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NFL linebacker, Wharton grad Brandon Copeland on the No. 1 question to answer before investing

Key Points
  • New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland has worked on Wall Street and has a degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
  • Copeland, who only spends about 10% of his income, says the keys to long-term investing are to start by making sure you understand your goals and believe in your investments.
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Answer this question before you start investing

Brandon Copeland is just as competitive in his investing career as he is on the gridiron.

Copeland knows that he will not be able to play in the National Football League forever. That is why the New York Jets  linebacker only spends about 10% of his income.

Before beginning his career as a professional football player Brandon earned a degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and held a handful of internships on Wall Street. When he's not on the field he teaches a course in financial literacy at the University of Pennsylvania and runs a foundation, Back to Basics, which hosts youth training camps and other events.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Copeland recounted a lesson one of his students taught him. "I asked a student why he was investing. He told me he wanted to buy first-class tickets and jewelry for his family. I asked him if he was paying attention in class, but then I took a step back. Who was I to tell this student why to invest."

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For Copeland, the most important question someone has to answer before they start investing is the why: Why are you investing?

In the case of Copeland's student, he wanted to give back to his family who had provided so much for him. While initially taken aback by the excess of the student's goals, Copeland realized that his ambitions came from a good place.

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This NFL linebacker only invests in what he believes in

Once someone has identified why they are investing, Copeland's next piece of advice is to invest in products or services they believe in. If you are unfamiliar with something, you should avoid it. And if this sounds like advice you've heard before, that's because you probably have, from none other than billionaire investor Warren Buffett, famous for saying "never invest in a business you cannot understand."

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Off the field with Brandon Copeland