Wealthsimple is an investing service that uses technology to put your money to work like the world’s smartest investors. In “Money Diaries,” we feature interesting people telling their financial life stories in their own words
When footballers in Europe turn 16, they can sign working contracts, which means they can go abroad. I was playing with FC Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, and when I turned 16, I thought I would stay with Barca. But I wasn't feeling like they were showing me on paper what they were saying — let’s put it that way. I'm not talking just financially, but also in terms of my path into the first team. Halfway through that year, I got the call that Arsenal
I went alone for the first year and a half, and I lived with an English family. We were four players with this family, and I'm really happy I did this because I learned a lot about the culture — about the similarities and the differences between how people live in England and we live in Spain. Things like the timing of when you eat, when you wake
After a year and a half, my parents decided to come with my sister and live with me. The four of us lived together for two years, then my sister went back, and my parents stayed another year. Now, all of them are in Spain and I'm on my own again. It was really nice to have them here because every young footballer goes through his ups and downs. To go through them without your family or your friends is quite tough. During that time, I went on loan to Watford and then made my first team debut with Arsenal, and I owe them a lot for the moral support and the guidance that they gave
The bigger money doesn’t come in until you turn 17. During that first year, I was actually getting very little, so it was a challenge for me to live for the whole month. My parents have always given me a lot of independence in terms of my lifestyle and finances. Sometimes I would spend too much, and then be struggling a little bit toward the end of the month. I guess that happens to every young person when they start earning money. But it taught me how to deal with those situations. There’s not always going to be a lot of money coming into your bank account; you’re going to have challenges like this. And, my parents were there to put me in my place when I was spending a bit too much.
Even today, that feeling is always there. You see it in football — in a split second, you can have an injury. You look at what’s happened with Ryan Mason. He was a healthy professional football player and then, from a head clash, he had to retire at 26. It really makes you reevaluate your whole life. It's not just injuries. You can have very, very bad seasons and end up somewhere you didn't expect to be. And, when you get used to a certain lifestyle, it's hard to cut back. I think it's always in the back of my head that anything can happen, and that I need to be ready for it. It's important for every single player, doesn’t matter the age, to have a plan, and always put money aside.
What I'm making sure is that I have something for life after. My goal is to get to a point where I can play football without having to think about how much I'm getting paid — a point in which the finance is not in my head anymore. Some players, when they get to age 27 or 28, all of a sudden they get this thought in their head like, "I don't know if I have that much time anymore, so I'm gonna have to start investing.” And sometimes they put so much risk into it that they end up losing money. I thought, instead of waiting so long, why don't I just start taking care and managing my money and getting ready for the future now? It might be 15 to 20 years away, but the sooner you do it, the more ready you are when it happens.
The earlier you begin to save and invest, the better. That's one of the things that I say to younger players. I didn't start taking care of it until I was 20, but if you can start doing it when you're
I bought a house a couple of years ago, but at the moment I've been living in one that I rented in a location that was more suitable for me. I've got one in Spain as well, and my family lives in it. It’s nice to be able to provide for your family and give them a better place to live. It's one of the greatest feelings. But they insist that it’s my house. They like to say that they're just taking care of it, to make sure everything's clean.
My first big splurge was probably my third car — a Mercedes S63. When I was in the Under 21 team, I would see older players driving them and I thought, ‘One day that will be my car.’ I was hearing other players spending huge amounts on cars and thinking those people might be crazy. But after you get that kind of money, it kind of makes more sense. I loved that car so much, but at the same
I don’t have it anymore. I decided to go green so I bought a Tesla Model S. I’m a very big fan of technology and taking care of the earth. The Tesla is amazing. Every time I go to training, I'm excited to just drive the car. It’s like a phone: it upgrades itself every month. It is amazing to see what a machine can do — and, of course, there’s the plus that you are not harming the Earth. That makes me very happy inside.
This way of thinking isn’t new
I started a plant-based diet at the start of the season. That is great for the environment, and I would do it for that, but this wasn’t the main reason. Once you start doing it, you actually feel better.
I don’t actually know the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. It would probably be a
I don’t know yet what life will be for me after football. I’m already working on other businesses. I have a marketing agency with my best friend, I even took a basic degree in marketing. Right now, the company's gotten quite big, and we have loads of things that we're dealing with. We are quite picky
Becoming a designer myself is a long-term goal. I've seen my mom do it since I was really young and I've seen some of the pieces that she was able to create. I wouldn't like to just print a t-shirt with my name and put it online. I want to do something that is different, that people can appreciate, not just for who I am, but for what those pieces are.
I'm 23 now. In the end, there has to be a balance. I'm a young person and I should enjoy my life. I need to value money, but it's important to make the most of your time. It's like how the gossip in the papers used to bother me when I was younger. But I don’t worry anymore. You've got to train hard and take care of yourself, but at the end of the day, you're only 20 or 25 years old once. It’s important to give 100
As told to Josh Dean exclusively for Wealthsimple; transcript edited and condensed for clarity.