By: Laura Walton AFC®
“I never want to be dependent on one thing,” says Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland – and he’s not.
Graduating Penn’s Wharton School of Business in 2013, Brandon didn’t find a spot in the NFL right away. He spent some time on practice squads before being noticed by the Lions in 2015 where he played for two years until an injury sidelined him for a season. Not one to sit idle, he started flipping houses. He discovered that there was life outside of the NFL and that it could be lucrative – he made a six-figure profit on turning five houses that year.
His mentor, retired Lions guard Rob Sims, helps athletes transition to careers after football recognizing that “it’s important to work on that next 30 years of income.” Speaking of income, Brandon reportedly lives on just 15% of his $1.2M salary. Full disclosure: his wife is a finance and strategy associate at Google.
It doesn’t stop with the NFL and real estate. He’s worked on Wall Street. He was invited to intern by George Weiss, a Penn football benefactor and founder of the asset management firm bearing his name. Although Weiss met Brandon through Penn’s football program, he was offered the position because ”Copeland followed up. He did research. He asked questions. He wanted to learn, find mentors….you’d be surprised how often college students don’t do that. So when one does – and is as personable and intelligent as Copeland – it makes a positive impression.”
But there’s more and, to my way of thinking, the best yet. For several years he worked to get a financial literacy class on the schedule at his alma mater. His pitch: “If you make a financial mistake, you can end up paying for that mistake for 30 years of your life. The goal is to have the students in my class be able to make these big decisions and make them more confidently.”
The result? Starting this spring, he’s teaching what he calls “Life 101” at Wharton.
I particularly like his approach. In the first class, he makes the point that it’s not about what his students make but rather what they spend. They work through a detailed budget based on the projected salary in their career field compared to living expenses tailored for their city of choice. Nothing is overlooked – Netflix, dining out, cellphone bills, student-loan payments, etc.
It’s a dose of reality. Will their incomes cover their anticipated lifestyle? He correctly assures them “I’m not trying to kill your dreams – I’m trying to enable your dreams.”
Our 3rd Decade™ program also works to enable dreams. We help participants avoid the big mistakes through our classroom education and then work with them one-on-one to craft spending, saving and long-term financial plans. We believe, in fact we know, that financial security is less dependent on a six-figure income than on making good decisions early in your financial life. It’s our version of Life 101.