When you see celebrities on the cover of magazines while standing in the checkout line at your grocery store, you may think they've got it all - fame, looks, money – and have no problems. But that's just the glossy face they put on for those photos shoots. Fame is certainly a creature all to itself, but money and the pains that go with it are universal. You may be surprised to learn that celebs have the same fears, trials and challenges that we do about their finances. Here are some commonalities to consider the next time you think a celebrity has a perfect life.
#1 Celebrities aren't born rich (for the most part)
Most celebs aren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street) actually lived in a van and waited tables at Bubba Gump's before he got his break. Angelina Jolie, despite having a wealthy dad, lived with her single mom and they had money problems throughout her childhood. Jewel was another car dweller before her music career took off.
This can be a good or a bad thing. Hillary Swank, who grew up poor, is extremely thrifty and has a bundle in the bank because of the lessons she learned while growing up broke. But others splurge and splurge when they get some money rolling in and then when times get tough, they're out of luck (MC Hammer is a perfect case to illustrate this).
The lesson: No matter what your background, good money habits are important whether you work at an office or a have a hit TV show.
#2 Celebrity couples argue about money
Money problems are one of the main issues that drives “normal” couples apart and you may think if you had more cash, all your problems would be solved. This is not always true. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon just announced their split and, allegedly, money was a big deal. Even though the diva is super-rich and her younger hubby is raking in tens of millions per year now, news reports say they fought over her outlandish spending habits.
Former Beatle Paul McCarney and his last wife Heather Mills fought big about the bucks. He's notoriously cheap even though he's worth hundreds of millions. He railed over the way she ran through his cash and they ended up split and (no surprise) arguing over money in the divorce as well. Other celeb couples don't engage in money brawls because they have compatible money mantras – Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick live modestly and avoid cash conflicts.
The lesson: If you and your partner have conflicting spending styles and saving habits, fights may be inevitable. Get on the same page and a budget to keep the peace.
Frugal SJP and her husband Matthew Broderick
#3 Celebrities go broke and file bankruptcy
Glossy magazine covers may make celebrity life look amazing, but it's just like life in general but with a bigger budget and cameras following you around (and who would want that when you're driving your kids to school in your bathrobe?). There's a reason celebrity bankruptcies are huge news – they make the rest of us feel better. Celebrities earn wages, pay bills and have money problems just like everyone else. From MC Hammer to Kim Basinger and Larry King, bankruptcy can happen to anyone.
And sometimes the money problems get so serious that bankruptcy is the best option. We write about celebrity bankruptcies here regularly, not to be sensationalist, but to let our readers know that many woes can happen to anyone – and anyone can recover from them. Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers a clean slate and is the frequent choice for celebrity filers, but it can offer you the same fresh start if you're in debt up to your ears and unable to pay your bills.
The lesson: You can go broke at any salary and can be money savvy no matter how modest your salary. Good many habits are critical for everyone.
The next time you're in the grocery store line, flip through the glossy mag, but don't buy it. Magazines cost $3-$10 and are not money well spent. This is just one smart money habit to consider to keep your finances in order. Most libraries offer free magazines to browse or you can find the same stories online for free. Develop good money habits, keep your finances in check and you can be proud of yourself for providing for your family and being responsible. You may never have fame, but you could have fortune if you mind your money manners.