FACT: In one semi-popular North American sport, 78% of athletes go broke within two years of retirement.
FACT: Financial situations are difficult and oftentimes scary to talk about.
FACT: Those situations become a lot less scary when you’re equipped with the tools, know-how, and horse sense to handle the situation like an adult.
Now, why am I telling you this? Well, beyond my shelf of Shark Tank DVDs and the hundreds of hours I’ve spent handling finances for several upper middle class families on The Sims, I’ve got real-world experience handling per diem money.
Most NCAA athletes are in school for an education, but what is that education teaching you? Math? Science? The arts? Maybe. But it’s definitely not giving you the knowledge necessary to handle the crisp clean Hamilton handed to you by coach on the bus to the meet. One day you’re going to graduate college and if you don’t know any better, you’re going to misuse that per diem in the future at a real job.
So, pull up a chair and grab a seat, cause we’re going to show you how to save some real bones when traveling to meets.
Chances are Coach is going to wake your ass up early in the morning and be all on your jock to get to the van so you can hit the course for a pre-race shakeout. You’re going to think to yourself “Is this guy (or gal) really pulling my ass right now?” You’re tired, you probably haven’t pooped yet, and all you wanna do is head to the Starbucks down in the lobby and throw down some clams for a cup of steaming hot java. BIG MISTAKE.
TIP NUMBER ONE: Save some serious fetti on coffee by asking for what they don’t have.
You may want something from Starbucks like a “latte” or a “frap” or a “tea” or a “cold brew” or a “cappuccino” or an “espresso” or a “mocha” or a “flat white” or a “refresher” but not only are those just empty calories, they’re also the proverbial grain-based pellets of sustenance for the empty-headed lab rats running on their treadmill wheel generating the power that turns the gears and sprockets in the big machine that powers the hot tub of the C-Suite executives and Don Draper try hard lookalikes selling false advertisements and ideals to the masses so the Man can continue to keep you and everyone you know locked up in a cave, watching shadows on a wall that you interpret to be reality causing you to never want to leave and see the real world. That’s not what you need to do.
What you need to order is a cup of drip coffee. What is drip coffee? It’s coffee that’s dripped, you dip.
Here’s the reason why you’re ordering it: not just cause you’re an adult and that the bitter taste of coffee is repentance for staying up all night thinking through the plausibility of your escapist fantasies, but also because if Starbucks doesn’t currently have any ready to pour, you get the cup for free. I don’t shop at Starbucks and prefer Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (I don’t support corporations in any part of my social, sex, or Second Life), but I do believe this results in a savings of somewhere around 4 dollars. You’ll have to wait quite a bit for coffee and coach will be mad at you for being late to the van, but saving 4 shekels? That my friend is a good deal of lucci.
You’re probably going to want to eat on this trip at some point right? Yeah, duh of course. Now here’s the issue, you’re going to get some girl on the team, let’s call her Becky, and she’s going to make everybody stop at Chipotle because she hates conflict and everyone likes Chipotle until they’ve had Qdoba and no one on your team has had Qdoba. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Chipotle, but you gotta be willing to throw down some serious guac if you want to eat.
TIP TWO: Order plenty of extras at Chipotle.
So here’s what you’re going to do: go through the line and place your order for a vegetarian burrito as normal. But just make sure that you add lettuce. I’ll explain why later.
I know what you’re thinking: how is this saving me money? Plus, I’m a growing boy or girl. I need some MEAT. Come on man, LET THE BIG DOG EAT. WOOF WOOF WHERE MY DOGS AT?
Well, here’s how you’ll save some cheddar (and enjoy quite a bit too): As soon as you hand over your lolly and take your burrito to your table, take a bite and make a face like you’re looking at the colors on the sale shoes available at RunningWarehouse.com.
Get up to the counter and say to the employee at the counter “My burrito has lettuce in it. I didn’t ask for lettuce in my burrito because you shouldn’t ever eat a burrito with lettuce in it.” They’re going to apologize for screwing up and offer to make you another one. Make a face like you just saw the line for the porta potty at a cross country meet and say “fine.” Now, go through the line and order extra of everything. Order extra corn, extra salsa, extra rice, extra chicken, extra sour cream water, extra everything. Here’s another trick: do “half and half” of meat. No one knows what “half and half” of meat is and they’ll just give you double. Just don’t add lettuce. Lettuce is not a burrito ingredient. Really load that sucker up. If your burrito isn’t as wide as it is long, you screwed up. If the new guy wrapping your burrito doesn’t have to ask his manager to come over and help him wrap it, you screwed up. If the person adding extra fajita vegetables to your burrito doesn’t give you a look that says “is this guy pulling my ass?” you screwed up.
My buddy, you just got a burrito that’ll last you multiple meals and saved some serious dosh.
I’m going to give you one more tip here and this is for all you kids at Richie Rich schools with their own private McDonald’s in their house and enough budget to fly to a meet.
When the plane takes off and the pressures start to change, you may notice a feeling in your ears that is quite uncomfortable. While the science is still completely out regarding what is actually happening, the prevailing wisdom is to try and “pop” your “ears.” Now you can do what people used to which is to either manually go in with your fingertips or you could do the other thing people do which is to chew gum.
Bubblegum is bad for your teeth and practically costs a fortune. Mint gum? Buddy if you’ve got the funds for mint gum, you gotta be pulling my ass right now. You know who does have money for gum? That weird guy you’re sitting next to (and I’m not talking about the trainer who came along for some reason). That guy is some high flying corporate executive in meetings all day long kissing butts on both coasts and I guarantee you he’s got gum in his pockets. You’ll find this guy sitting up in “business select” or some other stuff place where the one percent suck on their chardonnays and discuss high society issues like “home ownership” and “affordable college education.” That’s where you’ll find this guy.
TIP THREE: Bum some gum off of a random dope in a suit.
This guy probably has 3 cars, 3 houses, and at least 3 packs of gum. So you lean over you say “Excuse me, Sir, I don’t want to bother you, but could I have a piece of gum?” Then the fool will hand it over to you, practically for free! That’s the problem with Corporate America, just spending money and throwing it away for nothing in return. It’s no surprise that they’re pushing for tax cuts at every turn. They’re bleeding money at every turn.
So if you follow the tips above, and keep your wits about you, you’ll find yourself back in town with a good deal of cabbage. At this point, you could do the smart thing and invest it, but based on my experience, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to treat yourself with a trip to the racetrack to bet on the ponies.
No matter what, never forget: it’s called per diem and not per lifem for a reason. Don’t take it for granted.