Professor Pig has teamed up with NFL linebacker and financial wellness professor, Brandon Copeland, to bring you his advice and tips on financial well-being. Read on to learn more! Find more of Brandon at https://www.brandoncopeland.com.
Professor Pig (PP): What did you learn through sports that helped you teach personal finance?
Brandon Copeland (BC): The biggest character trait I gained over the years from sports is my competitive spirit. When teaching a topic like personal finance, I want to understand new tools and concepts to become a better professor and get my message across to my students clearer. It is not enough for me to teach the same presentation each year - I come to my class fresh with new ideas, and playing sports helped give me that competitive edge to want to get better daily.
PP: Is there any aspect of personal finance you still have on your own goal list to work on?
BC: Yes, plenty. Once you start down the path towards financial wellness, you see how many different wormholes you can go down. For me, one of the biggest things that I'm trying to focus on this year is automating a lot of my decisions.
I have a good understanding that I am saving, investing, and putting my money to work, but right now it’s a manual process for each paycheck. By setting up automatic withdrawals, I can take the emotional decision out of the process. I think that is really going to help me focus more on the actual investment and saving decisions as opposed to the amount.
PP: If you could go back to your 18-year-old self, what advice you would give – personal finance or otherwise?
BC: Ask for help. It took me until I was about 20 or 21 years old before I was comfortable enough in my own skin to ask the “dumb questions.” Even now, in big boardrooms, I say “I apologize, maybe I'm being silly, but I need you to break it down for me.” Go ahead and ask the question on your mind because nine times out of ten, everyone else is wondering the same thing.
PP: How can having a grip on your finances help with mental health?
BC: I was reading about a stat from 2019 recently, that most people feel extremely anxious or unsure about their financial situation. When you don't understand your finances, you’re not going to be confident in your financial decisions, and that can cause a lot of stress. By budgeting and placing an emphasis on your own personal financial education, you can achieve your current and future goals.
PP: Why do you have such a passion for teaching others about saving and budgeting?
BC: It is really about giving back and I accomplish this by sharing my own financial journey. The lessons that I equip my students with will reach far beyond my classroom because they can share the information with their families, friends, and future generations. We’re in school for so many years of our lives, so we might as well learn something that we are definitely going to use.
Budgeting is so important because it is a personal audit of your finances that allows you to examine the decisions you make with your money at a 30,000 foot level. From there, you can easily adjust your spending or your savings according to your financial goals. To execute on those goals, an individual will more than likely have to save up for it. People struggle with saving in some cases because they are not fully in sync with their purpose, which is typically their personal north star or they skip this step and go straight to investing. Simply put, my advice is to “pay yourself first”, which is easier to do when you are in tune with your “why”. I’d also encourage you to equate saving with investing.
The final thing I'll say is: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Finances are not a perfect science. Everyone’s situation is different. I might make a decision that works for myself and my family, but my situation is not yours. That’s why we have to take ownership of our financial education so that we can make the best decision possible for us.
Please note, that Brandon Copeland was compensated by Sallie Mae for providing this content. All opinions expressed herein are his own.