A fool and his money are soon parted. And if that’s truly the case I seriously doubt if there are many people who would call me harsh for calling Antoine Walker one of the biggest fools the world has ever seen. Supposedly, in the twelve years Mr. Walker played in the NBA, the man made more than one hundred ten million dollars. That’s nine figures. You could take my salary multiply it by a thousand and still come up miserably short to that sum. Of course dude didn’t take all that to the bank. Subtract taxes and management fees and the like and still, Mr. Walker took home something way north of fifty million dollars. That is still a handsome king’s ransom.
And yet, what do I see on the net this morning? Mr. Walker is flat busted and sinking fast. The once multi millionaire athlete is being pursued by multiple financial institutions for unpaid debts. He’s been charged with passing rubbery checks in Las Vegas somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars. According to the Boston Globe he owes more than four million to creditors. Where did all of that fortune go? It’s not like it was confiscated for running an illegal kennel in his backyard.
Mr. Walker loved to live large. It wasn’t enough for him to drive a Bentley, he had to drive two. And it wasn’t enough for him to drive two Bentley’s. A Bentley is already custom built to its owners specifications. It’s one of the reasons why the car’s starting price is something like three hundred thousand dollars. But Mr. Walker had to take both of his custom built Bentley’s and have them customized even further with tricked out paint jobs and one of those global satellite enhanced sound systems that can compete with the best technology that NORAD has to offer. And to supplement his automotive taste, rumor has it that there were two Mercedes-Benzes, a high end Range Rover, a Hummer, and a Cadillac Escalade for when he wanted to slum around.
His entourage was large. His jewelry was large. Mr. Walker bought diamonds for his diamonds. The ring on his finger looks large enough to be used to scramble eggs on. He built a mansion for his mother complete with an indoor pool and ten bathrooms. I don’t care how active your bladder is, ten bathrooms is just a bit much. And despite all of this investing in all these material goods and then some, Mr. Walker didn’t invest a dime into anything that could’ve made money in the future when his basketball diary would eventually come to a close.
But now those days are long behind him. That picture you see with his name and number on his back was truly prophetic. Despite all the cars he had in his past Mr. Walker is now a walker. And that number twenty four under his name means that no matter what time it is during the day, twenty four hours a day he’s walking if he wants to get there.
It’s easy to see the folly of Mr. Walker’s ways. But more often than not we the lower life forms on the economic ladder do virtually the same exact thing with the relative pittance (compared to Mr. Walker’s salary one upon a time) that is our paycheck. Too often when we make our purchases we want to spend money like we don’t have a need to save. Need a car? Go to the dealership and buy the most car your credit score will allow. Some fashion magazine says that a new look is the new rave and many people make the choice to discard good clothing simply because it might be just a tad out of the latest style. Some of us try to buy diamonds and pearls and other ornamental jewelry like we had Mr. Walker’s taste. And let’s face it, part of the drain on the economy can be squarely contributed to people who bought way too much house for what they needed. It may not have ten bathrooms but too much is too much no matter how you look at it.
It is easy to point the finger of disappointment at Mr. Walker and say something like that would never happen to me. But it happens to many of us more often than what we think. People wake up one day and realize that they’re about to retire and their savings are woefully inadequate if they exist at all. Corporate America has made it easy for us to live beyond our means and we make the choice to take advantage of their low interest wares each and every day.
We don’t have to live like a multi millionaire to end up in the poor house. We can make the same foolish choices right where we are with our four, our five, or if we are so blessed, our six figure salaries. It’s not necessary to live at the very edge of your means. Tamp it down a bit. Live comfortably and save for a comfortable life in the future. That way, none of us will be one of the people sitting around years from now wondering what happened after we’ve spent way more than we should and asking why wasn’t more done to prepare for the time where income isn’t coming in the way it used to.