Lillian Chukwueze: Building From Within
Q: What has been the best advice you’ve received regarding finances in your career thus far?
A: The best advice I've received regarding finances is to save, invest and build. Growing up in the typical Nigerian household, my parents, being immigrants, came to America to create a better living for themselves and their future children (myself and two brothers). And the only way they knew to do that was to go to school for a high paying career, and then get a job. Me, on the other hand, I was interested in the complete opposite. Mainly sports and creating my own business, which they were not too fond of. As I learned more about finances, I realized that a job would not be able to provide me with the freedom and the life I would want to live so I began to figure out ways to do that. And the best way to create a financially free lifestyle is to invest and own your own business because America is designed in total favor of those who own their own businesses, and not those who are employees.
Q: Do you treat your finances differently playing overseas to how you would playing stateside?
A:I am very careful with my finances playing overseas, the same way I am careful in the states because I am naturally frugal. I never saw a need to spend money senselessly especially if I don't have a lot of it. I am all about saving, investing, and building to create a life for myself and my family where I don't necessarily have to worry too much about money. I've only had a professional career overseas, not stateside so I am actually more careful about budgeting money overseas because of the exchange rate.
Q: You are in the process of starting your own business, can you talk about the steps you’ve made thus far?
A: Yes, so I am in the process of building up my own business. My current business is my holistic nutrition business which was inspired by my passion to help others heal themselves in entirety including their mind, body and soul. I believe there is a plethora of people dying everyday due to diseases that are preventative and curable with the aid of proper diet and lifestyle. The steps I've taken so far have been first, to educate myself as much as possible on this topic by reading up on credible sources, books, people who have practiced this lifestyle for years, doctors who advocate for this lifestyle and more. I've also taken specific courses and received certifications, giving me the ability to legally be considered a vegan nutritionist and practice all that I have learned. In addition, I have created a website with some products that I've used to help people along their journey. I am using multiple social media platforms such as Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook as ways to promote my business. I hope to continue to network with like-minded individuals regarding business and health to be able to utilize one another and help each other's businesses grow.
Q: How do you as a woman manage your money in a sports industry where the gap in pay between women and men is evident?
A: As we all know, the money gap between men and women is quite significant. Therefore, I manage my money in a very tight fashion. Aside from very few miscellaneous items, I don't spend money on anything other than necessities such as food, few clothes/shoes, transportation, and bills. Most of my money is mainly invested in assets such as stocks, real estate and in my business for things such as a camera to create content, website fees, and other things to help grow a presence. I am very careful about the money I spend because, contrary to popular belief, professional athletes really don't get paid as much as people think. Even some men do not make that much, which is something you've mentioned that you've witnessed as well. But as a female athlete, I definitely learned to budget my money accordingly.
Q: What would be your advice to young professional athletes in terms of handling their money?
A: The advice I would give to young professionals would be to SAVE, INVEST and BUILD! Do not go out and blow your money on meaningless liabilities - cars, fancy clothes, jewelry - none of that. Those things are liabilities because they only take money out of your pocket. INVEST your money into some assets - stocks, real estate, businesses - because those things are likely to put more money back in your pocket. This advice goes for those who are making a substantial amount of money and also for those who aren't. It works both ways. In fact, those who are making a lot of money need to be more careful because they are more likely to blow their money because they think they have so much, not knowing how easy it is to go broke. In addition to this advice, always continue to learn. Educate yourself on diversifying your income. Learn to create multiple streams of income, never be content with one because once that stream dries up, you may find yourself lost and struggling. So do your best to avoid that by creating financial stability with multiple streams.
is a professional basketball player overseas most recently plying her trade in Spain. Lillian has recently started her own business, FlyHigh Vegan Holistic Nutrition, where she promotoes living a healthy lifestyle through clean eating.