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Money Lesson from the Sports World: It's Not What You Make, but What You Keep!

USA Today reported in April that former NFL star Warren Sapp filed for bankruptcy, highlighting a lesson I learned as a teen: It's not what you make, but what you keep that really matters!

According to his Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, former University of Miami and Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Warren Sapp owes more than $6.7 million to creditors and in back child support.

On the bright side, he does have $6.45 million in assets, which include 240 pairs of Jordan Brand shoes worth almost $6,500, a $2,250 watch, and a lion skin rug worth $1,200.

Sapp currently works as a football commentator and earns an average monthly income of $115,881 - that's $1.4 million per year.

I don't know about you, but I could live on that. Sadly, Warren Sapp can't.

He's the latest in a long line of former pro sports athletes who have gone broke after retirement. According to Sports Illustrated, 78 percent of NFL players and 60 percent of NBA players file for bankruptcy within two years of their retirement!  

How sad.

Why Do Pro Athletes Go Bankrupt?

Why do so many sports stars go bankrupt?  When you boil it all down, I think the simple reason is that they don't pay attention to where the money is going.

Their focus is on what they make, not what they keep.

Really, spending more than you make is a problem that millions of Americans face, but for sports stars, their problems just have more zeroes at the end of them.

Pro athletes get handed millions of dollars at an incredibly young age and most of them seem to spend it pretty quickly on cars, homes, toys, parties, and bad investments. A couple of years later, many sports stars like Sapp, Mike Tyson, Michael Vick have no clue where all the money went. Warren Sapp doesn't even have a clue where his NCAA National Championship and 2002 Superbowl rings are.

Gratefully, not all professional athletes fail at money management.  Some, like Magic Johnson, Steve Young, Steve Nash,and Alex Bernstein, have parlayed their incredible sports earnings into even greater wealth through entrepreneurship. They learned how to keep and grow more of what they earned.

Continue reading for five tips to help you keep more of what you make...

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Comment by Ann Musico on October 15, 2012 at 2:27pm

It really is sad that someone making that amount of money cannot live on it!  I think at a certain level the amount loses its meaning.  I remember when my oldest son was working for a business magazine and his very conservative salary was cut even further with the addition of furlough days and a salary freeze.  He tightened his belt and still paid his rent and expenses and actually paid off his school loans during that time!  I think to a degree when some athletes get these astronomical salaries they think the money will never stop coming in and they don't pay attention any more.  As for me, I can live comfortably on what my husband and I make and certainly could do well on his 1.4 million a year - and I honestly don't think we'd do things a whole lot differently.

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