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Emily’s list: the high cost of going for the gold edition

Emily Crone

The London 2012 summer Olympics have dominated television screens, websites, newspapers and magazine covers for the past month. But in the past few days, it’s become clear the athletes feats and the dazzling spectacle can come at great expense.

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As CreditCards.com chronicles today, the quest for gold takes a lot of money, and athletes’ families have run into financial hurdles — some falling apart financially under the strain. Those struggles put an even more human face on the athletes and their families.

For instance, young gymnast Gabby Douglas wasn’t even expected to make the Olympic team, let alone swipe the all-around gold medal. Shortly after her thrilling victory, depressing news of her family’s money troubles came out.

Initially, we all learned the 16-year-old has been living with a host family in Iowa for two years so she could train at a famous gym. This week, TMZ revealed that Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, filed for bankruptcy reorganization in Virginia earlier in the year. She’s a single mother with four kids, and her debt became overwhelming, including almost $4,500 in student loans and about $1,500 in credit card debt. She filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to reorganize her debt and pay it down more slowly.

Raising an Olympian can be extraordinarily expensive. Hiring a good coach isn’t cheap, nor is buying large amounts of quality food and equipment, and paying for travel for competitions. Most of these athletes may not even make money.

Fortunately, some winners move on from the Olympics in a position to recoup the investment — and more. Douglas, for example, is already appearing on a Corn Flakes box. But what about those whose families pour fortunes into their athletic career, only for their athlete to go home empty-handed and without any endorsements? Or who excel in an obscure sport such as badminton or table tennis? It’s hard to imagine an Olympic athlete going to work in a cubicle after training years for a once-in-every-four-year event.

What do you think about this conundrum?

Keep on reading for my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, including one about how to be a financial Olympian.

1. Financial Highway lists eight things you can reuse to save money rather than racking up new credit card purchases.

2. Internet scams are a quick way to throw money down the toilet. One Cent at a Time offers tips on how to avoid getting scammed on online auction sites.

3. Financial Samurai defends his financial decisions and explains why saving a huge amount of his income doesn’t mean he can’t have fun and enjoy his life.

4. 20s Finance reveals how swapping can save you big bucks and lists some sites you can use to swap goods.

5. Money Life and More shares the amount of debt he and his girlfriend are paying and how they plan to pay off the debt.

6. Frugal Confessions discusses how she learned to reduce gas consumption on her Mustang and how her findings can apply to creating a budget.

7. Tackling Our Debt lists 30 easy and effective ways to save money. They show that smallest things can really add up.

8. Beating Broke shows readers what it takes to be a financial Olympian. Do you qualify?

9. Prairie Eco-Thifter explains the basics of how to create smart and simple financial goals.

10. Studenomics discusses how college students can graduate from school with no debt to their name.

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