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How Much Does an A-list Actor Make ... and Spend?
January 31, 2012 12:03 PM   Subscribe

New York Mag presents the balance sheets of an A-List actor for our perusal.
posted by reenum (176 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is why they all try to open restaurants so they still have some income after buying into the movie star lifestyle.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is like when I found out a friend's mom spent on clothing what my Mom made in a year.

Still, that's a nothing to sneeze at profit. Most people can't manage money at all anyway.
posted by The Whelk at 12:10 PM on January 31, 2012


also not pictured, coke for you and everyone you know and all their friends.
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. I could say that I spend way too much on books, but I don't.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:11 PM on January 31, 2012


Only 18mil in a year? I guess they only made one movie. Not even close to Nicholas Cage level.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:12 PM on January 31, 2012


"The main worries are divorces, unreasonable career expectations, and private jets, in that order."

Proof that A-List actors are two-thirds human.
posted by 3FLryan at 12:14 PM on January 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


That falls under "Charitable Contributions", Whelk.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


also not pictured, coke for you and everyone you know and all their friends.

Hmm...I figure "cash expenses" of $175,000 should cover the coke habit with room to spare.
posted by jedicus at 12:15 PM on January 31, 2012


Yeah I'm not seeing anything so outrageous here, not for a multimillion salary. Boats and houses are huge money pits of course, although the 40k food budget seems ...high. How big is this household? Is that including an on-staff chef (I assume) or are you eating at French Laundry and Per Say every night?
posted by The Whelk at 12:15 PM on January 31, 2012


$4 M in Federal taxes on $16 M in income = 25% effective tax rate.

Does this actor support higher taxes on the rich?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:15 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


$15,000 for "Telephone expenses"? Is he buying an iPhone every other week?
posted by demiurge at 12:16 PM on January 31, 2012


The Mel Gibson phone rants included him being upset about having to sell paintings and give up his box tickets for the Lakers due to money troubles. At one point he claims to have spent $5 million on her career.
posted by Trurl at 12:17 PM on January 31, 2012


I knew a ...public figure who will remain nameless who basically lost thier iphone every other week and didn't get a data plan or new card in when in europe and racked up the most AMAZING roaming/data fees.
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on January 31, 2012


I am now imagining a clueless A-list celebrity dropping off their hamper at French Laundry and walking away. Except French Laundry doesn't turn up their nose at a profit and that's how you spend $250/mo. on laundry and dry cleaning.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Next time my kid acts up I'm going to threaten to spend the same amount on a boat that I spend on him.
posted by bondcliff at 12:18 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that including an on-staff chef (I assume) or are you eating at French Laundry and Per Se every night?

Gardening, nanny salary and expenses, household supplies, repairs and maintenance, and domestic salaries and expenses are all separate line items, so I figure the $125k for domestic salaries and expenses includes a chef.

$15,000 for "Telephone expenses"? Is he buying an iPhone every other week?

Yeah, that's a weird one. International conference calls can be made effectively free with VOIP. Maybe a high-end video conferencing system? Or a personal satellite phone for on-location shooting? The Whelk may have it with "traveled abroad and just paid out the nose for data."
posted by jedicus at 12:18 PM on January 31, 2012


Of course, this represents an inestimably small portion of professional actors in Hollywood. If you do the sort of job that most actors in Hollywood used to do to make a living -- say, regularly do guest spots on television and occasional bit parts in film -- after paying your agent and manager, you've got an income of between $7k and $30k per year. AFTRA is so weak right now that very few actors can manage more than a working class income.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:18 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh and there's always the inevitable vanity production company startup that follow rising actors around like mayflies.
posted by The Whelk at 12:18 PM on January 31, 2012


$16 million in income and $25,000 in charitable donations. Charity begins at home, I guess.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:19 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


if you make 16 million and still have money left over at the end of the year then you are clearly not buying enough solid gold rocket cars
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 PM on January 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


$2,500 in Bank fees? Doing what?
posted by defcom1 at 12:21 PM on January 31, 2012


moving around investments I should think?
posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Travel expenses of "only" $75k. That's what, a half dozen round trip first class flights with a companion? That's far less than I would have guessed. Although maybe this person prefers to get some use out of their boat.

$2,500 in Bank fees? Doing what?

Managing their money. They have $2.5 million in investment income. .1% in fees is not bad.
posted by jedicus at 12:22 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


man, mostly what I'm surprised by is how different priorities become once you start owning a lot of expensive shit that needs expensive maintenance. I, a normally not-poor person, spend much, much more on food as a percentage of my personal expenses (granted, I really like food). And I spend more on hobbies, books, and magazines per year in dollars than this person does. Maybe the boat and pool are the hobbies?
posted by peachfuzz at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2012


(International first class flights, I mean. Domestic first class is expensive but not anywhere near as expensive as international.)
posted by jedicus at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2012


A lot of travel expenses are comped, either by the studio, the agency that wants them, or virtue of having a friend's place to stay at (on the Italian coast in an old plazzo).

