5 Frugal Celebrities Who Live Large on a Small Budget

Too many people who have lots of money spend lots of money, often stupidly.

Take MC Hammer, for instance, who very famously made mountains of cash rather quickly and subsequently went bankrupt in an equally rapid manner.

Even today there are stories of the rich and famous making purchases that just don't make sense. Consider the approximately $12,000 Swarovski-crystal studded highchair that Beyonce and Jay-Z reportedly sent to expectant parents Kim Kardashian and Kayne West recently. And let's not forget about Madonna, who reportedly spends $10,000 a month on Kaballah water. Yep, water — which is possibly the cheapest and most abundant thing on earth. Some people. (See also: 7 Frugal Lessons I Learned From Charlie Sheen)

But not every celebrity blows through cash like it's going out of style. In fact, there are a handful of celebs that have the riches of princes and princesses but spend like relative paupers. Who are they?

1. Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of the upcoming CBS comedy "The Crazy Ones," has a net worth of $15 million. Her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr. — to whom she's been married since 2002 — is worth an equally impressive $19 million. Still, the mother of two who has approximately $34 million at her disposal doesn't believe in spending more money than she has to. When shopping for groceries, she likes to use coupons at checkout just like the rest of us. "Why should you pay more for something that someone else is paying less for?" the former vampire slayer asks. Good question, Gellar. Perhaps Madonna can field that one.

2. Tyra Banks

Model media mogul Tyra Banks has taken a lot of flack from haters over the years, but at least she'll never be accused of being a spendthrift. Despite a massive fortune totaling nearly $90 million, Banks says she's been smart about her money from the get-go, which started with shaving off a little of her adolescent allowance each week and putting it away for safe keeping. Even with money to burn these days, America's top model holds on to her riches by frequenting inexpensive chain restaurants and stocking up on free soap she takes from hotels.

3. Jay Leno

Comedian Jay Leno has hosted "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" for more than two decades — if you don't count the late-night disaster of 2010 that has left Leno and would-be successor Conan O'Brien at odds ever since. Leno reportedly takes home an annual paycheck of $25 million from the show and has amassed a sizeable fortune of $250 million. How does he do it? According to Leno himself, he doesn't spend any of the money he makes from the NBC-hosting gig. In a Parade magazine column, Leno wrote, "When I was a kid, I had two jobs. I worked at a Ford dealership and at a McDonald's. I'd spend the money from one job and save the money from the other. That's still the way I am now. I live on the money I make as a comedian, and I put all the TV money in the bank. I've never spent a dime of TV money — ever."

4. Sarah Jessica Parker

Fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker is known for her sense of style, but her son James Wilkie may not be so lucky. The "Sex and the City" star, whose frugal habits stem from growing up in a family of eight on welfare, passes along her financially responsible habits by dressing her son in hand-me-downs from his older cousins. Her reasoning? "I think it's incumbent on my husband and me to really stress and to show James Wilkie by example what it means to owe your community something and that he is not entitled to the benefits of our hard work," the actress says.

5. Mariska Hargitay

Actress Mariska Hargitay, who has played detective Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" since the show's debut in 1999, is one of the most highly paid women on network television, raking in about $500,000 per episode. Even with that hefty paycheck 20-plus weeks out of the year, Hargitay says she still minds her budget so she can live comfortably for the rest of her life. "I constantly worry about money," the star told More magazine. "I make a lot now but I don't feel that way because I was poor and had no money for a lot longer than I've had… I'm saving money to live on, for the future."

Know of other frugal celebs? Let us know who your favorites are in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

You always hear about those who go broke because they're more eye-catching in terms of headlines, but it's nice to know that there are celebrities who set good examples financially.

Guest's picture

That is impressive. It is great to see that just because celebrities have the money doesn't mean all of them are spending it. More people should look up to humble celebrities than the ones who flaunt their money and possessions.

Guest's picture
Gregory Brown

I believe I read that Chris Rock drives a Camry

Guest's picture

I applaud everyone except Sarah Jessica Parker, I lived her before and this has seriously shook my image of her and I will never look at her the same way again.
I understand if you cannot afford clothes but in her case, she is a fashion icon! She spends fortunes on her wardrobe! To sit there and dress her son in hand me downs is beyond evil! You can teach your child about money with allowances when he gets older or having him work as a teenager. But for you as his mother to wear the most extravagant designer labels and dress him in hand me downs to "teach him that he is not entitled to your hardwork" is outrageous! How can you live with yourself walking down the street wearing your $3000 dollar fendi bag and $2000 outfit while your son is walking next to you in hand me downs from the children's place? She should be ashamed of herself!

Guest's picture

Calm down! It's not child abuse to dress your child in hand-me-downs. She in entitled to do whatever she wants with the money she worked hard to earn. It's not like the clothing she's dressing her child in is filthy and holey. Google him for goodness sake. He looks fine to me. Perhaps when he gets older, he'll tire of wearing hand-me-downs and decide to get a job in order to buy his own clothing. And. . . lesson learned. Besides, if he's like any other teenager, he's buying his clothes from the thrift store anyway.

Guest's picture

I don't know that Jay Leno is living on a small budget. The man owns HUNDREDS of cars. If he is saving a bunch, I'll give him credit for that, but he definitely spends plenty as well.

Guest's picture

I am sure they still live pretty comfortably.

Also, unless they give generously to charities, they're just hording their money instead.

Guest's picture

It would be great if more stories like this were in the news. Its great to see that some of them have enough sense to save and not live like all the money is going to be around for ever.

Guest's picture

Dont forget Ed Begley Jr - frugal and green!

Guest's picture
Mark Ross

Those celebrities are really inspiring, I can say that they are very resourceful and smart too.

Guest's picture
Mike Carlson

They are very impressive stars. This only proves that even celebrities who have more than enough money are still frugal with their spending, then why can't we who have far better less than them. It is just a matter of discipline and correct mind-setting.

Guest's picture

Here on the other side of the pond it's just been announced that Kerry Katona of Atomic Kitten has just gone bankrupt a second time. She's blown millions and is in a worse financial position than probably anyone reading this site. Crazy.

Good to see some celebs who do know the value of money!

Guest's picture

Terrific article! You made me smile! Yes, there are quite a few people who spend their money so foolishly. Even if you have 100 million dollars but don't know how to budget, you can go broke one day. Not a rocket science! The perfect proof is all those lottery winners. Rich or poor - use your brain!

Guest's picture

Mariska Hargitay