Tori Spelling financial troubles have made the news over the years, and it's left us wondering how much Tori Spelling is worth, and why she's living paycheck to paycheck. Here's how she can stop that.

tori spelling with bun on side, red lipstick, blue background with text overlay "What's the deal: tori spelling's financial troubles"Here's a confession that makes me blush even when disclosing it to my closest friends (only two of whom I've told up until now): I'm a Tori Spelling fan.

Seriously…did I just say that out loud? Let me do a little shameless damage control.

I'm not into 90210 or any of her B-rated television movies. And Mystery Girls — a series she co-created and acted in before it was dumped in season one — really didn't hit the mark for me. What I'm interested in is Tori Spelling, the person.

I'm kind of fascinated with her.

Fortunately I get to satisfy my curiosity on a semi-regular basis with both her marriage and family life being paraded on reality television shows, one of this breadwinner mama's main revenue streams.

So how does my {shameful} interest in Tori Spelling Reality Television relate to my {shameless} passion for personal finance?

Pssst: Ever wondered how much do reality tv stars make? I've done the research for you. 

Tori Spelling Says She's ‘Living Paycheck to Paycheck', and I'm Calling Her On It

While watching an episode of TrueTori the other day, Tori made a startling confession: she revealed that she's tired of living ‘paycheck to paycheck'.

Cue the awkward crickets in our household after she dropped that bomb. I mean…how can Tori Spelling, Ms. 90210, Ms. Daughter of 80's and 90's television-mogul Aaron Spelling, be living paycheck to paycheck (and if she is, then what hope do the rest of us have)?

The answer is — and this is true of many Americans who say they're in this category — she's living paycheck to paycheck because she chooses to.

How Much Money is Tori Spelling Worth?

According to a recent article, Tori Spelling has a net worth of just $500,000 (FYI: want to point out that your net worth has nothing to do with your personal worth! :)).

I say “just” not because $500,000 is a small amount of money. But because $500,000 is a small amount of money for:

  • Someone to be worth in their late 40s (meaning, she doesn't have enough retirement savings)
  • Someone to be worth after they've been in a few key roles, and several B-rated Lifetime movies over their lives (not to mention her kid's clothing line, makeup line, and numerous books).

To date, her more popular ways of making money have been:

On top of that, she gets free swag a good bit. For example, in her book, Spelling it Like it Is, she writes,

“When we did parties that were going to air on TV, companies always gave us stuff for free so that they could appear on the show.”

Even with all of this, Tori's financial problems have surfaced publicly. Namely, from herself complaining about her money troubles.

For example, in Spelling it Like it Is, Tori talks about how her financial problems are ballooning out of control due to her reality television show being cancelled, her fascination with buying real estate (and the huge expenses with moving their lives). Plus, she's talked about all of the storage units she pays rent on each month, and has a pretty insatiable spending habit.

In Tori's own words, she has a “little shopping problem”, she and her family are “overstaffed”, and her store invenTORI turned into a big “money pit”.

She writes about having to borrow money from her mother to send her kids to private school, and how her mother had loaned her money that she was supposed to pay back after moving from their Encino home to their Malibu home (but hadn't).

All of this has led Tori to live paycheck-to-paycheck, despite her earning much more money than the rest of us.

But not to fear — I've got an action plan for Tori to STOP living paycheck to paycheck that will also work for anyone who is in this state of earning inconsistent income (no matter if they've earned millions in their lifetime, or just hundreds of thousands).

Tori's Action Plan to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Maybe Tori doesn't know another way to live. I'd like to think this was intentional and she's put herself into the Automatic Poorhouse to save gobs of money just like we do from time to time. But I think that's an overly optimistic sentiment (call me crazy, but I think Ms. Spelling might have a bit of a shopping addiction).

Today I'm going to show Tori Spelling how she –and really anyone living a feast-or-famine lifestyle — can find a little meat-and-potatoes financial consistency in her stressful life.

Note: I don't pretend to know what goes on behind-the-scenes in Tori's household. She may very well be doing some of these things below, and her statement might even have been a publicity stunt. But I'm offering up my expertise anyway in the hopes that she'll take it to heart. After all, I feel invested in her. Seven+ years of watching her reality television shows will do that to you.

Action Step #1: Analyze Your Income and Average it Out

Actors, people who are self-employed, artists, and the like can have highly inconsistent income. This makes managing cash flow an unwieldy task at times.

Sure, it's not difficult to do when the  money is rolling in. But trying to figure out a budget to work during the plush and lean times is quite difficult to do.

You need to look at your last several years' worth of income, and do a calculation. For each year, divide your gross income by 12 and figure out how much you averaged in income per month for that year. This is an important number you'll need for Action Step #2, as it should be what you base your monthly spending budget on.

Action Step #2: Set Up a Money System that Feeds You Consistent Paychecks

Next, you need to set up a money system that will feed you and your family consistent paychecks. That's right, it's entirely possible to enjoy consistent pay with an inconsistent income (ask me how I know).

Open a business checking account to catch all of your business earnings. Associate this account to your personal checking account. Use the information you gleaned from Action Step #1 to set up an amount of money each month that will be automatically withdrawn from your business checking into your personal checking. Finally, decide if you would like to be paid weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Adjust your automatic withdrawal schedule accordingly.

Live off of this set amount. If you earn more, let it buffer your business checking or put the buffer aside into a business savings account for income droughts as well as to fund some of the options below.

Action Step #3: Pay Ahead on Bills During Plush Times

Use some of your extra income during times when you're bursting at the seams to take the pressure off of low-income months. Pay semi-annual or annual bills like insurance policies ahead of time in one lump sum. Your insurance agent won't mind what time of year you do this. Stock up on household products so that during the low times there's less household spending to do. You might even score a bulk deal or two. Pay for your entire year's worth of child care (this is specifically for Tori, who probably experiences turbo- shots of income coming in that can equal six months' salary for the rest of us).

