Almost everyone faces financial stress of some kind throughout their lives. For elite athletes, this could mean learning how to balance a job with training, handling complicated taxes due to self-employment and competing around the world or dealing with sporadic income. To better help Olympians take control of their financial futures, Visa has developed a new programme to help athletes succeed when meeting the challenges they face outside of competition.

The new Practical Money Skills for Athletes programme, launched at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, is designed to help athletes access resources that can build their financial skills. The programme seeks to allow them to better manage their financial lives both during and after their athletic careers. If you are looking for effective  ways to tackle your money management issues, consider these five simple steps.

Be proactive and set goals  

Just as you set goals for your athletic career, the first step in successfully managing your money is to set financial goals. Make sure the goals you set are specific and achievable.  Whether you are paying down debt, saving money for a car or home, or investing for your retirement, it’s important to make a financial plan and commit to it. Think ahead about what your needs will be in the future and plan for those needs, as well.

Create a monthly financial plan

After thinking through your goals and keeping in mind what you want to achieve, create a budget to help you accomplish those goals. Creating a budget will better allow you to live within your means, track your income and where you spend your money. Budgeting will allow you to identify and cut wasteful spending as well as prioritise your expenses. Before creating your budget, keep in mind that much like with competing, if you are going to remain committed, you must plan carefully, exercise discipline and set priorities. There are many online tools and resources that can help you create and stick to a budget.

Know what your bank can do for you

Whether banking with a credit union or a bank, it is important to understand all of the services offered by your financial institution. In addition to standard banking services like checking and savings accounts, some financial institutions offer other useful solutions to help people manage their money, including automatic bill pay, money transfers between accounts, mobile banking and apps, investment advice and even loans. Knowing the different ways your bank can serve you will help you reach your personal financial goals.

Be a knowledgeable consumer

After evaluating where you spend your income through your monthly financial plan, make an effort to spend wisely. Planning ahead and being aware of your needs can help you save on everyday items by finding the best deals. Are there items you buy a lot of that you could save money on by buying in bulk or during seasonal sales? Always compare prices. When purchasing products and services like flights, hotels and expensive sport equipment, shop around and read reviews to ensure you are getting the best value for money . Being strategic can often add up to big savings.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As Olympians, understanding the unique financial challenges you face can be difficult. It can sometimes be helpful to seek advice from professionals. Much like choosing a trainer for your sport, selecting a professional with a proven record of helping with your specific financial issue is important. If you cannot get help from a professional, consider choosing a friend, coach or family member who is knowledgeable and trustworthy to assist in navigating your financial situation.

For more information on Visa’s Practical Money Skills for Athletes, visit www.practicalmoneyskills.com.

RELATED CONTENT