Financial Lessons From 8 Budget-Savvy Celebrities

Chang Fu
Dec 14, 2020

Society often romanticizes the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but things aren’t always as grand as they seem. Intuitively, a multimillionaire’s life appears to be prestigious, outfitted with designer clothes and private jets. In reality, millions of dollars don’t come with a book on financial literacy. As The Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo Money Mo Problems.”

Curtis Jackson, also known as 50 Cent, learned that the hard way. Nearing a $20 million net worth, the famous hip hop artist filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. Jackson immediately came up with a plan to pay back the $23 million owed to creditors and did so within five years. While the average person won’t find themselves in quite a drastic debt situation, there’s an important lesson we can find within 50 Cent’s repayment. Pay back loans early and often to rebuild credit for an improved financial future.

While frugality will look different for internationally acclaimed celebrities than it does for a blue-collar worker, there are still actionable financial tips we can take away from their “modest” spending habits.

Table of Contents:

  1. Keanu Reeves
  2. Peter Dinklage
  3. Tiffany Haddish
  4. Dolly Parton
  5. Ed Sheeran
  6. Kristen Bell
  7. Zooey Deschanel
  8. A.J. Francis

Live Frugally

While some stars prefer to spend their cash by dropping millions on a bathtub despite nearing bankruptcy — looking at you, Mike Tyson — others keep their pocketbooks tight.

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Keanu Reeves

Canadian superstar Keanu Reeves may be worth a cool $360 million, but he doesn’t let fortune go to his head.

“I give lots away and live simply, mostly out of a suitcase in hotels. We all know that good health is more important.”—Keanu Reeves

While the star may live in a mansion today, for the first 18 years of his career, he was homeless — living in hotel rooms and trailers during his rise to stardom. More importantly, reports of Reeves gifting bonuses to crewmembers out of his own pocket are the norm.

The lesson: More assets can require more complicated money management. Being practical can make life simpler and, therefore, more enjoyable.

Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage’s celebrity status exploded with his role of Tyrion Lannister in “Game of Thrones.” Today, he boasts a net worth of $25 million. Though this four-time Emmy-winning superstar is one of the highest-paid actors from “GoT,” he prefers to live simply in his rural New York home, driving a modest Volvo, with his wife and two children.

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After finishing his luxurious egg salad sandwich, estimated to cost $1.06, Dinklage told Rolling Stone about his DIY landscaping endeavors while purchasing a chainsaw in order to chop “unruly branches” around his home.

The lesson: Millionaire or not, no one is above doing a project by hand. Ditch hiring the professional and set a financial goal to save money by learning a new skill.

Avoid “Keeping Up with the Joneses”

Socialites like Kim Kardashian refuse to be caught in the same outfits twice, but to most, that lavish lifestyle of luxury isn’t sustainable. As fashion fades and trends come and go, it’s more fiscally responsible to ignore “what’s hot” and opt for the budget-friendly option — and doubly so for those without the pressure of red carpet cameras.

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Tiffany Haddish

Comedian Tiffany Haddish is no stranger to fortune. With an estimated net worth of $6 million, the “Girls Trip” star presented at the Academy Awards with her quip, “Let’s get this money, girl!"

Although well within her means to purchase designer, Haddish refuses to spend a dime on unnecessary luxury items. Instead, she opts for dupes and the sales rack to rock frugal fashion — which she reportedly wears repeatedly, against her PR team’s advice. Haddish remembers her modest upbringing in foster care, and despite the Hollywood expectations to dress lavishly, she chooses to watch her spending.

The lesson: Resist the temptation to spend money on expensive fashion fads, and opt for quality pieces you’ll love for a long time instead.

Give Back To Your Community

Not only are charitable contributions tax breaks, but they’re a feel-good way to invest in something you feel passionate about. Additionally, they’re a tool for learning how to manage your money so you have the extra income to continually allocate funds to causes you care about.

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Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton has made a name for herself across countless industries, including music, business, and even amusement parks. This triple-threat has proved to be multitalented, which undoubtedly contributes to her $600 million dollar net worth.

