Financing the Olympic Dream

Is anyone else out there a super-fan of the Olympics? Ordinarily, I don’t spend a lot of time watching sports. When the Olympics start, however, I’m glued to the tv for two weeks. I’ll watch anything and everything. I’ve been like this since I was a kid and my friends and I would make our own flags and medals to create our own Olympic Games.

Training to be an elite athlete is a full-time job. There are multiple training sessions a day, strength training sessions, physical therapy sessions, and time spent focusing on rest and nutrition. Yet, none of those activities make the athlete any money. Actually, every single one of those people helping the athlete needs to get paid. So, how do they pay them along with all of the real-world expenses like rent, gas, and phone?

Countries like Russia and China are known for providing strong government support for Olympic athletes. The United States, however, is one of only three countries in which the government provides no financial support at all for the development of Olympic athletes. Olympic hopefuls in the United States have to depend on corporate sponsorships and appearances. While corporate sponsorships for equipment are not difficult for elite athletes, they compete against professional sports leagues and athletes for corporate sponsorship dollars. As a result, most Olympic athletes in the United States can’t depend on paying their bills with sponsorship funds. Adam Rippon’s story about stealing apples from the gym has gone viral.

Sure, we can come up with names like Lindsey Vonn (net worth around $6 million), Shaun White (net worth around $40 million), and Michael Phelps (net worth around $55 million). They, however, are the outliers even among Olympic athletes. Many depend upon support from their parents and university athletic programs. Other Olympians have a side hustle. Speed Skater Derek Parra worked at Home Depot, and Pete Fenson (curling) runs a pizzeria. Olympians have been known to have side hustles as teachers, janitors, coaches, freelancers, waiters and waitresses, and even attorneys and accountants.

Training expenses alone can easily total $100,000 per year. So, that’s tough on athletes being supported by their families and those trying to make it on their own. It’s no surprise that some Olympic athletes even resort to crowdsourcing to fund their Olympic dream. Keep all of that in mind while you enjoy the athleticism and artistry of the Olympics. Appreciate not only the physical and emotional struggles it took for them to get to this one moment but also the financial struggles they have overcome as well.

Five Clever Ways to Save on Back-to-School

clever ways to save on back to school

 

It was weird to see so many first day of school pictures online this morning, but kids around here go back to school this week. Every time I think about this time of the year, I feel a little sick. Not only does it mean my summer break is over, but it also reminds me of the stress and expense of that enormous shopping list. Even though our school supply list is now minimal, I thought I would share some clever ideas for school savings that I’ve discovered along the way.

 

  1. If your child wears basic uniform attire that you don’t need to purchase from a specific store, try to hold off from buying too much right now. A lot of stores are going to have uniform items on sale a couple of weeks after school starts, and you’ll be able to stock up for the rest of the year. Pick up a size larger too if your child is growing like a weed. You’ll be glad you did when you need it and have to pay full price later in the year.
  2. Make a list and check prices and availability across a variety of stores. Get your friends involved and share information with them. If you grab the class supply list and three friends, you can each price check one store and compare. Now you are all getting the best deals.
  3. Don’t forget about quality. You are not really saving money if you buy the 5 cent folders that rip to shreds after the first week of school. The same is true for polo shirts that pill or get holes. Don’t go overboard though. My son used to manage to get holes in the knees of pants even though I got him the good Lands End pants with iron knees. Eventually, I just made him wear shorts. Also, I decided not to spend $35 on those pants when he tore them up at the same rate as a less expensive pair.
  4. Look for coupon savings available through apps like Ibotta or Target Cartwheel in addition to the store’s advertised sales.
  5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If last year’s clothes, shoes, or gear still fits, God bless you. Make use of those things at the start of school and look into getting something new when back-to-school goes on sale. A new backpack also makes a good birthday or Christmas gift.

 

Bonus Savings Tip: Stay at home. I used to dread back-to-school time. New backpacks, uniforms, sneakers, lunch boxes, loads of expensive school supplies, deposits on back-to-school activities, soccer shoes, tap shoes, ballet shoes, jazz shoes, soccer uniforms, and leotards. Back-to-school could easily run over $1000 for two kids. Plus, the stress of needing to find that exact pencil case or risk being chastised by the teacher. None of that. We are starting our homeschool year next week, and back-to-school has cost me less than $50. I buy things through the year when they are on sale, find a lot of free material online, and choose products that we can use for a long time. I’ve learned to be a lot more efficient over time. I’m not really suggesting that you homeschool just to save money, but it is just one of the many benefits.

free college tuition education

Why This Professor Does Not Support Free Higher Education

free college tuition education

 

I had planned to post something about back to school savings, but you are going to have to wait until next week for that post. Last night and this morning I got engaged in conversations about the Democratic National Party’s plan to offer free tuition for community college and state universities. Bernie Sanders brought this up during his campaign and said that Wall Street will pay for free college. I guess in some ways it comes across like Trump’s plan to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. I don’t want to get political here because that’s not the point of my blog. I want to share finance, education, and career tips with you. As a professor at a state university, however, I feel like I need to say something about why I think this plan is a terrible idea.

 

  • The problem with the cost of higher education is the high cost of administration. People assume professors are cashing in on the big bucks and getting all kinds of benefits. Not true. Universities have bloated administrations with an office and staff for everything under the sun while the actual educators get nothing. They don’t get raises and they watch as travel and research funding fades away more each year due to budget cuts. My university creates new administrative offices and hires a whole staff to manage them. Meanwhile, we have three administrative assistants trying to manage all the needs of the entire College of Business. It’s crazy. I can only imagine the administration that would go into this free higher ed plan. Should this ever pass, I am out.
  • You have a choice about where you want to go to college. Weigh the costs with the expected income in your chosen field. Don’t go to a college that costs $60,000 a year and major in art or communication. Someone should point out that is stupid. If you still do it, you forfeit the right to complain. Four times I had to choose the college I could afford, and my parents pushed me towards choosing a major that would help me to secure a good job.
  • Being in debt from student loans is nothing new. I accumulated around $100,000 in student loans on the way to my Ph.D. Medical school students rack up that much debt too. So, it makes me mad when people are crying about their student loans. You signed the note yourself. The problem is the poor cost/benefit analysis (mentioned above) PLUS the abysmal job market caused by the increased cost of hiring and a puny economy. That story does not play well with younger voters. It’s easier to say, “Boo hoo, let’s make those evil bankers pay for my college.” Who do you think paid for their college education? They are probably paying off student loans too.
  • This plan will discourage choice and encourage class segregation in the same way lower income families are forced to send elementary school and high school students to public school while higher income families can afford better private school options. This goes against one of the major political issues in America today – class warfare and the disintegration of the middle class.
  • It is a truth of economic theory that something only has worth when you must give something of value to attain it. If your parents gave you a car when you first got your license and paid for all of the associated expenses, you did not care for the car the same way another teen did who worked to pay for the car. The same thing is true for education. College students who are not paying for college tend to lack a sense of ownership about their education. Students who have skin in the game and are helping to pay their way through college have a much better understanding of the value of that education. They work harder and get more out of the experience because it means more to them. I don’t want to be a part of a university filled with students attending for free.

 

Did you have to pay for college? Did your parents push you to a certain school or degree?