Even though a 2009 Sports Illustrated study revealed that about 60 percent of former NBA players go broke within five years of leaving the league, and even though there have been lots and lots and lots of examples of NBA players blowing through millions, it sounds like the average NBA player continues to spend way too much money.
According to a new study done by Personal Capital, NBA players are spending, on average, $42,500 per month. That works out to more than $500,000 every year. And while the average NBA salary is around $5 million per year prior to taxes, some simple math shows why it’s so difficult for NBA players to hold on to their money once they retire. If you’re spending about $1 million every two years and you get used to the lifestyle that that kind of spending brings, you’re going to run into trouble after your career is over.
So what are NBA players spending their money on? Personal Capital took a look at that, too, and found that the players who had their spending habits tracked spent a large percentage of their money at retailers like Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Apple, Walmart, and Mercedes-Benz. But the top retailer—by far—was Express, which, as Time pointed out, may be because of their selection of tall and extended sizes of clothing. The NBA players surveyed spent $221,108 at the clothing store, which is more than three times the amount they spent with the second-highest retailer on the list, Whole Foods ($73,113), during the four-month evaluation.
As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Personal Capital surveyed the spending habits of 50 NBA players between December 2015 and March 2016 by providing them with access to their free online spending tool. And, as the newspaper points out, the results "should be taken with a grain of salt" because of the relatively small sample size used for the study (50 players out of about 450 players in the NBA right now). But Personal Capital's chief marketing officer Mark Goines told the SF Chronicle they struck a deal with the NBA Players Association in 2015 due in large part to the financial struggles many ex-NBA players face.
"They have unique income and expense circumstances," Goines said. "The goal is educating the players about where they are in their financial lives, cope with sudden wealth, and hopefully gain a longer term perspective."
"Hopefully" is right.
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