Lessons From the Rich and Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah to Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage
Seven-figure paychecks are enough to buy a lifetime of financial security, right? Well, not exactly. Despite making millions, seemingly wealthy celebrities often have a tough time keeping their heads above the financial waters. Johnny Depp spending $3 million to fire Hunter S. Thompson's ashes out of a cannon, or Nicholas Cage shelling out $150,000 for a pet octopus, are both prime examples of how lavish lifestyles can quickly lead to debt. The two A-listers are part of a long list of actors, musicians, athletes, etc. -- including Floyd Mayweather, 50 Cent and Curt Schilling -- who have all experienced financial troubles.
While there's nothing wrong with celebrities enjoying their earnings, a little budgeting can go a long way. Just take a look at Tori Spelling. After failing to pay a balance of more than $35,000, the actress was taken to court by American Express. Another example is 80s movie star Corey Haim. He became so desperate for cash after filing for bankruptcy he tried to sell his own tooth on eBay for $150, which didn't get any buyers.
Avoid falling into any of these situations by keeping a close eye on your spending. Regardless of how much you make, the following few budgeting tips promise to help you practice safe and responsible money management.
Put a plan in place.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans lose sleep over their finances. Get a good night's rest by figuring out where your money should be going long before it's in your bank account. Spending without a plan, even if it's only splurging on a one-time event, can have unintended consequences. One example of this is former NFL star Vince Young -- after dropping $300,000 on his own birthday party he was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Another example is Mike Tyson, who went into debt after overspending on Bengal tigers, 110 cars and a $2-million bathtub.
That doesn't mean you can never treat yourself, but make sure you're not spending money faster than you can earn it. Set up a series of "fun funds" each month to splurge on nonessentials. Depending on what else you have going on that month, each fund should be adjusted accordingly. If, for example, you're heading out to a friend's wedding, there may be a little less left over for eating out. Stay up to date on your spending by downloading a budgeting app. The easier it is to see where you are for that month, the better chance you have of staying under budget.
Carry around some cash.
Credit cards are becoming the most common payment method among consumers. The average American currently carries around three credit cards at any given time. While they may be more convenient, credit cards can easily lure consumers into a false sense of security. After all, a simple swipe or tap is often all it takes to complete a purchase. However, it's important to take time to research any costly items thoroughly and ensure you won't regret them like Nicholas Cage. He learned this lesson the hard way when he blew $276,000 on a dinosaur skull that he was forced to return after it was discovered to be an illegal import.
Curb some of your impulse spending during a night out by bringing enough cash for the occasion. In addition to avoiding spending money you don't have, you'll also sidestep costly ATM fees at establishments that only accept cash. Whether it means stopping by your bank on the first of every month or getting cash back at the grocery store, do whatever it takes to have a little bit of cash on hand. As you cut back on credit card purchases, your chances of falling into debt should begin to dwindle.
Lean on an expert.
When it comes to your finances, take a lesson from the likes of Oprah, Tyga and Hugh Jackman, who invest in financial and life coaches. Many celebrities, including Oprah, attribute their success to their coaches helping put them on the right path. Even celebrities are human and can find it difficult to stick to budgeting goals. Personalized features of a comprehensive coaching program, such as daily check-in texts and bi-weekly budget reviews, promise to provide you with the encouragement needed to remain accountable even as the going gets tough.
Better yet, a financial coach can take your individual goals into account. Say you decide to start a family or need to make a cross-country move. Instead of wondering what that might mean for your budget, you can work with a financial coach to modify your spending habits and investments long before a change comes to fruition.
Budgeting goes beyond class. No matter how much you make, responsible money management has shown itself to be a necessity. Avoid following in the footsteps of celebrities who face serious financial trouble by keeping a close eye on where your money is going. As we've seen all too often, failing to do so can mean losing millions. Simple steps -- including creating a spending plan, occasionally relying on cash and reaching out to an expert -- can help you achieve financial security sooner rather than later.
And if you plan carefully enough, you might just end up with the funds you need for that pet octopus.