If I had this money I would so be an insane arts patron, paying out for revivals of wildly anachronistic or unwatchable plays, all silent movie screenings, parade-line productions of salome with real pearls and silk and an actual severed head. Having that amount of money comes with a requirement to go completely and utterly bonkers.
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 PM on January 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


$15,000 for "Telephone expenses"? Is he buying an iPhone every other week?

International roaming is not a joke. Many film types and business consultants I know (and have signed off on budgets for) can average over £50 a day in phone call charges.

For instance, I reviewed one last week which over a two-week period roaming in Europe generated above £70 a day in call charges. £1k for two weeks. $15,000 dollars comes quite quickly.

International conference calls can be made effectively free with VOIP.

You get what you pay for. Skype is great, when it works. I have stopped working with independents that insisted on using Viber to save costs. I just couldn't hear them. The first ten minutes of many conference calls: "Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Let's all dial back in and see how it goes." Clients really don't like that sort of thing.
posted by nickrussell at 12:27 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


well there is a kind of an upper limit to how much you can spend on food but restoring a house or redecorating is perpetual and never ending.
posted by The Whelk at 12:27 PM on January 31, 2012


moral of this infograpic: don't buy a boat
posted by nathancaswell at 12:28 PM on January 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


When I had a job, I lived comfortably, in a big city, on less than whoever this is spends on food in a year.

I'd love to ask for a personalized charitable donation. I could squeeze by if I added some tutoring gigs.
posted by tzikeh at 12:30 PM on January 31, 2012


I was surprised by how there's no apparent or egregious use of tax-loopholes going on here. When I started reading and it mentioned the actor is paid through a cut-out corporation, I expected to see a laundry list of foreign accounts and "bad investments" to write off. Instead they pretty much pay off their agents and managers from the shell corp and then paid a straight third of their income to state and local taxes. One can argue long and hard as to what that percentage should be as a matter of policy (I personally feel this chart should be in every textbook that ever discusses why we have a progressive tax), but it certainly improved my mental image of this person when I saw them upholding their end of the social contract (as it stands).

Short version: I'm sadly reduced to being impressed by someone simply failing to engage in grandiose malfeasance when given half a chance.
posted by Freon at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


moral of this infograpic: don't buy a boat

But wherever shall I wear my nautical-themed pashmina afghan?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


...boat expenses?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2012


$2,500 in Bank fees? Doing what?

I pay about 10 times that much... as a percentage of my salary, anyway. And I suspect this guy gets better service than I do.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:33 PM on January 31, 2012


Travel expenses of "only" $75k. That's what, a half dozen round trip first class flights with a companion? That's far less than I would have guessed. Although maybe this person prefers to get some use out of their boat.

Less trips than that if they're flying a good airline. $10k+ per person is pretty normal for international first class. But besides lots of trips being paid for by production companies, etc, I would imagine frequent flier miles come into it too.

the 40k food budget seems ...high. How big is this household? Is that including an on-staff chef (I assume) or are you eating at French Laundry and Per Say every night?

Doesn't seem too weird to me. That's about $800 a week. You can easily blow through that on just one or two fancy dinners in ritzy restaurants.
posted by kmz at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2012


well there is a kind of an upper limit to how much you can spend on food

not in my world, if I had $16 million to spend each year you can bet I would be buying whole tuna at the Tokyo fish markets just for the cheeks, eating truffles like apples, paying wizened Tyrolean men to come live in a cave behind my house and make me some speck every fall, drinking pearls dissolved in vinegar, etc.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2012 [13 favorites]


moral of this infograpic: don't buy a boat

This is true at all income levels and for all sizes of boat. The joke that the experience of owning a boat can be simulated by standing in the shower ripping up $100 bills is a good word of warning.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:35 PM on January 31, 2012 [20 favorites]


I feel weird in saying this, but other than relative pittance in regards to the amount of charitable donations (and that's a big fucking "other than", mind you), at first glance, this doesn't really seem nearly as offensive as I thought it would be before clicking it.

Sure, no one needs this much money, but at least they seem to be spreading some of it around. (Trickle down economics is bullshit as a political platform and an excuse for not taking care of the most needy in your society, but it does have to start from somewhere.) I'm absolutely sure I would be much more horrified at your average corporate billionaire's...

Though even as I say that, I realize it's sort of a ridiculous comparison, as I guess it would make since that if I was 100x more offended by someone who makes 100x more.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:36 PM on January 31, 2012


There are also case studies for a mega producer and for Zooey Deschanel.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:38 PM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


$15,000 for "Telephone expenses"? Is he buying an iPhone every other week?

Yeah, that's a weird one. International conference calls can be made effectively free with VOIP.


What's a VOIP? Is that something for nerds? /a-list actor person
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:38 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: Bank fees responses - ok makes sense.

