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It’s easy to assume that celebrities, with their lavish lifestyles and exorbitant bank accounts, are also good with money. But having plenty of money doesn’t mean you know how to save, spend, budget, or invest it properly. Many have struggled with standing up for themselves during pay negotiations or trusted the wrong people to balance their checkbooks.
These 10 celebrities opened up about the massive money mistakes they have made throughout their career.
Rihanna was left “effectively bankrupt” after receiving poor financial advice.
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The “Diamonds” singer famously sued her former accountant after claiming he advised her to spend lavishly, mismanaged her funds, improperly filed taxes, and kept an unfair percentage of profits – decisions that Rihanna says led her to double her expenses and drop over $9 million in a single year.
According to court documents, Rihanna was left “effectively bankrupt” after Peter Gounis of Berdon LLP did not let her know that she was losing money on her 2010 “Last Girl on Earth” tour.
Although Rihanna never made a traditional statement regarding the matter (the pair reportedly settled out of court for around $10 million), her “B—- Better Have My Money” music video is widely assumed to be a public revenge fantasy. The video, which came out the year after her lawsuit was settled, explicitly names Rihanna’s nemesis as “The Accountant.”
Meryl Streep was reluctant to negotiate.
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While reminiscing about accepting her iconic role in “The Devil Wears Prada,” Streep revealed that she was originally offered payment that could have been seen as “insulting.” She decided to walk away – and they doubled her offer.
Streep wasn’t always so sure of her worth, however. Despite already earning a longstanding reputation as one of the greatest actors alive, she realized that she had been accepting too little for too long.
“I was 55, and I had just learned, at a very late date, how to deal on my own behalf,” Streep told Vanity Fair.
Melissa McCarthy racked up credit card debt at a young age.
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McCarthy recently revealed that said she had a hard time paying her bills when she began pursuing comedy.
“When I moved to New York at 20, I wish I did not discover that you can just get credit cards,” McCarthy told Glamour.
The 47-year-old actress said she had a friend who told her she “couldn’t walk around in New York in cheap shoes” and that she instead needed to shop at Bergdorf Goodman.
“I couldn’t afford anything in there, but they would just give you a store card, and so we were buying wonderful things,” McCarthy said. “I was like, ‘I work really hard. I’ll pay this off in increments.’ No, you will not.”
Priyanka Chopra bought a very expensive car on a whim.
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“Ten years into movies, in 2013, my mom insisted that I needed to commemorate it,” Chopra told Bloomberg. “I picked her up, we went to dinner, and then drove to a Rolls-Royce dealer and bought a custom car.”
Although Chopra did not specify whether she necessarily considers the purchase a mistake, she did admit that she had spent her money “imprudently.”
Kanye West was $53 million in debt after funding his own fashion venture.
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In 2016, West revealed via Twitter that he had fallen into millions of dollars’ worth of debt after launching his clothing brand, Yeezy, with his own money. The tweets have since been deleted.
In demanding creative freedom and curating elaborate fashion shows, West told BET he went $16 million in debt getting his line off the ground for its first “season.”
He has also rapped about giving money to friends and relatives against the advice of his frugal wife, Kim Kardashian West.
“My wife said, I can’t say no to nobody, and at this rate we gon’ both die broke / Got friends that ask me for money knowin’ I’m in debt, and like my wife said, I still didn’t say no,” West raps in the 2016 song “Saint Pablo.”
Issa Rae low-balled herself as a freelancer.
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Issa Rae, creator and star of HBO show “Insecure,” said she has attempted to negotiate her salary throughout her career.
“As a freelance videographer and editor, I constantly had to set my price points, which was hard in the beginning because I honestly didn’t know my worth,” she told The Root in October 2015.
Rae said that she was so eager for work that she would work for pretty much any price point.
“As I grew more confident in my work, I began to set my prices higher,” she said. “Sometimes I’d get resistance and sometimes I wouldn’t get the job at all. I’d often have to convince them that I was worth the money.”
Betty Gilpin spent her first paycheck on drugs and cab rides.
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Gilpin has starred in Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and in the Netflix comedy series “GLOW,” but she got her start with a shampoo commercial at age 20. When she got paid, she was advised to save the money.
“I [didn’t take the advice and] spent it all on marijuana and cabs in New York,” she told Glamour. “I could have really used that money for other things.”
Bryce Dallas Howard would get “scared off” during salary negotiations.
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Although Howard knows that she lives a “privileged” life, some of her male co-stars were shocked to learn that she doesn’t have “a million dollars in the bank.”
The “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” star blames her relatively low savings on the vast pay inequity in Hollywood – and, in the same vein, feeling intimidated during pay negotiations.
“I’ve been [wimpy] about it in the past. I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t grateful for opportunities,” she recently told Glamour. “I also get scared off by every threat during a negotiation. They’ll say, ‘We’ll just have to find someone else,’ and I back off. You can’t do that.”
Billy Joel admitted he knew “nothing” about how much money he had or spent.
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“I stayed away from it on purpose, as if it would compromise my ‘artistry,'” Joel admitted to the Washington Post. “For a long time, I was overly sensitive to this accusation that I was a hitmaker-meister just grinding it out for the money. So I proved I wasn’t doing it for the money because I didn’t know nothing about my money – and that way I’d know that I had ‘integrity.'”
Joel ended up regretting his ignorance. His manager (and former brother-in-law), Frank Weber, allegedly siphoned $90 million from the “Piano Man” singer, using the money to make investments that were apparently in his own best interest rather than his client’s.
In 1989, Joel sued Weber for $90 million for “breach of fiduciary duty,” and received a summary judgment and awarded initial damages of $2 million. The worst part? Weber paid $250,000 before declaring bankruptcy in 1990.
“I shoulda looked out for the money,” Joel told the Washington Post.
Jennifer Lawrence said she “failed as a negotiator.”
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Less than a year after the release of 2013 film “American Hustle” – for which Lawrence was nominated for an Oscar – leaked emails from Sony Pictures revealed that Lawrence was paid less for the movie than her male co-stars, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner.
This came after Lawrence became one of the youngest-ever Oscar winners for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony,” the actress wrote in Lenny Letter in October 2015. “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.”
In the article, Lawrence admitted that part of the reason not to fight for better pay came from wanting to be liked.
“I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled,'” she wrote. “At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ … Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I’m sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share.”
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