An alarming fifteen percent of NFL players end up declaring bankruptcy. Wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2012 and is currently a free agent, is making sure he won’t fall into that category.
He and his wife have lived on about $60,000 a year throughout his career, he writes on The Players’ Tribune: “I don’t have cable. I use Apple TV and Netflix. My wife and I don’t go out to eat a lot, and I make sure I pay off my credit cards every month.”
The athlete wasn’t always good with money. “As a college kid, I paid everything late. Cell phone bills. Electric bills. Car payments. I didn’t know anything about credit, and I didn’t really care.”
It wasn’t until Broyles got to the NFL when he realized how those habits had affected his credit score.
“As a part of the draft process, teams did background checks, including pulling credit reports,” he writes. “So when NFL teams started pulling my credit report, it was terrible. I had late payments. Delinquent bills. Accounts in collections. It was bad. That’s when I finally realized, all right … I gotta wise up.”
It was a 20-year-old personal finance classic that “changed my whole mindset,” says Broyles: “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki.
The author grew up with two father figures: “poor dad,” his real father who died with bills to pay, and “rich dad,” who started with little before becoming a wealthy man. Both fathers were successful in their careers and earned substantial incomes, but one always struggled financially.
In observing them, Kiyosaki realized that earning a lot doesn’t necessarily make you rich. “It’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep,” he writes. The rich not only save their money, they put it to work.
“The Poor Dad’s philosophy basically reinforced the way I already thought about money: Make money to live, and save some along the way,” writes Broyles. “But the Rich Dad’s lessons — making your money work for you by investing it and acquiring income-generating assets — made me realize that I needed to make changes in how I thought about money if I ever wanted to be that Rich Dad.”
That’s just what Broyles did: After signing a $3.6 million rookie contract with the Lions — $1.1 million of which was guaranteed — the first thing the wide receiver did was pay off all of his debt and set up automatic payments for all of his bills.
“Then I read about things like real estate financing. Stocks. Bonds. Interest rates. Compound interest. P/E ratios,” says Broyles. He still lives off $60,000 a year and stashes the rest of his money in investments and retirement savings accounts.
Thanks to the “rich dad” mindset, the rookie started thinking, “How can I never work again? How can I make my NFL money last the rest of my life?”
A football career can be over in a split second, says Broyles: “The goal was to play 10 years in the NFL. But financially, I planned like I wouldn’t make it past the next 10 minutes.”
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