How This Olympian Dug Himself Out of $220,000 of Debt
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) As his race times improved, Jayson Jones was invited to run in more races, some of them bringing him abroad to Europe. The sprinter began amassing a larger portfolio as his winnings rose but was quickly spending more than he was earning.
Part of the problem was that Jones, whose talent would later enable him to run representing Belize in the 200-meter for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, received his winnings from European races solely in cash.
By the time Jones arrived at his next European city, often half of that cash had already been dissipated and found itself in the hands of local restaurants and stores - not to mention the expenses he paid for trainers, hotels and airfare.
By 2008, Jones has been running professionally for eight years but was working as a trainer in Coral Springs, Fla. He realized he was in trouble and owed $220,000 in student loans from receiving his master's degree in information technology from Florida State University, credit card debt and several car purchases. Right around the same time, an Olympic sponsor also asked him about his five-year plan, and Jones obviously lacked one.
"My life was not where it needed to be athletically or professionally," he said. "It clicked in my head. I blew through my money. I wanted to change, and I knew I had to figure something out. It took me time to build some traction."
After establishing a plan to pay down his debt and turn his life around financially with the help of his new Olympic sponsor, a wealthy businessman who became his mentor, Jones founded Olympic Star Financial Group in Fort Lauderdale to provide coaching and advice to professional athletes and other people.
"The best life to live is to live a debt-free life," he said. "I believe in it. We can teach athletes from this financial playbook a step by step process to live within your means."
Now Jones, who has been a professional sprinter for 15 years, is on track to pay off his debt by the end of the year and is training for the 100-meter and 200-meter for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the 2015 World Championships in Beijing and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"In my mind I feel like I can still do it," he said. "The ultimate goal is to stay healthy. I am extremely confident I can succeed."
While athletes receive rigorous training in their sport, most of them do not receive any education about managing their money, Jones said.