Money is easy to take for granted when you have a lot of it, or so we are told. We are constantly inundated by stories in the media of wealthy businessmen and celebrities living life to excess and wasting more money in a day than a poor person might spend in a year. However, having a large amount of money, or even an obscene amount of money, does not guarantee that a person will spend it wastefully. In fact, frugal habits might even be a factor in reaching that first coveted million, and habits formed when young and poor can be hard to shake. While we expect celebs to spend their money on lavish lifestyles, it might actually be more sustainable for them to be more conscious of how they spend their massive amounts of money.
The trappings of a typical excessive lifestyle might also be seen as environmentally unsound, or simply unethical when so many live in poverty, leading some to choose a different course. There are also some rich people who simply do not care about money for its own sake. Once they reach the point of being comfortable, they see no need to keep spending extravagantly. The way you spend your money – or don’t – can say a lot about you as a person. However, when does spending wisely start to look like living like a poor person, even when you are incredibly rich? These fifteen celebrities all have their own reasons to live like they are poor.
15 Nicole Scherzinger
Once the lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls, and also a successful solo artist and presenter, Nicole Scherzinger is worth around $8 million. That would be enough for most people to take it easy when it came to being thrifty, but this X-Factor judge still tries to collect discount coupons for her grocery shopping. She has said that she appreciates having money as there was very little of it in her life when she was growing up. In fact, she paid for most of her own singing and acting lessons by doing commercials as a child. During her college years, she counted her pennies and lived on instant noodles and pancakes. The memory has stayed with her, so that when she gets to eat out today at a ritzy restaurant, she still appreciates every mouthful.
14 Lady Gaga
This flamboyant singer, infamous for her bizarre and lavish fashion sense, might give you the impression of someone who spends as extravagantly as she dresses. However, in spite of her net worth of around $275 million, Lady Gaga has admitted on Twitter that she looks for sales racks when she goes shopping, and prefers to use coupons at the grocery store. For years she lived in the same, tiny one-room apartment she owned before her rise to fame, although more recently she has bought a mansion in Malibu. Gaga has said that her manager would often call her up and ask what happened to her credit card, because nothing had been spent on it. “But I am so happy,” she said. “I am not bankrupt. Actually, I spend no money at all."
13 Keira Knightley
Perhaps most famous for her period piece roles, and her stint as a governor's daughter/pirate queen, Keira Knightley has earned her place as one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Although this glam English star has a net worth of around $50 million, she reportedly gives herself only a fraction of that amount – around $50,000 – as spending money each year.
Keira also showed her frugal tendencies during her wedding, which hosted only 12 guests, with another 50 welcomed at the reception. While Keira’s wedding dress was designer, it was one she already owned and had worn many times before to various Hollywood events. The actress credits her parents with teaching her fiscal responsibility, but also admits that she believes a rich lifestyle can be too alienating.
12 Keanu Reeves
Canadian actor Keanu Reeves had a tumultuous childhood. Imprisoned for selling drugs, his father was absent for most of his early life, and Reeves and his mother moved around frequently. Unsurprisingly, as an adult Reeves has shown that he prefers to stay grounded, and shuns most of the trappings of fame and fortune. With a net worth of $360 million, he is the last person you might expect to see on public transport, but plenty of YouTube videos taken by his adoring public would prove you wrong. Reeves lives in a relatively modest home (by Hollywood standards) and is often seen eating his lunch on a park bench near his latest set. He is exceedingly generous with his money and has been known to take a pay cut, or even donate his fee altogether to other workers on his films.
11 Kate Middleton
With a personal net worth of around $1 million, Catherine “Kate” Middleton is most likely the poorest person on this list. She is also the only one who can genuinely call herself a Duchess (of Cambridge). However, her family runs a successful online party business, estimated to be worth around $50 million, and, of course, her in-laws are quite well off as well.
Currently seen as a fashion icon, Kate might seem to be living the life of a princess, but she makes sure to keep her feet on the ground. She has been known to wear her fashionable clothes multiple times, styling them differently with accessories, in a departure from royal tradition. She also did her own wedding makeup, and she and William do their own grocery shopping and cooking.
10 Julia Roberts
Known as America’s Sweetheart, Julia Roberts has starred in over 50 films, many of them major hits, and is a well known household name who can earn between $10 and $20 million per film. The actress is estimated to be worth around $140 million in total, but you wouldn’t know it by her shopping habits.
This Pretty Woman prefers to browse second-hand shops and vintage emporiums looking for a bargain. She has also been spotted bringing her own bags when shopping for groceries. Whether she does this as an environmentally-friendly gesture or to save the nickel per bag is unclear, although it may be commendable either way. Roberts also announced her intention to follow the same frugal sensibilities with her children, including dressing them in secondhand clothes, such as hand-me-downs from friends.
9 Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah is best known for her stint as a mermaid, but most recently we saw her on the small screen as the mother of all psychics in Sense8. With a net worth of $15 million, she’s not the biggest earner on this list, but she could still be living the high life if she chose.
She’s an outspoken eco-activist, who once took a sip of biofuel on camera to prove how much safer it was than conventional petrol. She also puts her money where her mouth is, and lives in a small house she restored herself, using recycled materials. She grows her own vegetables to eat, as well as to sell and barter them at farmers markets, probably more to change the world than because she’s hurting for change.
