It’s generally assumed that, once you hit the big time and start making serious money, your life changes completely. Certain people covet this lifestyle, while others shy away from it. But what if those megastar celebrities’ fame and fortune, while welcome, didn’t alter their lives in any considerable way? What about the super-famous guys and gals who still shop in Whole Foods, don’t bother with personal assistants, and happily clip coupons in order to ensure they always get the best deals?
These are ten of the biggest and most well-known names in the business who, in spite of their massive Hollywood careers, and considerable wealth, have managed to stay down to earth.
Easily one of — if not the — most famous late-night talk show hosts of all time, with a chin that won’t quit, the incomparable Jay Leno has built up a considerable following over his thirty-year career, along with some major bank. His estimated net worth, at the time of writing, is around $350 million. However, much like several other entrants on this list, Leno learned how to save in his formative years, reportedly working two jobs in his youth: one for bills and spending money, and the other strictly for saving purposes.
Since retiring from The Tonight Show (the wages for which he reportedly put entirely into his savings accounts throughout his run), Leno has lived purely off the proceeds from his lucrative stand-up career, which is presumably a lot easier with all that extra money stashed in the bank. He might have a serious predilection for buying classic cars, but the funnyman has allegedly “never spent a dime” of his late-show money, “— ever.”
Sarah Jessica Parker
She’ll always be Carrie to most of us, a character who, in spite of submitting maybe 1,000 words of copy a week, managed to live in a $700-a-month apartment in NYC while purchasing copious amounts of designer shoes and heading out for cocktails practically every night. According to The Richest, Sarah Jessica Parker, the actress otherwise known as Carrie, is worth an estimated $90 million, so if she wanted to buy a new pair of Louboutins every week, she could.
However, in a 2008 interview with Parade, Parker extolled the virtues of working hard for your money, revealing how she dressed her son, James Wilkie, in hand-me-down clothing throughout his younger years. This was thanks to Parker’s “older nephews” and the fact that her mother saved all of her brother’s childhood clothing, which meant she had no real reason to buy her son anything new, noting at the time that she didn’t think she had “ever bought him any clothes.”
The actress grew up on welfare and inherited a frugal outlook, living in a modest brownstone in NYC with her husband, Matthew Broderick, and their three kids. As for dressing herself in the latest threads, Parker supposedly had her choice of Carrie’s clothes once Sex And The City wrapped, so she probably doesn’t need to fork over for new stuff for herself too often either.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Another hugely famous actress, and well-known TV star, who learned to live frugally thanks to her difficult upbringing is Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Gellar, whose father left the family when she was a young child (the star credits her mother with teaching her to live modestly) isn’t ashamed of using coupons and striving to get the best deal wherever she shops.
When she’s not busy saving the world from encroaching vampires — or, more often these days, being a mother to her two kids — the actor told Self magazine that she frequently uses coupons and regularly buys fish at Whole Foods only while it’s on sale. “I use coupons all the time. Why should you pay more for something that someone else is paying less for?” she proudly told the magazine.
It’s difficult to imagine the self-styled multi-hyphenate business mogul, supermodel, Harvard Business School grad, and creator of “smizing” as a simple-living, regular person. In reality, Banks learned a lot from her mother, who travelled with her and assisted in Banks’ early career as a model, instilling in her life lessons about making money last as long as possible.
In a 2008 interview with The New York Times, the model-turned-businesswoman openly described herself as “frugal.” As a kid, Banks confessed to saving a little bit from her weekly allowance and admitted that her only real indulgences these days are food (notably, trips to The Cheesecake Factory) and luxury toiletries (she’s been known to stock-pile fancy hotel soaps). Banks even admitted to Forbes that she often asks her accountant whether she can afford to buy something, which seems crazy for a woman worth an estimated $90 million.
He’s a member of two of the biggest rock bands of all time, but Dave Grohl still lives like a jobbing musician — albeit without traveling around the country in a rickety old van. Although his stints with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters have netted him a cool $225 million, Grohl is still fearful of spending too much, too fast.
