12 Oct 2020
In a MyPlayers magazine feature, JANO VERMAAK explains how he managed his finances during his 16-year rugby career.
When I played for the Valke at the 2003 Craven Week in Wellington, I knew I wanted to be a professional rugby player, and since my plan was not to go the university route, I had to have a solid financial plan for my future.
Before signing my first contract, I had a target in mind for how much money I wanted to have saved up by the end of my career. I then set myself a five-year and a 10-year target that would serve as checkpoints towards my ultimate 15-year goal.
To achieve those targets, I started putting away a percentage of income each month into an account that gave me interest growth.
My objective was to build a property portfolio over time, since there will always be a demand for real estate. To achieve the goal of buying my first property, I had to save for a deposit. Easy enough. But money doesn’t save itself.
My approach to finances has always been conservative, and I would recommend this to other players, especially those only entering the industry now.
Don’t waste your money on a fancy lifestyle – what I like to call 'bars, cars and superstars'. You won’t play rugby forever, but this industry gives you the platform to build a stable future if you manage your finances well during your career. On average, rugby players earn much more per month than their friends and peers working in other industries.
As planned, I bought my first property after five years. I achieved what I wanted to.
Still working towards that number I had in mind for the end of my career, the following five years meant building on the first. And for me that meant playing rugby in France for two years – I left for no reason other than to work towards that ultimate savings goal at the end of my career. I never planned to stay in France indefinitely, and I knew what I wanted to achieve financially during my time abroad.
While in France, I still put away money every month to grow my property portfolio. Playing for Toulouse supported my overall plan, and I was still enjoying my rugby.
I played professional rugby for 16 years, and while this might sound like an eternity to some, I always knew my playing days would not last forever. (I’m still a youthful 35 years old with my entire life ahead of me!)
During my playing years, I never wanted to be in a position where I experienced financial pressure. Your career can end at any moment, and that is why you should not wait for that 'big break' before you start managing your finances and future well – you have to start in year one.
Thanks to good financial decisions, I achieved my goals for years five, 10 and 15.
Besides my savings, I’m earning an income from my property portfolio, and I haven’t been solely dependent on my rugby income for a while – rugby became a vehicle to secure my future for life after rugby.
As mentioned, I have been playing professional rugby for 16 years, and for only two of those years it was for an overseas club.
The game served me beautifully. I played for the Boks, I won the Currie Cup, played Super Rugby, and I made friends for life.
Obviously, there were disappointments and injuries along the way, but my conservative approach to finances meant I never put unnecessary pressure on myself due to financial concerns.
I don’t want to sound like an oupa preaching from a position of seniority, but I do want to suggest players, especially the younger ones (the average age of Super Rugby players in South Africa is just 24), consider the following: