NBA baller who earned $100m now working at Starbucks

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Imagine if your job paid you almost $100 million over just a little more than a dozen years. You’d be set for life, right? Maybe not…

Meet Vin Baker. He’s a former NBA star who played 14 season and made $97.4 million in his career. But now, according to the Providence Journal, he’s training as a Starbucks barista in Rhode Island on his way to a management position with the company.

Professional athletes can make incredible amounts of money, and Vin’s story is testimony to that. But their earning window tends to be for a relatively short period of time. Compound that with some bad financial choices that many athletes seem doomed to make, and you’ll see a player’s salary might not be enough to last a lifetime if they don’t save and invest it wisely. Here are a couple of disturbing trends courtesy of Sports Illustrated magazine:

  • 78% of former NFL players go bankrupt within 24 months after they stop playing.
  • Some 60% of former NBA players go bankrupt within 5 years of retirement.

So what exactly happened in Vin’s case? He attributes his financial downfall to a failed restaurant venture, a foreclosure on his $3 million home, and a bout with alcoholism. He’s been sober now for 4 years and has 4 children that depend on him.

Thankfully, Vin is optimistic about his current situation and proud of what he’s doing to support his family.

‘I feel [what I’m doing is] more heroic than being 6′ 11′ with a fade-away jump shot,’ he tells the Providence Journal. ‘I get energy from waking up in the morning and, first of all, not depending on alcohol, and not being embarrassed or ashamed to know I have a family to take care of. The show’s got to go on.’

Athletes and celebrities: Riding high one day, broke the next

Late pop star Michael Jackson was said to be $400 million in debt at the time of his death. Like many celebrities, he lived beyond his means.

Talents as diverse as actor Stephen Baldwin, former baseball player Jose Canseco and former basketball player Latrell Sprewell are just a few of the many who lost their homes to foreclosure for the same reason. And let’s not forget rapper 50 Cent who recently had to explain in court that his lavish lifestyle is all smoke and mirrors.

In fact, no less a legend than the late Ed McMahon was once had to  be famously rescued from foreclosure by an anonymous Northern California real estate investor!

What’s the common thread here? Economists talk about ‘marginal propensity to consume,’ an economic theory that says as income rises, spending rises in tandem. So if you’re not saving anything at all during your highest-earning years, that’s a recipe for disaster when the money stops coming in.

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Follow the 90/10 rule

Here’s one possible solution to the problem: If you ever come into a large inheritance or sell a business and get a pile of money, restraint is key. Go ahead and blow 10% of the windfall however you want. But the other 90% you treat as a nest egg to nurture.

It’s easy to say, but so hard for people to do.

A final word of advice for future lottery winners: Never take the lump sum payout. You’re better off taking the payout over years as a method of forced budgeting. If you worry your heirs won’t get all the money you have coming to you, buy a term life insurance policy that would pay them for what you would not receive if you die prematurely. Remember, most of us do better with basic allowances than a huge sum of money right then and there!

Meanwhile, you don’t have to win the lottery or get an inheritance to come into extra cash. See some free and easy ways to search for missing money in your name.



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