Jay Leno: Though He’s Wealthy, He Lives Very Frugally

Late night television icon Jay Leno has an estimated net worth of $350 million. The comedian is well-known for his penchant for classic and luxury vehicles, of which he owns 181. However, that’s where the millionaire’s high spending habits start and end.

Despite fortune and fame, the former “The Tonight Show” host revealed in a recent interview with Time that he still chooses to live fairly frugally. In part, Leno’s penny-pinching ways stem from his humble beginnings. When the aspiring entertainer first moved to Los Angeles, he says he was homeless and lived as a squatter, taking refuge at open houses.

“I looked in the paper for open houses, say, from noon to 4 p.m., and I would get there at 3:30, and then I would hide in the closet,” the comedian told Time of his early days in Hollywood before he made it. “The realtor would leave and lock the door, and now I had a place to stay. Sometimes I could stay in a house two to three days. I didn’t wreck anything. I did get picked up twice for vagrancy on Hollywood Boulevard.”

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Flickr | Castles, Capes & Clones

Leno, who has been interested in cars since childhood, says he’s never sold a vehicle from his vast collection, but he has donated them to charity on occasion. But the car aficionado says that his many vehicles are his only real financial splurge.

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In the interview, Leno laid out some of his “rules” regarding money and how he keeps his spending in check. Here are some of his habits that ensure he never squanders his wealth.

1. He works hard.

“I work hard and my money relaxes,” Leno told Time.

He says he’s always had more than one job at a time, and that he maximized his earning by living off of the income from one job and stashing away the money from the other. He says he chooses not to film specials for outlets like HBO or Netflix because he prefers to perform live.

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Getty Images | Tasos Katopodis

Here are some of his funniest one-liners:

2. Cash is king.

Leno uses the old adage “cash is king” to describe his financial philosophy and he says leasing vehicles or buying something he can’t afford are not options for him.

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Getty Images | Matt Cardy

3. He doesn’t really go on vacations.

As a comedian, Leno says he’s been able to travel to popular vacation destinations as part of his work.


4. He doesn’t take his success for granted.

Although he’s been in the business for decades and has been compensated highly for his work, Leno has the attitude that he can always do more. As a teenager, the comedian worked at McDonald’s, and credits the company’s high standards for their product for helping to shape his own relentless work ethic and pursuit of excellence in all that he does.

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Getty Images | Scott Olson

RELATED: Here’s How Much Money You Need To Save Each Day To Become A Millionaire

5. He doesn’t chase money.

When asked about the advice he’d give to aspiring comedians, Leno says that they should focus on their craft instead of pursuing a big payday right away.

“If you’re any good, the money will come,” Leno explained. “Pay attention to your product. If you’re not making enough money, it’s ‘cause you’re not good enough.”

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What do you think of Leno’s money tips?

[h/t: Time]