In his six years in the NBA, Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has navigated career ups and downs that put his lifelong dream of making it as a professional basketball player in doubt. Thanks to a savings mentality that he adopted early on, along with a healthy dose of perseverance, Dinwiddie was able to make a comeback.
Dinwiddie spoke with Grow about the most valuable money lessons he's learned, and his philosophies on spending, saving, and retirement.
Dinwiddie started his NBA career in 2014 with the Detroit Pistons, signing a three-year contract worth $2.5 million. During that time, he saved aggressively, amassing "several hundred thousands" within two years.
"I had a fairly small budget compared to what I was earning," Dinwiddie says. "I was like, 'Nah, man, I'm not going to be one of these rookies that blows his money. I'm not going to do it. I cannot do it.'"
Video by Jason Armesto
He was able to strike a balance, spending money on what mattered to him at the time (mostly video games), while being realistic about what he could afford, especially when it came to items that might not hold value.
"I had a very modest perspective and lifestyle in terms of what fun meant to me," Dinwiddie recalls. "I'm very big on do what is within your means, within your range. You should never be so constricted that you can't have fun. You just have to understand what fun you can have."
Dinwiddie grew up in the Los Angeles area, and writes on his website that "dedication to hard work" was instilled by his parents, Stephanie and Malcolm. Lessons about money also started at a young age for Dinwiddie, who's now 26.
"I got to give a lot of credit to my dad," Dinwiddie says. "He's a real estate agent, and so the concepts of entrepreneurship, money, real estate, sound investing, stuff like that — I was introduced to it pretty early."
In particular, Dinwiddie says the biggest lesson he learned is that it's important to understand your own finances, including when money is coming in and going out.
"One of the things [my dad] never wanted me to do as a NBA player was to just pass my money off and never have an eye on it, or never have an idea of where it's going or how it's working," Dinwiddie recalls.
"Whatever it is that I chose to do, or even whatever my financial advisors chose to do or recommended me to do with the money, he wanted me to always have an eye on it and always have an understanding of not only what they were doing, but why."
Dinwiddie's retirement from his primary career in basketball will happen decades before it will for most people, and he wants to ensure that he does everything possible now so he can enjoy his second act. "The only way you're going to do that is by saving, by planning for those moments."
He's mindful that the majority of his earnings are likely to come relatively early in life. "My retirement's going to be from 35 to 100 instead of 65 to 100, so I have to plan for 70 years," Dinwiddie says. "If i'm not doing that now, you're going to be hard-pressed to squeeze two years worth of savings into a 70-year time frame and expect to be comfortable."
Video by Jason Armesto
Dinwiddie can already picture his future: a home in Malibu, California, that overlooks the ocean, and time with his family.
"I just want to be a dad," he says. "Anything I decide to do on top of that would have to come from a place of passion and truly wanting to do that, because I feel like I've put in so much work and grinded and fought and clawed and all that stuff since I was 4 at this journey and at this game. And when I do decide to leave and I do decide to hang it up, I'm going to be at peace with that."
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