Wait..that's boat maintenance, first read I read as boat purchase. That's a lot for maintenance. Wow. You would think you could rent one once in a while...
posted by defcom1 at 12:38 PM on January 31, 2012


Lame budget.

How much spent making it rain. How much on Cristal. What is the point of making 15m if you don't make it rain every once in a while.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:39 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


well there is a kind of an upper limit to how much you can spend on food but restoring a house or redecorating is perpetual and never ending.

I dunno, I could come up with ways to spend that kind of money on food. Having a small team of professional chefs travel with you, for example, or having a rotation of celebrity chefs cook at home for you. Getting seriously into wine, drinking comet vintages on a regular basis.

Or having an entire private farm that produces everything you eat, with the growing methods and varieties all tailored to your tastes. Come to think of it, why isn't that a thing, especially in southern California?
posted by jedicus at 12:41 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


not in my world, if I had $16 million to spend each year you can bet I would be buying whole tuna at the Tokyo fish markets just for the cheeks, eating truffles like apples, paying wizened Tyrolean men to come live in a cave behind my house and make me some speck every fall, drinking pearls dissolved in vinegar, etc.

You may be the Master Of The Kitchen after I make a few tens of millions of dollars, buy a castle and some land, and offer an open invite to any organic-sustainable-back-to-the-land mefites who want to be tenant farmers under my absolute (but benevolent!) rule. All will be permitted, but I will ask you to wear the outfits.
posted by The Whelk at 12:41 PM on January 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


$25,000 out of $15 million is less than 0.2% in charitable contributions. People below the poverty line give around 5% a year on average.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:42 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


why isn't that a thing, especially in southern California

I just called it, Nee-Feudal Estates as the next big trend
posted by The Whelk at 12:43 PM on January 31, 2012


(neo)
posted by The Whelk at 12:43 PM on January 31, 2012


"Man, if I made that much money I would still live the same way I do right now." <<<< Serious question: Could you actually live a low budget life style in L.A. if you were a famous enough actor to make this much money in one year? Or would security concerns of some sort kind of force you into a more luxurious neighborhood?
posted by NoMich at 12:44 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


(neo)

(pushes you in front of subway car)
posted by shakespeherian at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2012


Yeah, you can spend a ton of money on food if you really wanted to. If I had that kind of money I'd be eating at a regular rotation between The French Laundry, Alinea, varous Tsukiji sushi places, Hot Doug's, Snow's BBQ, and Beijing street food. That adds up real quick. (OK, the first two much more so than the others if you don't count travel expenses.)
posted by kmz at 12:46 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are also case studies for a mega producer

Um. Wow.
posted by Big_B at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2012



"Man, if I made that much money I would still live the same way I do right now." <>

I wonder, any contact I have with like Serious Money people is in NYC where you can live pretty discreetly if you don't want an UES triplex penthouse or an entire brownstone in the west village or like, Upstate NY rich people "villages" where you're more isolated.

posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on January 31, 2012


I'm also impressed with this person from a financial conservative point of view. They're saving 28.12% of their gross income on a yearly basis. I'm not managing that.
posted by bswinburn at 12:50 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Could you actually live a low budget life style in L.A. if you were a famous enough actor to make this much money in one year? Or would security concerns of some sort kind of force you into a more luxurious neighborhood?

You could live in a luxurious neighborhood and still spend nowhere near this kind of money. For example, not remodeling the house or purchasing expensive art work or jewelry or a boat would shave millions off of this person's budget. The actual necessary expenses related to the house (e.g. the mortgage, property taxes, and some amount of landscaping to keep the HOA happy) are a relatively small fraction of the total budget, much lower than for most people, who spend 20%-35% of their income on housing.
posted by jedicus at 12:50 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, having gobs of money means you spend it different, there are people who keep very expensive tutors on salary even though the kid is barely waking yet.
posted by The Whelk at 12:54 PM on January 31, 2012


I'm also impressed with this person from a financial conservative point of view. They're saving 28.12% of their gross income on a yearly basis. I'm not managing that.

Not so hard when you have effectively no debt (mortgage payments of 3% of gross income is nothing) and far more than enough money to cover all the necessities of life (e.g. food, transportation, medical care).
posted by jedicus at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2012


There are also case studies for a mega producer

Physical Fitness: $48,000?

I can only assume that includes hookers and time on that island where they let you hunt humans.
posted by bondcliff at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2012 [10 favorites]


Those of you advocating against a boat are gonna have egg on your face when the Ark this person has been building is only for him and his buddies and we all drown like in that movie.
posted by kmz at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2012


They're saving 28.12% of their gross income on a yearly basis. I'm not managing that.

The rich stay rich by not spending money
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on January 31, 2012


Those of you advocating against a boat are gonna have egg on your face when the Ark this person has been building is only for him and his buddies and we all drown like in that movie.

