Teach Your Kids How to Become a Millionaire

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No one taught me how to become a millionaire. I idolized my favorite sports players and thought I could duplicate what they did to make money.

I remember dreaming of playing in the NFL and being a millionaire from an early age. I strapped on my first helmet when I was five, following in my older brother’s footsteps, playing both football and lacrosse. My dad was an avid sports fan. He and my mom encouraged all of my brothers and sisters to be involved in activities.

I was much bigger than many of the kids my age and instantly found success with football. You mean I get to do all the things my parents usually tell me to stop doing, like pushing and tackling other kids? I had a great early career in youth football. So much so that I began dreaming of playing in the NFL and being a millionaire.

Isn’t that the fun part of being a kid, dreaming, being carefree, feeling like you could accomplish just about anything you put your mind too. Well, it was a good thing. I was a level-headed kid also because as my football and lacrosse careers progressed, so did the skills of the other players around me.

The early success I achieved slowly faded as the other kids became just as big and strong as me. By the time high school arrived, I was just your average size player with average abilities. I quickly realized my dream of playing in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl would not be fulfilled, but that was okay because I now had my sights set on college and a career.

how to be a millionaire

Dream Crusher

Now, as a parent of three children of my own, I also encouraged them to play sports and be involved in activities. I had hopes that maybe one or all my children would have better sports abilities than their dear old dad.

As it turns out, all three played some team sports over the years, but as fate would have it, we do not have any sports all-stars in our house, which given my own experience, I realize is a long shot. My wife and I have always preached a school work first approach when it comes to extracurricular activities.

We want a delicate balance. We want them involved in sports, clubs, interests, but realize school work should come first and then need to work hard at it. If they wanted to try something, we always supported them, within reason. We didn’t want to crush a dream but also wanted to set realistic expectations.

Sport or Tech

If your child has above average athletic abilities pursuing sports might be an option. I know several families and their children would have benefited from college scholarships because of their athletic skills. Unfortunately, being a good college athlete often doesn’t translate into becoming a professional one. The key, I believe, still comes down to education.

Why not let the athletic ability fund your way to an excellent education that you can use for years to come.

According to a 2017 report released by Paysa, there’s some data behind the discussion of pursuing a professional sports career or one in technology.

How to Become a Millionaire

Since the average professional sports career lasts only a few short years, the long-term payout is not necessarily any better. It could even be worse than what an individual would realize if he or she went to engineering school.

  • MLB: average career length is 5.6 years with the lifetime earnings potential of $2,912,000
  • NFL: average career length is 3.5 years with the lifetime earnings potential of $3,010,000
  • NBA: average career length is 4.8 years with the lifetime earnings potential of $12,027,456

The chances of making it to the MLB, NFL, or NBA are slim. But if an individual made it their goal to become a tech engineer, it’s reassuring to know that the average acceptance rate at engineering schools is 63 out of 100. Six out of 10 engineering students graduate, and 97 out of 100 find jobs.

Considering that the average career length for an engineer is 40 years, with an average annual salary of $125,418.00, the lifetime earnings potential for a person in this role is $5,016,723. If you work at Facebook, your overall earnings could be as much as $13,533,236. If you are a Google employee in the tech engineering space, you could make as much as $10,674,690 throughout your career.

What If?

I do like the time frame that you can make your millions in playing professional sports. It’s a heck of a lot shorter than your average tech career. 

But why do so many professional athletes go broke? Are they not thinking about retirement? Or the fact that several million dollars are enough to reach financial freedom.

An estimated 60 percent of former NBA players go broke within five years of departing the league. A reported 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or under financial stress just two years after retirement. Ouch! 

But average Joe’s aren’t any better. But the typical American household now carries an average debt of $137,063. We can do better. You don’t need to be the richest person to build wealth. You need a financial plan. Learning about and understand money is a crucial component in building wealth.

The sooner an individual can start regardless of career, the better. If you can learn and practice avoiding debt, saving money, and investing in the stock market, you are well on your way to becoming a millionaire.

