A New Class of Heroes

Dear Son,

Growing up in southern Illinois, in the world of Major League Baseball, you were either a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals.  I grew up bleeding red.  Born in the 80s and growing up in the 90s, I remember watching the likes of Ozzie “The Wizard” Smith, Mark McGwire, and countless others captivate me with their talents, all the while dreaming of being as great as they were at the sport I loved.

I think it’s perfectly natural as children, and even as adults, to look up to individuals in positions of prestige that so few reach.  Turning 30 later this year, I realize that my chance of making it to the pros is long gone…but it doesn’t mean I don’t dream.  My aspirations have simply shifted toward a new class of heroes.  Toward a group of individuals that are also in a position that so few in this country reach…individuals who are Financially Independent with the means to Retire Early.

When I was a child, I was overweight and lacked the understanding of the drive and work ethic that it took to make it to the pros.  Now, as an adult, I am working on shedding the pounds, both in the form of excess body weight and the crushing weight of debt.

Since beginning this journey toward financial independence, I have been inspired by “Hall of Famers” such as Mr. Money Mustache, jlcollinsnh, Go Curry Cracker1500 Days to Freedom, The Mad Fientist, and countless others.  As many of my fellow bloggers are on their own similar paths, I look forward to my future induction into “The Hall.”

As you continue to grow, I have no doubt that you will love the Cardinals, just like your dear old mom and dad.  In your first year alone, you have already been to two games, first in Denver and again in Houston.  Thankfully, your God-parents and best buddy, who we went to the game in Houston with, are Cards fans too!  While you were too young to truly enjoy the experience, more will come and your love of the game will grow.

However, the inspiration behind this post actually came from a different sport…football.  A recent Wall Street Journal article, Why the Redskins’ Players Are So Frugal, caught my attention and got me wondering…why don’t we hear more stories about professional athletes with a grasp on personal finance?  The average playing career in Major League Baseball is 5.6 years, the NFL’s average is a mere 3.5, and, according to Forbes, roughly 80% of retired NFL players go bankrupt!

If you develop a love for a particular sport and want to take a serious shot at going pro…and as your dad, of course I’m rooting for that…it is my sincere hope that you will follow in the footsteps of these frugal athletes who understand that money is finite and, in the world of sports where an injury can end a career, tomorrow is never a guarantee.  Living beyond your means, no matter how small or large the paycheck (and no matter in what career you ultimately choose), is a surefire path toward financial disaster.  A big house, fancy cars, and the like, will not fund your retirement.  So, again no matter what career you are in, pay yourself first, learn to live on less, decline to take on debt whenever possible…and join me in “The Hall” even earlier than I intend to get there.  Play ball!




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