Personal Finance

NBA Champion Dwyane Wade says it took years to learn how to manage his millions: ‘I had never really handled more than $500 at a time'

The 13-time All-Star said one of the biggest mistakes he made early on in his career was being too proud to ask for help.

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With three NBA championships and close to $200 million in career earnings to his name, Dwyane Wade knows a thing or two about being a successful professional athlete. 

But the 13-time All-Star says it took him years to feel like he knew what he was doing when it came to his finances. Now, as he pursues a number of post-retirement ventures, Wade sees up-and-coming stars like Caitlin Clark earning millions and hopes they get off to a better start than he did. 

"It's really amazing that they're having access to this money so young, but you're also kind of fearful not knowing who they have around them that's know about money," says Wade, who spoke to CNBC Make It while promoting a partnership with Google Workspace

It's a sense of protectiveness that comes from experience. Wade, who was drafted by the Miami Heat when he was 21, says that it took him more than half a decade in the NBA "to even start to understand" how to manage his millions. 

"I came into the league as someone who had never really handled more than $500 at a time, and [suddenly] I'm making millions of dollars," Wade says. Knowing who to take money advice from was difficult when he himself knew "nothing at all" about the subject.

"It's not that I didn't have good people around me," he says. "It's that no one was making the level of money that I was making. To be able to know what to do, you have to be with people who are on the level that you're on. And I didn't do that."

The 42-year-old tells Make It he hopes the latest crop of newly-minted millionaire basketball players make a concerted effort to educate themselves right at the start. 

"You have to find someone that you trust and admire that does well with their money," he says. "You are capable, because of your status and where you are, to be able to reach out to those individuals. Get a call with them. Ask them how and what to do with your money and how to spend your money and how to think about the money that you have."

Wade says one of the biggest mistakes he made early on in his career was being too proud to ask for help. And even when he did get financial advice, he was so unfamiliar with the financial basics that "I don't know if I even understood how to listen." 

He added that it can be difficult to ask for help and admit that you're uneducated about a certain topic.

"You don't want people to think less of you because you don't know something like how much money you have or what to do with your money," he says.

Ultimately, Wade hopes that the leagues employing the stars of tomorrow make a concerted effort to make sure their players are armed with the information necessary to make smart financial decisions for themselves.

"We talk about wanting athletes to have the opportunity to have generational wealth," he says. "This is where it starts."

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