There are other ways to help ensure your wealth-building is on track from an early age. Understand the power of compounding interest and learn about passive income. Yes, we typically make money by actively working, but many self-made millionaires have mastered the art of passive income to make money and free up their time. 

Mastering personal finance is just simple math, but it’s your behavior and habits with money that can make the real difference. 

Final Thought on How to Become a Millionaire

We don’t have to worry about the NFL, MLB, or NBA in our house. We are focused on careers.

Our three children have varied interests, our oldest son is pursuing a degree in computer science, our daughter is pursuing a degree in animation/social media, and our youngest son still in high school would like to pursue a career in culinary arts. 

We still believe the keys to their success are to continue to teach them to have a plan for their money, live below their means, save, and invest. We are connecting the dots on college and degree choice, overall cost, and the return on that investment. This way, no matter what career path they end up taking, they can all attain millionaire status if they want, and it won’t take them 40 years of working either.

According to the data presented here, you have the potential to make a lifetime salary of anywhere between $3 and $13 million no matter what career path you choose, either sports or tech. The question is, will that ultimately be enough comes down to how you spend, save, and invest that money.

36 thoughts on “Teach Your Kids How to Become a Millionaire”

  1. We all have different gifts and athletic scholarships can be a great way to pay for college. But, only a handful of athletes from my school advanced to the professional levels. And, they were only in it for a few years, mostly in the minor leagues, NBA Europe, or Canadian Football League.

    For the rest of us, pursuing a degree in engineering or something else that requires academic training is the true key to long-term financial success and wealth.

  2. Interesting stats! I know a few people who are/were expecting their kids to be pro sports players. Most all have faded out. 🙁 Some are still hanging on. Personally, we’re teaching our kids to follow their hearts and their guts where their careers are concerned, to avoid debt as much as possible and to follow the sure path to millionaire status – by saving a percentage of every paycheck from the get-go.

  3. I think it’s sad when parents push their kids so hard so…banking on some day that kid will go pro in their sport. There was a documentary on netflix about it. I think somewhere in between tech and pro athletes is a kid doing whatever they set their heart on. I get that education is really important, but a lot of pressure can be put on kids that way too (not saying you’re doing that). I’m guessing overall, kids are under a lot of stress and pressure these days!

    • They are. Smart phone and social media really throw a monkey wrench into the whole parenting thing, and finding a right balance for children these days. We want ours to do well, but not afraid for them to fail and learn a bit either.

  4. I know a lot of people focus on pushing their kids into the big leagues of sports, but careers are a much more realistic and safe path. Many professional sports players suffer debilitating injuries that prevent them from enjoying their quick cash, anyway. If you take a tech career route, there’s less pressure to keep up appearances and you can live a simpler life.

    As far as careers for my children, I want to encourage them to explore the things that interest them. I’m not opposed to them starting a business or attending trade school in lieu of expensive college degrees.

    • A great point. It’s one of the things the football is dealing with now. The games is losing some younger players because they fear injury. The old risk/reward scenario.

      We are challenging are children to not just think careers and working for someone else too. They need to keep all possibilities open.

  5. I think simply explaining to a teenager that they actual can achieve millionaire status without making a huge salary is intriguing enough to get their attention. Showing them the beauty of starting early and watching that compound interest do it’s magic could really help them see the possibilities.

    We’re pretty laid back at our house. We encourage our kids to try new things really dive deep into their interests, but we’ve never pushed. I’m looking forward to seeing what paths they choose to take in life.

  6. Our cousin (cousin’s son, actually) had a full scholarship to Vanderbilt to play baseball. His team won the College World Series when he was a sophomore and he was drafted to the Majors in the 3rd round when he was a junior. He’s playing on an A ball team now. He got a signing bonus but not enough to live on the rest of his life, and I know the players don’t make a good salary at his current level. If his baseball career doesn’t pan out he’ll finish his degree at Vanderbilt and probably go into the medical field.

  7. We’re right with you Brian! My son was pretty good at football – but we always put academics first. He realized that playing football in college would really take away from his academics too – so he’s passed on that option. He also knows he was lucky to be one of the bigger kids and he never got hurt. That could change quickly at college too. I like it when parents focus on lifelong sports too.

