10 Debt Lessons From NFL Football Players

My years in the NFL taught me almost as much about staying out of debt as my subsequent career as president of Debt.com. So let’s kick off 10 Debt Lessons You Can Learn from Football Players.

1. Brains Beat Bucks

Money will get you out of debt, but it won’t keep you out of debt. I saw that up close for years. Give someone $1 million and don’t teach them how to budget, save, and invest – and I promise you they’ll be down to their last dollar before they retire.

2. Budgeting is Your Game Plan

You can’t save money for a new car or a new home, or a new family if you don’t know what life is costing you now. I promise you those NFL players who went bankrupt didn’t have a budget. NFL all-star Warren Sapp made $40 million over his 13-year career. He retired in 2008, and he filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

3. Shorten the Field with Technology

Those who don’t budget often tell me they don’t have the time. They must be very busy people because keeping a budget these days takes only a few minutes a day. You don’t use a pencil and paper. You use your phone or computer.

4. Prepare for the Trick Plays of Life

An emergency fund isn’t just peace of mind. It can save you money because when disaster strikes and you’re not prepared, you often run up your high-interest credit cards – and carry balances for months or even years before you can pay off what you owe.

5. Recruit a New Teammate

If you really want to run up the lead on your emergency fund, ask your boss or your Human Resources Department if they’ll help you.

6. Automate Your Money

Almost every bank and credit card – and even many municipal utilities – offer automatic bill pay. You set the day when you want a bill to be paid, and that amount is automatically deducted from your bank account right then, and not a day sooner. So you’ll never pay a late fee again. Best of all, after you set it up, you don’t have to do anything.

7. Check Your Credit Reports

These days, most people know the importance of their credit score. These three digits, which range from 300 (bad) to 850 (excellent), determine how much interest you pay on your credit cards and whether you even get a mortgage, plus every loan in between.

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