I should clarify. I wasn't arguing against buying boats, I was arguing that buying boats is objectively stupid. If I had this much money I would have a ton of boats; I would be king of the boats. It would be a waste of money, but I would still do it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:59 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Physical Fitness: $48,000?

A personal trainer who makes house calls, I suspect.
posted by jedicus at 12:59 PM on January 31, 2012


also medical "supplements"
posted by The Whelk at 1:00 PM on January 31, 2012


"If it floats, flies, or fucks, rent it."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:00 PM on January 31, 2012 [16 favorites]


$48,000 is cheap for a year round trainer, sports nutritionist, etc... Given the rather extreme aesthetic requirements to get A-list roles I can't even call it conspicuous consumption unlike the constant remodeling. Of course, A-list actor salaries should be seen in the same context as lottery jackpots. It makes sense that they are overpaid when 99.95% in their profession are just about starving (I made that percentage up, but you know what I mean).
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:04 PM on January 31, 2012


They're saving 28.12% of their gross income on a yearly basis. I'm not managing that.

And yet for some reason the article quotes the money manager as saying that "very few" live within their means. So either the numbers aren't actually representative or the definition of "within their means" has changed.
posted by Partial Law at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2012


:Physical Fitness: $48,000?

That's a rather broad category. Let's say trainers for both the producer and his wife, with travel/per diem for the trainer(s) to Montana during residence there, or else another trainer or trainers on retainer there. Let's assume also masseurs. Throw in some overpriced supplements. And then let's factor in replacement/repair/depreciation of the equipment used for exercise in the two or more home gyms. I can see that mounting to $48K plausibly enough.
posted by La Cieca at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2012


one of the big fallouts from the rise of reality TV is the loss of mid-level, potboiler acting jobs.
posted by The Whelk at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2012


"not . . . purchasing expensive art work "

Why the hell wouldn't you? I mean the main thing I'd do with lots of money (besides pay all of my friends to go on adventures with me) is buy tons of art. Tons. Of all types. It would take entire freaking museums to house my collection.

There's virtue in avoiding excess, but geez, man, enjoy yourself just a bit.
posted by oddman at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


School and tuition expenses seem low.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2012


the prime virtue of frivolous luxuries like fashion and fine art is that it makes the rich slightly less rich.

I'd have freakin blacksmiths and tanners and blind nuns doing neddlework.
posted by The Whelk at 1:10 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I had that kind of money I'd be eating at a regular rotation between The French Laundry, Alinea, varous Tsukiji sushi places, Hot Doug's, Snow's BBQ, and Beijing street food.

I live a mile from Hot Doug's and I've never eaten there because of people like you, stretching in a line halfway around the block before the damn place even opens. I hate you.
posted by theodolite at 1:11 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why the hell wouldn't you?

The question was whether it would be possible to live a low-budget life style while being famous or if fame requires certain expenses in order to maintain a safe, relatively private life. I was arguing that few of the expenses in the actor's budget are related to safety or privacy.

Personally, if I were wealthy I would buy considerably more art. Before my wife and I got married, an artist friend of mine advised us to buy one piece of original art per year on the theory that the expense is manageable and after 20 years you have 20 pieces, which is a pretty reasonable collection for a typical house. But we'd love to be able to afford skipping the wait.
posted by jedicus at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2012


The low level of personal expenses (for a rich guy) is because people in the entertainment industry run every expense which is remotely related to their business through their loan outs, the expenses of which are shown as non-broken out expense in the income statement.

The only thing they pay out of personal income are those things that no accountant could remotely characterize business-related. Loan outs of US citizens and permanent residents are typically set up as "pass throughs" for tax purposes but still avail themselves of a substantially better regime for deduction of expenses, as well as avoiding 2.9% Medicare tax and certain other uncapped payroll taxes that are paid between gross and net on personal income.

It's important to note in the case of "A List" actors -- at least those who avoid drug habits and entourages -- a huge proportion of their personal expenses are paid for by other people -- charged to projects, comped by promoters, or checks that get picked up by agents, lawyers, managers, and other business associates as a matter of course. Also, regarding charity, many times cash contributions can be made from the loan out, and celebrities often regard donations of their time (which are not shown as expenses, nor are tax deductible) as their main charitable vehicle. If you make $100,000 a day on set, and a day of your time helps a charity raise $250,000, it's not an unreasonable attitude to take.
posted by MattD at 1:13 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I live a mile from Hot Doug's and I've never eaten there because of people like you, stretching in a line halfway around the block before the damn place even opens. I hate you.

Yeah, once a place gets popular I don't even bother. Kuma's is good. It's not "stand around for 1.5 to 3 hours good.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:13 PM on January 31, 2012


(actually I hate The Food Network for doing a show on it every week or two. Luckily the Pork Shoppe is two blocks away, never crowded, and probably just as good. And has whiskey)
posted by theodolite at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2012


What kind of pets cost $6000 a year??
posted by something something at 1:18 PM on January 31, 2012


What kind of pets cost $6000 a year??

