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What Can We Learn from the Washington Redskins?

Will we learn from the Washington Redskins how to beat the Green Bay Packers in an NFL playoff game?  We’ll find out on Sunday.  However, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the Redskins have other wisdom to offer:  They recognize the importance of living a lifestyle that is sustainable even when they no longer have extremely high salaries or any income at all.  Many of them are practicing what we at PFS have long observed in creating financial plans for our clients:  financial success and stability depends on how much you spend even more than how much you make.

The Wall Street Journal article, entitled “Why the Redskins’ Players Are So Frugal,” describes the decisions by many Redskins’ players to forego luxury cars and houses in order to save for the future.  For example, quarterback Kirk Cousins drives a dented GMC Savana passenger van that belonged to his grandparents, running back Alfred Morris either rides his bike to work or drives a 1991 Mazda sedan, and pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan splits the rent on his Virginia apartment with a childhood friend and cooks most of his meals, only occasionally splurging for dinner out at Chipotle.  Why many of the Redskins players are so frugal has been a topic of speculation, but, as least for Cousins, he clearly states that he’s saving for the future since he doesn’t know how long he will be able to play football (and pull in a 7-figure salary).

As wealth managers, this immediately resonates with us as a very wise course of action.  In our experience preparing hundreds of financial plans, we have repeatedly observed that in many cases, the higher one’s income, the more difficult it is to retire.  The reason, of course, is that if you are accustomed to a high standard of living–i.e. high monthly spending–and don’t want to drastically scale back in retirement, then you need to be saving much more than someone with a lower income and standard of living.  As we mentioned in our post on how much to save for retirement, this often requires high income earners to save significantly more than even the IRS maximum for annual retirement plan contributions. 

As your income increases over your career, or if you receive unexpected salary increases or bonuses, just remember the Redskins, and make sure that you save an increasing amount as well to ensure continued financial security both while you are working and in retirement.


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