Wealthsimple is a whole new kind of investing service. This is the latest installment of our recurring series “Money Diaries” where we ask interesting people to open up about the role money has played in their lives.
It’s funny, I really didn’t spend much money at all when I first got to the NBA. I’d like to say I was being responsible, but the truth is I just didn’t have any time to spend it. I started playing during the 2011 lockout, so when the season finally got going, the schedule was so crazy I just didn’t have time to spend the money I was making because I was playing so much. A lot of times we were playing back-to-backs. Or four games in five nights. So I just didn’t have the energy to make any big purchases. And I don’t ever remember going, “Let me get to the mall.”
When I wasn’t playing I was trying to get rest or getting some treatment for my body. Financially, that lockout really worked to my advantage. Probably the biggest expense I had going on back then was my rent. My first actual big purchase was probably when I bought my Bentley. Before the Bentley, I didn’t really care for cars that much. I was still driving a Jeep Wrangler. But then after riding in a couple Bentleys I was like, I like this. This is smooth. And then I found out how much they cost, and I looked at my account and realized that I’d just had all these cheques piling up, and I was like, dang, that Bentley’s really not even that much. So I finally bought a Bentley.
But yeah, I did buy something that I regret. When I first signed with the Cavaliers, we bought a condo in downtown Cleveland. I knew we’d be in Cleveland for a while and my daughter was about to be born. We thought it was a smart purchase — it wasn’t smart. We realized too late that downtown Cleveland wasn’t our vibe at all. And it wasn't enough space for us at all. We hadn’t really thought about all the stuff that we owned. We started moving in and we were already running out of room! The whole time we were living in that place, all we could think about was, How are we gonna sell this? Eventually we decided it would be better if we rented — when it’s time to play, rent a place somewhere in Cleveland, stay there for the duration of the season and then go back to Atlanta, where we’ve got a house.
If I would have only made $4 million in my career, I could live the lifestyle I want to live with that. There are a whole lot of people who have never seen a million dollars in their life and they live just fine.
I don’t think I have whatever that thing is that makes some athletes bad with money. If I would have only made $4 million in my career, I could live the lifestyle I want to live with that. There are a whole lot of people who have never seen a million dollars in their life and they live just fine. I can’t speak for others, but I think there’s a certain lifestyle that some athletes get caught up in. They’ll be worrying about what stuff they can buy that will make them more famous or more popular or more whatever. And maybe some of the ones who go broke are really just kids who have expensive taste. I’ve been pretty good though.
Since I entered the league, half of my cheques have always gone into a separate account. That money — I don't even see it. It's put into investments. I pride myself on doing that — I’ve done it no matter the size of my contract or salary. My cheques went up when I signed my second contract and because of what I’ve saved I don’t really have a lot of worries about money. The funny thing is that now that I can be way more flexible with what I’ll buy, I’ve found I don’t really need much. Since I became rich, I've gotten more free stuff than I have ever imagined receiving in my life. So that’s something: people who have everything really don’t buy much. That was a hard concept for me to understand at first.
Who would I get to throw the most baller-ific birthday party? Like if I wanted circus-in-town type sh-t? I’d let RJ (Richard Jefferson) and Channing (Frye) throw it. Those dudes are crazy.
Now that I think about it, our whole team isn’t big on expensive stuff. For as much money as we make, we’re all pretty cheap. We split the bill at dinner. We're smart about our coins, man. If I ever wanted to have someone on the team invest my money, it’d be LeBron. On the other hand, who would I get to throw the most baller-ific birthday party? Like if I wanted circus-in-town type sh-t? I’d let RJ (Richard Jefferson) and Channing (Frye) throw it. Those dudes are crazy.
It’s dope to be married to my wife, Teyana (Taylor), because I’d been used to being the breadwinner. But, as an artist, Teyana’s got her own whole business thing going on. She makes sure that she’s always financially got enough to be able to do what she wants to do. If she doesn’t have enough in her account, she’s just going to start a new business venture. It’s our understanding that anything that comes our way because of her job or her circumstance, she takes care of. And anything that comes our way because of my job, I take care of. It doesn’t even have to be said. So like renting a house for the season — I pay for that because we wouldn't have to live there unless it was for me.
At the same time, we both will make it convenient for each other. Like there are times she wants her friends to come to games and she doesn't even ask me to go get her tickets or anything. She just goes and buys them so she can sit where she wants to sit and doesn’t have to call me during the day. I mean, I ain't gonna sit here and act like we’re perfect. Me and her get into it. But I got a lucky set up.
Neither one of us goes for expensive gifts. We’ve already got everything we need. We like to get each other thoughtful stuff, just like what we need at the moment. She wanted to start a production company so I got her a camera, a green screen, all the software and stuff she needs to go into production. And then one day I was like, ‘Oh I wanna DJ.’ I started learning how to DJ by practicing on my friend's equipment. And Teyana gets me a whole DJ set with a custom box.
For us it's not about how much it costs. It’s just more about the thoughtfulness. Like with us you can't really go off with gifts — yeah, I could buy Teyana some expensive bag but it don't mean as much to her because she could buy that sh-t for herself. She’d literally tell me, “Take the bag back! Get your money! I'll go get it. You're not going to have a one-up by getting that bag.” Yeah, that bag ain't going to be a get-out-of-jail-free card for my wife.
As told exclusively to Wealthsimple. Illustration by Jenny Mörtsell. We make smart investing simple and affordable.