As the first female American athlete to win a medal at both summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games, Lauryn Williams became used to mastering new skills during her sporting career.
Now working in the financial services industry, and having studied finance at the University of Miami, she has always felt strongly about financial support and advice for athletes. Here, the sprinter-turned-bobsleigh athlete offers her tips on how to look after money.
Get the right financial help
“One of the first things I wanted to do after I turned professional was to hire somebody to help me financially – because I knew how important it was. Anybody makes financial mistakes if they don’t have the right knowledge. Even if you’re already established but you’re not quite sure whether you’re saving enough, or doing the right things, then it’s never too late. The important thing is that you realise that you do need help, and that somebody is available to help you.”
And ask the right questions
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get the services I needed, and my advisor mainly focused on providing investment advice. Instead, you need to know how to organise your finances, and what things are necessary and which are difficult – like first-time home purchases. Ask [your adviser] things about setting up a budget, about how much money you need to set aside for savings, and how much you need for taxes.”
“The number one thing would be to do your research. For me, it started with reading blogs and news articles. Before I started getting the formal education specifically for personal finance, I had to get the knowledge myself.”
Plan for ups and downs
“Earnings can vary wildly for athletes, and there can be income fluctuations because of Olympic years, where athletes get sponsors and extra money starts to flow in. Plus, we’re travelling constantly so you have to make sure that your bills are getting paid. Put a system in place to ensure that everything is getting taken care of. It just takes a little order and organisation.”
Don’t always follow the money
“Money is a tool to help you live the life that you want. You shouldn’t feel enslaved to the pursuit of funds, but you should have the resources to be able to compete in the way that you want to. Put earnings as a secondary priority to what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. It’s important to earn a living, but when it becomes 100 per cent about the profits then you get lost and that will set you up for failure.”