Professional soccer can be a lucrative career: The second and third highest-paid athletes in the world are soccer players. And, when young players land their first big paycheck, they tend to splurge on the same thing, Spanish star Hector Bellerin tells online investing service Wealthsimple: "In football, we have this thing that we all carry to training — our wash bag — and all the players come in with Gucci or Louis Vuitton. And so, with your first big paycheck, that's what everyone would go and buy."
"As footballers we'd get paid on the 28th of every month," he adds, so, "by the first of the month, every young player had a new wash bag."
When he was a young player, Bellerin recalls, "it was exciting to have money." He left Barcelona to sign with the English club Arsenal when he was just 16.
Bellerin, now 23 and who earns a weekly wage of £100,000, or about $132,000, says his first really big splurge was a Mercedes S63: "When I was in the Under 21 team, I would see older players driving them and I thought, 'One day that will be my car.'"
Today, Bellerin drives a Tesla. While he isn't shy about treating himself, he's also setting aside money for his future and thinking about life off the field.
"The earlier you begin to save and invest, the better," says the soccer star, who also runs a marketing agency with his best friend and has a long-term goal of becoming a designer. "That's one of the things that I say to younger players. I didn't start taking care of it until I was 20 but, if you can start doing it when you're 17, when you actually start getting the money, that's even better."
It's sound advice, especially for athletes, whose careers tend to be shorter. Soccer players start to decline once they reach age 27, ESPN reports. As for other professional athletes, on average, an MLB player can expect their career to last 5.6 years. For NBA players, the average is less than five years, and for NFL players, it's just over three years.
That's why retired athletes like Alex Rodriguez encourage today's young athletes to do what Bellerin is doing and set aside money early on. Though your career may be short, "you have an incredible opportunity if you're frugal and you're smart and you put your money away early," Rodriguez tells CNBC Make It.
"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. "
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