The kind that someone else is taking care of >80% of the time because you are globe trotting.
posted by dgran at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2012


Bubbles.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poor lonely pets. I'd like to think this person is actually paying all that money to fly them around the world with him.
posted by something something at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2012


Artificial Owls don't grow on trees you know.
posted by The Whelk at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


one of the big fallouts from the rise of reality TV is the loss of mid-level, potboiler acting jobs.

There's less high-paying movie work for character actors as well.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2012


I would buy stuff in the Louvre, and let them keep it there with a small placard reading owned by Oddman, just for fun. Just because I'd get a kick out of saying, "hey you know what I bought yesterday?" Winged Victory. It's probably, like, my favorite. I'm letting the Louvre keep it, but they let me visit whenever I want to. Like one time I was there at 3AM. That was pretty neat. I touched Aphrodite's boob.
posted by oddman at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The travel portion is totally believable even without factoring in first-class airfare.

I worked at an upscale outdoors store when I lived in Montana (think a chic, non-chain version of REI) and there were a handful of A-list celebrities with ranches nearby who came into our store. Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Ted Turner, Dennis Quaid, etc. Anyway, they'd just blow thousands of dollars without a thought. Jane Fonda's assistant called us and asked that a personal shopper be assigned to her (we didn't normally have "personal shoppers"). She was outfitting an entire trip to Patagonia. I was a cashier, but I was damned glad I wasn't her cashier.

Several of the staff were rafting/fly-fishing/ski guides in their off hours, and they loved the A-listers since they'd get ridiculously large tips. Big Sky resort was down the road and had chalets for thousands of dollars a night. Dropping $30,000 on a one-week trip would not be difficult at all.

Michael Keaton is really nice, and Dennis Quaid, circa 1997, was really hot. Glenn Close is really, really short. Jane Fonda? The less said about her, the better, but Peter was quite jovial.
posted by desjardins at 1:26 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife oftentimes complains about how she stacks up, vis a vis whoever the female celebrity of the day happens to be.

I invariably tell her that she has a STAFF to make her look that way.
posted by Danf at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2012


and that is HER JOB.
posted by The Whelk at 1:29 PM on January 31, 2012


You are just encouraging your wife to get a staff.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:30 PM on January 31, 2012


I live a mile from Hot Doug's and I've never eaten there because of people like you, stretching in a line halfway around the block before the damn place even opens. I hate you.

Heh, sorry. I actually only went there once when I lived in Chicago because of the inconvenient hours. Don't remember there being too bad of a line. Really, there's plenty of places in Chicago to go for great greasy food though. Wiener and Still Champion, Superdawg, Portillo's if you're in a pinch. Chicago is a goddamn food paradise.
posted by kmz at 1:30 PM on January 31, 2012


You are just encouraging your wife to get a staff.

spare the rod spoil the celebrity
posted by The Whelk at 1:30 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd buy famous, nearly priceless paintings. Then I'd pay someone to create incredibly accurate forgeries (access to the original should facilitate this of course). Then, I'd grant permission to magazines and TV shows to tour my opulent home, in which the cameras would casually see the defaced famous art work, and I'd be like "Well I just like it better this way."
posted by oddman at 1:32 PM on January 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


So, basically, if I were rich, I'd be an art troll.
posted by oddman at 1:33 PM on January 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


oddman I appreciate the humor of your joke but I could also see you getting firebombed....which would be sad
posted by supermedusa at 1:34 PM on January 31, 2012


thats just an f-stop away from being a batman villain oddman
posted by The Whelk at 1:34 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The personal expenses listed add up to maybe half of the $3.3M they show as the total.

So I guess we now know how much goes to hookers and blow.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:37 PM on January 31, 2012


My wife oftentimes complains about how she stacks up, vis a vis whoever the female celebrity of the day happens to be.

I invariably tell her that she has a STAFF to make her look that way.


My wife sometimes claims that if we had a ton of money and she didn't have to work, she'd be in great shape because she could make working out her "job." This is nonsense, of course, because the first thing she'd do with all that money is pay them to start making those Tim McGraw Fritos again, and then we'd be broke from the outrageous Frito expenses and she'd have all that extra Frito weight to deal with.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:38 PM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's OK, supermedusa, I'd hire look-alikes to handle all of my public appearances (they'd have surgically altered voice boxes (or excellent training in voice mimicry), of course). I mean if I'm rich enough to use Monet's in pranks, why the hell not have an entourage of mirror-me's.
posted by oddman at 1:53 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't even imagine having to worry about that much money. I have always thought (for me personally) there's a point of diminishing returns on how much money I'd like to earn in a year. Beyond a certain amount and the money itself becomes a hassle and a liability. That being said, it would be nice to earn enough to maintain what we have now without every having to worry, but that not worrying part might be some kind of utopia that doesn't exist when it comes to cash.
posted by PuppyCat at 1:54 PM on January 31, 2012


25K in charitable contributions against 16M in income : that's what's shameful, in my opinion. Everything else I could forgive.

