Hines World: Entry 3

Hines' World is a new segment chronicling the life of professional basketball player, Kyle Hines. Hines discusses his life both on and off the court as well as the financial tidbits he's learned along the way. In this entry, in honor of financial literacy month he talks about the importance of financial literacy. Check out Entry 3


Happy Financial Literacy Month

Happy Financial Literacy Month! April is Financial Literacy Month, and during this month, several financial-based businesses and institutions offer specialized programs and resources to teach people how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. In honor of this month, I thought it would be beneficial to highlight the importance of financial literacy for athletes, pinpointing key terms that have helped me improve my financial habits and live a better, frugal lifestyle.  

What is financial literacy?

Financial literacy is the education and understanding of various financial areas (Investopedia, 2018). Investing, planning, taxes, and budgeting are a few of these areas. Simply put, financial literacy is the degree to which a person understands how money works and the ability to make the best financial decisions to maximize monetary growth.

Why is financial literacy important?

Currently, in America, there is a lack of financial literacy. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are unable to pass a basic financial literacy test (NY Daily News, 2016). Many people blame our schools for the lack of financial education. Financial literacy is a subject that is rarely included in most curriculums and rarely talked about in most homes. People lose thousands and thousands of dollars in their lifetime due to lack of financial knowledge (Data & Research, 2017). Lack of understanding is the main reason people experience investment and saving problems.

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Why is financial literacy important among athletes?

Unfortunately, horror stories about professional athletes losing substantial amounts of money because of bad financial habits or making risking investments as a result of bad advice are not uncommon. Upon turning pro, athletes receive huge sums of money, and because these young athletes never established good habits, they suddenly find themselves in financial distress toward the end of their careers. Many basic financial concepts such as opening a bank account, establishing credit, developing a budget, assets versus liabilities, and understanding the stock market are foreign to most athletes.

The more literate an athlete becomes regarding their finances, the more aware they will be in their financial decision-making and spending habits. They will put themselves on a better path to reach the ultimate goal of financial freedom.

How to improve financial literacy

The first step to improve your financial literacy is to take responsibly for your finances. Although making use of professional help is perfectly okay (taxes, insurance, investments), ultimately, you are responsible for all aspect of your financial life. Use advisors for support to assist you in understanding your financial picture.

Professional athletes should start learning and understanding their finances at a young age. The earlier they become aware of their financial picture, the better their overall habits will be throughout their career. I wish someone would have told me that when I began my career.

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Another suggestion is to read everything you can get your hands on that relates to finances. Begin by reading financial and business sections of the newspaper. Go online and read publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Forbes, and The Financial Times, to name a few. I try to visit these sites and take notes of the articles and headlines on a daily basis. Reading these materials have helped me learn and understand many of the everyday financial concepts while learning about business news all across the world. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have, the greater potential you have to increase your wealth.

Key financial literacy tips

The best way to learn anything is through experience. I have been playing professionally for the past ten years, and I have gone through many learning experiences when it comes to finances. I like to share some of my experiences so younger athletes can learn from them and possibly not make the same mistakes. Do not be afraid to reach out to a trusted, fellow athlete and gain insight on their experiences regarding finances.

Establish credit early  

Credit is the most important financial weapon anyone can have. In some situations, credit can be more valuable than money. Establishing great credit at a young age can make a big difference in your future. Great credit allows for a better chance to get approved for loans and receive lower interest rates for big purchases such as cars and houses.

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After my first year of playing professional basketball, I wanted to buy my first car. I saved enough money for the down payment and, as a professional athlete, I thought the car-buying process would be relatively easy. I went from dealership to dealership and was denied for loans because I never established any credit history. I had no idea the importance of credit. My suggestion to young athletes is to establish credit, as early as possible, and build a solid credit history by making on-time payments and keeping your debt-to-credit ratio low. You can start by going to your local bank and applying for a secured or unsecured credit card. Establishing great credit will increase your purchasing power, giving you more control of your finances.

Automate, automate!

Some of the best financial advice I have received was from The Automatic Millionaire, a book by David Bach. Bach offers two pieces of invaluable advice:

  1. Pay yourself first: Warren Buffet once said, “Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.”

  2. Automate your finances: Set up a system to automatically deposit a certain percentage of your paycheck to your savings and investment accounts. Then, you won’t be tempted to spend your money.

Utilize technology

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Two tools, specifically, have helped me automate my finances.

The first is an app called Mint. Mint is an easy app that allows you to see all of your finances in one place, and Mint helps you create a budget, too. You can set up automatic bill pay, and Mint will keep you up-to-date on all of your accounts, so you will always know where you stand, financially speaking.

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The second app is Acorns. Once you sign up for Acorns, this app automatically invests spare change from your debit card purchases into a preset investment portfolio. For example – if you bought a cup of coffee for $1.75, Acorns would round up the purchase to $2.00 and invest that extra quarter on your behalf. This contribution might seem small, but change adds up over time, allowing your money to grow while you make purchases.

 

Mint and Acorns can be found in the mobile app store or online. 

Financial Literacy Month is a great reason to start taking control of your finances. Start learning and growing your financial knowledge, and begin establishing healthy financial habits. Pick a topic of interest, and start building your foundation of financial knowledge. The time to start on the path toward financial freedom and a frugal lifestyle is now!  

Financial Literacy Learning Resources

Websites

https://www.smartaboutmoney.org

https://welcome.financiallyfitdc.com

https://www.feedthepig.org

Podcasts

Books