NFL player Michael Bennett is a three-time Pro Bowler and star defensive end for the New England Patriots. In 2009, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent and has since made millions in his career.
But despite his success in the league, Bennett says he still budgets and saves most of his NFL money.
On a recent episode of the "Kneading Dough" podcast, Bennett explains to entrepreneur Maverick Carter that instead of accepting direct deposit, he likes to receive his NFL checks by hand so that he can manage his money better.
"I keep my checks until the end of the season to make sure I don't spend any money. And then at the end of the season, I deposit it," he says.
To survive, the football veteran whose career earnings will total roughly $59 million at the end of this season, says he lives off the money he budgeted and saved from previous years.
Bennett explains that he learned the value of budgeting at a young age when he was working odd jobs as a kid, growing up in Louisiana.
"I had different jobs, and I used to save my money to buy me and my brother's school clothes," he says. "I worked at a water park, a grocery store and most of the time I was a lifeguard. I was a lifeguard for four years."
Bennett's parents had five children by the time his mother, Caronda, was just 20 years old, according to a profile of the athlete in The New Yorker. His father was in the Navy. They divorced when Bennett was young.
On the podcast, Bennett continues by saying that as an undrafted free agent, those same budgeting practices stayed with him in the league so that he could remain financially secure. "I had to be tight with my money from the beginning," he emphasizes.
In fact, for the first three years of his career, Bennett says he lived out of a hotel room in an effort to save money. One time, he says, he tried to settle down and rent a home in Seattle, but he instantly regretted that decision because he got cut from the Seahawks a few days later.
"I was losing rent, and I couldn't get none of my money back," he says. That moment, he explains, taught him to never tie himself to a city he doesn't plan to live in permanently.
Similarly, Bennett's younger brother Martellus, who won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots and has since retired, says he also tightly budgeted his NFL money in order to "not go broke."
"I don't really buy anything," says Martellus, who retired from the league in 2018 after making roughly $34 million in his career. "I'm not a car guy. I own my house. I own everything. So I haven't really paid for anything in like the last four years. You get to a point in life where you don't really need much."
Martellus, who is now an entrepreneur and children's book author, told CNBC Make It in 2018 that instead of luxury cars and homes, he likes to spend his money on books. "I have about 3,500 books, maybe more," he says.
"I figured, if Mark Zuckerberg could read one book every two weeks, and he's running [an] almost trillion-dollar empire, then one thing that little old me could do is read one book every two weeks," he says.
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