Seriously, I'd think the tax savings alone would make them want to be more "generous", although I'm sure their lawyers have already thought of that.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:58 PM on January 31, 2012


The personal expenses listed add up to maybe half of the $3.3M they show as the total.

I assume the high-level Hollywood money manager that the author invented skims off the remaining $1.7 million.
posted by IanMorr at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2012


and for Zooey Deschanel.

I make in the *mummblm* five figures and I probably spend close to what she does for some things. Fuck.
posted by psoas at 2:00 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd buy famous, nearly priceless paintings. Then I'd pay someone to create incredibly accurate forgeries (access to the original should facilitate this of course). Then, I'd grant permission to magazines and TV shows to tour my opulent home, in which the cameras would casually see the defaced famous art work, and I'd be like "Well I just like it better this way."

Isn't there an artist who was doing that, but defacing the originals?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2012


I was prepared to be outraged, by I am not.

I have no need for boats and jewels and travelling around the world, but if I had this kind of money, I would find ways to spend it.

I make about 5 times as much now as I made 6 years ago (yay for finally making market rate!). Once every paycheck I splurge on a small pleasure, and once a year I make a big expense. These little things make me happy for a few days. if I made 10 times more, I would do it every day.

These are some of the once a paycheck or once a year things I do:

1- I am in my underwear playing videogames, I get hungry and the fridge is empty. Instead of getting dressed to go get some good food, or ordering some crappy pizza or fast food, I can spend the extra $20 to get a courier service to bring me food from a good restaurant and beer from the store. Totally worth it, all I have to do is throw on a bathrobe when they knock on the door, and I can brag in the in-game chat. If I had more money, I am sure I could find someone to bring me the food, set up the table, wait on me, and clean up after I am done for $100, maybe $150 if I don't want to get dressed and they get to see me in my underwear.

2- It is rainy and the 22 bus is crowded with wet smelly angry people. No cabs are to be seen on the street. I call a limo driver I know and for $18 he drives me to work.

3- Go to the fancy beer store and ask the guy to give me the most interesting bottle he has. One time I got a $40 bottle of beer, and it was completely worth it for the experience.

4- Buy a new bicycle frame, and instead of agonizing for weeks over component selection, just tell a mechanic I know "Take this $1500 and build a bike you would be proud to be seen riding".

5- Give something really nice and unexpected to someone I know, or to a charity I like. I've sent books, knives and an Arduino to people on Mefi.

Me from 6 years ago would HATE this. So much waste, so much laziness, so much ostentation. Me from today has learned to say "You earned that money, treat yourself".
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just read the Zooey Deschanel one linked above and...

Am I the only one who finds spending more on laundry than on eating out extremely depressing? There are many, many reasons one might not want to be a young female star. I think that sums up basically all of them.
posted by AmandaA at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches; which, in their eye, is never so complete as when they appear to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves."

—Adam Smith, 1776
posted by deanklear at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2012


Isn't there an artist who was doing that, but defacing the originals?

The Chapman Brothers did something like that. I think they also bought some of Hitler's paintings and ruined them too, to considerably less consternation.
posted by dng at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: Of course, this represents an inestimably small portion of professional actors in Hollywood. If you do the sort of job that most actors in Hollywood used to do to make a living -- say, regularly do guest spots on television and occasional bit parts in film -- after paying your agent and manager, you've got an income of between $7k and $30k per year.

Your estimate is way too high. The last statistics I heard from SAG is that 90% of all members earn less than $1000 annually from acting, and the average salary is barely higher than that. I looked around but could not find online confirmation of those stats. I think SAG buries that info, it's too discouraging to be widely circulated outside trade circles.

oddman: Also, I'd buy famous, nearly priceless paintings. Then I'd pay someone to create incredibly accurate forgeries (access to the original should facilitate this of course). Then, I'd grant permission to magazines and TV shows to tour my opulent home, in which the cameras would casually see the defaced famous art work, and I'd be like "Well I just like it better this way."

You ought to see the movie The Moderns. This scenario would work better for the forger, than for you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:13 PM on January 31, 2012


I live a mile from Hot Doug's and I've never eaten there because of people like you, stretching in a line halfway around the block before the damn place even opens. I hate you.
posted by theodolite


Hot Dougs is SO GOOD. The trick is to go on a weekday. We go on random vacation days. The wait is pretty non-existent then. But on a Friday or Saturday? Don't even try.
posted by Windigo at 2:13 PM on January 31, 2012


Those of you advocating against a boat are gonna have egg on your face when the Ark this person has been building is only for him and his buddies and we all drown like in that movie.

Especially when he launches it right off of that infinity pool.

For which, by the way, $24000 seems pretty damn reasonable, given that ~$22000 is the average for a pool in Florida, where cost of living is much cheaper than California.

