9 Millionaires and Billionaires With Surprisingly Frugal Habits

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Maybe you think that if you were a Bill Gates-level billionaire, you would:

  • Sleep on a golden bed with diamond-studded pillows.
  • Dine only on gourmet meals prepared by a personal chef.
  • Wear each article of clothing just once before discarding it.

Perhaps Gates does some of those things — I’ve never been invited over, although he lives only 15 minutes from me.

But delve into biographies of the super-rich, and you will find that many of them don’t live like Richie Rich of comic-book fame.

They have the trappings, sure — enormous homes, fancy cars, hired help and private jets. But a slice of the mega-wealthy still practices thrifty habits.

Following is a look at some ways famous rich people keep money in their wallets.

1. Ex-vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Geller
Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com

Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar landed the role of a lifetime as a young adult, playing Buffy Summers in TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” She has also worked as a producer and entrepreneur, co-founding Foodstirs, a brand of baking mixes and kits geared toward kids.

But the fat Hollywood paychecks never put a stake through her frugality. She told Self Magazine that while she and husband Freddie Prinze Jr. shop at Whole Foods — nicknamed by some “Whole Paycheck” for its costliness — they are careful about what they buy.

Gellar told the magazine:

“We shop at Whole Foods, but we ask which fish is on sale. On sale doesn’t mean it’s bad! It probably just means it’s overcaught. And I clip coupons all the time. Why should you pay more for something that someone else is paying less for?”

2. Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg
Nuamfolio / Shutterstock.com

When you picture Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is he wearing a tailor-made suit, an extravagance he could surely afford? Noooo. The Harvard dropout is almost always clad in a T-shirt, sometimes spicing it up by also pulling on a hoodie. (Although, truth be told, his tees are special-ordered from a designer.)

It may be a cheaper way to dress, but it also eliminates option paralysis. He said in 2014:

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

3. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett
Kent Sievers / Shutterstock.com

The Kardashians may roll from mansion to mansion, but billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in the five-bedroom Omaha, Nebraska, home he bought in 1958 for $31,500.

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO said in 2014:

“My life couldn’t be happier. In fact, it’d be worse if I had six or eight houses. So, I have everything I need to have, and I don’t need any more because it doesn’t make a difference after a point.”

4. Queen Elizabeth II

Shaun Jeffers / Shutterstock.com

Maybe you had a mom who insisted you open birthday gifts carefully and save the wrapping paper for reuse. Was your mom Queen Elizabeth II?

The British monarch reportedly does just this, even though Buckingham Palace could surely afford to buy a few fresh rolls of gift wrap every now and again.

People magazine quotes from the biography “Young Elizabeth: The Making of the Queen” by Kate Williams:

“After Christmas, Elizabeth would collect up the wrapping paper and ribbons and would smooth them out to be saved. It is a habit that continues to this day.”

5. Basketball player Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard
Keeton Gale / Shutterstock.com

Sports Illustrated reported in 2016 that multi-millionaire basketball player Kawhi Leonard (who then was a forward for the San Antonio Spurs) panicked when he thought chicken-wing restaurant Wingstop had stopped sending him coupons for free wings. (They sent him more.)

Leonard, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, also has been known to drive a 1997 Chevy Tahoe he motored around in as a teen.

“It runs,” Leonard told SI, “and it’s paid off.”

6. ‘Frozen’ princess Kristen Bell

Kristin Bell
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

Anna from “Frozen” seems like she’d be a pretty practical princess, and so is the actress who voiced her in the 2013 hit Disney movie. Kristen Bell told Conan O’Brien in 2012 that not only is she a fan of coupons, she has a favorite.

“The best coupon you can get, possibly in the world, is the Bed Bath & Beyond coupon,” she said, referring to the home goods chain’s 20%-off coupons.

Bell even admits she might have snuck some of the BB&B coupons out of her neighbors’ mailboxes.

7. Wipro billionaire Azim Premji

Azim Premji
Narendra Modi / Flickr

Indian billionaire Azim Premji (at left, above), chairman of tech company Wipro, has made headlines for flying coach and driving a Toyota Corolla. But the most interesting thrift anecdote claims that he used paper plates for a luncheon celebrating his son’s wedding. Practical and recyclable!

8. Former football player Ryan Broyles

Ryan Broyles
davelawrence8 / Flickr

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles might be the poster child for a professional athlete who manages his money like all our parents told us to.

Broyles, 31, who retired from professional football in 2019, made a couple of million dollars in his days as a Lion, but spent as if he made only $60,000 a year, MarketWatch reported. He told the publication:

“I want to invest, and I want the investments to provide so I’m financially free.”

9. Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim

Carlos Slim
World Travel and Tourism Council / Flickr

Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim has sometimes been ranked above even Bill Gates on the list of the world’s richest people. But he doesn’t always live like it.

Sounding a lot like Warren Buffett, Slim lives in the same six-bedroom Mexico City home that he’s lived in for over 40 years. He did own a 20,000-square-foot home in New York City for several years, but Slim doesn’t own multiple mansions worldwide or a fleet of fancy cars.

Do you practice the frugal habits of these super-rich folks? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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