Parton’s efforts largely include philanthropic ones, including her own foundation that promotes literacy and education. More recently, The Queen of Nashville donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to further progress research and vaccine development against COVID-19.

“It seems like the more I give the more I get, and that is the way it is supposed to go in life.” – Dolly Parton

The lesson: Sharing your wealth, whether time, money, or otherwise, helps you better manage your own resources in order to make charitable contributions habitual.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

No matter your income level, you should always set and stick to a realistic budget. Consider revenue streams and fixed expenses, then allocate your discretionary income accordingly.

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Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran was notoriously living on a £1,000 budget per month in 2014 despite record deals and the, then, net worth of nearly $74 million. The Anglo-Irish pop star set spending limits on his student checking account and stayed at fellow stars’ homes during his introduction to fame. Today, Sheeran is worth an impressive $200 million, which includes a portfolio of 27 investment properties.

The lesson: Despite an increase in income, stick to a modest budget and invest additional earnings.

Search for Deals

Never turn your nose up at a deal or coupon clipping. There’s no reason to pay full price when a discount code is just a few clicks away.

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Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell and husband Dax Shepard have made constant headlines for their frugality. From their $142 courthouse wedding, to Bell’s appearance on the red carpet in a dress from Target, “The Good Place” star keeps her finances tight, despite her $20 million net worth.

In 2010, Bell was featured in a viral interview with Conan O’Brien where she revealed she not only loves retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, but won’t shop there without the well-known 20% off coupon. Her dedication continues: She noted that if she doesn’t have one readily available, she’ll “borrow” it from a neighbor’s trash.

"I shop almost exclusively with coupons." — Kristen Bell

The lesson: Most big box retailers have coupons constantly in rotation. Before shopping for a name brand, search for discounts to get the best price.

Use Your Credit Cards Responsibly

Credit cards can be the Achilles heel for stars with money troubles. Kanye West, for example, started his own rumor via Twitter about his $53 million in personal debt. Celebs get their cards declined just like us, but there are valuable lessons to be learned about overspending.

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Zooey Deschanel

Celebrities are notoriously private with their finances and “New Girl” star Zooey Deschanel is no exception. In 2012, however, we got a look into Deschanel’s finances alongside her divorce from Ben Gibbard.

Her income and expense declaration revealed that the Elf actress manages her estimated $30 million net worth meticulously, carrying a zero dollar credit card balance and spending rather modestly, about 23% of her monthly income.

The lesson: Instead of making minimum payments on your credit cards, best practices suggest paying down the card to a zero balance each month. A good rule of thumb: If a purchase would warrant an overdraft fee on your bank account, avoid buying it with credit.

Find Multiple Income Streams

The per project income celebrities make is more than many will see in the course of a year. But those projects can be few and far between, and what happens when the work stops? Regardless of fame, having multiple income streams can provide financial stability should the economy change another source of revenue.

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A.J. Francis

Former NFL defensive lineman turned WWE wrestler, A.J. Francis, knows that even the highest paying jobs don’t always mean financial security. In 2013 while on his offseason, Francis drove for Uber to make additional income in spite of his estimated $1.4 million net worth. It wouldn’t be the first time he picked up a side gig either.

Francis has said: "I have bills just like you. I had to pay for a wedding. I had to help my family out. I had to pay for student loans for myself and my wife.”

The lesson: Multiple income streams can increase your overall earnings and provide financial security in the face of an emergency.

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While it may seem like stars have endless amounts of cash, not all of them spend it wisely. For some, it’s all too common to end up in a not-so-glamorous financial situation, but others have learned to spend their fame-funds so they last a lifetime. Learn from the celebrities with the best balanced pocket books by living frugally, creating a budget and sticking to it, using loans to build credit, and always shopping deals.

Chang Fu

Chang is an avid writer, among other things, at Possible. He grew up loving reading and writing, creating his own poems and even a book he's now hidden in an old closet, unpublished. His financial experience at a large bank along with his passion for technology to help underserved communities inspires him to write for Possible.

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