Power Players

Patriots' Joejuan Williams lives off 10% of his income and says a high school finance class taught him how to save

Joejuan Williams #33 of the New England Patriots looks on against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Steven Ryan | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Joejuan Williams is a rookie cornerback in the NFL who currently plays for the New England Patriots. Though he's signed to a four-year, $6.6 million contract, he tells Boston.com that he's still super careful with how he spends his money.

"I've been stingy with money ever since I was young just because I saw what my mom had to go through,'' says Williams, who grew up in public housing with his family in Tennessee.

The Vanderbilt University alum says he first learned about the importance of investing and saving from a personal finance class he took in high school. In that class, the rookie says he learned about mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(k) plans, certificates of deposit and Roth IRAs. Those financial lessons, he says, influenced his decision to invest roughly 90% of his income from NFL checks, leaving him to live off the remaining 10%.

Joejuan Williams #33 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Maddie Meyer | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

"It changed my life,'' Williams says about the class. "It completely changed my life.''

He admits, however, that investments from his first few checks were a little below 90% because he helped pay off his mom's student loans and he bought her a car. But when thinking about his long-term financial plans, Williams says, "I'm going to sacrifice now for me to be happy later."

"I can go buy me a really nice car, I can go buy me a really nice house if I wanted to, I can go buy me a really nice chain — multiple chains — if I wanted to," he adds. "But that's not going to suffice me for when I'm 40, 50, or 60. Who knows when I'm going to need that bread.''

Williams, who was selected 45th overall in the 2019 draft, says he hopes to one day start a financial literacy program so other high school students in disadvantaged neighborhoods can learn about the importance of saving and investing.

"For a lot of public schools in inner cities, it's not required to take any personal finance classes to graduate or even learn about money in that sense," he says. "That's not the real world. The real world revolves around money. It really puts a lot of inner-city kids who don't have much at a disadvantage.''

Like Williams, several other NFL players have talked openly about how they're spending their money carefully now so they can be financially secure in the future.

In 2017, New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland told ESPN that he lives off 10% to 15% of his income, while saving and investing the rest.

"I've literally hoarded money," he says. "I'm literally stacking, stacking, stacking."

Copeland, who taught a money class at the University of Pennsylvania earlier this year, says nearly 60% of his post-tax salary goes towards "safe, long-term" investments, while another 30% goes toward savings.

"I still hold myself to strict guidelines in terms of what I touch in terms of that money," he says. "It's guaranteed football is going to be over one day. I tell kids that all the time."

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