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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