Lifestyles of the Broke and Famous
by Mark Attanasio
Many people look to celebrities as an embodiment of the American Dream. Whether it’s an athlete inking a $100 million contract, a musician reaping the rewards of a platinum album or an actor raking in gold from an appearance on the silver screen, the rest of us see these individuals as the lucky ones that hit it big.
While it might seem like they’ll never have to worry about money again, the truth is that many celebrities end up in the same dire financial straits as the rest of us. Financial success isn’t only about how much money you’re bringing in, but rather how well you manage your assets, control your spending and avoid risky and potentially costly life choices.
Here are several high-profile names and their stories to serve as a reminder of the fact that financial success has less to do with your paycheck than you might think.
Nicolas Cage: Between 1996 and 2011, Cage banked over $150 million from his prolific acting career. He proceeded to spend it all on a lavish lifestyle revolving around sports cars, exotic pets, a rare collection of dinosaur fossils and private islands in the Caribbean. By the time the IRS came calling for its share—$13 million—the money was gone.
Reality check: It doesn’t matter how much you earn if you don’t put any money away for a rainy day.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon: The Wilpon brothers, majority owners of the New York Mets baseball team, became protagonists in a financial cautionary tale in 2008 when news broke that their fortune was ensnared in the ponzi scheme orchestrated by investment advisor Bernie Madoff. The Madoff case was discovered to be the largest financial fraud case in U.S. history and cost the Wilpon family between $500-700 million. They nearly had to sell their beloved franchise, but were eventually able to deal with their reversal of fortune.
Reality check: Even if you have entrusted the management of your finances to a professional, stay involved and know how your funds are being handled. Nobody, not even an advisor, will be more concerned about your bottom line than you are.
Willie Nelson: This legendary country music singer is perhaps as famous for his run-ins with the law as he is for his boisterous stage presence. Despite his commercial success, Nelson ran into tough times over the course of his career thanks to unpaid tax bills and a series of drug-related offenses that have cost him mightily over the years.
Reality check: Crime doesn’t pay. If you party like a rock star, you may end up broke as your life savings end up in the pockets of lawyers.
At The Milford Bank, our goal is to help you make the smart decisions with your money. Stop by any of our offices to learn more about protecting your wealth.