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Surprising Frugal Tips from Millionaires & Billionaires

Even if you don’t follow Dave Ramsey, you are likely familiar with his famous mantra, “Live like no one else so later you can LIVE like no one else.” Apparently, Ramsey has taken his words to heart and after paying off a hefty debt many years ago and making his millions advising people how to do the same, he is now living like no one else in his new 13,000+ square foot home.

We often think of millionaires and billionaires building luxury homes like Ramsey and living rock star lives complete with catered meals, servants, outrageous shopping, personal assistance, and private jets, but the shocking fact is that many of them live a frugal life just like you and your fellow Bargaineering readers. Surprised? I was, too.

Yet here are some of the uber-rich and their frugal habits:

Hillary Swank (actress)—No stranger to hard times, Swank lived with her mother in a car before skyrocketing to fame in the movie, Boys Don’t Cry. Still, she admits she can’t resist coupons.  She says, “When you open up the paper and you see those coupons, it looks like dollar bills staring you in the face. . . It’s how I grew up. Why not?” (Kiplinger’s [3]).

Jim C. Walton (son of Sam Walton, Wal-mart founder)—Sam Walton was notoriously frugal, and that has rubbed off on his son, who is also worth billions. He has the money to buy most anything he wants, but, according to ABC News [4], he drives a 15 year old pick up truck.

David Cheriton (owner of Google stock; introduced Google founders to venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers)—You may have heard stories of John Edwards’ infamous $400 haircuts, but Cheriton, worth billions, saves time and money cutting his own hair. He also bikes where he can, and when he needs to drive, he drives his Honda sedan (ABC News [4]).

Warren Buffett (billionaire investor)—Buffett lives in the same house he purchased over fifty years ago (1958) for less than $35,000 in Nebraska and has made mention of this fact on numerous occasions. If you want to visit it, it’s at the corner of Farnham & S 55th St in Omaha Nebraska. He claims to love living the simple life in the middle of the nation’s heartland.

T. Boone Pickens (oil businessman)—Pickens says he buys three new suits every five years and only owns a total of ten suits (not sure how expensive each suit is… so frugality may be relative!).

He learned his frugality from his grandmother; he states, “She’d always tell me, ‘Don’t ever go any place with money in your pocket looking for something to buy’” (Kiplinger’s [5]).

Sarah Jessica Parker (actress)—Parker has appeared on several television shows (most famous of which was Sex in the City) and mentioned that her son wears hand me down clothing from his cousins.

Parker states, “Just because mommy and daddy are rich and famous that doesn’t mean he should ride the gravy train through life… I want James to be normal” (Daily Finance [6]).

Leonardo DiCaprio (actor)—DiCaprio is famous for driving his Toyota Prius, the only car he owns. He also avoids private jets, choosing coach instead. He says, “Money is very important to me because it allows me the freedom to choose what I want to do as an actor and most importantly because I want to accumulate enough so that one day I can do something really great and beneficial for other people, for the environment or for children” (Daily Finance [7]).

The next time you scoff at the excesses of the rich and famous, keep in mind that there are plenty of celebrities and millionaires and billionaires still showing financial restraint and growing richer every day because of it.

What other frugal rich people can you think of?