How Victor Cruz spends his money

Victor Cruz has money advice for professional athletes
Victor Cruz has money advice for professional athletes

Victor Cruz doesn't want to end up being a statistic.

Cruz was released by the New York Giants on Monday. The good news is that he's been careful about his money since the start of his career. He may not be heading into retirement any time soon, but the wide receiver has been planning for it so that he won't end up broke, the way other players do.

It all started with his first NFL paycheck in 2010.

"Oh man. I remember holding it up into the light and making sure it was real. Kind of hiding it like is everybody else seeing this?" Cruz said. "It was definitely a moment where I knew things were different and where I had to take care of this and make sure I make this forever and ever and ever and not just short-term."

Cruz's first NFL contract was with the Giants -- it was for three years and was worth $1.215 million, according to Spotrac, which monitors contracts. In 2013, he signed a five-year contract worth $43 million. His release by the Giants Monday came ahead of a $1 million roster bonus he was supposed to get on March 11.

Early on, he was advised by New York Giants' staffer Charles Way to keep track of his money.

"He was like, 'Man, make sure you understand what your money is doing and understand what's happening with your money. Don't just give it to some accountant and just let him do whatever he wants with it.'"

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As part of his effort to be financially secure once his days playing -- and dancing -- are over, Cruz teamed up with JPMorgan Chase (JPM), which manages his money. Cruz has been a partner with the bank for five years now.

"They teach me to be conscious of how I spend my money and to plan for the long term, not just what I see in front me," he said. "That's sometimes easier said than done."

The biggest thing he's learned? "Save as much as you can."

"What you do with your finances, everything is calculated. You have to make concise and precise moves with your money and not be careless with it and I think football is the same way," Cruz said. "You have to understand what you're doing [in] practice so that when game time comes, you know what you're doing and you're just playing as opposed to just reacting."

Cruz said he thinks many retired players get into financial trouble because they aren't informed.

"They weren't knowledgeable about what their money was doing," he said. "[Things] can add up and next thing you know, you're in debt and you're in the hole and you have to struggle a little bit and live paycheck to paycheck."

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When Cruz eventually does leave the NFL, he wants to work with kids and teach them about financial literacy and saving.

After attending the White House Science Fair in 2012, he launched the Victor Cruz Foundation to help expose inner-city students to STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

"Once I attended the White House Science Fair, it just kind of hit me," he said.

The program started at the Boys and Girls Club in Paterson, New Jersey, where he went as a kid, and Cruz hopes it will expand.

President Obama's administration started the White House Science Fair in 2010. It's unclear whether President Trump will put the same priority on STEM initiatives.

"It's a time where you don't know what's going to happen," Cruz said. "We'll see if there even is a science fair ... but obviously, full support from the White House would be great and beneficial."

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