NFL linebacker Carl Nassib signed a four-year, $3.6 million contract with the Cleveland Browns when he was drafted in 2016. The deal also came with a six-figure bonus: $889,752.
His new salary "didn't really change my headspace much," he tells CNBC Make It. "I was just like, I have this money, I better be smart with it. I was more focused on my career as a football player than worrying about how much money I had in the bank."
Three years after signing with the Browns, Nassib is making a base salary of $2.03 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and he still plays it safe with his money. The 26-year-old team captain sticks to a monthly budget of $3,500 for rent, food and bills. He spends another $400 to $500 on miscellaneous expenses.
"This year I've been more on top of my budget than ever," he says. That's partly because he hasn't switched teams and had to move to a different city, which is common in the NFL: "My expenses are at an all time low because you don't realize how much moving costs. Everything adds up."
He estimates he saves 85% of his income. "I try to live a normal life and not live outside my means," Nassib tells CNBC Make It. "It would be really hard to spend 50% of my income in one year."
Whether you're making millions like Nassib or closer to the median household income in the U.S. of $56,500, if you want to stick to a budget, "It all comes down to discipline," says the NFL player. "And really being honest with yourself.
"People tend to lie to themselves about their finances — they'll ignore their credit card bills or ignore certain expenses and won't even make a budget because they're afraid of how much they're spending," he says. "Take a step back, take a breather, be honest with yourself and go from there."
It also helps to track your spending. Nassib prefers to charge everything to his American Express credit card, which categorizes his expenses for him and gives him a balance update every week.
And appreciate what you have, he says: "My siblings and I, we grew up just with a deck of cards and could have the best night ever. I've never felt the need to have money to be happy."
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