(February 23, 2011 – Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images North America)
Want to experience a roller-coaster ride of salaries? Try life in professional baseball. Make the big leagues and you can reap millions. Languish in the minors and harsh financial realities weigh on you daily.
Bobby Meacham was a first-round draft pick in 1981 by the St. Louis Cardinals. He received a signing bonus of $100,000 — a seemingly whopping sum, until his mom’s laughter sent a warning. “I knew then that I had to take care of my money, that it wasn’t going to last forever,” says Meacham, who spent part of six seasons in the big leagues, including a stint as New York Yankees shortstop, before turning to coaching.
Guided by his faith and an instinctive ability to resist temptation, Meacham managed his money wisely during his playing days. That frugality proved crucial when he retired and joined the minor league coaching ranks, where salaries can be meager. Now, he’s back in the majors, again at a higher salary, as a coach with the Houston Astros. Spending modestly, and knowing where his money is going, has kept Meacham on an even financial keel, allowing the family to put two daughters and a son through college.
“My wife and I have a budget book where we write down everything we spend,” he says. “We figure out where we are, how much we can spend, how much we need to cut back on.”
Known as a versatile, fundamentally sound ballplayer, Meacham has served as a role model for young ballplayers due to his personal and fiscal fundamentals. “You have to really believe in what you are doing,” Meacham says. “When someone tells you this is a foolproof formula and you can’t miss, you have to put up a warning flag. Nothing is foolproof…Don’t turn back if you believe in it. If you don’t believe in it, if God’s closing a door, it’s closed for a reason. There’s other doors out there.”
This profile is featured in LifeBound’s newest addition, Dollars & Sense: How to Be Smart About Money.