How former NFL player Devale Ellis and his wife Khadeen turned a career change into a wealth-building opportunity

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  • When Devale Ellis’ NFL career was sidelined by injuries, he and his wife Khadeen had to pivot careers.
  • They had to learn about money management, including growing wealth for their children through life insurance. 
  • As their brand grows, they use a financial advisor to help manage their wealth to leave a legacy.
  • Policygenius can help you compare life insurance policies to find the right coverage for you, at the right price »

Devale and Khadeen Ellis, of the popular YouTube channel the Ellises, have shared their journey transitioning careers while raising a family on social media. Devale was an NFL player with the Detroit Lions for four years, but his career was sidelined by injuries. Khadeen worked as an on-air personality for a New York-based celebrity news site.

When Devale’s NFL salary ended, they had to challenge their traditional views on money as they transitioned to new careers — all while starting a family. The journey included educating themselves about life insurance, building wealth, and the power of ownership.

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They challenged their own views on money 

Devale said that he and Khadeen grew up with different perspectives on money. Khadeen’s parents put an emphasis on owning property. Devale’s parents emphasized the importance of good credit.

Being in the NFL, Devale wanted to learn how the wealthy people who wrote his checks made money. He and Khadeen watched people they aspired to be like. Devale noticed wealthy people talked about ownership and entrepreneurship to build a legacy for their children. It requires sacrifices, and you may not see the payoff as a parent, but your kids will reap the benefits.  

Khadeen and Devale had tough conversations about where they wanted to be financially. They asked why relatives who worked so hard were struggling to make ends meet or have anything left over after paying bills. They realized it was a lack of education and knowledge, so they mapped out a plan to educate themselves through personal finance books and articles. 

They made a financial plan tailored to their goals

Khadeen said that educating themselves about finances drove home the importance of ownership. She wanted to have ownership of her time so she could be actively involved with their kids. So she and Devale came up with a financial plan that made this goal possible.

Devale is now a season regular on Tyler Perry’s “Sistas” and has guest starred on other television shows. After having 
“three whole boys,” Khadeen is also back in front of the camera. They also have a Webby award-winning podcast, “Dead Ass,” discussing black love, marriage, and family issues, and are regular hosts for the popular “Black Love” docuseries.

Because they own their podcast and pitch their own projects, they have multiple revenue streams outside of acting. It also frees their schedule to be with the kids. They still do partnerships, but the focus is on their brand creation. 

They started building wealth through life insurance

Although they educated themselves about life insurance and money management, the Ellises say they use a financial advisor and team to help them manage their wealth.

The Ellises’ goal is to leave a legacy for their children and to build generational wealth. Learning the difference between term life and permanent life insurance was key. While term life insurance expires after a specific period of time, permanent life insurance lasts forever, and in addition to paying out a death benefit for your beneficiaries, it has a cash value that you can use during your lifetime.

Once they learned about cash value permanent life insurance, they shared this knowledge with their parents and other relatives.

Building a legacy for their children

Like other multicultural investors looking to manage their money with a social purpose, Devale and Khadeen are passing on the legacy of creating generational wealth to their children.

While explaining the importance of Black Lives Matter to their older son, they developed a children’s book, “The Ellises and the Time Machine,” for parents to talk to their kids about race and racism. Devale said the book is for his children’s generation to build on. 

The Ellises brand is built on family. Devale and his brother have a mentorship program for Brooklyn kids. Throughout their journey, parents and siblings are involved in the process. After educating themselves about money management and insurance, the Ellises are sharing that knowledge with family members to pave the road for multi-generational success. 

They admit the journey isn’t easy and they work their butts off, but it is worth it to leave a legacy for their children.

Ronda Lee is an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. She is also a licensed attorney who practiced litigation and insurance defense.

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