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5 Things Every NFL Draftee Needs to Know About Money Management

Chris Weeks, CFP®

Director of Financial Education

Last Updated
April 11, 2022

Key Insights to Help You Navigate Your Finances

Congratulations on being drafted into the NFL! It’s an accomplishment you’ve worked hard to achieve, and you’ve finally made it!

As exciting as this moment is, it’s important to make smart money choices today in order to achieve financial success in the future. Following are five things you should know as a newly drafted NFL player.

#1 – The stakes are high.

Compared to most people, your money is on a reverse trajectory. Think about it; most people begin working in entry-level roles with modest salaries and gradually work their way up to larger salaries over 30 to 40 years in the workforce. When a typical 22-year-old makes a financial mistake, it’s unlikely that mistake will derail his or her entire financial life.

In contrast, NFL players often achieve their peak earning years at the very beginning of their careers. The lump sum you receive today may need to cover your retirement savings, future home purchases, kids’ college funds and more — and not just today but throughout your life. If you blow through all your assets in the first few years of your career, you could find yourself in a tough financial position years down the road. The stakes are incredibly high.

#2 – With the right team in your corner, you have the potential to set yourself up for life.

The good news is, with a bit of smart planning and financial wisdom in your corner, you’re in a great position to enjoy your lifestyle today while also setting yourself up for a lifetime of financial success. The first step is to enlist the help of a fee-based fiduciary advisor.

A fiduciary advisor is held to fiduciary duty standards, which means that he or she is legally obligated to act in your best interests at all times and in all situations. Fee-based fiduciary advisors are paid a percentage fee based on the assets they manage on your behalf. This helps align the advisor’s interests with yours, because his or her overall compensation scales with your assets.

In contrast, some advisors charge a commission and generally conduct transaction-specific recommendations. Although these recommendations must be deemed “suitable,” they are not necessarily in your best interest. In fact, because these advisors are often paid commissions for the investment products they sell, they may be incentivized to push products that could create a conflict of interest.

As a professional athlete, you’ll likely need the guidance of several professionals, including a financial advisor/wealth manager, a CPA and an estate planning attorney. These individuals should be willing to collaborate to help ensure all aspects of your financial, tax and estate planning are working together to help you achieve your goals.

#3 – “Money shock” happens.

Sudden wealth can do strange things to people. We’ve all heard of lottery winners who end up broke within just a few years after squandering their money on fancy cars and big houses. The sudden wealth of an NFL player isn’t much different than winning the lottery. Money shock has pushed more than one successful professional athlete into a destructive cycle of excessive spending as if the payday would never end. The best advice is to put off all major financial decisions for a period of time while you allow yourself to gradually settle into your new lifestyle.

A great example of this is NBA Journeyman Michael Carter-Williams. In 2013, the then 22-year-old decided to put the entire salary he earned from the Philadelphia 76ers into an irrevocable trust that he could not touch for three years.1 This was a thoughtful financial move for the young athlete that likely helped him resist the temptation to spend too much money early in his career.

#4 – It’s wise to establish residency without purchasing a home.

As soon as you are drafted, you should begin the process of establishing residency. Having legal residency in the same state in which you work can add up to significant tax savings, especially if you anticipate receiving a large bonus or other lump sum. Depending on the state, you may need to rent an apartment, register to vote, get a new driver’s license and/or spend the majority of time in your new state.

Even though you’re working on establishing residency, it might not be wise to purchase a home right away. While it may feel like the start of a long career with your new team, NFL players are frequently traded within the first year of being drafted. Those who purchase (and furnish) a home in their new city often have a hard time selling it. It is wise to rent for a while until you have a better idea of where you’ll eventually be putting down roots.

#5 – It’s okay to say no.

Inevitably, as soon as the ink is dry on your NFL contract, friends, family members and distant acquaintances will come out of the woodwork to share in your financial success. While is honorable to want to support those who matter most to you, it’s also okay to say no. In fact, your long-term financial security may hang in the balance if you can’t say no.

Consider finding ways to help your loved ones that don’t threaten your own financial well-being. Instead of buying material items that make others dependent on your income and generosity, consider paying for something that will help your loved ones develop skills and become more successful in their own lives, such as college tuition or job training.

It’s also important to say no to others who pressure you to live a certain lifestyle. Just because your teammates like to show off their wealth doesn’t mean you need to compete. Instead, establish a reasonable budget that allows you to live a comfortable, sustainable lifestyle, and develop a plan to stretch your financial security long into the future. Your future self will thank you.

Need help getting started? Creative Planning Sports and Entertainment is here for you. As a specialty practice of Creative Planning, our experienced team members include Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioners, certified public accountants, attorneys, insurance specialists and more. We serve as your fiduciary partner in navigating the ever-changing financial challenges of your professional and personal life. For more information about how we can help you plan for the future, please schedule a call.

Footnotes:

  1. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1871562-michael-carter-williams-has-rookie-nba-salary-in-trust-fund-he-cant-touch
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This commentary is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.

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