Per Diem Can Add Up to More Than Pocket Change

Per Diem may be a small thing, but like anything in life, if you take a bunch of small things and add it up, you eventually get something big. Per Diem is a daily allowance, usually for living expenses while traveling in connection for one’s work. Our per diem in MLS for 2017 season is an average total of $108 dollars per day on the road depending on scheduling for food($21 for breakfast, $25 for lunch, $35 for dinner, & $20 for incidentals). MLS is on the lighter side compared to other leagues such as NFL, NBA, or MLB.

Per Diem is a simple way you can set aside cash to pay for something that may be on a personal bucket list. I know guys that have saved their per diem to put a down payment on a car, buy an extra tv, or even save for nice watch at the end of the year. Per diem is good because it keeps you from spending your main income. The more you can stay away from your main stash as I like to call it the better you are in the long term. It’s not like you don’t have the money to pay for things on your own but there’s just a certain feeling when you pay for something and it doesn’t feel like it’s coming from your own paycheck. I like to think of per diem as a gift card.

 In his book, Winning the Money Game, Adonayl Foyle, former NBA player, talks about how he used to save his per diem until the end of every offseason and use it to pay for an entire vacation in his offseason. In the NBA, you have 82 games so 41 games are away. You can imagine how much per diem he would get. In MLS, we have 34 regular season games so 17 away games.

Pro Tip: Per Diem is a simple way you can set aside cash to pay for something that may be on a personal bucket list.

To make it easy let’s just say for every away trip the average time away is three days and the average per diem amount is $170. Keep in mind certain away trips are longer than others  and some meals are provided for on trips which deducts certain per diem amounts. For the sake of the story we will just give an ideal estimate. 17 away trips  multiplied by $170 gives you $2,890 dollars. This is without including preseason trips, out of league games, and playoffs.

That may not seem like a lot but with that amount I could have paid for the two roundtrip tickets to Nigeria for me and my dad last December when I went. I know athletes that love their designer travel bags.. I know that per diem would help take the sting off making a payment of that amount. I personally use my per diem to help grow Frugal Athlete. For advertising, website design, marketing, freelance writers, etc. about 90% of my per diem money is used for Frugal Athlete.

There are other instances where per diem can be used too. Whether it’s saving and investing it or helping out a family member or even starting a charity. In fact, Per Diems against Poverty is a startup that works closely with MLB players to donate their per diems for families affected by Poverty. Famous baseball players like Curtis Granderson are active in donating their per diem to support  the cause.  

I wasn't always Frugal with my per diem. In fact there are some funny stories of ways I use to either win extra  per diem or lose all of it in a matter of minutes. Nowadays I play it safe, but many times we would gamble our per diem amongst our teammates with different games like :

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors

  • Highest Card picked from a deck of Cards  wins Per Diem

  • First Bag out of Baggage Claim wins Per Diem

I’m happy to say I won more than I lost and these were fun ways to get the team camaraderie up, but in hindsight it’s way more fun to keep your per diem and use it for your own necessities.