Former MLB star Alex Rodriguez landed his first big paycheck as a teenager. He was 18 years old when he was drafted and signed a three-year, $1.3 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. The deal also came with a $1 million signing bonus.
If Rodriguez could give his rookie-self one piece of money advice, it's the same advice he would give any athlete today: Plan ahead and prepare for life off the field by making smart investments today. As he tells CNBC Make It, "You're going to make probably 90 to 95 percent of your lifetime income from age 20 to 30, and you have to ask yourself, 'What's going to happen from age 30 to 80?'"
While life as an athlete can be incredibly lucrative, as Rodriguez notes, it can also be short-lived. On average, an MLB player can expect their career to last 5.6 years. The average career length for other professional athletes is even shorter: less than five years for NBA players and just 3.3 years for NFL players.
Despite the short career length, "you have an incredible opportunity if you're frugal and you're smart and you put your money away early," says Rodriguez. "The ability to have compound interest over 20, 30, 40 years — you can be a very wealthy young person in a very short period of time."
Rodriguez, who played his last game as a Yankee in August 2016, is now transitioning to a career in business as CEO of A-ROD CORP, the holding company he started 15 years ago for his various investments.
He's built relationships with legendary investor Warren Buffett and other C-suite leaders and is now looking to help other professional athletes prepare for life off the field in a new CNBC show, "Back in the Game," which premieres Tuesday, March 13.
"If you look at the data," Rodriguez tells CNBC's "Squawk Box," "they suggest that a lot of our players are going bankrupt way too soon." The key to lasting wealth, he says, is to prepare for what happens between ages 30 and 80.
"Back in the Game" premieres Tuesday, March 13 at 10P ET/PT.
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Video by Mary Stevens