John F. Kennedy – American President
Before he became America’s youngest president, Kennedy was the son of wealthy businessman Joseph Kennedy, and inherited a trust fund worth millions. But Kennedy was a notorious penny-pincher, and his favorite money-saving trick of all was to “forget” his wallet at home.
JFK’s friends, employees, and even his dates all picked up the tab for him, and as President he made a point of cutting the White House’s grocery bill. He even argued with Jackie about how much she spent on her iconic wardrobe.
Cary Grant – Movie Star
In the ’40s, Grant married Woolworth’s heiress Barbara Hutton, and the couple were so well-to-do that they were called “Cash and Cary” by the press. But despite his huge fortune Grant was incredibly cheap.
The movie star would cut the buttons off his old shirts, charged house guests for water if he did their laundry and marked his milk bottles to see if his servants were drinking from them.
He famously charged fans 25 cents for an autograph, telling them it was “for charity,” while keeping the money for himself.
David Cheriton – College Professor
Cheriton introduced the founders of Google, and helped get the tech company on its feet, earning him a huge payout and the nickname “Professor Billionaire.” But after celebrating with a vacation in Hawaii Cheriton came home with a new attitude towards money.
The Stanford professor still owns his car from 1986, but bikes to work most days. He saves half of his meals from restaurants for the next day’s lunch and even re-uses tea bags.
Ingvar Kamprad – Founder of IKEA
The Swedish furniture chain IKEA is known for being cheap, and so is its founder. Kamprad is known for trying to haggle at the grocery store checkout line, taking salt packets from restaurants and waiting until after Christmas to buy discounted wrapping paper.
There are even rumors that even his business is just a big way to save money, since some believe that Kamprad uses IKEA to disguise how much he’s actually worth.
J. Paul Getty – Oil Baron
While Getty was one of the richest men in American history, he’s best known for installing a pay phone in his lobby to lower his phone bill. Getty says that visitors and workmen were making long distance calls from his mansion, Sutton Place.
He also once tried to haggle over the ransom for his own grandson. While visiting Italy, Getty’s grandson was kidnapped, and the hostage-takers demanded $3.2 million.
Getty would only pay $2.2. million (that much was tax-deductible) and loaned his son the rest of the money – with a 4% interest rate on the loan!
Find out which CEO tracks his employee’s bathroom breaks on the next page!
Charlie Chaplin – Movie Star and Director
At the height of Chaplin’s career he was making more than $10,000 a week, or $219,000 in today’s dollars. But his biographer Kenneth S. Lynn recognized that “Chaplin never seemed to have any money on him, and when dining out with friends he always allowed someone else to pick up the tab.“
Chaplin even “borrowed” set builders from his studio to build his mansion in Los Angeles, but maybe they resented their low wages. Chaplin’s home became known as Breakaway House for how shoddy and flimsy it was.
Leona Helmsley – Hotel Tycoon
Helmsley’s penny-pinching wound up getting her thrown in jail for tax evasion, and even President Trump had nothing nice to say about her. “I can feel sorry for my worst enemy, but I can’t feel sorry for Leona Helmsley,” Trump said once. “She deserves whatever she gets.”
To be fair, she did leave $12 million to her dog after she died – so she can’t be all bad.
Azim Premji – Tech Tycoon
Premji is the head of Wipro, one of India’s largest tech companies, but you could never guess from his behavior. The businessman flies in economy, takes a rickshaw home from the airport and stays in his company’s guest house instead of a hotel.
But at the office he’s known to really crack the whip, and his employees say he “makes Uncle Scrooge look like Santa Claus.” Workers are expected to turn the lights off when they leave a room, and Premji keeps a close eye on how much toilet paper they use every month.
Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook
The world’s richest millennial is worth at least $70 billion, but he spends money like a lowly millionaire. He still drives his old Volkswagen, ate at McDonald’s on his Italian honeymoon and married his wife Priscilla Chan in their backyard. Okay, it’s the backyard of a $7 million house, but the principle is still very thrifty.
Hetty Green – Stockbroker
The woman dubbed “the Witch of Wall Street” once walked into her bank carrying $200,000 in bonds. The teller warned her to take a carriage when she was carrying that much money. “A carriage indeed!” she answered, “perhaps you can afford a ride in a carriage—I cannot!”
Green was worth as much as $2 billion in today’s money, but lived like she was flat broke. She moved from one cheap apartment to the next to avoid paying taxes, and went to free clinics for the poor in disguise to avoid paying the doctor.
While it’s probably not true that she let her son lose his leg to avoid paying for his treatment, she did carry around a bucket of oatmeal everywhere she went – to save money on meals.
Were these millionaires being smart, or just silly? Share this list and tell us!