season to catching in the American League Championship Series and find yourself encouraged that, no matter your life stage or wealth level, God uniquely cares for you, and following biblical principles in your family and finances can pay dividends that you never imagined.
The Professional Athlete Division of Ronald Blue Trust has over 35 years of experience in serving the unique needs of professional athletes and coaches. We serve over 120 professional athletes and coaches across the MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAA, PGA Tour, and more, with advisors who have experience serving athletes in each sport. Learn more about our Professional Athlete Division at ronblue.com/professional-athlete or call 770.280.6000.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org