Tim Howard has been a goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids since 2016. He has also played for Everton and Manchester United in the Premier League, and previously for the MetroStars for Major League Soccer in the U.S. He holds the record number of saves in a World Cup game.
My job is to save. No matter how many teammates the ball gets past, it’s all on me. A keeper needs to do everything in his power to stop the ball from hitting the net. Period.
So, when our opponent scores, it’s all on me. The weight of a big mistake, the collective disappointment of my teammates, supporters, and tens of thousands of spectators … stress is an understatement.
Persevering when things get rough
Moving beyond a miss, getting benched, laid off, family emergency — whatever your challenge — it can be really hard. But the one thing that can keep you going is belief in yourself.
I’ve had some tough times — from my Tourette’s diagnosis at 10, to injuries on the field, and emotional stress of being far away from my family — and I’ve never been one to give up.
In the difficult moments, I’ve leaned on my family, and my undying belief in myself. You can have confidence, but belief in one’s self is different. People get those things confused. Confidence comes and goes with success and failure, yet the belief in one’s self should never waver — good times or bad.
I always believed I could do it, it was just a matter of hard work and timing. Like anyone else, my confidence has wavered during low points. Then, I would recognize why things were tough, what I needed to improve, and I would work to get better knowing that I could actually do it.
The value of a dollar
Long before I started earning Major League Soccer and Premier League paychecks, I learned the value of a dollar. Growing up in North Brunswick, New Jersey, I watched my mom work two jobs to pay for travel soccer teams and my uniforms. After seeing how hard she worked, I had vast respect for both her and the dollars I earned in my career.
There were times when I wanted to spend more — on cars, clothes — because everyone wants to keep up with their teammates or their coworkers. I could certainly afford to spend more, but if you worry about what the next person has — you’re destined to fail. Someone may say, “That’s a really cool car,” but they don’t really care that much. Trying to please others to fit in is a dangerous place to be in.
I have a lot more important things to worry about: my family, my future.
I consciously combat financial stress
As an athlete, my health is critical to success. Stress can be crippling, so I do everything in my power to avoid it. As a father, I didn’t want to worry about how to pay for my kids’ college. I also needed to make sure that if something happened to me or my ability to earn money, my family would be OK.
You’ve got to get the big things off the table first. I’ve set up 529 college savings plans for both of my kids. I tell my teammates to start college funds while their kids are still young, because college creeps up quicker than you think. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve got a college fund is very comforting.
I also took out a life insurance policy, as well as career ending insurance in case I got injured, couldn’t play, or — God forbid, worse.
I also save as much as humanly possible. Money saved is money earned and it’s much smarter than buying material things. There is no sense in working hard, making good money, and still stressing about where it’s going to come from. I would hate to look to the future and think, “Oh boy, where is the money going to come from?” Talk about unnecessary worry.
Bite the bullet
Athletes can be the major breadwinners for their entire family — not just the immediate wife and children, but for their mothers, fathers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins. And when that happens, there are a lot of things at stake.
It’s a bit morbid and I don’t think anyone enjoys saying, “Hey, let’s go talk to a lawyer about estate planning,” because that means you’re not going to be here one day.
But you’ve worked so hard to earn your money that it’s important you have an estate plan in place, that you have the right person who can be the executor. No one wants to think of these things, but it’s a must that your will, your final wishes are in place. And once you take care of it, it’s a breath of fresh air.
Retirement comes sooner than you think
As a professional soccer player, I knew I would retire decades before I turned 65. And I plan on living for many long, healthy years. That means the money I have earned, by age 40, has got to last the rest of my life.
Like many athletes, soccer players don’t play past 40 or so years old. Mostly younger. In the 1990s, when I started earning $13,000 a year for the New Jersey Imperials, I had no idea how my career would unfold. Thankfully, so far, my hard work, persistence, and being conservative with my cash has paid off.
I have long prioritized my savings and my family’s security over short-term satisfaction, and I am thankful to have my agent Dan and my financial advisor to guide me past situations that could have set me back financially.
Be kind to yourself
There is something to be said for rewarding yourself. If you can buy yourself nice things and it’s not going to stop your kids from going to college, you should enjoy what you like. It’s nice to treat yourself when you work hard.
Money saved is money earned. I’m happy that I have funds for my future. That in and of itself makes me happy. I come from humble beginnings and I don’t get caught up in the amount of money I made. I still realize how much a dollar is worth and I don’t ever want to forget that.
Read also:Tim Howard: 5 Steps to Owning Your Future.
Things to Consider:
- What financial stressors do you have? Can you think of ways to alleviate them?
- What could you sacrifice financially in order to save as much as possible?
- Do you have a plan to support your loved ones when you’re gone?