Olympic athletes may seem superhuman given their muscular builds, flawless postures, effective coordination and agile grace. But when it comes to their personal finances, their lives are a lot more ordinary than you might think.
Olympic athletes do not receive paychecks from the International Olympic Committee, though most governments (except the U.S.) provide a stipend for participation.
"Women on the U.S. Rowing team, who receive only about a $400-a-month stipend from the USOC (United States Olympic Committee), live with host families and take one, sometimes two, jobs while training for the games, sometimes heading to a desk after 10-hours of training," according to Fortune.
And those shiny medals? The 4,700 gold, silver and bronze medals that will be awarded at the Olympic games this summer aren't actually worth much at all.
But while some athletes will leave this year's games with little more than they arrived with, it turns out that all those years of hard work and athletic discipline may have paid off elsewhere.
In a survey by TD Ameritrade of more than 250 past and present Olympic athletes, more than 75 percent felt they were financially secure and stable thanks to healthy spending and saving habits. Only 54 percent of everyday Americans feel they will have enough funds to send their kids to college and retire comfortably, according to a report by Country Financial and Rasmussen.
Here are five ways Olympic athletes may be better at managing their money than you are:
They Know How To Prioritize
When asked how they would spend a windfall of cash (an inheritance, a lottery win, etc.) 42 percent of athletes said they would either save or invest the sum and only 3 percent admitted they would go on a vacation or buy a luxury item with the cash. Most Americans, however would spend unexpected money on short-term needs or wants like <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/americans-saving-college-tuition_n_1703593.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003&ir=Money" target="_hplink">vacations and home improvements</a>, according to a survey by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and the Consumer Federation of America.
They Aren't Spendthrifts
According to the TD Ameritrade study, 53 percent of athletes put money into a savings or investment account on a monthly basis, making them exceptional savers, while nearly 50 percent of Americans admit to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/americans-spending-more-than-they-earn_n_1523920.html" target="_hplink">spending more than they earn</a>.
They're More Confident Than You
If years of intense athletic training gets you anything, it certainly makes you confident in your ability to perform. The same feeling carries through to financials, as 66 percent of athletes said they felt highly confident that they would <a href="http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/AMTD/1996602988x0x585318/84dff882-c51b-4630-989f-2bca1251225a/TD Ameritrade - Olympic Athlete Survey - Quantitative Research Results FINAL.pdf" target="_hplink">attain their financial goals</a>. Unfortunately, only 22 percent of average Americans are highly confident they'll reach their financial goals, according to the survey.
The Recession Didn't Slow Them Down
During the recession when even the wealthiest Americans saw their bank accounts shrink, 47 percent of Olympic athletes said they didn't need to put off any major money moves, like purchasing a car or home or saving for retirement. Of those that didn't hold back, 57 percent were labeled as exceptional savers by the survey. Alternately, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/retirement-savings-older-workers-recession_n_866109.html" target="_hplink">25 percent of Americans used up all of their savings during the recession</a>, subsequently putting off their retirement for an unknown amount of time, according to a survey by AARP.
They're Financially Secure
Nearly 77 percent of Olympic athletes can admit that they feel financially secure and are not forced to rely on credit cards to cover expenses, while more average Americans are <a href=" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/retirement-savings-older-workers-recession_n_866109.html" target="_hplink">charging everyday living expenses like food to their credit cards</a>, forcing analysts to wonder if it's a positive sign of risk-taking or if Americans are more strapped for cash than ever.