Former NFL player Phillip Buchanon has written a book that’s getting a lot of attention because in it he says that after he got his first NFL contract, his mom demanded he give her $1 million.
The book, “New Money: Staying Rich, ” has a lot of funny and sad anecdotes like that, but it also has a lot of good financial advice — for both newfound millionaires and anyone with a little extra money.
After leaving the University of Miami following his junior year in 2002, Buchanon was picked 17th in the NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders, and received a $4 million signing bonus. Anyone who has seen the 30 for 30 documentary “Broke” knows about many of the financial pitfalls for rookies making seven figures after living without a lot of money their whole lives. The movie talks about athletes who trusted family members to handle their money — only to lose it all. And tells stories about players who know very little about bank accounts or credit cards and, for example, take their first huge paycheck to a check-cashing place.
Buchanon, who in his first few years in the league gave away the majority of his money to family and friends and spent much of it on poor investments as well as trips to places like Las Vegas and the Caribbean, had an epiphany after seeing the 30 for 30 documentary.
“You talk about hitting home. When I saw that documentary, I thought, ‘I need to get my stuff together. My career could be over with at any time.’ It motivated me. I could watch that right now and be motivated, ” he says.
Buchanon, who’s now 34, played in the NFL from 2002 to 2011 — for the Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions — and made about $20 million. He stopped playing because of a hip injury, and in 2013 he went back to the University of Miami to finish his Bachelor’s degree. He says his aunt and some friends had been telling him for years to write a book to share all of the experiences he had — good and bad — after he became a millionaire. When he went back to the University of Miami, two of his professors also urged him to write the book. Buchanon wanted to try to help young players avoid the mistakes he had made, so he finally agreed to write it.
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One of those mistakes was hanging out with people he thought were friends, but who detracted from his life more than added to it. One night he was robbed at gunpoint in his house by several men soon after a friend had left. A man even put a gun in Buchanan’s mouth and threatened to kill him. Luckily no one was killed, but the thieves took nearly everything of value from his 5, 000 square foot home outside of Atlanta. Since he suspected that the friend who had left his house earlier might have set him up, he decided to stop hanging around with some of his shadier acquaintances.
”On the night of the robbery, the old me died and the new me was born, ” he writes in the book.
That “new me” is the one who started to take control of his money by having a budget and learning to say “no” to many of the people who were asking for handouts.
How to deal with family and friends and acquaintances asking for money is something Buchanon learned after years of giving away houses and cars and cash. And it’s one of the three key pieces of advice he offers in the book to current and future “new millionaires, ” his term for rookies in the NFL and NBA and anyone who comes into a lot of money for the first time.
1. Know the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ when people ask you for money.
“This is very important, ” he says. “A lot of guys feel like they need to do everything. You don’t. Just do things that make sense and are needed. Don’t overextend yourself.” He says this is especially tough to do because players feel guilty when they have to say no and stop giving. And, he adds, “family makes us feel guilty.” In the book, he says he started to feel like he was getting conned by people asking him for money for specific things they said they needed to fix or get done. “I finally learned how to cope with this type of request. I paid the bills directly to the company or handyman doing the work. It was amazing to see how my family responded when I told them I would take care of it.”
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