Do you ever wonder how you would “be” if you had a mountain of wealth? What if you had unlimited (and continually compounding) money like Bill Gates, or an inherited silver spoon in your mouth like Paris Hilton? As a frugal person, this question makes me squirm a bit because I have seen other people whose frugal core has disappeared completely in the wake of money. I guess this means their frugality was not by choice, but by necessity, and once they had the means to spend a lot, the choice was obvious. The choice is obvious for me as well, as I have a pretty solid frugal core.
Still, I could certainly see myself getting rid of a few inconveniences in my life. Would I continue to coast the last mile stretch to my home in a pathetic attempt to save on gas mileage (that’s got to add up to a free tank of gas every five years)? Probably not. Taking the time to price out bird seed would definitely seem not as important. And unplugging all of our appliances directly after using them would be much lower on my list. Still, I would hope that my frugal grounding would remain because it is definitely apart of whom I am. I hate to waste resources, I cringe at atm fees, and the idea of eating out at restaurants everyday actually exhausts me.
I am happy to report that now I have some solid proof that some of the wealthiest men and women in the world who were frugal at heart to begin with have remained true to themselves, despite having billions in the bank and other assets. Here are some of my favorite examples of billionaires and millionaires who, while they may spend a lot on some things, have a frugal habit here or there that has stuck with them (okay…a few of these border on cheap):
- Tech Billionaire Azim Premji (Net worth of $17.6 billion): Served guests on paper plates at a luncheon to honor his son’s marriage.
- Ikea Founder Ingvar Kamprad (Net worth of $23 billion): You can catch him driving around his 15-year old Volvo.
- Investor Warren Buffet (Net worth of $47 billion): Still lives in the home he purchased 50 years ago for $31,500. And what do two billionaires do when they go on a business trip together? See below.
- Microsoft Bill Gates (Net worth of $53 billion): Apparently Mr. Gates receives McDonald’s coupons from Mr. Buffett, and uses them regularly. In fact, in their recent trip to China together, the two reportedly used coupons together.
- Model, Talk Show Host Tyra Banks (Net worth of $140 million): Took a staycation in 2008 instead of her normal trip abroad to save money.
- Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar (Net worth of estimated $15 million): Sarah told Self Magazine that she uses dry cleaning coupons, takes a reusable bag to get a discount at Whole Foods, and shops at Bloomingdale’s on double rewards day.
- Actress Teri Hatcher (Net worth of estimated $50 million): Teri drives her cars for 10 years.
- Meijer Thrifty Acres Frederik Meijer (Net worth of $5 billion): Frederik stays in budget motels while traveling.
- Duty Free Shoppers Founder Chuck Feeney (Net worth unknown but in the billions): Uses a plastic bag for a briefcase, a cheap watch to tell the time, uses the subway, and doesn’t even own a car (or a house for that matter).
- Telecom Carlos Slim Helu (Net worth of $53.5 billion): Slim has lived in the same home for 40 years, as well as drives an aging car (albeit a Mercedes-Benz). He also monitors the use of toilet paper at his company, and demands that lights be switched off when people leave their offices.