In a 2003 interview (via Business Insider), Grohl confessed that, in spite of having plenty of money to live off, he’s “afraid to spend it”. The multi-instrumentalist and hugely popular rock singer is reportedly wary of ending up broke because he never got his high school diploma. The lack of a safety net makes Grohl cautious about his considerable wealth, particularly as he has a family to take care of (three kids to date). As long as the Foos continue selling out arenas worldwide, however, he has no real reason to worry about his career slowing down any time soon.
She stars on a hugely successful TV show, but New Girl star Zooey Deschanel hasn’t let her considerable success get to her head. Deschanel may currently be raking in a massive $125,000 per episode but she is anything but flashy. Court documents, revealed to tabloids in the midst of her 2012 divorce from Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, showcased a frugal, careful spender with eyes firmly set on securing her future.
The financial report showed that, although the actor was bringing in almost a hundred grand per month at the time, her expense sheet totalled just $22,500 (around 25 percent of her monthly income), including less than $1,000 in utility bills, with another two grand dedicated to charitable donations. On top of this, nearly half of her total assets were safely held in bank accounts, with the rest spread out across stocks, bonds and real estate. Meanwhile, her three credit cards each boasted a zero balance — not bad for someone who could easily afford to max them all out each month without feeling the slightest pinch.
Dreamboat Leonardo DiCaprio is known as one of the most vocally and visibly charitable leading men in Hollywood, but his goodwill truly starts at home. The proud owner three, energy-conscious cars (including a Tesla) DiCaprio revealed that money is only important to him because it gives him more freedom to choose the projects he really cares about as an actor, as opposed to allowing him make lavish purchases.
The Oscar-winning (finally) actor is more concerned with leaving something behind for those less fortunate in general, and with making an impact on the environment in particular, than with amassing meaningless material goods. His Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation has raised nearly $3 million for the World Wildlife Fund’s tiger habitat in 2013, along with “$15 million in grants to organizations implementing innovative and impactful environmental projects around the globe.” With those milestones behind him, why would he need for a flashier car?
J-Law is one of the most famous and highly paid actors on the planet, scoring an Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook and spearheading the hugely lucrative Hunger Games franchise, among a multitude of other projects. Now reportedly worth $75 million, Lawrence would be completely justified in splashing the cash whenever and wherever she sees fit. That’s not the case, however, as she herself attests that not much has changed in her life since her massive career explosion — with the Oscar winner even continuing to live in the same apartment as before she was famous up until just last year.
She told Fabulous magazine in 2013: “I was raised to have value for money, to have respect for money, even though you have a lot of it”. Lawrence also does not have a personal assistant, and shops for herself, always looking for bargains in the process. As for flashy cars, the actor drives an affordable Chevy Volt. Perhaps she’s taking a page out of DiCaprio’s book.
He’s a Beatle. How could a Beatle possibly be frugal? Or, worse, cheap? Well, according to daughter Stella, the legendary Paul McCartney is a “tight bastard” who insisted on sending her to state school as opposed to the private institution one would expect the child of a superstar — never mind, a member of one of the biggest pop bands in the world — to attend.
McCartney is reportedly a billionaire, which makes the widely-spread stories (mostly by Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour) of him being cheap, for example, when he allegedly charged guests for drinks at a party for ex-wife Heather Mills, a bit harder to swallow. But, hey, it’s his money and he’s spent the majority of his life working for it.
She played Veronica Mars for years before graduating to massive movie mega-hits like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Frozen. And now she’s married to Punk’d hunk Dax Shepard, with two kids, to top it all off. But, much like her frugal TV buddies SJP and Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristen Bell hasn’t let fame alter her spending habits.
According to Bell herself, their wedding cost $142 altogether, including gas, in spite of the couple’s combined net worth of over $20 million. She even joked with Flaunt magazine about how she and Shepard are “hillbillies at heart”. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Bell went into hilarious detail about how frugal she is, helpfully advising the talk show host that the best coupon “possibly in the world” is for Bed Bath & Beyond. So now you know. Bell is not just a master detective on TV, but in real life too.
Of everybody on this list, it’s probably the least difficult to imagine actor/artist/professional weirdo Shia LaBeouf, who is frequently seen out in public looking a bit like a hobo, living a frugal life — as opposed to a luxurious existence spent eating gold for breakfast (or whatever it is super-rich celebs do). He may have starred in the billion-dollar Transformers franchise, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any of LaBeouf’s colleagues accessorizing with a paper bag on the red carpet.