8 Halle Berry
Once one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, Halle Berry has a net worth of around $70 million. The former Bond girl credits her childhood with instilling a frugality that may not seem to match her glamorous countenance. She was raised exclusively by her mother after her parents divorced and remains estranged from her abusive father. After working as a model in Chicago in the 80s, Berry moved to New York to make it as an actress. She spent several weeks living at a homeless shelter and in a YMCA before landing her first job.
These days her life is much more comfortable, but she still fears she might lose it all. Her solution is to save while she can and hunt for bargains on the sales racks when she does go shopping.
7 George R.R. Martin
The long-suffering fans of author George R. R. Martin are probably relieved to discover that he doesn’t spend massive amounts of his estimated $50 million net worth. They would almost certainly prefer that he spend his time writing rather than partying or shopping. They might, however, be aghast to discover that The Winds of Winter, Martin’s long awaited 6th novel in The Song of Ice and Fire series, is typed out on a very old computer, which still runs off DOS. Martin says he prefers it, as "it does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else.” Martin also owns a pair of modest houses on the same street in the suburbs and still drives an old Mazda, although more recently he has splashed out on a bright purple Tesla, perhaps inspired by a certain wedding.
6 Ashton Kutcher And Mila Kunis
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have a joint net worth of around $140 million. So you would expect the ring that sealed that deal to be flashy. However, Mila ordered the platinum rings worn by the couple from Etsy for under $200 in total. This is almost a tenth of the average amount that Americans spend on wedding bands.
They have also stated their intention to raise their kids as though they were “very poor,” including a Christmas tradition of no presents for their children. They asked instead that their family give donations to charity in lieu of a gift. Kunis has stated that they both came from poor backgrounds and want their children to know the value of a dollar. Kunis once said, “It’s a matter of teaching them from a very early age that, you know, 'Mommy and Daddy may have a dollar, but you’re poor.'”
5 Bill Gates
When asked to name the luxuries he allows himself, Bill Gates has mentioned DVDs, books and takeout food, none of which would break the bank for the average poor person. Of course, Bill Gates is the opposite of poor, and was at one point the richest man in the world, so he can well afford them.
The generous billionaire is currently worth around $90 billion, but is well known for his philanthropic efforts and has given at least $28 billion to his own foundation, which has made massive contributions to health initiatives worldwide. He has also been spotted wearing a $10 watch, and admitted during an AMA on Reddit that he washes his own dishes every night, because he enjoys doing it and prefers the way that he does it.
4 Mick Jagger
The 74-year-old frontman for the Rolling Stones, Sir Mick Jagger is worth an estimated $360 million. However, he is infamously tight-fisted with his money. His ex-wife accused him of making her pay for all their household expenses (although he denies this is true). He has said his spendthrift ways come from growing up in the 1950s, when people would rather fix something than throw it out.
However, his penny pinching might also have something to do with the millions of dollars of child support he has paid for his 8 children over the years. Reportedly, this frugal behavior extended even to his nightlife, as he was said to have negotiated contracts to get the cheapest deals with escorts in Europe when he was on tour.
3 Ingvar Kamprad
Ingvar Kamprad may not be as much of a household name as the others on this list, but his massive wealth is not surprising when you hear that he is the founder of IKEA. Worth over $50 billion, Kamprad may also be one of the most frugal on this list. He refuses to wear anything but secondhand clothes, admitting that he finds them at flea markets, and uses public transport whenever he can. In fact, he was almost refused entry to receive a businessman of the year award, because he arrived via bus, and the doorman didn’t believe he was a guest. This entrepreneur could afford his own jet, but flies economy whenever he needs travel by air. He has also said that he tries to get his hair cut in developing countries whenever he can, simply because it’s cheaper. He uses his own company’s furniture in his modest home and always unpacks and assembles it himself, so as not to pay an extra fee.
2 Warren Buffett
With a net worth of over $80 billion, Warren Buffett is one of the richest men in the world and the 2nd wealthiest person in the USA. However he still lives in the same house he bought for $31,500 in 1958 (which would have cost around $250,000 today, adjusted for inflation). Every morning, he drives to McDonalds and orders one of their breakfast options, never paying more than $3.17 in exact change. He also eschews exclusive beverages, preferring to drink several Cokes per day. Perhaps the most celebrated investor and businessman of our time, who has pledged to donate 99% of his fortune to charity, he is happy to stay out of the spotlight and enjoys watching football on TV, while wearing a sweatsuit and eating popcorn.
1 Pope Francis
While the pope technically doesn’t have his own money, as he takes a vow of poverty when entering the office, in practice, many previous popes have lived in a state far from poverty. As the spiritual leader to nearly 1.3 billion people, and a Catholic church worth an estimated $8 billion, a pope who wanted to live a lavish lifestyle would have no trouble making it happen.
However, Pope Francis has refused almost every luxury on offer, preferring to live as simply and humbly as possible. His predecessor, Benedict, spent almost 3 months renovating the official papal apartments for his own use, but Francis didn’t even move in there. Instead, he lives in a three-room dorm at a modest guesthouse. He has also shunned the more flamboyant robes customary for his position, preferring to wear white cotton, and astonished shoppers in a local pharmacy by arriving in person to purchase his own orthopaedic shoes.