Romney vs. Obama: How They Spend Their Money

Photo (cc) by DonkeyHotey

As the presidential race heats up, Americans try to assess President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s spending priorities over the next four years – on everything from Social Security and health care to taxes, energy, and foreign policy.

We’re tuning in to speeches, debates, news articles, and campaign ads to understand the presidential candidates’ values. But as we consider what these men will do with taxpayer money, perhaps we can learn something from what they do now with their own.

Romney’s net worth is estimated at $250 million; Obama’s is around $11 million. While these figures and their personal spending habits say nothing meaningful about their ability to be an effective president, it’s still interesting to take a glimpse into their material worlds – and perhaps ponder the purchases we’d make, if in their shoes.

Read on to learn about some of Romney’s and Obama’s big purchases over the years.

Homes

Mitt Romney

Mitt and Ann Romney own a 3,009-square-foot Mediterranean-style beachfront property in La Jolla, Calif. Romney purchased the home for $12 million in 2008. The house, built in 1936, has three bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and a deck with lap pool and spa. Take a virtual tour here.

But it may not be there for long. In 2011, he filed an application with La Jolla officials to bulldoze the single-story home and replace it with a larger, two-story home.

The Romneys purchased a 13-acre property on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., for $2.5 to $3 million in 1997. The main house is 5,400 square feet, and there’s also a boathouse (valued at $630,000) and a horse stable with guest houses above it. The assessed value of the estate hit $8 million, as of July 2012.

Interested in seeing how the Romneys enjoy their N.H. vacation spot and their boat? Click through The Washington Post’s slideshow.

In addition to his California and New Hampshire homes, Romney also bought a 2,100-square-foot, two-bedroom townhouse in The Woodlands at Belmont Hill, Mass., for $895,000 in June 2010.

In the past, Romney owned a larger estate in Belmont, Mass., that he sold for $3.5 million in 2009 and a ski home in Park City, Utah, that he sold for about $5.25 million in 2009.

Barack Obama

President Obama and first lady Michelle own a 6,199-square-foot brick home in Chicago. They purchased the home, built in 1917, for $1.65 million in 2005.

Although that is Obama’s only home, the New York City apartment he rented while a student at Columbia University in the ‘80s was recently on the rental market, according to Zillow – with a price tag of $2,400 a month for two bedrooms and one bath.

Cars

Mitt Romney

Back in February 2012, Romney revealed his family’s collection of cars during an economics speech held at a football field in Detroit, Mich.

“I love this country. I actually love this state. It just feels good, being back in Michigan,” Romney said. “I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. And I used to have a Dodge truck, so I used to have all three [big automakers] covered.”

According to CBS News, Romney’s campaign quickly issued a clarification explaining that Ann’s cars are 2007 and 2010 Cadillac SRX models, and that one of them is at the family’s house in La Jolla, Calif., while the other is at their Massachusetts residence.

To accommodate his car collection, there have been rumors that Romney plans to build a “car elevator” for his four-car garage during his California home renovations.

Barack Obama

Obama leased a fully loaded 2005 Chrysler 300C when he was a senator. He ditched the Chrysler in the summer of 2007 when he launched his presidential campaign and decided to lease a more fuel-efficient 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid – which rumors suggested was part of a political agenda to show disapproval of gas-guzzlers.

According to used-car authority Kelley Blue Book, Obama’s former Chrysler 300C is valued at $19,142. In early 2009 when Obama took office, veteran eBay car seller Lisa Czibor, who lives near Chicago, tried to sell the car for $1 million – with the help of a posted photo of the car’s title written in Obama’s name. But as of February 2012, the car had no bids that met the asking price.

As for the Ford Escape, it was returned to the Illinois dealership in 2010. The vehicle was put up for auction, but no further details were released.

Clothing

The Romneys

Mitt Romney’s longstanding reputation for wearing tailored suits and ties traces back to his early days at Bain Capital. Back in 2007, when Time Magazine put Romney on its cover, the headline read, “Sure, He Looks Like a President.”

More recently, however, Romney has been opting for Kirkland-brand dress shirts that cost $18 a piece at Costco – which media rumors suggest is a strategy to better relate to everyday Americans on the campaign trail.

Ann Romney claims she’s an avid Costco shopper as well, but has also been seen sporting pricey attire: Her $990 Krakoff T-shirt drew criticism this spring after her appearance on CBS “This Morning.”

In August, a knee-length Oscar de la Renta dress that Ann wore during a speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., also created buzz. The Financial Times’ fashion editor, Vanessa Friedman, said the dress cost somewhere between $2,090 and $2,490.

The Obamas

President Obama has made appearances in suits that cost an estimated $1,500.

But that’s nothing compared to first lady Michelle’s occasional splurges. She was seen wearing a $6,800 jacket from designer J. Mendel to a reception at Buckingham Palace for the opening of the Olympics, for example.

During less lavish soirees, Michelle is often dressed in more subtle fashion, such as this dress by Tracy Reese, paired with pumps from J. Crew. The dress has not yet been produced, but similar versions cost $395 to $450.

It’s worth adding that Michelle’s fashion often comes without a price: She frequently receives wardrobe items from top designers like Jason Wu for free, months before the fashion lines hit stores. Oh, the luxuries of being first lady.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
This Is the Best Online Savings Account for 2021
This Is the Best Online Savings Account for 2021

The rate of return is just one of several reasons this account stands out.

Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?
Why Is My Pension Killing My Social Security Benefit?

A reader says the government is penalizing him for having a pension. Is he right?

11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Save Money
11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Save Money

These are simple solutions for life’s irritations.

Half of All Retirees Say They Fear This
Half of All Retirees Say They Fear This

Chances are good that you share this fear. Here’s a way to overcome it.

Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts

Protecting a nest egg is tough — but you can make the situation far worse with some boneheaded mistakes.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

Longer Trips to These Stores May Raise COVID-19 Risk
Longer Trips to These Stores May Raise COVID-19 Risk

An airborne-disease expert recommends leaving this type of store within a half-hour.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.