The NFL and IOU: 10 Debt Lessons You Can Learn from Football Players

Before Don Silvestri became president of, he spent two decades as a senior executive overseeing marketing, sales, strategic planning, business and product development.

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

1. Brains Beat Bucks

Money will get 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.

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.

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

Whenever I tell people they need an emergency fund that can pay their bills for at least three months, they laugh and reply, “Every week, there’s an emergency in my life!” That might seem true.

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.

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