Live Like a Baller: Money Lessons From Steph, LeBron and Other Star Athletes
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Danica PatrickDanica Patrick

Danica Patrick is auto racing’s most famous female driver, and she’s among the sport’s top earners, too. She made nearly $8 million on the track in 2015 and another $6 million through a variety of endorsement deals. Given her massive earnings and busy schedule, she’s careful to incorporate expert financial advice and assistance from people she trusts.

She told ESPNW that she employs two private Certified Public Accountants—one just for daily cash flow and tax obligations. “She’s sort of the comptroller of my money,” Patrick said, “so she’s the one who gets all the payments. She gets all the deposits. She’s the one who sets aside taxes and quarterlies and forwards the money I have left over to my financial adviser, who handles my money and invests it.”

The lesson: Know when you need help managing your money—and rely on the right people to help you reach your financial goals. (And even if you hire someone to manage your money, make sure you know where your money is going—and why.)

GronkRob Gronkowski

In addition to being Tom Brady’s favorite passing target, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is known for his hijinks off the field (namely, his “Gronk-themed cruise”). While in his new book, “It’s Good to Be Gronk,” he regales fans with crazy stories about frat parties and other fun, Gronk is also deadly serious about good financial habits.

“To this day, I still haven’t touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money,” Gronkowski wrote in his book. “I live off my marketing money and haven’t blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos, and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school.”

In fact, his money skills are so highly regarded that Gronk teamed up with Capital One to promote #Gronkonomics, a campaign encouraging saving through strategies like setting short-term goals, creating automatic transfers and staying motivated by nicknaming your savings accounts.

The lesson: You can have fun and spend sensibly at the same time.

Ronda RouseyRonda Rousey

Becoming the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo in 2008 was only the first barrier Ronda Rousey crashed through in dramatic fashion. As she continued her career in mixed-martial arts, Rousey eventually became a wildly popular UFC women’s champion and claimed to be UFC’s highest-paid athlete—male or female.

Her famous matchup with Holly Holm might have been one of 2015’s most anticipated fights, and she stood to earn $10 million from the bout. (However, she lost in an upset). When asked what she planned to do with the payout, surprisingly, she didn’t reveal extravagant plans to splurge.

“I don’t have a (big) yard; it is a small little thing…I don’t really have many plants except for I have ordered grass to come in so the dog can pee on it,” Rousey told USA Today. “[So] I want to get some vertical gardens. I don’t think they are that expensive, though, but that’s what I want. I am a woman of simple tastes.”

The lesson: Experts say splurging (wisely) when you get a windfall or reach a milestone can actually help keep you motivated to stick to your big money goals. Just don’t go overboard.

AJ FrancisA.J. Francis

Though A.J. Francis has spent three years in the NFL as a defensive lineman, you may not have heard of him because he’s only appeared in three regular-season games. If you end up in Florida, however, you might get to know him—as your Uber driver.

Francis is still hoping to get his big NFL break: He bounced from Miami to Seattle last year, and now the former University of Maryland star has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a one-year deal worth $600,000. But he’s well aware that nothing is guaranteed, and in 2015, he told reporters he’d been moonlighting for $40 to $50 an hour—and practicing his interviewing skills on passengers, in hopes to one day enjoy a broadcasting career.

“I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. When you have a job, where are you when that job is over?” Francis told The Associated Press. “Just like I’m a world-class athlete, I’m a world-class driver.”

The lesson: It’s always good to have a Plan B, or a side hustle. If you’re working toward a big goal or find yourself in a shaky industry, consider joining the sharing economy to supplement your income.

June 10, 2016

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