In an interview with Parade magazine, LaBeouf explained that growing up with starving artist parents “in poverty” made him more grateful and humble for his good fortune. The actor credits this period of his life as giving him his creative drive. He’s also been working since he was 10 years old, motivated to earn money to keep his family afloat, which helped him gain a strong work ethic. During the same interview, LaBeouf railed against his “tame” generation for worshiping greed in the form of role models such as Gordon Gekko. Maybe his road-traveling, living-off-the-land huckster character in American Honey wasn’t such a stretch after all?
He’s in one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time, but, like fellow frugal musicians Dave Grohl and Paul Mc Cartney, Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger finds no shame in pinching the pennies. During their 1999 divorce proceedings, Jagger’s ex Jerry Hall accused him of never paying for anything to do with their shared home and kids, describing the legendary musician as being “pretty tight with day-to-day stuff.” Likewise, Marianne Faithfull, another ex of the rock star, described him in her memoir as “pretty tight.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Jagger openly described himself as “frugal”, detailing how his generation was raised to fix things rather than throw them out. “We’re not brought up like Puff Daddy to be taking 30 free-loading friends to the south of France and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on Cristal” he said at the time.
Two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank is used to playing tough women working their way up through the fringes of society, having starred in the likes of Million Dollar Baby, but in reality, she has personal experience with this struggle too. Swank actually grew up in a trailer park in Washington, telling ABC News that “I had a dream… I had to fight my way there, and I’m really lucky.” After moving to California, she and her mother even lived in their car for a bit, which instilled a strong survival ethic in the actor.
These days, Swank is a lot more comfortable, but she hasn’t forgotten where she came from. Further elaborating in an interview with the Daily Mail in the UK, Swank explained how she’s proud of all the hardship she’s been through and really appreciates how she can simply pay her bills from month to month now she’s in a more secure financial situation. Swank also admitted to appreciating “a sale as much as the next person,” that she thinks hard “about how I’m spending my money,” and primarily likes to spend “on my family.”
Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is more often seen out and about in a low-key shorts and T-shirt ensemble, so the revelation that he’s not a particularly lavish person shouldn’t be too shocking. Zuckerberg famously married his now-wife Priscilla Chan in the modest surroundings of the back garden of their Palo Alto home, before whisking her away to Rome where the two were spotted scoffing McDonald’s just like two normal people on vacation.
It doesn’t end there, however, as Business Insider UK reports that Zuckerberg aims to “clear” his life of material possessions and is wholly unimpressed with the trappings of wealth, noting his recent announcement to donate 99% of his Facebook shares during his lifetime. They also noted how, back in 2014, “the business mogul traded in his $30,000 Acura for a manual-transmission Volkswagen hatchback.” Not exactly a flash car, even by the standards of us norms, but it goes with the shorts-and-tee look for sure.
Another coupon queen, this time in the form of country music superstar and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. It’d be reasonable to expect that shooting to such a high level of fame so quickly (including being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the country music hall of fame, by none other than Garth Brooks himself) could destroy a good ol’ Oklahoma girl, but not so for Underwood.
In an interview with Rachael Ray, the singer addressed what she eats in a typical day, revealing how she and now-husband NHL star Mike Fisher ate at Subway so often while they were dating that they joked it was “their place.” And, although most of us would expect an American Idol winner to be unable to step outside her door without risking being mobbed by hordes of fans, Underwood admitted she does her own grocery shopping and even clips coupons to save money each visit (though she also admitted to forgetting them sometimes, much like the rest of us) .
She may be worth an estimated $9 million, thanks to fronting one of the biggest young adult sci-fi franchises of all time, but Shailene Woodley is a famously frugal and down-to-earth celebrity. She claims the Earth is her religion, routinely hugs unsuspecting reporters, and “exclusively” buys used clothes, according to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter conducted in March 2014. Woodley noted at the time that she tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible, even using a Mason jar instead of a plastic water bottle. In a that same THR profile, the writer claims that “the most popular descriptor used for her [by her cast mates and directors] is ‘grounded’ (followed closely by ‘old soul’ and ‘authentic’).”