Action Step #4: Invest in Income-Producing Assets

Instead of using the extra income during the plush times to splurge on you and your family, use it to invest in income-producing assets that you can draw on to supplement your cash flow in slow times (if need be).

Action Step #5: Stop Handcuffing Yourself to Money Obligations Based On Your Best Paychecks

Your current paycheck does not necessarily reflect next month's paycheck. It could…but gambling on “could” is no good. So your best bet is to never have your financial obligations come close to your higher monthly income levels.

Let's say over the last year, you've done well for yourself. You've pulled in $10,000 a month for January through April because you scored an awesome QVC network deal. In April, you have a reality television deal on top of that awesome QVC deal, so you pull in a sweet $20,000. You're feeling so great about this new income level that you decide to put a down payment on a really expensive summer beach house.

It's not a stretch if you base it on the $20,000/month temporary income level.

By May, the QVC deal has wrapped up, but your reality television paycheck is going strong for another month, so you still have $10,000. Then you are in the summer doldrums, and you go down to $7,000/month.

If you based your ability to pay for that summer beach house on the $20,000 month, or even on the $10,000 month, then you would be feeling the pinch instead of basking in the sun for June, July, and August.

What you need to do is base your ability to pay for huge purchases (especially ones with ongoing costs) on your lowest month of income for the year. This gives you an excellent chance of feeling flush and comfortable, even when the checks thin out.

A little less feast now means a little less famine later.

Action Step #6: During Bad Times, Button Up

One of the best ways to deal with financial fear in low income-producing periods is to audit your household spending (specifically the subscription-like bills that get charged each month). This will immediately put more cash flow into your hands. Not only that, but it gives you a better sense of control, something a person with inconsistent income can be lacking.

Tori has begun doing this by consolidating her storage units after admitting that her current storage unit costs equal a mortgage payment (I'll bet not the kind of mortgage payment you or I are used to seeing). She has multiple other opportunities, no doubt, to cut back.

I'd like to give Tori one more tip about how to get her finances under control. It's introducing some frugality into her life.

Because guess what? You can be a frugal and be a millionaire at the same time.

Just look at these guys!

Frugal Habits of the Rich and Famous

Turns out, not all millionaires shed their frugal habits and spend like crazy when they come into money. Let me share with you examples of frugal rich people and frugal millionaires.

Do you ever wonder how you would “be” if you had a mountain of wealth?

What if you had unlimited (and continually compounding) money you earned, like Bill Gates, or inherited wealth, like Paris Hilton?

Would you be a frugal millionaire, or would you change your spending habits overnight?

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.

Frugal Millionaire Habits

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.

Tori, I could go on. The fact is, you are choosing to live paycheck to paycheck. Choose instead to get on solid financial ground so that during the next doldrums — and business is cyclical in nature, so you will experience the downs as well as the ups again and again — you won't be as fearful or stressed out. And especially so that you won't have to say silly things like “I'm tired of living paycheck to paycheck” on reality tv. Because let's face it, your declaration of living “paycheck to paycheck” is laughable to the rest of us, even if you were being completely true to yourself.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.
15 replies
  1. Georgia says:

    I was suggested this website through my cousin. I am not certain whether or not this submit is written by means of him as no one else realize such specified about my trouble.
    You are wonderful! Thank you!

  2. Money Beagle says:

    My wife watches that show so sometimes I’ll keep an eye on it for a few minutes here and there. While I didn’t catch any of this discussion, it’s pretty apparent that she definitely enjoys the good life. I couldn’t imagine living that way with that kind of income, especially when in her case she has to know that the flow will eventually slow down, having watched many of her colleagues experience the same thing. Step one should actually be to hire a solid financial adviser.

    • Amanda L Grossman says:

      I sincerely hope she’s got a financial advisor…if not…you are totally right that should be her first step!

      I agree. She’s not hurtin’ by any means:).

  3. Jill says:

    I don’t feel sorry for her….personally, I think she’s a brat. I feel sorry for people who go to work 40+ hours a week and still barely get by. She had her life handed to her on a silver platter….you make your bed, lie in it.

  4. davhen says:

    This is very informative . Job well done . Inspired with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett xD Like Father and Son . . .

    • FruGal says:

      Hello Fabulously Broke!

      I had to fish you out of spam jail–sorry about that. Thank you for your comments!

  5. Crystal @ BFS says:

    Hubby and I think about what we’d do if we had more than 10 million and not much would change. I’d still wait to get a new car as long as my old one runs consistently. We would probably build our dream house but it wouldn’t be a McMansion. Our biggest splurge would probably be having the house cleaned weekly rather than biweekly…

  6. Khaleef @ KNS Financial says:

    I can’t believe that guy monitors toilet paper at his job! It’s one thing to do it at home, but don’t subject your employees to that.

    I wonder if he rations it or not!

  7. Daniel says:

    I would probably be much less frugal. I’d buy the nicest cuts of meat, I’d treat my friends really well, and I would never debate purchases.

    That being said, I wouldn’t want to fully provide for anyone. I’m happy to make their lives easier, but I wouldn’t want them to rely on me for anything. They should think of it as a bonus, not a right.

    • FruGal says:

      Hello Daniel!

      Sounds like some good plans.

  8. Aurora says:

    hahaha this is hilarious, and a refreshing read since we are usually inundated with news of celebrities spending their millions on flashy clothes, cars, mansions, etc.

    • Amanda L Grossman says:


      I am glad you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

      Can you believe the toilet paper one? Admittedly that is CHEAP…not frugal:).

      • Kai says:

        What a nice read , awesome to hear stuff like this


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