Green Bay Packers punter Tim Masthay said he lived in a utility closet during his sophomore year at the University of Kentucky in an effort to save money.
His efforts to remain budget conscious have carried into his NFL career, as Masthay was one of 28 current and former NFL players to attend the league's second annual personal finance camp this past spring.
The four-day event helped players and their families better understand the financial world while equipping them with the tools to build wealth and financial security.
Masthay attended the camp with his wife, Amanda. He was one of three Packers players there, along with Mike Daniels and Julius Peppers.
"NFL players are in a pretty darn unique situation 'cause we're pretty young earning high incomes," Masthay told MarketWatch. He noted that players earn these high incomes only for a short period of time, which makes planning more important.
The NFL developed the camp in conjunction with its player engagement division, the University of Miami School of Business Administration and TD Ameritrade. Participants attended sessions that included topics such as building generational wealth and wills, trusts and estate planning. They also had opportunities to receive one-on-one financial planning assistance.
"We all face an evolving definition of retirement -- one where the end of a career does not necessarily mean the end of employment," Denise Karkos, chief marketing officer of TD Ameritrade, said in a statement. "This is especially true for many NFL players and their families, making a financial plan no longer a luxury, but a necessity."
A 2015 National Bureau of Economics paper found that about 16 percent of players drafted from 1996-2013 had declared bankruptcy within the first 12 years of retirement. More broadly, about half of all Americans surveyed by the Federal Reserve Board said they could cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.
Masthay appears to be part of the well-equipped half. He told MarketWatch that he comes from a family that was "sort of forced" to be frugal. His sophomore year utility closet cost him $100 a month, and he used his savings to buy Amanda a wedding ring.
"Personal finance acumen is important for everyone," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're a high income or a low income earner or somewhere in between. If you're old or young or single or married. It's important for everyone."