Are you having a hard time keeping the money you save? Are you trying to compete more but don’t have enough money saved up to travel?
If you’re like me one of the hardest parts of traveling the country as a competitor is figuring out how to keep from dipping into my savings on an athletes budget.
Here is my 8 step athletes guide to keeping more of the money you save.
BJJ Athletes Guide to Keeping More of the Money You Save
1. Pay Yourself First
First off you’re never going to reach your savings potential if you don’t get out of your own way. One of the easiest ways to keep more of the money you save is to simply pay yourself first.
In my article on the top 3 books on investing every pro-fighter should read I brought up The Richest Man in Babylon. One of the key strategies I took away from this book is to take the first 10% of every dollar you earn and pay yourself with it.
2. Automate your accounts
A close second to paying yourself first is taking care of your bills as soon as possible. Again, get out of your own way. Take the proper steps to automate each and every one of your expenses in a way that coincides with pay day.
The day you get paid, the bills get paid. Don’t leave it up to yourself to go to the ATM and drag the money and pay each and every expense by hand.
Not only is this a waste of time (any modern online bank account can do all this for you), you run the risk of the money burning a hole in your pocket.
Automate the process and spend more time mastering your craft.
3. No easy access
Speaking of the money burning a whole in your pocket. If you are like me when I was traveling and competing, money was in short supply.
I was living off of protein powder and whatever my family, training partners, or instructor had to eat that day. When you have next to nothing in disposable income it is SO EASY to spend that on meaningless things like “not starving” (sack up).
The way I kept myself from hitting up the restaurants or Trader Joes was to keep a savings account that was completely separate from my checking account. The key is to have an account with no association or transferability to your checking and ATM cards.
Absolutely no direct access to the savings. Set up an account at a no-name credit union close to you, automate the savings from your account when you get paid, and make it extremely difficult for you to take the money out.
In order for me to dip into my savings when I was hurting for money I would literally have to drive to the credit union, get out of my car, fill out a withdrawal slip, and wait in line to get my money. The humanity!
4. Balance out bill pay
Going back to best bill-paying practices. Our goal for long term success should be simplicity. Make your plan of action easy to remember. With each and every pay check your expenses should match up with the previous pay period.
If you are paid weekly, at least a quarter of your expenses should be allocated toward that check. If you are paid bi-weekly, pay off at least half of your expenses.
While it seems like an obvious step to getting organized, balancing expenses is one area of cashflow management that I see athletes not taking advantage of.
Organizing your expenses allows you to not only simplify your savings goals into easy to digest numbers, but also allows you easier access to your bottom line. This makes it easy to find out where you need to make adjustments in order to pay yourself more each pay period.
5. Saving is a game of inches
One surefire way to stop yourself from dipping into savings and keeping more of what you save is to find ways to cut more of your expenses.
The problem is most of us look at $10, $30, even $50 in savings and don’t feel an urgency in going after it. But over the course of a few years saving even $10/month can really add up.
This is why I try to get clients to look it their expenses as a percent of an overall pie as opposed to thinking in dollars.
Look at your individual expenses and if you can save 3-5% anywhere, DO IT. Doing this will show an immediate decrease in expenses and an immediate increase to amount you pay yourself every check.
Don’t have time? Check out a service called BillCutterz.com. They will literally call your service providers and have your bills cut to the lowest rate possible.
In turn they split your savings in half; if they save you $100, they keep $50 and you keep $50. The best part is if they don’t save you money, you pay them nothing.
6. Emergency fund
Probably the most overwhelming reason why BJJ practitioners dip into their savings is because they fall into an emergency. They get a flat tire, they need a new car, they have a medical emergency in the family, etc.
The most important step you can take when getting started with a successful savings plan is to start with an emergency fund.
Starting an emergency fund is simple even if you don’t have the money to fund the one right away. I’m sure you wouldn’t be too hard-pressed to find crap around your house you don’t use that can be sold at a garage sale or on eBay.
You don’t need to much, $1000-$2000 can go along way for anyone looking to make traveling the country without hiccups their reality.
For more on how to start an emergency fund and best practices for getting started saving check out my BJJ Bum’s Guide For Saving Your First $25,000.
7. Reduce your debt
One of the quickest ways for an athlete to sap their ability to travel is to take on debt. Going in to debt for travel or for material possessions is the fastest way to screw yourself down the road. Think about it, you want to compete, conquer the world, and collect medals…
Imagine you accomplish all that by running up a ton of credit card debt. Now that you actually have the ball rolling as an athlete the interest on this debt starts robbing you blind. Remember $5,000 in credit card debt at a 15% interest rate is $750 out of your pocket year over year.
That is more than I’ve paid for every one of my flights, hotel, and food while traveling domestically for competitions.
Depending on your situation it may make sense to pay off this debt first before saving, or pay off the minimums and continue tackling your short-term goals. For first-hand examples on debt reduction strategies, check out my answer to a reader question on paying off credit cards.
8. Creating additional sources of income
If you’re like me, the main problem I had with not dipping into my savings was that I simply didn’t have enough income.
Sure we can supplement this by securing more sponsorships, but even then many of us have to face the reality that we just aren’t bringing in enough money to travel and compete like we want to.
This may mean that you need to take a part-time job, but this isn’t to say you have to take up a job that’s going to add stress to your already busy schedule.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below if you have any tips/strategies for saving money as an athlete that I may have missed.
If you want to be part of the blog, just submit a question below or to BLand@IrvineWealth.com. I can keep you anonymous or make put your question on blast and make you famous 🙂
For more on:
- Building a budget
- Saving strategies
- Debt reduction
- Common financial blunders
- What the wealthy do differently
- And much more
Download my Master Your Money Training Manual. It’s an easy read and if you follow the link you’ll get it for FREE.
The only catch is that I will likely discontinue the free version after the holidays so get your copy now. Enjoy 🙂