    • I love to see so many kids be self-aware and not just be pushed into things they made not want 100%. As much as my son loves the game of football he realizes that academics is where he need to set his focus. Wishing them much success in the coming years!

  8. I never had the sports dream. I dreamed of creating a video game that would be played by millions, and make me millions. Over the years I’ve realized the glamour I pictured in hat industry isn’t reality. It’s a burnout gig and one with the same issues you mentioned as a result.

  9. Two of my kids actually have gone far in sports. They both had Olympic dreams (one still might). It’s so important not to count too much on dreams. My hope for my children is that they will pursue life-long fitness in a well balanced life. My eldest let go of her Olympic dream beautifully, and has continued to have fun exploring different sports – from beach volleyball to triathlon to surfing. I think I’m more proud of the way she let it go than I ever was of her medal-winning. Being seriously involved in sports has given these 2 daughters benefits in terms of time management, team work skills, communication, travel, friendships, scholarships, and confidence. So I’m glad they both chose to go big – and I’m glad that they haven’t put undue weight on the dreams they’ve allowed themselves to have.

    • There are many benefits to team sports. Totally agree, time management, team work skills, communication, travel, friendships, fitness etc. These are things that will last a lifetime. As you state Ruth all about finding that balance and knowing when it’s time to let go and move on.

  10. Given my grandfather was an Olympian back in the day, it’s always been in my consciousness all my life, but I’ve never given it serious thought, partially since lacrosse isn’t an Olympic sport, and partially because frankly, the bar to get onto the Olympic team in the 1920s was much lower than it is today.

    I plan to do the same with my children – sound mind, healthy body – so mental and physical fitness will be equally important to build the resilience and endurance you need to survive and thrive in today’s world.

  11. Growing up I dreamed of being in the NBA…yea, it wasn’t gonna happen! I see a lot of parents push their kids to sports hoping to get a scholarship but spend on travel teams, spending countless hours going to the sporting events out of state, for equipment, etc, etc… Sports are great but I think it’s too much to live, eat, breathe sports in hopes of getting that scholarship. Might be better off saving and investing that money. I think the best majors which will lead to the best paying careers will be in the STEM majors…but can’t push a kid in that direction if they aren’t interested. It seems like most of those early retirees are engineers so I think that’s a good career….

    • The cost of travel and club teams is kind of crazy. I think saving and investing that money over the years is the safer bet, unless your kid is clearly a superstar.

  12. Thank you for sharing the statistics. I always wanted to play sports and thought maybe I could have been something, but in all reality it most likely wouldn’t have happened. This information is very helpful especially when we have kids. I never really got a chance to play sports and I know I want my kids to have the opportunity if the so choose. The best thing I can do is teach them how money works and what to do with it. I want to teach them to be proactive instead of reactive to the world. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re welcome Amanda. Agreed the best we can do is prepare and educate our children as much as possible. I believe focusing on life skill is so important, because many schools do not cover these topics.

  13. Very interesting stats. I knew the average career length for NFL players are short but I have no idea NBA and MLB average career length are that short too. Another way to analyze this is to see how much money the parents would have to spend on their kids to have them go down the professional sports path. In Canada hockey is big but it’s not a cheap sport to participate in.

    • Great point Tawcan. There are so many ways to spend money on sports these days, clubs and travel team, strength training, extra coaching etc.

  14. I like your article and reasoning. Just one question; as a fresh Engineering grad, where do I find a job making that much money? I have a highly respected degree and internship and even manufacturing experience, yet starting salaries are around $55-60k. Only after 10 years of experience (assuming 3% annual average increase) will an engineer make $120-130k.

    Your point is taken, but I’m afraid not many will see the $5M mark.

  15. Way better to focus your kids towards learning a skill and promoting their creative abilities than their athletic abilities. Perhaps even better to show them how to earn money thorough their own individual efforts rather than relying on a paycheck.

    • Certainly been part of our discussion, not relying on working for someone else. Considering all your options in today’s economy and workforce.

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