Watts Do's and Don'ts
By Jared Watts \\\ MLS Defender
As a young player in MLS, I knew living a lavish lifestyle was not going to be sustainable. I knew from the time I signed my first contract, I had to be smart with my money and have a budget. I do not think I would be considered "cheap," but I am not afraid to make certain choices to save money. I had bills, insurance, car payments, and other responsibilities I knew I had to complete.
When I was drafted in 2014, I had a serious girlfriend who I knew I wanted to eventually marry. She made the decision to follow me out to Denver shortly after I was settled. My parents taught me as I aged what it meant to budget and not spend beyond your means. I was extremely determined to become financially independent. I did not have any credit coming out of college, so I got my first card to begin establishing credit. Credit cards are tricky because its not "real" money. I use it like a debit card and pay it off each month. During my first year in the league, I tried to pick up on what other guys did to save money. I quickly learned to eat every meal possible at the stadium. Breakfast was offered and lunch was served everyday after training. Right away, you only have to worry about spending money on dinner and an eventual breakfast or lunch. I also saved at least half my per diem each trip to put away in my savings. It is only 50 to 60 dollars, but it can add up on all the away trips.
As far as saving though, my main focus was to budget to buy an engagement ring. This is when I decided to look for another source of income. I discovered CoachUp and decided to give it a try. I made a profile and received some inquires pretty quickly about training kids. CoachUp is a profile you make to gain players who want individual training. I worked my way to have a pretty consistent group of players I trained, and began to make some extra money. All the money from CoachUp went directly in my savings account. CoachUp is a great way to make your own schedule and do it when you have the free time. I did this off and on and was able to save up enough money to buy a great engagement ring. My goal was to not go into any debt because of the wedding. Luckily, I had no student debt coming out of college. I had to finish paying off my truck, but that was all the money I owed.
I had a year to save up for the wedding. I decided to move into a smaller apartment that was cheaper. It saved me an extra $300 a month. I began to take leftovers from lunch at training to have again for dinner a couple times a week. I planned ahead for my wedding and knew exactly what I had my responsibilities were. I wrote out a list of each thing and wrote down a high estimate of what each thing was going to cost. I wanted my wedding to be nice for my fiancé. Learning different ways to save has not been easy. It forces you to be realistic with what you are earning and how you can cut out unnecessary spending. Having free time after training each day, you have to find hobbies and things to do that are free. Individual training is something I enjoy to do. I have a large park right by my apartment I can walk to for all my sessions. I borrowed old gear from out kit man (cones, ladders, poles, and balls).
My professional career will be over before I want it to be, and I want to be prepared for life after
I am still learning how to be smart with my money. I think players coming into the league have to be prepared to have a financial plan. I think setting small goals is very important. I think any type of extra income (bonuses, appearances, side jobs) should all be saved. I would never go out and by high end clothes or things like that. I can't remember the last time I bought myself clothes besides my suit for the wedding. My professional career will be over before I want it to be, and I want to be prepared for life after. I want to have a cushion so I do not have to rush into a job for immediate income. Life as a professional player in MLS is not easy. I am never going to be rich unless Tim Howard accidentally leaves a pay check in my locker.
Jared Watts is an MLS veteran for the Colorado Rapids after being drafted from Wake Forest where he was a 4 year starter and team captain. After a breakout year in 2016, Watts has established himself as one of the most consistent young american defenders in Major League Soccer.