I was surprised by the relatively low amount for "personal upkeep", too. $2000 a year seems low for people who have their nails done every week and their hair at least every few weeks at pricey salons. At least I imagine they do. I rarely have manicures or pedicures personally, but for people in their line of work, who have to look fantastic 99% of the time, I thought they were de rigueur.
posted by misha at 2:13 PM on January 31, 2012


I just read the Zooey Deschanel one linked above and...

I wonder how anybody spends $9600pa on utilities. For a household of 3, we spend about $1200, so her utility footprint is about 24 times mine. I honestly have no idea how I could bump up my electricity, water & gas usage by 2300%.

Aircon / heating running 24/7, year round? Showering for 16 hours per day?

The rest of her expenses are reasonably modest, but that one is just bizarre.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:15 PM on January 31, 2012


Ayn Rand and God, I'd never feel bad about throwing money at a delivery person or a driver, if you're not exploiting them. It might be lazy, but it's not wasteful to, for example, pay someone to shovel your sidewalk when you can do it yourself. That money goes somewhere, and if someone's willing to do that for money, they probably need it more than you do. As long as it's not exploitative I see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

The difference comes when you get into material goods. Whatever a yacht costs does not go primarily into the pockets of the workers. This is especially true with jewelry.
posted by desjardins at 2:15 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


For a household of 3, we spend about $1200, so her utility footprint is about 24 times mine. I honestly have no idea how I could bump up my electricity, water & gas usage by 2300%.

First off, it's not like you save that much by having 3 people live somewhere vs. 1. And then you have triple the size of houses, and two or three houses, and there you go.
posted by smackfu at 2:18 PM on January 31, 2012


What kind of pets cost $6000 a year??
posted by something something


Probably large, high end aquariums. Possibly exotic birds. I don't know what dog-walking services cost, but if you were to pay someone $100/week to walk your dog that would come out to $5200.
Have a couple animals? Vet care gets expensive quickly. I spent $3000+ on care for one of my cats not too long ago. I spend that much in an average year on my pets total, but sometimes you get the big expenses. So yeah... I'm not surprised if some celebs spend 6K on pets.
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2012


There are lots of ways of spiking your utilities. Just having a large estate is going to greatly increase the amount of water you buy to spread around on the lawn. A large heated pool and hot tub; maybe a bunch of electric zone heating; a shower with 8 shower heads pumping out 3 gallons/minute of hat water each plus a steam generator; laundry for yourself and your live in staff and/or guests; heated drive way and walkways if you live some place it snows.
posted by Mitheral at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2012


When setting up a "personal corporation" saves taxes, you know things are screwed up.
posted by DU at 2:27 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


First off, it's not like you save that much by having 3 people live somewhere vs. 1

Lighting would be a constant, maybe, but the big-ticket utility hogs (ignoring climate control for now) are dishwashers, washing machines & clothes dryers, where there is a direct proportional relationship between the number of people in a household & resource usage.

Zooey spends a crapton per year on laundry bills, so we could pretty much rule out the washer & dryer, so I can only assume that heating / cooling a larger house is the culprit.

On preview: yes, I'd forgotten the hot tub, watering the estate & the heated driveway. I just park on the street & it doesn't snow here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:29 PM on January 31, 2012


I'm reading Hollywood by Charles Bukowski at the moment, and the first thing he's encouraged to do in that is to make himself a corporation, for tax purposes.
posted by dng at 2:32 PM on January 31, 2012


I'm kind of amazed by how many people seem to think throwing ridiculous amounts of money around is...well, anything but stupid. I just cannot accept that anyone does anything that warrants them having that much money to fuck around with.
posted by anaximander at 2:32 PM on January 31, 2012


something something: "What kind of pets cost $6000 a year??"

For the last three years of her life I was spending about $5000 a year on medication for my dog.
posted by the_artificer at 2:33 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed by how many people seem to think throwing ridiculous amounts of money around is...well, anything but stupid. I just cannot accept that anyone does anything that warrants them having that much money to fuck around with.

It's the new religion. Someone's right to have all that money is unquestioned. It's funny that what they do with it is apparently still up for scrutiny, though.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:43 PM on January 31, 2012


I just read the Zooey Deschanel one linked above and...

Am I the only one who finds spending more on laundry than on eating out extremely depressing? There are many, many reasons one might not want to be a young female star. I think that sums up basically all of them.


I don't really know who she is, but I thought people who were on tv were dressed by the production staff, or got free clothes from somebody or other to wear if they went to an event? I guess it's not true if she spends so much on clothes and laundry, unless she dresses up even on her off days.
posted by Jehan at 2:51 PM on January 31, 2012


$40k food budget seems really low to me, honestly.

If I had that kind of money I'd be eating out at the local high end restaurants often (I live in Hollywood near Beverly Hills, so...)

