Wizards forward Chris Singleton bought $10,000 of Mega Millions tickets in 2012. PHOTO: CNS
Professional athletes and lottery winners have one thing in common. And it's so similar that wealth advisors can predict with certainty how both will live their lives financially.
And while it often won't end well, that doesn't have to be the case.
It's now well known that pro athletes have been going broke for decades. These are often players with enormous multi-million dollar contracts.
The amount makes no difference.
The data on professional athlete's problems is startling. Shortly after they retire, nearly four of five NFL players are bankrupt or under financial stress. Joblessness and divorce are the main reasons.
There's a similar pattern for lottery winners too. Just google any big winner and you'll see the same percentage of bankruptcy and personal disaster.
So what can we do about it? Here's some wise advice:
1. Get Good Advice: A lottery winner should be getting financial advice right from the start of the win. Be aware of the numbers... how long your win will last if you invest it, what your costs are for a certain lifestyle.
2. Have A Plan: The winner should know where they're going to be at various stages of the win. In athlete terms, it's rookie years, top earning years and life after sports. Each phase requires a different strategy so the money doesn't run out. Having enough invested so you don't run out in 30 year's time is crucial.
3. Keep Your Costs Low: At the beginning of a win there's a lot of expenses. Most winners have homes to repay, cars to replace, exotic vacations not taken for 2 years to make up for. There are taxes and fees that will eat into your win amounts too. Remember your before-win lifestyle and keep costs down.
4. Avoid Debt: It seems unlikely that you'll need a loan after winning the lottery, but you're no different to the athletes who get into a bind after becoming overextended. There may be housing development projects that fail, sports teams bought which lose, businesses invested which crash. Always keep debt at bay and think of the worst case scenario.
5. Invest Simply:
- Avoid complex private placements.
- No expensive hedge funds or private equity investments.
- Don't make loans to friends or family.
- Don't back start-ups.
- Don't invest in new technology.
- Never buy fancy financial products.
- And whatever you do - don't put money into a restaurant.
Have a simple asset allocation model of broad indices - U.S. equities, emerging market stocks, corporate bonds and Treasuries.
And if that seems too complex to understand, use your advisor to sort it out.
With advice like this taken at the right time, lottery winners should be able to retain their jackpot and live off the investments for the rest of their lives without any worries.