Below, Tennessee fullback Casey Cramer answers some questions about how he deals with money, what he wishes someone had told him when he entered the league and how his spending habits have changed in the current economy.
NFLPA: What's your biggest challenge with money?
CC: My biggest challenge with money is budgeting. So many people focus on how to make money, but they spend little time on how to manage the money they already have. I am learning that I need to look at my bank and credit card statements to see where the money is going. This helps me realize that if I monitor my spending, I don't have to bring as much in. Just using wisely what I have makes all the difference.
NFLPA: What do you wish someone had told you about money when you entered the league?
CC: The advice I wish I'd heard would be, "Just because you have money sitting in the bank, doesn't mean you have to do something with it right now." After my first season, the money I had was burning a hole in my pocket, and I felt like I had to spend it. I wish someone would have encouraged me to learn about investing and find a few people I trusted, to whom I could talk about different ways of using my new wealth wisely. Then I could have made an educated decision on what to do with it. After entering the league, most people feel as though they need to start investing in something with high returns. Since one doesn't know when he will be done playing, I think it is important for every player to keep six to 12 months of living expenses available for whenever he gets cut and his income stops.
NFLPA: What's your best advice to other NFL players about money?
CC: When looking for a financial advisor, don't just go with the most persistent or the one who was recommended by a friend. Try to sit down with at least five, and interview them to see what philosophies they have and how they would invest your money. Ask a lot of questions so you can learn how investing works. That way you will have a better understanding of the business and will be able to make a more educated decision.
NFLPA: How have your spending habits changed (if at all) in this economy?
CC: I don't think my habits have changed as much as my investing philosophies have changed. Before, when the market was really good, having high-risk investments didn't seem as much of a gamble. But after seeing the investments lose value, it has made me reconsider my risk tolerance and really think twice about gaining wealth slowly and steadily rather than with something riskier but with high returns.
NFLPA: Everyone uses money in different ways. How would you describe your spending philosophy/habits?
CC: I see myself as somewhat of a minimalist. I try to spend less money in my lifestyle now as an NFL player, because I am not sure what my income will be after football. This way, if I make less money in my second career, it will be a much easier transition to cut my spending down later. It's important to be realistic as far as what your income level and lifestyle will be after football and to start living that way now, while in the NFL.
NFLPA: What are the best and worst things you can think to do with your money this year
CC: I'm not a financial advisor, so I am hesitant to say anything. I think the worst thing you can do is take for granted that you are an NFL football player. One of the best things you can do is learn as much as you can from people about the market, how to invest, and what they did to gain their wealth. The more you learn, the more confidence you will have in your decision-making process with your finances.