If you’re looking for advice on how to sack a quarterback, a defensive lineman in the NFL is going to be a great resource. However, you may be less likely to ask that player for tips on managing your personal finances. But if that lineman is Arik Armstead of the San Francisco 49ers, he’ll have you covered there, too.
Armstead and the NFL recently shared a video on Instagram of his top five financial tips, and as someone who edits articles on the topic every day, I believe his advice is really solid. Here’s what the veteran player had to say.
1. Pay off your credit card every month
Armstead begins by encouraging people to make sure they can pay down their credit card balance each month. This is excellent advice that anyone should keep in mind, no matter their bank account balance. While someone with a high salary can likely afford to charge more each month on a credit card, they should still only charge what they can pay off when the bill comes due.
Carrying credit card debt month to month can make anything you buy cost even more. That’s because you’ll be charged credit card interest on your balance. The average credit card interest rate is currently 27.80%, according to Forbes. Having to pay interest on your card balances makes the total bill harder to pay off. It’s a much safer bet to keep your credit card spending within a range you can afford.
2. Talk to others about your finances
Well, I certainly like this one (but maybe I’m biased thanks to my job!). It can be nerve wracking to talk to other people about money, but this is where the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know” comes to mind. Maybe you don’t quite understand how retirement accounts work. Or perhaps you’re not sure whether to switch to a high-yield savings account. Whatever financial hangup you have, you should know you don’t have to find all the answers on your own.
Reach out to friends or family who seem to have a firm grasp on the topic you’re interested in. Or speak with a financial advisor who can give you professional, unbiased advice.
3. Create a monthly budget
Look, no one said every aspect of personal finances was going to be glamorous. Creating a budget may feel like homework, and it may even make you uncomfortable to dig into the details of where you may be overspending or decide where you may have to make cuts. But try to think of it more like a framework you’re setting up that can help guide you.
Budgeting doesn’t have to mean slashing all the fun expenses in your life — and truthfully, it shouldn’t, since doing so will likely make it impossible for you to stick to the plan. But if you’re able to take an honest look at the money you have coming in and going out and adjust how you’re spending your cash, you’ll set yourself up for success in the long run. There are plenty of ways to go about creating a budget, from a simple spreadsheet to helpful budgeting apps, so you can find a method that works for you.
4. Save for an emergency fund
This is more excellent advice from Armstead, and definitely something you’ll see repeated a lot here at The Ascent. It’s incredibly important to have an emergency fund, because you never know when a surprise expense will crop up, be it a car repair or an appliance replacement or a health issue.
Armstead specifically mentions having three months’ worth of expenses set aside. This aligns with what many financial experts recommend, since it gives you plenty of cushion if you happen to lose your job or have an ongoing period of higher bills. The right size emergency fund will vary for each person, so take a look at your own expenses and income to determine whether you might want to have more set aside. From there, you can work toward setting a little aside each month to increase your emergency savings.
5. Follow your own financial goals
I love that Armstead included this bit of advice in his video. It’s no use comparing your own situation to anyone else’s, because the details will always be different. As hard as it is to keep the blinders on, it’s important to focus on your own financial well-being and not anyone else’s.
This mindset can help stay focused on what you can control in your own life. While you may dream of the beach vacations and expensive dinners an acquaintance flaunts on social media, it’s more productive to figure out how to achieve your own goals instead. Maybe you can take online classes to increase your knowledge at work and land that promotion, or you can chip away at paying down debt so you can start saving for a down payment on a house down the line.
Armstead’s advice is gold
I’m sure there are some skeptics of a famous football player giving finance tips, but I do hope a lot of people take Armstead’s advice to heart. While he’s been a star player in the NFL for nine seasons and has a generous paycheck to show for it (which he’s actually broken down in detail in another video on his social media accounts), his personal finance tips are strong ones and can help a lot of people.
As a lifelong 49ers fan, I’m grateful to see a player taking the time to speak on this topic. Now I’m just hoping he’ll be posting another video at the end of this season on how to budget for a parade!
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