Chad “Ochocinco” saved 83% of his NFL salary by buying fake jewelry and staying at the stadium – here are 5 easy ways to maintain his All-Star level fortune


Chad “Ochocinco” saved 83% of his NFL salary by buying fake jewelry and staying at the stadium – here are 5 easy ways to maintain his All-Star level fortune

There’s nothing money can buy that’s bigger than your name — at least retired NFL star Chad Johnson, who wore the number 85 and was nicknamed “Ochocinco,” told Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe when he explained his frugal spending habits.

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“Why am I driving a Rolls Royce if I’m Ocho? Why am I buying a $50,000-$80,000 watch? Time is free, so what am I paying for?” he asked on the Club Shay Shay Podcast. “There is nothing I can buy greater than my name alone.”

The former wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots earned nearly $49 million in 11 NFL seasons, according to Spotrac — and with his unique money attitude, he claims to have saved 83% of that staggering sum.

What makes Johnson’s money management particularly impressive? Many legendary NFL stars have gone bankrupt after falling victim to the league’s extravagant spending culture and other financial challenges such as divorce or a career-ending injury.

Ochocinco wore fake Claire jewelry, always rented his exotic cars, and flew on low-cost airlines to save money. He even admitted to living at the Bengals’ stadium for two years so he wouldn’t have to rent or buy a house.

“Everyone is caught up in their image, looks a certain way and is rich,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

While your career earnings may pale in comparison to Ochocinco’s cool $49 million, here are five ways to keep and build your All-Star-level fortune.

Understand the game plan

For NFL stars and those of us who sit at home and watch football, one of the first steps to financial security, according to Mike Olivia, an NFL-registered financial advisor, is “a deep understanding of your cash flow.”

It’s important to know how much money you’re making, how much you’re spending, how much debt and taxes you’re paying off, and how much you have left over to save and invest.

Olivia said he encourages NFL players to “run their careers like it’s a business,” which means they need to understand financial reports like the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow and equity.

“What is necessary [is] to understand how to act as an entrepreneur. That knowledge is key,” he said — and that level of financial literacy is just as important to the average American as it is to wealthy athletes.

look now: Moneywise Q&A with NFL Certified Financial Advisor Mike Olivia

Save like Ocho

When it comes to savings, NFL players have their fans at an advantage. Most footballers retire from the league by age 30, well ahead of the average US retirement age of 64, which means they have longer to save and invest their money.

According to Olivia, the optimal savings rate — the percentage of gross income you can save — is 20%. Still, most people struggle to save even 5% for ongoing expenses like mortgages, insurance, etc pay off loans.

“With professional athletes, they can save maybe 80% of their income because they’re making so much of their lifetime earnings in a short period of time,” explained Olivia.

With so much money tied up in savings, NFL stars can really benefit from compound interest.

Johnson said no to sports cars and bling to save much of his career earnings. Like the NFL star, you might want to consider spending you can say no to.

Put your money to work

How do rich people get rich — aside from inheriting money or raking in the cash like newly drafted NFL players?

“It’s company ownership, it’s some interest in a company (whether it’s yours or someone else’s) like stock options, RSUs or some other ownership of stock,” said Olivia, the senior partner at West Pac Wealth Partners and the leader of strategy at the Olivia Team Virtual Family Office. “Or it’s probably real estate or a passive income vehicle.”

“When I think of an NFL athlete… how do we get them to use storage tanks or financial vehicles that are useful, generate income, and are safe [and] liquid with it [they] Access capital and then eventually be able to generate passive income when they’re out of the league?”

While you may not consider yourself rich, it’s still worth accumulating wealth (if you can) to achieve your long-term financial ambitions.

Continue reading: ‘Hold on to your money’: Jeff Bezos issued a financial warning and says you should reconsider buying a ‘new car, fridge or whatever’ – Here are 3 better recession-proof buys

play defense

Insurance doesn’t have to be envious. It can protect you from unexpected financial losses and help you live more confidently in everyday life.

End-of-career injuries are common among NFL stars, Olivia said, which is why he advises players to get disability insurance.

“Their income, bonuses, performance-related pay – all of these things can be insured, but a lot of these athletes don’t have the time [to think about personal risk management],” he said.

“They also think that on a certain level they are indestructible because that’s the mindset you have to have to make it into the league. [But having] Protection to play this defense is key.

Another layer of defense is liability insurance. If you get into a car accident, a lawsuit, or a guest slips and falls onto your property, this coverage is augmented when the liability coverage of your other policies, such as home and auto, has been exhausted.

After all, life insurance isn’t just helpful because of the death benefit — Olivia said it can be “a wonderful asset class” while you’re alive, too, because of the financial characteristics that many policies have.

Get advice from a coach

Spontaneous financial decisions driven by FOMO—fear of missing out—don’t always end well.

Olivia said it’s better to step back and calculate the risks, perhaps with the help of a mentor or a financial expert.

He gave the example of NFL stars hiring the right CPA firm. “Having the right accounting professional and the right accounting advice is really critical… to be able to avoid state income tax — there are ways to do that.”

Legal advice is equally important, he added, in relation to setting up trusts, probate plans and maybe even prenuptial agreements to protect assets so no one can touch them.

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