Toronto Raptors’ Guard Fred VanVleet Stays Smart With His Money
The NBA is a ruthless business that pities very few.
Players are given more money than they could ever dream of before even entering adulthood. They become overnight millionaires, an opportunity that so few people ever come by. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the NBA lifestyle – time on the road, clubs, jewelry, groupies.
There is too long a list of former players that hit rock bottom. Players that at one point had it all and then went bankrupt.
For Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors, protecting and growing his money is as important a responsibility as the one he has on the basketball court. On the hardwood, he has to continue getting better each year, he has to compete, and he has to help his team win. Off the floor, he has to make key investments, trust the right people, and make the correct decisions when it comes to his money.
To learn more on the topic, Gad Elmaleh of BallnRoll recently caught up with VanVleet for an exclusive interview to find out more details on how VanVleet handles his business off the court.
BallnRoll: Coming into the league with such big money could be challenging, how do you keep level-headed with your spending habits?
Fred VanVleet: You just have to think about it not in the spur of the moment. Think about it as say god-willing I will have a 15-year career, I’ll be 40 and then I’ll still have like 40 years to live, so you got to make it last. Just preparing that way. So like I make a $1-million this year and I can spend $900,000. It doesn’t work like that. You got to plan for the future, I have kids, I have family so that’s certain things that you have to be mindful of. You have to try to spend as though you’re retired and that’s how I think about it so when I’m done playing, I want my lifestyle to not drop off that much.
BnR: What was your first big ticket purchase?
FVV: First big ticket purchase? I bought a Rolex for myself. I bought my mom a house first, but that was like before I had any real money. That was when I was on my first contract. I wasn’t making very much. I did make sure to get my mom a house and get my girlfriend a car. That type of stuff. Then for myself, when I signed my contract – my second contract – I bought myself a Rolex.
BnR: Do you have any like ‘damn, that was stupid purchase’?
FVV: Just clothes and shoes. Stuff like that. Most stuff that I buy, I try to make sure I need, but I do like nice clothes and shoes so everytime I spend the money, I feel stupid about it. Always give myself cushion in my budget to spend for those types of things without getting too crazy. Other than that, I got some jewelry, but those things mean something to me so I don’t look back at it as a regret.
BnR: With money comes new friends. How do you say no to friends from the neighbourhood and cousins you never even knew you had?
FVV: Well, I’m lucky that all of my friends and family, especially my friends, I’ve been knowing for 10-15 years. We don’t have any new friends other than guys that I meet through the league in my playing career. Then with family, you just deal with it. Everybody has issues, every family has their own problems and you cannot avoid it. You have to manage it as best you can and hope that everyone understands the big picture, but I think information is key. One thing I did with my family is breakdown my contracts and how, yes this says $18-million, but I don’t have $18-million. I can show you my account. I can show my taxes and I can show you how my salary is played out. It helps people understand, it doesn’t help solve everything, but it does help people understand a little bit.
BnR: With the horrifying NBA bankruptcy rate, what do you do in terms of long-term investment to help this money last for many generations?
FVV: First, you have to find someone you trust – a good advisor. Then you just have to do your research. Study guys who went broke. Study guys that are successful and find out who did what and why. Then you try to align that and personalize that. I think just being conservative overall is the best route to go early. Just be very conservative with your money, protect your cash, and ultimately if you make enough money on investments, you don’t need to be risky. There’s a time and place for that, but I think early just save up as much as you can and then when you get to the point where you want to invest, look into stocks, bonds, and safe investments, you go from there.
BnR: How involved are you with your money and who do you trust with it?
FVV: Yeah, check it every day. I check my accounts, check my deposits and balances, things like that. You have to find a good team of financial people that you can trust. Keep watching your stuff and don’t give people too much power.
BnR: Thanks for your time, Fred.