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How an MLS Vet Is Helping Athletes Tackle Financial Literacy

Midfielder’s Mindset

How an MLS Vet Is Helping Athletes Tackle Financial Literacy
Credit: Amobi Okugo — A Frugal Athlete

I’ve played professional soccer for 8 years now.

In my time as both a midfielder and defender, my job has been to transition from offense to defense and defense to offense or clean up emergencies as the last line of defense. Anyone who’s familiar with soccer, or sports for that matter, understands that the best players are always thinking ahead and are proactive rather than reactive.

That’s the way I view money management too.

I launched A Frugal Athlete in hopes of promoting financial literacy and sharing prudent financial practices from other professional athletes. After a lightbulb moment during a 30 for 30 called Broke, I decided to create a platform that highlighted athletes who were making smart decisions with their financial playbooks.

As sport continues to grow through increased sponsorship spend and bigger broadcasting deals, more money will be invested into the players. It’s important for athletes to have the financial knowledge to prepare for what’s ahead and be proactive in their career transition.

In this new sports climate, you see plenty of athletes taking advantage of their platform, brand, and entrepreneurial spirit to start businesses and side hustles and passion projects that will last well after their careers are over.

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For me, promoting financial literacy is a passion project.

The whole premise of A Frugal Athlete is to help players think long-term and take action into their own hands. Whether it’s leveraging of your platform as a professional athlete, using your resources and networking, building a brand, or just being smart with your finances in order to prepare for what’s next. Your career only lasts so long in comparison to your whole life.

Derek Jeter put it best when he retired, “I went from an old man in baseball to a young man in life.”

A Frugal Athlete Amobi Okugo
Credit: Amobi Okugo — A Frugal Athlete

Athletes know that in order to be successful on the field you need to have an idea of what is going to happen next. But if that is the case, why don’t the majority of athletes plan for the rest of their life?

A Frugal Athlete tells the stories of different athletes and their experiences dealing with finances. From LeBron James to Serena Williams to myself, the motive is to tell these stories and indirectly promote financial literacy.

Athlete entrepreneurs will continue to motivate and teach others how to navigate the life of a professional athlete in business. From LeBron James creating a video network like Uninterrupted to Kobe Bryant getting an Oscar nomination for a short film or Adonyal Foyle publishing books that help athletes learn financial lessons, it shows that we can be more than jocks.

Derek Jeter put it best when he retired, “I went from an old man in baseball to a young man in life.”

We can pursue our other passions and be storytellers, not just the story.

Andrew Hawkins. Junior Bridgeman. Ryan Broles. Paul Rabil. These are the athletes I admire. Why? I consider them members of Team Frugal in the sense that they have been proactive and thought ahead throughout their playing careers. They’ve been smart with their finances, continued their education, and built multi-million dollar brands — we’re all capable of it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. You will see more and more athletes become entrepreneurs on top of their playing careers. With the influence of digital media, tech, and social media, it’s an inevitable confluence of factors full of financial impact.

Amobi Okugo A Frugal Athlete
Credit: Amobi Okugo — A Frugal Athlete

As I tackle Frugal Athlete with my midfielder’s mindset, I envision that it will help me transition to a position in the sports business sector long-term. If all goes well, Frugal Athlete will be a major platform — not just for professional athletes but student-athletes and the fans that follow these athletes — which increases financial literacy and promotes prudent financial practices.

If Frugal Athlete can be a hub that other people come to proactively to seek information, I know that the site will have served its purpose.

And hopefully I won’t have to serve as the last line of defense anymore.

Amobi Okugo is a professional soccer player and the founder of the financial literacy publication A Frugal Athlete — and that’s only the beginning of his story. Born the son of Nigerian immigrants, he is dedicated to championing the role of education and entrepreneurship in and out of sports. You can connect with Amobi here.

Enjoy more thought leadership from athletes and creators claiming a seat in the new sports economy at our next annual conference.

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