9 Millionaires and Billionaires With Surprisingly Frugal Habits

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Queen Elizabeth II
Shaun Jeffers / Shutterstock.com

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 the Rich Kids of the Internet.

They have the trappings, sure — enormous homes, fancy cars, hired help and private jets. But a slice of the mega-wealthy 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 have not driven a stake through her frugality. She tells CNBC that while she and husband Freddie Prinze Jr. are both careful about what they buy, she is super scrupulous about finding bargains. She loves using coupons.

Gellar tells the interviewer:

“Like, if there’s a coupon there, I’m going to use it. Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean that you should be errant in your spending. I’ve never believed that.”

2. Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg

Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

Facebook CEO and Harvard University dropout Mark Zuckerberg reportedly bought a Pagani Huayra supercar for $1.4 million in 2014. But he apparently also drives modest cars.

He particularly likes his Acura TSX, valued at $30,000 in 2019, according to this article, because it’s “safe, comfortable and not ostentatious.”

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. It appears to be a handsome home in a tree-lined neighborhood, judging from a video in this Business Insider article.

The home — 6,570 square feet with five bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms — is worth about $652,619 today. Nothing to scoff at, but he obviously could have something far more palatial and ostentatious if he wished.

4. Queen Elizabeth II

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 did 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

Kawhi Leonard is an NBA superstar who plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. Forbes lists Leonard’s net worth at $30.5 million as of May 2020.

And yet, CNBC calls Leonard ” one of the world’s most down-to-earth star athletes.”

As recently as 2016, Leonard confessed to Sports Illustrated that he still drove a 1997 Chevy Tahoe that he’d 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 animated film “Frozen” in 2013 and “Frozen II” in 2019.

CNBC says Kristin Bell likely is well-compensated. But she and her husband, Dax Shepard, also an actor and celebrity, focus on rearing their children so that they understand the value of a dollar.

The family uses recyclables for craft projects, and Bell and Shepard enlist their kids to hand over cash when paying for purchases, so the children will see and better understand money, CNBC says.

7. Former football player Ryan Broyles

Ford Field
James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles is a great example of a professional athlete living within his means and managing his money wisely.

Broyles, 31, who retired from professional football in 2019, made a couple of million dollars in his days as a Lion and then became a real estate developer.

But while playing and earning big bucks, he and his wife were living on an after-tax budget of $60,000 a year, MarketWatch reports. They keep to a tight budget and pay off credit cards at the end of the month, and Broyles bought his Mac computer with credit card points. They didn’t subscribe to cable, preferring to stream entertainment with Apple TV and Netflix.

8. Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim

Carlos Slim
Carlos Tischler / Shutterstock.com

Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim’s wealth was estimated at $55.3 billion in early December, by Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

That put him at No. 22 on the list of the world’s richest people. But Slim, pictured at right, doesn’t always live like a billionaire.

Much like Warren Buffett, Slim lives in the same six-bedroom Mexico City home, near where he grew up, that he’s lived in for over 40 years. He doesn’t flout his wealth by owning yachts or planes, Bloomberg says.

9. Wipro billionaire Azim Premji

Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Indian billionaire Azim Premji (at left, above), chairman of tech company Wipro, is worth billions.

Until recently, Premji was known for flying economy class and staying in modest hotels, says MumbaiMirror. He drove a Ford Escort coach and preferred to wash his own clothes while staying in hotels rather than use the hotel laundry, the publication says.

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