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#TeamFrugal: Professional Athletes and Frugality

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February 01, 2016 · 2.9k Views

Sadly, it’s become increasingly more common to hear stories in the news of multi-million dollar athletes reaching rock bottom and declaring bankruptcy. I recently addressed this epidemic in, “Why Do Celebrities and Athletes Go Broke?”

With these alarming statistics and repeated news stories of athletes failing with their money, it would be easy to make the assumption that they’re all living that way. This makes the rare instances of athletes living frugally stand out.

Related Post: The Difference Between Being Frugal and Being Cheap

Here is a roundup of the most newsworthy examples of professional athletes exhibiting frugal ways:

Pitcher Daniel Norris Lives in a Van

One of the most unique stories of an athlete living a true frugal lifestyle is from MLB pitcher Daniel Norris. Norris was drafted in 2011 and quickly became regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. Upon signing his contract, he received a $2 million dollar bonus. For most athletes, this would mean a serious upgrade in lifestyle, but not for him. Last year it was reported that he was living out of his 1978 VW camper van, traveling the country in search of adventure and enjoying the freedom of not being tied down. While other players told him to “start behaving like a big leaguer” and asked “don’t you think this is kind of crazy?” he stays true to who he is, even if some may think it’s a bit unconventional.

Redskins Turn Frugal Living into Team Affair

The Washington Redskins are a team full of frugal players, and it has brought them even closer through this uncommon bond. Their starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins, drives a dented 2000 Savana passenger van and strives to spend as little as possible. He does this out of habit from the way he was raised, but also because he recognizes how short the average NFL career is. Cousins lives with teammate Tom Compton, in a modest three bedroom apartment with mix-matched furniture. Rather than call a moving company, they moved all of the furniture themselves out of another teammate’s garage.

Pro Bowl running back Alfred Morris, who makes a base salary of $1.5 million, can typically be seen riding his bike to get to the practice field most days. Other times, he’ll roll up in his 1991 Mazda 626. Defensive star Ryan Kerrigan, who signed a huge $57.5 million contract a year ago, cooks most of his meals at home, except for occasional splurges at Chipotle.

NFL Players Live on Modest Budgets

Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles currently has a $3.6 million contract, but instead of living large like most of his NFL peers, his family (wife and 1 child) sets a budget and lives on $60,000 per year. Similarly, Baltimore Ravens lineman John Urschel has a $2.3 million dollar contract, yet lives on $25,000 per year and drives a 2013 Nissan Versa. Urschel got his Bachelor’s degree in only three years, finished his Master’s during his senior year, and will soon be pursuing a doctorate.

Related Post: 15 Things Worth Splurging On

Giants Player Haggles for Used Car

In a league filled with players driving brand new sports cars, you don’t see many stories like this one. New York Giants’ Super Bowl champion cornerback Prince Amukamara rode to a car dealership on a scooter and dressed in modest clothing. Rather than picking out a shiny new model, he selected a used SUV marked at $13,350. It doesn’t stop there, instead of immediately buying the SUV and going on his way, he haggled with the salesman to get the price down to $10,000.

Packers Players Are Regular Guys

It’s always refreshing to remember that professional athletes are people too, and star players Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson from the Green Bay Packers value living as regular guys despite their fame and fortune. Rodgers is one of the highest paid players in the NFL, after signing a $110 million dollar contract extension, but says he still cuts his own lawn. Nelson recently signed a $39 million dollar contract extension, but tore his ACL early on in the 2015 season. So in order to keep busy while rehabbing, he stepped in and was a substitute teacher for his 5-year old son’s class.

Trey Burke Lives on $5K Budget Per Month

Utah Jazz rising star Trey Burke could easily be living the “high life” with his $2.4 million dollar contract, but the NBA riches haven’t stopped him from showing humility and seeking out financial advice from veteran player and trusted advisors. This positive input has led to him maintaining a $5,000 per month budget, which he sticks to most months. After a higher spending month (usually due to purchasing plane tickets for family and friends), he scales back his budget accordingly.

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sfgiantsfan8 profile picture
A lifelong Bay Area native, Matt Spillar graduated in 2013 from Fresno State with a Sports Marketing degree. He strives to combine his passion for sports marketing along with his interests in finance and budgeting. In his spare time, he writes for his personal blog, spillsspot.com
undealievableFeb 02, 2016
That's smart that they live on so little. They have to think about life after they retire.

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