Why pay frequency matters

It’s football season which means you’ve probably at least considered passing judgement on the salaries of NFL players. It seems unfathomable that someone’s annual salary is $10 million, and even more unbelievable that so many players seem to run out of money. I used to feel the same way until a few years ago when I helped professional football players with their money. I went into it thinking it was insane that millionaires had so many money problems, but I came out of the situation having learned a lot.

I think you also can learn a lot about managing your money from NFL players, but you’ll have to suspend some serious pre-conceived ideas to get there. Ready?

Here’s what I learned about money from NFL players:

First of all, everyone has a complex financial life. Even if you make a lot of money and, in theory, have plenty to help get you through, there are always complications and complexities to deal with.

Secondly, NFL players get paid weekly…. but only for 17 weeks of the year, which means they go without pay for 35 weeks a year. Could you go without pay for 35 weeks a year? Would you have enough discipline to stretch 17 paychecks out over 52 weeks? I know you’re thinking, if I made millions of dollars a year I could! But that’s not the point, the point is, pay frequency matters and many wouldn’t be able to make this pay structure work for them. I’ve determined there are two types of financial minds, those that want to receive their entire salary upfront or during a 17-week period and those who would prefer the more traditional method of receiving their pay evenly throughout the year. Of those who would want their pay up front or in an isolated chunk, there are two further classes of people, those who can actually handle it and those who simply think they can handle it. I’ll say it again, pay frequency matters.

So next time you hear the amount a player makes, understand that despite the grand figure they are earning, they have their own financial issues they are dealing with.

Read my full Indy Star column here.

One thought on “Why pay frequency matters

  1. Pete,

    I love your articles, and most of them keep me well entertained. This one really could be deleted. Sorry, don’t mean to be harsh, but I’m in no way going to feel sorry for millionaires being paid 17 times a year (instead of 52). Many of these athletes leave school early to join the NFL ranks. Many top this off with taking very simple undergraduate degrees and never learn any financial background from their education. The NFL has given rookies introductory seminars on money they will make, the taxes that will be imposed on it, and how to better manage it. The NFL has also offered financial advisers to these athletes. The first thing I do upon getting my paycheck is pay myself first (emergency fund, retirement account, IRA) then I pay all of my bills in the first week of the month (I’m paid monthly). Whatever is leftover I carefully use the rest of the month. I don’t care if the life of an NFL’er may be more glamorous than mine, they can easily do the same thing with each of the 17 paychecks. Put enough aside to last the other 35 weeks. Shoot, even buy an annuity that will pay them enough “chunk change” to get them through the 35 weeks.

    Good for you helping these athletes the best you can, but this article in no way should be arguing for middle class citizens to feel sorry for millionaires.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *