Celebrities and their money

Like many people, I was shocked to hear of Michael Jackson’s death last week. Whatever the question marks over his conduct and personal life, I grew up in the 1980s and his music was a big part of my childhood. Thriller and Billie Jean were some of my favourite records from those days and I was furious when my beloved Bad album, which I usually had turned up loud on my Walkman as a teenager, mysteriously disappeared. I’d lent it to my French penpal who was staying with us at the time. When she returned home to France, I wrote her a letter asking if it had ended up in her suitcase ‘accidentally’. I was mortified when she wrote back in perfect English, denying that she had the cassette and correcting my appalling French. But I digress.

Watching some of the old pop videos again on TV over the weekend, it’s amazing to realise just how many hits Michael and the Jackson Five made over the years. Which is why it’s equally horrifying to think of the debts he is thought to have racked up – rumoured to be as much as $500m. It’s difficult to understand how somebody with Jackson’s earning power and back catalogue could manage to squander his fortune so spectacularly – especially as he was once the astute businessman who beat Paul McCartney to secure rights to the Beatles’ back catalogue.

Many of us might feel that if only we had X amount of cash in the bank, we would never have to worry about money again. But it’s never as simple as that. You have to know how to look after it and how to live within your means. It’s always fascinated me that no matter how much individuals or companies might accumulate over the years, they can still work their way through it if they don’t manage their money carefully. Someone like Michael Jackson should have been set up for life, but spending sprees and paying out for money-draining items such as lawsuits, security and huge entourages can quickly leave finances depleted. Britney Spears’ annual budget was recently made public, following a court report on her finances, and revealed that last year she spent $10m of the $12m she earned, including £2m on lawyers, $406,000 on her security detail and $400,000 on childcare and staffing. She will probably have to keep working just to maintain her financial status quo.

Other stars have lost millions not just because of their failure to be frugal, but because they have fallen prey to shady associates with their hands in the till. Courtney Love believes she has been conned out of millions of Kurt Cobain’s cash and property and has launched a number of civil cases to get the money back.

But some stars, at least, have frugal instincts. Spiderman actor Toby Maguire has reportedly told journalists that he is careful with his money because his parents had little cash when he was growing up, Paul McCartney famously sent his children to local state schools rather than private schools and Halle Berry is said to be keen on saving in case the fame train crashes and there are lean times ahead.

What would you do with your cash if you became rich and famous? Would you become a big spender because life is too short, or would you maintain a frugal lifestyle in case you lost it all? Leave a message and let me know.

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7 Responses to Celebrities and their money

  1. Rik says:

    I\’d like to think I\’d carry on as a "normal" person, (better off than now though!). I\’d see that family and friends were o.k. of course and there\’d be plenty of charities doing well from it, but as long as there was a bit to put by for the "has been" stage I don\’t think I\’d go mad spending.

  2. Christine says:

    There\’s no training for being the first generation of rich in the family though. You don\’t have the experience from other generations to draw on. Michael Jackson started off in showbiz young and never had any other sort of life. So perhaps he had no standard of normal and certainly no experience to draw on but that of having money. Maybe in many cases money becomes a substitute for a grounded way of life with home, family, children, home. And of course there are plenty of people around who are more than happy to part others from their money – you\’ve written recently about scams targeting the elderly. How much more effective to target the rich then.

  3. Bill says:

    Several years ago, I had a contract with a Crown Prince, always immaculate, his favourite scam was to cadge a lift to the office with me, at /around midnight. I oft used to drop him at the end of the street, delivering the first trailer of my shift elsewhere, before delivering another to his office, which we unloaded together around 04:00hrs. In a long running feud with the city council, he became a tax-dodger, to the tune of a few small quid/night, at least 3 months/year. He knew how to show us all maximum respect, in order to make maximum profit from us, some nights even hooking my first trailer up, while waiting for me to arrive. He had no problem driving a Group 2 vehicle in his own factory & yard, & employed no shunter overnight. He gained his group 2 education from myself, but never had the time, or inclination, for the driving test. I oft gave him a lift home, at 06:00hrs, after delivering to his office. He had every respect for shift work, & it showed, he never complained when I was 10 minutes late.Several years prior, I contracted to a Duke, spasmodically. He also understood shift work, & I could \’phone to drag him out of bed at any hour. He would never complain of my late arrival, or any other delay, & gave me complete responsibility for operating his foreign business in Italy, Jugo, & the entire East Block. He only sold his home produced product, of which he, his 7 managers, & entire work-force were extremely proud. He would sometimes leave messages with a manager, & vice-versa.Despite being a stinking rich, large landowner, he was not only a pleasure to work for/deal with, but would never lose money, & would certainly have the abillity to weather any financial crisis. I also contracted for a small time scrap-merchant, spasmodically. Despite being rarely well dressed, nomally the worst dressed, bordering on obscene, an uncannilly similar situation. He employed no more than six close friends, & finally closed down, to retire to an expensive Spanish Villa. The biggest difference, is that he began as a common squaddy, with no inheritance.They all had a fantastic familly life, & certainly did not worship/revere money, it was only a tool, a means to an end, they made it sing, dance, & sweat, to everyone\’s benefit. They did what they did best, not as alfa-male, but much more as Matriarch, leading from the front, by their own good example, leaving us to do our own thing, excercise & improve our own skill, to our own best ability. In short, they simply follow Nature, as closely as possible. None of them smoke, or even drink.I have also worked with others, oft extreme poor, on call 24/7, oft extreme happy with their lot, they are also rich, in a different way. They rarely look for promotion, or change employment, but hope to have an adequate state pension, & normally work on, at least part-time, way past pension. Obviously, they have& need, far more regularity/order in their lives & work than myself, thankfully, I am much more flexible & versatile. Despite this they are normally a pleasure to work with.Obviously, I have also met some of the worst examples in the course of my travels/career. However "rich", or "poor", they may appear, I do not normally stay around them long, as they are normally such a bad influence, & equally bad news. They thoroughly enjoy ripping us all off, but thankfully do not survive so long, do to their own arrogance & ignorance. However much they inherit, or win, some will never have enough to survive, oft simply splashing most of it against the nearest wall.I currently have many neighbours, long term/life unemployed, recieving full incapacity benefit, they never have any heat, light or water, as a result of their drinking & smoking habits, & general lifestyle. They oft hang together, no idea where the next crust will appear, & cost the NHS so much long term "ill-health", refusing to listen to anything, or anyone. Sadly they are completely oblivious to all the extremely obvious messages & lessons from Mother Nature.

  4. piper says:

    Bill, you raise some interesting questions. I suppose whether we are good with money has nothing to do with how much of it we have or how successful we might be in other fields or how talented, but if you have more of it, when you lose it or spend it unwisely the sheer numbers involved are all the more spectacular.

  5. Bill says:

    Hi again, piper!I find that money is not the only means of currency, there are so many other forms. Skill is one such form, & itself, can be broken down into so many sub-forms. My own skill(s) as a "mechanised" long distance porter, have created me so much credit, of so many differing forms, in so many countries, over so many years. My linguistic skills were not always the best, but always improved with use, aided, & assisted, by local natives, on a mutual basis. I oft found myself living the high life as a King, without needing any cash whatever. These situations oft evolve spontan, without any great design, or planning. Oft the best way to live. Checking my bank balance oft shows little or no moss, but I have oft had so much credit in so many other forms.Cash, as a form of credit, is simply a means of convenience, plastic (flexi) cash, is simply an even more convenient means, when used direct at point of sale/consumption, even moreso by \’phone or internet.Whatever our skill, we sometimes spend it unwisely, or maybe not, if we write it off to educatiion, & seriously learn from our mistakes. We certainly never lose our skills, & they all improve so much more with increased use/consumption, gathering us even more "moss". Conversely, I find that cash, even plastic, does wear out/dry-up, & thereby completely devalues with time/use/consumption.If we invest £1 today, at 10% interest, we automatically cause the same 10% inflation, thereby defeating our own object. A 10% pay-rise is extremely similar, it can only cause an extremely negative knock-on effective. We should all be striving toward a pay decrease, in order to re-value (deflate) the currency, a much more beneficial, positive, effect. Again, it will return to us on the boomerang principle. The banks, as also other lenders, should be paying us to borrow money, not charging us horrendous interest & fees. They should see our skills as an extremely safe haven for their cash, obviously, paying us possibly 2%/annum for this "bunkering" service. They would "win" this expence back, with some profit, by means of the deflation it would cause.I sometimes use this system of gambling on Betfair. I borrow off others, at 25% – 125% interest, for a 10 minute loan, which they, as fellow gamblers, could easilly lose. If I win my own bet, I have no problem paying the loan back, complete with interest, & still have possibly 5x this profit myself, without needing to invest a single groat of my own cash, in effect, a free-bet for me. Even if I "lose", it is not my money, & therefore remains a free-bet. My "lender" should take care, not to place all their eggs in the one basket, spreading their total "investment" over at least 5 runners/options in the same race/market.But sadly, Betfair is a market economy, full of snakes, sharks, & so many other predators. They all attempt to "win" at the expence of others, they certainly have no intention of sharing their skills/winnings, on a mutual/win-win basis.The social economy also has faults, even worse when it is mixed with a market economy.The Homo-Sapien is the only living creature to develop/consume a market economy, therefore the dummest animal ever created. This situation has only evolved in UK over the past 2,500 years, since the civil service arrived here, complete with their tax/insurance (protection) racket.

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