Similarly, in an interview with The Telegraph, the young actor admitted she’d hasn’t really “splurged on anything” since hitting the big time and further espoused the benefits of her “very simple lifestyle.” Woodley is pretty well-known for living off the land and making her own beauty products and medicines out of whatever she can forage for. Chances are she won’t feel the need to dip into that multi-million dollar fortune any time soon.
Twilight actor Ashley Greene is one of the most well-known performers in Hollywood. If she were living large and buying every gorgeous thing in sight, Greene would be completely within her rights to do so. However, the actor isn’t unaware of the precariousness of her position in the entertainment industry and credits her father with teaching her how to be frugal.
In an interview with Marie Claire, Greene explained how important it is to take jobs because she cares about them, not simply to make ends meet. Saving her money gives the actor the opportunity to continue making “house and car payments and buy food for my dog” should the offers dry up, or if she feels like taking a break at any stage. Twilight may have made her a household name, but Greene still refuses to shell out for first-class flights. Now that’s a true savvy saver.
Mariska Hargitay has been on the seemingly unstoppable police procedural show Law & Order: SVU for what feels like forever. She reportedly picks up $400k per episode (Forbes had her listed as the second-highest paid actress in the world back in 2014) so, if the actor wanted to splash the cash without worrying too much about the consequences, she easily could.
Funnily enough, although her job is fairly secure, judging by the continuing popularity of Law & Order and its many offshoots, Hargitay is realistic about the future and her place in Hollywood. She revealed to More magazine (via People) how she “constantly” worries about money, in spite of her sizeable TV star paycheck, because Hargitay struggled with it for years. Smartly, the actor is “saving for the future” and is always aware that there aren’t as many roles available for women, particularly as they get older.
Another Oscar-winner who hasn’t let the thrill of earning the highest honour in Hollywood change her outlook on life is Halle Berry, who, like most of the other stars on this list, is proudly and openly frugal. It’s difficult to imagine a Bond girl living anything other than a life of insane luxury, but the critically-acclaimed actor isn’t one for showing off her considerable personal fortune.
The actor told The Daily Record that she is not “someone who has to have 10 cars and lots of diamonds.” Berry reportedly also saves a lot because she’s “always worried about when this trip is going to stop.” Her attitude makes sense, as Berry had a widely-publicized, very difficult home life when she was growing up with her father, who reportedly beat up her mother in front of a young Berry. This instilled in her a desire to be a “woman of strength,” which clearly extends to fiscal responsibility too (particularly as Berry is now a mother herself).
The three-time Spider-Man is most well-known these days for having a plethora of unflattering memes, but it’s worth remembering that Tobey Maguire made a significant stack of money playing the friendly neighborhood crime-fighter. After Director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002 soared to more than $800 million worldwide (making it the highest grossing Spidey film to date), Maguire saw his pay-check increase significantly too, earning a reported $36.5 million total for the trilogy of movies.
However, the actor doesn’t see the point in blowing through all his cash in one go, telling Parade magazine in 2007 that he credits a difficult upbringing with teaching him how to be “conservative” with his finances. “You know those Lotto winners who win big and then blow through all the money? That would never happen to me” he told the magazine at the time. He explained that material possessions are meaningless and he’d rather have little to nothing than be put in a position where he’s forced to make “movie after movie” to facilitate an ostentatious lifestyle. Nobody would judge him for spending a little money on dancing lessons, however, (judging by his infamous moves as Spidey).
Ballin on a budget
The old adage still applies, it would seem: money doesn’t buy you happiness. Maybe true happiness comes from good family values, state schooling, and playing it safe in case your career falls apart. If Buffy doesn’t want to pay more for her shopping than everyone else, why should we?
On the other side of the coin, if you are Johnny Depp, happiness is $30,000 a month worth of wine and a sweet cannon-firing for your friend’s ashes worth $3 million. To each, their own, and all, but it has landed him in what’s being termed as “financial turmoil.”
So, when you eventually hit the big time, consider taking a page out of these celebs’ super-frugal, down to earth books and remain true to your roots. That, or go cannon shopping. Whatever you’re into.