smart spending

Fame & Fortune: Danica Patrick

Bankrate: Car racing can bring in some big bucks or none at all, so what has been a financial lesson you learned the hard way?

Danica Patrick: I wanted to go on a spring break trip with one of my friends when I was 18 and my parents made me earn the money to go. So I had to pay for my flight, hotel and everything; I realized just how quickly that money goes when you're the one earning the paycheck and you're the one spending it. That was a pretty good lesson for me. I had always been lucky in having my parents pay for everything before that, so that was my first real big lesson in finances.

Bankrate: Do you ever save for a rainy day, since any sport can be such a tenuous occupation?

Danica Patrick: Absolutely! I know that an athlete's career is not of a normal length and in general, is relatively short. Hopefully, you can be in a situation where you can make good money, you make good decisions with it and you are able to set yourself up for the rest of your life financially. I think one of the lessons my old boss Bobby Rahal taught me was that he said save your money because when I retired from racing, I wanted to maintain the same kind of lifestyle that I had when I was doing it, so I knew I needed to start doing some other things like investing in different areas and making sure that the financial flow would keep coming after you were done.  

Bankrate: You've received negative comments about your ability as a woman to race successfully. When you hear these comments, what is your reaction?

Danica Patrick: I would say that if anybody spoke negatively about me, they don't know me and they're uneducated in what I've done in my career. It's not important, and to be honest, it doesn't affect me. Those are not the kind of things that I read every day, and that I set out to learn about. Unfortunately, in this culture, people get as much attention from the negative -- if not more -- than the positive, so you can't dwell on it. You just have to be confident in yourself.

Bankrate: What was your first big splurge?

Danica Patrick: Probably my car. I bought a Lamborghini a couple of years ago and that was my first really big splurge. I didn't want to scratch it because I thought it would be too much money to fix. It's silver. 

Bankrate: What is your No. 1 stress reliever? 

Danica Patrick: Pedicures. You can find them anywhere and it's 30 minutes of your own time that you can grab that's not too greedy or expensive.

Bonnie Siegler is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.
Photo courtesy Retna Ltd.

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