Free for 90 days: Sign up now and get 90 days managed free after your first deposit. See offer details

Financial Goals

Money Lessons from a Football Fan

As a financial blogger and avid football fan, I can't help but see my worlds collide. The Superbowl holds financial lessons for us all.

Articles by Jim Wang

By Jim Wang
  |  Published: February 1, 2013

I love football. I love athletic competition. I love the pageantry. I love the Super Bowl, one of the biggest spectacles in all of sports.

As a financial blogger and avid football fan, I can’t help but see my worlds collide.

I think the Super Bowl holds financial lessons for us all.

Money Follows Performance

One of the best lessons you can learn from the Super Bowl is that a solid performance can open the door to higher earnings. Teams that do well in the Super Bowl can justify raising their ticket and concession prices for the following season. Players who perform well all season – and stand out in the Superbowl – can see their value rise significantly.

Many players have clauses in their contracts that result in bonuses if they lead their teams to Super Bowl victories. Show good leadership, win an MVP award, and you could end up with a nice bonus. That’s just in the short term. There are opportunities in the long run too.

If you remember, Mario Mannningham made a great catch in the 2012 Super Bowl that may well have raised his stock when it came to negotiating pay as a free agent. He signed a two year, $7,375,000 salary that included a two million dollar signing bonus. If you do a good job, and deliver results, you are setting yourself up nicely for a future raise or promotion.

Remember ROI

What’s incredible about the Super Bowl is that so many people are watching and many of them aren’t even football fans. That’s why a 30-second Super Bowl spot in 2012 would put you back $3.5 million. That’s a lot of money in thirty seconds!

Advertisers pay for the eyes, but it might not actually be all that effective. The Super Bowl can get your brand in front of more than 100 million viewers but what’s the ROI? According to Forbes, many of the Super Bowl’s advertisers don’t return for another round because the ROI doesn’t justify the high price (and if you remember any from the dot com era… many companies simple no longer exist!).

Before you spend your own money on something, think about the return you are getting. Is that investment fundamentally sound? Does it have a long-term potential for gains?

Make the Most of Your Opportunities

Another good lesson is to make the most of your opportunities. A good example is the Super Bowl hosted in Dallas in 2011. It was a fiasco. 400 ticket holders were forced to stand because their seats weren’t safe. Dallas created a PR mess for themselves that will make it tough for them to secure another Super Bowl in the future.

On the other hand, a well-run Super Bowl, or other event, can be a great opportunity to shine.

To make the most of opportunities that come your way, be prepared. Make sure your finances are in a healthy state so you don’t have to let a good deal go by. Make sure you know what you want in your career so you can carve the right path for yourself. Put yourself in a position to be able to say “yes” to career opportunities that will get you closer to your dream.

As you watch the Super Bowl—or any other major sporting event—think about how you can apply some of these lessons to your everyday life.

Recommended Content

View All Resources
Jon Stein on “How I Built This:” Reflecting on Our Story

Jon Stein on “How I Built This:” Reflecting on Our Story

Jon Stein joins NPR’s Guy Raz for an episode of “How I Built This” to look back at how Betterment started, what mistakes were made, and how they turned into learnings for the robo-advisor we are today.

ETF Selection for Portfolio Construction: A Methodology

ETF Selection for Portfolio Construction: A Methodology

Betterment seeks to maximize investor take-home returns, which drives our investment selection criteria and process.

How to Do a Direct IRA Transfer

How to Do a Direct IRA Transfer

A transfer of your IRA to Betterment is easy and can be done online in four simple steps.

Explore your first goal

Safety Net

This is a great place to start—an emergency fund for life's unplanned hiccups. A safety net is a conservative portfolio.


Whether it's a long way off or just around the corner, we'll help you save for the retirement you deserve.

General Investing

If you want to invest and build wealth over time, then this is the goal for you. This is an excellent goal type for unknown future needs or money you plan to pass to future generations.

Smart Saver

You could earn 20X more than a typical savings account with our low-risk investing account for your extra cash.

How would you like to get started?

Your first step toward a smarter investing future starts here.

Create a Betterment account

Go ahead and join the smart, modern way to invest.

See what we can do for you

Tell us a bit about yourself, and we'll show you the benefits of investing with us.

Get a free investing checkup

Help us get a sense of your investing approach and see how you could improve.

Transfer a 401(k) or an IRA

Move an existing retirement account into a Betterment IRA.

Download the mobile app

Enjoy the Betterment experience anywhere on the go.


Search our site

For more information and disclosures about the Betterment Resource Center, click here. | See our contributors.