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Put Your Money Through the NFL Combine

Every February, NFL prospects from colleges across America travel to Indianapolis to be poked, prodded and pored over by pro football scouts. The potential draft picks go through scores of tests that measure everything from body fat to strength, and one bad score could cost them millions of dollars.

Most athletes train for months to get ready. Performing well at the Combine is key to getting noticed and getting drafted, which can help set them up for a successful NFL career.

The tests administered are great measures of a player’s potential worth, and the numbers can be a good indicator of future success. But what if the same tests were applied to money? Here is how the Combine would look if personal finance were subjected to this auditioning process.

40-yard dash

This sprint is one of the most anticipated events at the NFL Combine. Faster is better for athletes. For money? Not so much. If the NFL Combine tested finance, the 40-yard dash would be a good measure of how fast someone spends money. A top-rated NFL prospect can blaze through 40 yards in 4.3 seconds. A top-rated shopping addict can blow through hundreds of dollars just as fast.

A good lesson to be learned from the 40-yard cash dash would be to take things slow. That leather jacket of a finish line will still be there a week from now, and it might even be on sale. Too often, people race to grab something they want without taking the time to think through their decision. Finance is not a sprint; it’s more of a marathon. By taking the time to consider all options, search for the best deal, and take into account a budget, rash decisions go the way of slow wide receivers.

Bench press

This ultimate exercise is really the only way that NFL scouts measure true strength. Players must lift 225 pounds as many times as they can, and they must do so in a room full of peers, cameras, and self-doubt. Placing our money on the figurative weight bench is only slightly less terrifying.

Like weightlifters with their muscles, good investors want their money to grow, glisten, and be bigger than the next guy’s. And as the bench press works as an apt comparative tool for strength, money’s great equalizer would be a portfolio.

The strength of an investment portfolio can be simply measured by rate of return. Often times, portfolios bring to mind stocks and bonds, but a well-rounded look at financial progress would take into account any and all investments (P2P loans, IRAs, CDs, money markets, etc.). Anyone who is earning more than five percent has a lot to be proud of. Go ahead and wear that sleeveless shirt in public. And there are several quick fixes to gain more money strength, like a Lending Club loan portfolio, which yields an annual average of over 12 percent. Back belt not included.

Broad jump

From a standing position, participants have to leap as far forward as they can. This drill will never come into play on an actual football field.

Similarly, there are a lot of financial offers that might seem profitable, but they turn out to be pointless, or worse, harmful. Pyramid schemes, get-rich-quick scams, and the like are the broad jump of modern money management. They might seem like short cuts to financial prosperity, but they go nowhere and at best only serve as distractions.

Money’s broad jumps are easy to weed out. Look into any investment opportunity before committing, and the shady ones will almost always show themselves. Jumping head first into something that sounds too good to be true is a sure-fire way to get burned, just like the athlete who spent months practicing for his broad jump attempt.

Body fat

Pro athletes hate fat. Money managers love fat. This is at least one reason that the big-name financial pundits never made it into the NFL.

College athletes will do whatever it takes to shed extra pounds and fat, but those interested in finance enjoy the love handles of petty cash. In a fiscal sense, that fat represents extra money that can be invested or spent without affecting the bottom line. Often times, this celluloid cash comes in the form of a bonus at work or a stock dividend or finding 20 bucks in the pants pocket of a pair jeans. Wherever it comes from, this kind of fat is good.

Coincidentally, fat breeds fat, if one chooses to invest their excess. The interest paid from a large amount of savings can earn its own interest if invested properly. There are plenty of tasty savings-buffets out there, and there is no reason to keep the pocketbook away from them.

Vertical jump

For a lot of NFL positions, the vertical jump matters little. Offensive linemen rarely need to jump 36 inches in the air. So this drill could just as easily be seen as a metaphor for both an NFL career and a financial future: Reach for the stars.

The best entrants in the vertical jump have great technique and long arms, but what sets them apart is that they have just a little extra bit of stretch at the end. The same should be said of an investing strategy. A good plan and a patient approach will get someone very far, but it is that extra desire that will put things over the top. Setting lofty goals is one approach. Instead of just wanting to send the kids to college, try setting aside funds to send them to graduate school, too. Often times, even if the intended goal isn’t achieved, the progress has reached far past the original target. An NFL player can’t jump five feet into the air, but failing at 48 inches is still great.

Weigh-in and measurements

One of the first events for Combine participants is getting measured. NFL scouts take all sorts of figures into consideration like wingspan and hand size, and they place great value in height and weight.

Similarly, a credit score breaks out the tape measure and scale for financial situations, and knowing where one stands is as important as knowing one’s height and weight. There is no point in putting a lot of work into one’s money management if someone else is racking up debt under the same name. Self-inflicted wounds hurt, too; unpaid credit card bills and delinquent payments can cost infinitely more in the long run than they do in the present.

Knowing your true financial situation can make all the difference. If you look into your credit score and see that it is struggling, there are many different ways to help improve it. If a 250-pound lineman didn’t know he weighed 250 pounds, he would never have the chance to bulk up to compete with his 300-pound competition. A 5’9” quarterback who thinks he is 6’3” has no future under center, but he does have time to learn a new position. Credit scores give consumers a better shot at success, and knowing yours is half the battle.

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