Key Takeaways
  • Brandon Copeland is an NFL linebacker and financial literacy professor at Penn State University.
  • He has reportedly has saved close to 90% of his NFL earnings, and prefers investing over spending.
  • Brandon has a strong belief in "teach people how to fish versus giving them fish" in response to people who want a financial handout.
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

Brandon Copeland is an NFL linebacker, but his journey to being a pro football player did not come easy. He battled numerous injuries and was once fired, brought back, and then fired again from the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans. His journey of not knowing if his NFL career would work out or not is what became a blessing for Brandon, who decided to put more focus on business and investing while healing from yet another injury. One of those business ventures? He would become a professor of financial literacy at his alma mater, Penn State University.


Brandon Copeland teaches financial literacy as a professor at his alma mater, Penn State University.


NFL players have financial advisors, but they aren't usually financial coaches themselves. That is what separates Brandon from the rest. He credits his grandfather, Roy Hilton, an NFL player for 11 years, for helping him have a different perspective when it comes to money than most NFL players. "You know, the things you think he wouldn't have to work for or want for, but he did," says Brandon. "In the offseason, he had to work. So just understanding that, when I'm done with football, I want to work on my terms and not be forced to work."


Brandon has saved close to 90% of his NFL earnings. Instead of spending, Brandon said he focuses on investing. He also aims to change and give back to the community. 


During an interview with CapWay, Brandon spoke of his top three tips of financial advice.


Calculate all of your expenses.


Warren Buffet knows that he spends either $2.61, $2.95, or $3.17 every morning on his McDonald's breakfast. Why is that significant? Because Warran Buffet is one of the wealthiest people in America, with a net worth of $101 billion, yet he still knows how much he is spending on breakfast. Similarly, Brandon knows that he spends $6,874.64 per month. Brandon stated, "I know that number. That's my cellphone bill, car insurance, (my wife and I) cars, mortgage, cable. I know that number."


"Part of knowing your expenses will also tell you where you can cut expenses," stated Brandon. For example, Brandon pays $179 for cable but admits he finds himself browsing Netflix versus the cable channels most of the time. A time to cut off cable? Netflix is a monthly subscription of $13.90, roughly $165 cheaper than the $179 he pays for cable. 


Brandon mentions that calculating your expenses allows you to create a roadmap. That roadmap will enable you to know what you are working with and what you are working towards on your financial journey. 


Do you know how much you spend every month on bills and other expenses?​


Understand what you value.


"I cannot tell anyone else what to value and why," says Brandon. "A lot

of us who are like, 'Oh, you're buying these cars, you're buying this, you

shouldn't be doing that.' If this person values it, then that's okay." 


"My job as a professor of financial literacy and when I'm talking to players and telling them about finances, my job isn't to tell you what to do. My job is to tell you the consequences of your actions for good and for bad, and then you can never say, 'Oh, if only someone would have told me not to buy three cars.'"


Everyone should treat themselves now and then, but make sure you genuinely treat yourself and not do it for the 'Gram. The key is to be smart about the purchase and making sure that it doesn't put you in a bind or, as Brandon says, "wreck the ship."


Teach people how to fish versus giving them fish


Many people ask for financial help from family or friends, and Brandon knows all too well what it is like to be pulled by people coming to you for money. "If people are coming to you to ask you for something, not every time, but sometimes it may be a family situation where it makes sense to help out. But I would challenge people to take time and use that as an opportunity to teach that person coming to you how to fish and put them in a better situation, as opposed to just giving them the money." 


Teaching someone about money versus just giving them all the time will provide some form of a guide on better money habits. It is also important because if you are no longer in a good financial situation and you're no longer able to be their safety net, in the end, everyone is screwed. 


Each one, teach one. As the saying goes, "a rising tide lifts all boats."

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