Rob Gronkowski and Jay Leno Manage Money the Same Way — And You Can Too

Rob Gronkowski is known for his partying, but this fun guy is all business about his money. He follows the same frugal methods as Jay Leno, Marshawn Lynch, and Saquon Barkley. Their money-saving practices help them avoid the financial pitfalls many athletes and celebrities face. So, what can we learn from them that will help us retire rich, too?

Many pro athletes go broke

Sports Illustrated estimated that about 78% of NFL players file for bankruptcy or have financial problems after only two years of retirement. After five years of retirement, about 60% of NBA players run out of money. Former MLB players have similar difficulties. How could this happen to athletes who made so much money?

Many of these athletes are asked for money, loans, and investments by family and friends. It’s hard to say no. Many former players have lost half of their money in a divorce and child-support payments. Some athletes trust financial advisors who overcharge, embezzle, or give bad advice. If the player is too trusting and doesn’t stay involved, he won’t realize his money is disappearing.

Athletes who start making lots of money at a young age don’t always have the financial skills to know how to handle money. Rather than learning how to create a budget, pay taxes, and plan for the future, they buy expensive cars or blow their money on partying.

NFL players make money quickly, with a median salary of $860,000 in 2017. But the average NFL career lasts just over three years. While they earn big paychecks, it’s easy to fund a great lifestyle. But they don’t always prepare for the lifestyle changes that come when those paychecks stop.

Gronk and others save their NFL salaries

Former NFL player Rob Gronkowski is prepared for his financial future, as he retired with more than $54 million. To save that vast amount, he lived off his income from endorsements while saving his signing bonus and entire NFL salary from all nine seasons. He also didn’t make many extravagant purchases. Gronk told Business Insider that he advises living on what you need to be comfortable and saving the rest.

This strategy is followed by NFL players Marshawn Lynch and Saquon Barkley. Lynch spent very little of his NFL earnings, living mainly off endorsement deals worth about $5 million a year. In a 60 Minutes Sports interview, he credited his “good team and some smart family members” for his financial success. Barkley, who’s only 22 years old, mentioned in an interview with ESPN that he planned to follow the “Marshawn Lynch method.”

Jay Leno has the same method

Outside the sports world, Jay Leno followed the same strategy by living off his money from stand-up — not his millions from hosting The Tonight Show. Having two incomes was something he started when he began his career.

When first starting out, he lived on the money from being a comedian and saved his paychecks from working at a car dealership. Once he became famous, he switched, living off the car dealership income and saving his comedian pay. Leno is now reportedly worth $350 million.

How you can save the same way

While we may not earn paychecks like Gronkowski or Leno, there are some things even “regular people” can do to save like them.

Spend less

Do your financial decisions actually improve your life? Changing your lifestyle to reduce expenses and increase savings will likely make you happier in the long run. For example, Gronkowski sometimes wears clothing and shoes until they have holes. He learned these habits growing up wearing hand-me-downs from his older brothers. Leno says he lives frugally, too.

Having two incomes and saving the bigger one

Gronkowski and Leno are able to diversify their incomes and live on their smaller ones. They both discuss working really hard at their jobs. Saving one income is a good practice for two-income families or people with a second job or side hustle.

Even if you can’t totally live on one of your incomes, a small side hustle can boost your saving power, especially when you factor in the magic of compounding interest. 

Enjoy occasional splurges

It’s fine to reward all the hard work you put into saving. After playing for eight years, Gronkowski bought a diamond-encrusted chain, and Jay Leno is known for his car collection. In an interview, Gronk did mention wanting one pricey splurge in the future: a private plane.