What pro athletes can teach us about retirement

Everyone has personal preferences, but generally, most North Americans want to retire earlier rather than later. But most people aren’t fortunate to retire at the age they want, and often end up working longer than they plan.

Professional athletes often have the complete opposite problem; it is typical for them to retire in their 30s and 40s. But when they make millions of dollars over the course of their career, their retirement challenges are about investing wisely and avoiding making poor decisions.

As reported recently on Forbes.com, many current professional athletes did not grow up in affluent households, and told the news source that they gained many valuable insights on retirement from their middle-class upbringings.

“Growing up I had to watch my budget.  I carried a notepad around with me when I traveled and would write down every personal expenditure …food, souvenirs, whatever,” Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Forbes.

Another athlete, Swedish-American golfer Annika Sorenstam, told the media outlet that she grew up being taught the importance of making reasoned, rational financial decisions, and those lessons helped prevent her from making emotionally-charged financial mistakes when she became wealthy.

The lesson from these athletes is that most people, regardless of age or income bracket, look forward to retirement. And whether it’s at home or in an assisted living community, retirement is a decision everyone has to make for themselves.