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NBA Stars That Prove You Can be Balling and Frugal at the Same Time


We all sometimes feel the pinch financially. An unexpected bill here, a special occasion that you need to pay for there, and suddenly there's more month left at the end of your money. Thankfully, there are many ways that we can keep our finances in check to be sure we have a little something set aside for when the unexpected happens.
Setting a budget, eating out less, and taking public transport instead of the car are all great ways to help spend less. Many people also use coupons and discounts to help them save on the things they'd spend money on anyway.

If you haven't looked before, you'd be surprised as to how many different businesses run these promotions. If you're a sports fan, you'll find free bet offers from most bookmakers, while if you enjoy music, you'll find plenty of free music streaming services that you can use on your computer or smartphone.

While these techniques are great for your average person, it's understandable to think that professional athletes don't have to worry about counting the pennies. After all, the term "balling" to refer to someone that shows off their wealth comes from the fact that NBA stars have become famous for this.

Not all professional players partake in this ritual of exuberant displays of wealth though. In fact, many have come from humble backgrounds where they had to learn to be frugal. Then, even having signed huge NBA contracts that promise life-changing sums, they stay true to their roots and continue to live humbly.

In fact, many financial experts often recommend that people should control their spending, even if they are wealthy. The best-selling author, Robert Kiyosaki, suggests that people should invest money into assets instead of saving, while the YouTuber BeatTheBush has discussed the merits of behaving and looking like you're not wealthy.
Here are some of the most frugal ballers around today.

Kawhi Leonard

LA Clippers' small forward, Kawhi Leonard, has enjoyed a lot of success during his career, including being part of the Toronto Raptors team that won the NBA Championship for the first time in 2019. His "all-time great NBA playoff performance" also helped Leonard to his second NBA Finals MVP award. Despite having a three-year contract valued at $103 million, he continues to be one of the most humble and frugal players in the league.

Although he now owns a Porsche, Leonard continued to drive a 1997 Chevy Tahoe until 2016. He had owned the car since he had learned to drive and it was worth around 0.03% of his annual salary back in 2016. When asked about why he was still driving this old banger, Leonard answered "it runs and it's paid off".

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Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony has enjoyed a long career in the NBA, starting out at the Denver Nuggets back in 2003 and continuing to play for the Portland Trail Blazers today. He reportedly earns more than $2 million a year, though he has earned much more earlier in his career. Between 2014 and 2018, Anthony signed a five-year contract with the New York Knicks worth $124 million.

Despite this massive amount of income, he is an avid couponer. In 2011, he told CBS Denver that he still goes to the supermarket to get a newspaper that he can clip coupons from. He described how people would look at him strangely, confused as to why a multi-millionaire was tearing a newspaper apart to save a few cents on his groceries. Anthony responded by saying "I'm human too", showing he remains very humble despite his fame and wealth.

Trey Burke

Point guard Trey Burke returned to the Dallas Mavericks in 2020 after spending a few months with the 76ers. Compared to some other players, his earnings are relatively modest. His 2020-21 base salary is $3 million, but he had been paid just $229,220 by the 76ers.

Regardless, he still makes considerably more than most basketball fans, and certainly has enough to not have to worry about money. Yet despite this, he sets a hard limit on his spending, restricting himself to just $5,000 a month. This keeps him humble and means he lives just like anyone else in middle-class America.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the most successful ballers of all time. This success has helped him to also become one of the richest athletes of all time, with a net worth of around $1.6 billion according to Insider. Although most of this wealth has come from his NBA contracts and endorsement deals, Jordan has helped to retain much of his earnings by living frugally.

Among his former colleagues, he is known for being cheap. In an April 2014 interview with Sports Illustrated, Charles Barkley described how "there's nobody cheaper than" Jordan and that he always tips poorly. A pretty surprising revelation given that Jordan is known for being quite the gentle soul.

LeBron James

LeBron James is another household name from the NBA, something that has helped him to earn the big bucks. As well as playing contracts that are worth tens of millions of dollars, he has reportedly agreed to a lifetime contract with Nike that's worth $1 billion.

Despite having more money than most people would know what to do with, James is incredibly frugal. His teammates have told the press that James doesn't like to use his phone's mobile data, so he only has access to the internet when he's at home or if there is a WiFi hotspot nearby. So despite the average US cell phone bill being $70 (though it can be lower if you're thrifty), an amount would be a drop in the ocean for the Lakers forward.

That's not all, though. While playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, several of James' fellow players noticed that he would only use the free version of Spotify to listen to music. This meant that the locker room's music would be regularly interrupted by ads because James wasn't willing to spend a few dollars a month for the premium subscription.

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