By Rachel Terrill, Player Engagement Insider
When your name is called at the NFL Draft, you become an NFL player. You’ve made it. Your dreams have come true.
But unlike most careers that can last decades before retirement, NFL careers typically last less than five years. While some players become millionaires overnight, many others will find themselves with far less money in the bank as they begin their foray into professional football. At any rate, the NFL brings NFL paychecks. Unfortunately, many NFL players have misconceptions about how to make it last.
As NFL rookies make their way into the league, Maura Attardi, Director of Education with Money Management International, offered some advice for new NFL Players.
What financial advice do you have for NFL players on Draft day?
There are several keys to being successful in this newfound wealth:
Create a budget and stick to it. The budget is the tool used to help players realize financial success. Use your budget as a tool to discuss what you can and cannot do.
Set boundaries. Know your limits with family, friends, and yourself. Remember, the primary goal is to meet your savings goal for the off-season and for the long term (which might include a period of time transitioning out of the NFL). It is okay to say “no,” including to your family, friends, and teammates– you do not have to keep up appearances.
Consider a “money moratorium”– meaning, putting off major financial decisions for some period of time. Sudden windfalls can set off a ripple effect of irrational behaviors: giving it all away, spending sprees, hiding or hoarding. Money shock can also create self-destructive behaviors such as drinking, drugs, gambling, sex addiction, and more. Allow time to adjust to the new situation. Park your money and take a deep breath.
Take Stock Emotionally. Sudden wealth can impact your identity. Suddenly who you were is not who you are. You are seen through the eyes of family, friends, the media, in a different way than before. Your social circles– the people you hang out with– may change. People may come out of the woodwork looking for a handout, investment, or you may get resentment from some people. Everything you’ve spent years building toward has changed in a few short months. This can take an emotional toll on you. This often drives self -destructive behavior.
Don’t underestimate the power these emotions have to isolate you and confuse you. Use your team’s professional resources such as counselors and clinicians to talk to someone if necessary.
Set aside some “fun money.” You don’t want to feel as though you are depriving yourself by sticking to a budget. So, it’s important to both set aside some money for fun and to set limits for yourself. Once it is gone, it is gone. This will protect you from spending all of your money frivolously. Set aside a small percentage of your money and spend it any way you want, guilt free. But, be disciplined in not going over that set amount.
What are some of the biggest financial challenges that face young NFL players?
Just like a player wouldn’t go out on to the field on game day without a plan, players also need financial game plans as well. How much money a player allocates to each category is a personal decision, but having a plan and sticking to it is essential. This begins with understanding personal financial values, creating financial goals and determining what a player might like to achieve financially. Then, create a budget that allows for players to meet in-season expenses, cover off-season living expenses when the paychecks stop, and save for the long-term, post NFL career.
How do you suggest that players begin to invest their wealth?
The NFL experience affords players the unique opportunity to plan and save for their retirement through salary, bonuses, NFL pension, Second Career Savings Plan, and many other avenues. Continuing to educate themselves to understand these unique opportunities is a sure way for a player to begin to invest in their long-term financial success
At what point should NFL Rookies contact a financial advisor?
Right away. There should be on-going communication with their financial team during the season, in the off-season, and after their playing career.
The NFL offers you an opportunity to prepare for your future. Be sure to reach out to your team’s Director of Player Development or Player Engagement. Also, be sure to access My Goal Line for your NFL financial benefit programs and more at www.mygoalline.com.
Your NFL career may come and go, but the impact of your time in the NFL can last forever.