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  • Brett Zalaski

Life Hacks When You're Making S**t for Money


True story, I made more money at 25 than I did all the way until I was 34. That's both an indictment of how much you can make outside of sports, and how little you make inside of sports. I lived in a lot of expensive cities, too, to be fair. And I've loved working in #sportsbiz, I want to be clear, but that was quite a shitty decade from a savings account standpoint.


I was on a call with a couple #sportsbiz sales reps from the same NBA team last week when we discussed that, and they asked if I had advice for them, as they were about to hit their first commission-less paycheck. While we exchanged some funny stories...it did get me thinking, specifically, about what I did to survive during those times...and I came up with this short list:

  1. FREE: Playing basketball outside at the park with your friends is free. Some museums and zoos are free. Some social organizations like the November Project are free. Every city has a website of free stuff somewhere...take advantage of it. I'm not mathmetician or economist, but the more mornings or nights you fill with stuff that doesn't cost you anything, the more of your money you have.

  2. What's your team giving away?: When I worked for the Boston Blazers, we had a free chips and queso deal in our team program to Qdoba. I was not making a ton of money and living in downtown Boston. I told my boss that, when I wasn't working, I'd pass out the programs to people who lived around me and my friends for free marketing. I didn't tell him I was going to clip out all the free Qdoba coupons. I had a LOT of dinners of chips and queso...but I also saved a lot of money on dinners. There are other free things, too. Does your team have a basketball team? Are they sponsoring yoga workouts? Are they doing book clubs? Or lunch and learns? Take. All. Of. It.

  3. I Ain't to Proud to Couch: When I moved to NYC, and was on an entry-level salary at the NBA, I stayed on a friends couch for free until I saved up enough money to get a place. While it sure wasn't sexy to do so, it saved me a significant amount of money that would allow me to live IN the city...and not central New Jersey.

  4. Navigate a Night Out: #SportsBiz sales people can be known to be social creatures. There's a lot of work hard, play hard...and, in a lot of cases, you should...you deserve. We have a tough, long hours, little pay job. If you want to eat out more than once a year, choose places that are fairly priced. Stop drinking 12 oz. $9 craft IPA's when they have a $2 Pabst tall boy. Don't buy shots for people. Eat the appetizers for dinner. Hell, volunteer to work all game nights (you won't be spending money!). Every dollar saved is a...well...dollar saved. And that'll add up quick, if you're smart.

These are just a couple...and I'll ask others in leadership positions to chime in here, too. I know these paychecks will start to get smaller...just know that that will just allow you to make some smart changes. And hopefully ones that can help you be smarter for years after this passes.