The credo I live by is, if you can’t afford to buy something, don’t buy it. The super-wealthy people I know don’t care about appearances; they couldn’t care less about having an emblem on a handbag or making it rain in the club. I even have an iPod in my car that is the original iPod. I just don’t have a reason to throw it away because it still works.
I have spent a lot of money on only two things in my life—a home and a nice car. I like fashion but I know it loses value the minute you buy it. When I do shop I try to buy the most practical things that won’t go out of style in two seconds. For instance, I have a Fendi jacket that’s 15 years old. I got an alteration done on the sleeve and friends ask me when I got my new jacket. “15 years ago!” I say.
The best investment I ever made is the money I’ve spent taking care of my parents. It makes me feel good that I can take care of my mom and, until he passed away, my dad. I got them a condo and a car to make them more comfortable. That said, I realize that the most common pitfall entertainers have is giving their money away. I did that for years and frankly, it’s just a poor investment. You’re going to hear every sob story in the world—don’t give in to it because the bottom line is that I, like so many women, have zero job security. I have no retirement plan except for my own savings. It pays to keep an eye on your income: people see a dollar figure and think they’re taking home the full dollar. Assume you’re only going to take home 25 cents on the dollar—just to be safe.
I have saved money along the way in my career by negotiating everything. I now only work with an attorney who agrees to an hourly fee and I even negotiate the percentages I pay my agents. I’ve also found it important to stay in tune with what’s happening in the economy and to adjust my expectations accordingly. So, if you’re having a good year where you have to work more, work more. It helps with the down times. This approach has allowed me to pay for my new $10.5 million house in cash. I would never have bought it otherwise. It’s 13,400 square feet (pretty ridiculous) and next door to Kim and Kanye. But if something happens in my life where I can no longer afford this place, I’ll sell it in a heartbeat and be happy to downsize. In the meantime, it’s an awesome house. I love it and I wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t something I was going to enjoy every single day. This is the big one.
As told to Briony Smith
Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A—Z Index (Flatiron Books, $31.44) is on bookshelves now.
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