Verdict: NEW MONEY is an insightful record of Buchanan’s life is could have been a cautionary tale, and a glimpse into a life not many experience.
NFL athlete Phillip Buchanon wasn’t prepared for the impact his new and sudden wealth would have on his life. In New Money, he shares the pitfalls he encountered and the lessons he learned from his mistakes, imparting personal wisdom about financial management that was hard-earned.
“According to Sports Illustrated and ESPN,” writes Buchanon, “78% of NFL players go broke within the first two years of retirement.” It’s a startling statistic, and one that may elicit feelings ranging from horror to pity to disgust. Buchanon’s unflinching account of his own lifestyle choices following his windfall doesn’t do anything to temper these emotions. For four years after signing with the NFL, his spending was excessive and irresponsible. But Buchanon eventually learns his lesson and, despite not being the most skilled writer, is compelled to share the knowledge he has acquired from his own fumblings.
Readers, however, may be hesitant to take advice from someone who has made so many seemingly obvious mistakes. In some places, it feels as if Buchanon is passing the buck, blaming everyone—America’s tendency toward rampant consumerism, the incomprehensible amount of money NFL players earn—for his many blunders. And often, his poor choices seem so obvious that they border on the absurd.
But Buchanon is also quite insightful in writing about the underprivileged backgrounds he and other players often have. And he addresses quite deftly the disparities that exist when it comes to resources, education, status, and personal support systems, and how all of these can have an effect on one’s ability to manage their life and their future, let alone their finances. As much as readers may feel quick to judge the author for his choices, Buchanon’s story is a worthwhile one.
Still, in the end, Buchanon never fully steps into the role of someone who should be dispensing financial advice. And this is where New Money falters. In his attempt to turn New Money into a self-book, he leaves the reader with something irreparably bifurcated.
Adding to this particular drawback is the book’s limited potential for an audience. It’s aimed at those who have been the recipients of “rapid wealth.” Aside from the world’s megastars, the only other readers in his target audience would seem to be lottery winners, estate beneficiaries, and those few entrepreneurs who hit it big and hot before eventually burning out. Rather than writing a self-help book, Buchanon’s story could have been most engrossing on its own as a memoir.
New Money is an insightful record of Buchanan’s life is could have been a cautionary tale, and a glimpse into a life not many experience.