- Amobi Okugo, 31, is a retired footballer embarking on a second career as an entrepreneur.
- He defines financial freedom as having “leverage” in your life decisions.
- He said professional athletes can achieve this by thinking ahead with the money they get in their short career.
While Amobi Okugo was a professional midfielder and defender for the Austin Bold Football Club football team, he saw the ESPN documentary 30 for 30 “Broke” about how quickly and easily professional athletes can lose all their money. He then decided to take charge of his own finances and encourage other athletes to do the same, which led to the creation of A Frugal Athlete.
Now he’s helping other athletes think about the future beyond their playing careers.
“Financial independence means leverage, to me,” Okugo said. “Whether it’s a lever of time, freedom, independence or control over what you want to do.” The influx of money from an athlete’s short career, he explains, is leverage you can use to build a better future for yourself, your family, and to direct any passions you may have. that will guide your future career.
He added that athletes in particular “know all about leverage.”
“If you have leverage, you can ask for different things in your contract, you can make decisions in a less stressful situation,” Okugo said. “You don’t feel obligated to sign the first contract that comes your way.”
Not everyone in professional sports wins the big prize
Okugo said a common misconception about professional athletes is that they are all as wealthy as famous players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant. “LeBron is entering his twentieth year as an NBA superstar,” he said. “The average athlete plays between three and five years, depending on the sport.”
He then explained that even if you’re in the NFL and earn $600,000 in salary, that’s $1.8 million over a three-year career — which can quickly disappear if you’re not careful.
“I mean, it’s a lot of money, but you have to stretch it out for the rest of your life,” Okugo said. He added that for people who expect that income to support them for several decades, it is not possible to make the money last a lifetime.
The first step for athletes to take charge of their finances and become truly financially free, he said, is to accept that money won’t last forever and that you need to use it to your advantage while you still can. “You need to adjust your spending habits,” Okugo said. “And a lot of times people struggle with that.”
He said that when it comes to becoming financially independent, athletes should “maximize now”, in terms of investing and taking steps to help that money grow and become a steady stream of future income that provides leverage in life beyond sport.
As he says, “You can only be a pro for so long.”