A dinner for 2 with wine and everything at, say, Nobu is ~$300-400 easily. Do that once a week and you're already talking $20k and thats only _one meal a week_.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:54 PM on January 31, 2012


If I made eighteen million dollars a year (pre-taxes), I'd do something insanely ambitious like start up a private space program or fund research into physical immortality. I'd use that money to make a permanent impact upon the world, so when I'm eighty or ninety I could say I really did something.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:56 PM on January 31, 2012


Or heck, buy up a neighborhood full of houses and rent them (at low rates) to families who lost their homes in the real estate bubble. Concentrate the millions in one place to make a difference in a few hundred people's lives, instead of giving to a bunch of different charities.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2012


wildcrdj: "If I had that kind of money I'd be eating out at the local high end restaurants often"

I wonder how often A-List celebrities get interrupted by fans while out eating and if that might make it a little less appealing.
posted by the_artificer at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2012


That's not going to happen at high end places, and swanky LA eateries are prime celebrity spotting uh ...spots.
posted by The Whelk at 3:03 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


> "balance sheets of an A-List actor"

That looks like an income statement to me, not a balance sheet. I once knew a guy who said it didn't even matter whether the bottom line on your balance sheet was positive or negative; he claimed the only thing that mattered was the absolute value.

25K charity over 15Mm gross income is less than 2/10 percent.

Obviously this one isn't a Mormon.
posted by bukvich at 3:05 PM on January 31, 2012


It's more than most anyone here gave, ffs.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:07 PM on January 31, 2012


--I'd have freakin blacksmiths and tanners and blind nuns doing neddlework.--

Yes, you'd have a blacksmith do needlework because YOU FUCKING CAN.
posted by peacay at 3:19 PM on January 31, 2012


I'm hired you stone masons to do gardening! And the maids will be retailing the roof!
posted by The Whelk at 3:21 PM on January 31, 2012


burnmp3s: "$25,000 out of $15 million is less than 0.2% in charitable contributions. People below the poverty line give around 5% a year on average."

That's a little misleading. If you are basing that on the popular 4.7% figure, which is bandied about a lot when this issue comes up, that data is 11 years old; the numbers come from 2000 data.

To get a clearer, and a little more current picture, here are 2005 charitable donations by income, in increments of $4999.

In 2007, the average American gave 1.6% of their aggregate income to charity. (via)

For reference: The poverty level for an individual today is considered $10,890, for a couple: $14,710, for a family of four: $22,350. (via)

I'd like even more current data, but the only websites I can find with the data are religious ones trying to get their members to donate, so I fear there is a bias there.

My understanding is that the poor do tend to give more of their income as a percentage, as do those earning over $100K annually, while the lowest percentage (until you get up to the 1% super rich) are those earning between 50K and 100K, surprisingly.
posted by misha at 3:27 PM on January 31, 2012


This is why folks who pirate movies don't give a fuck
posted by Renoroc at 3:33 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


"And the maids will be retailing the roof!"

In plaid-patterned gingham, please. Very absorbent!
posted by Kevin Street at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2012


Random sidenote: Talking about super-expensive restaurants, when I was in Beijing a couple of months ago, we went to Fang Shan, a famous touristy place that was started by former chefs from the Emperor's Kitchen. (Supposedly, at least.) We had the cheapest set meal which translated to around $35 (200 yuan) per person. The food was pretty good, but outside of a few specialties there's better to be had elsewhere in Beijing for cheaper. (The old Beijingers know to go there to get the specialties in bulk to go.)

The most amazing part really was flipping through the menu to look at the higher priced stuff. It starts gradually, going from 200 yuan pp to 300, 400, then all of a sudden it's 1000 yuan, 2000 yuan, and finally 6000 yuan pp set menus. That's around 1000 USD, which is at least two or three times what you'd pay per person at the fanciest restaurants in the world, e.g. Alinea, Fat Duck, Masa, etc. (Not counting alcohol in either case.) The best part was that most of the stuff didn't sound very appetizing. Keep in my I love eating brains, offal, century eggs, etc. But this was stuff like camel toes (I know!), turtle shells, deer pizzle, etc. Exotic ingredients just for the sake of exotic ingredients, it seemed. I can safely say I would take the cheap menu over the super expensive one any day, even setting aside the price difference.
posted by kmz at 3:34 PM on January 31, 2012


I've seen quite a few balance sheets...that is definitely the best-looking balance sheet I've ever seen.
posted by nosila at 3:36 PM on January 31, 2012


For those that don't want to fuss with Javascript, here's the full-size image: http://images.nymag.com/images/2/promotional/12/02/week1/celebrity120206_actor_940.jpg
posted by clorox at 3:38 PM on January 31, 2012


Thought experiment: how much would you have to get paid to undergo the constant pressures of A-list fame?

First, there's the costs you can put a dollar amount on: you have to have security at your house, no matter how humble your abode. You might need bodyguards by your side every time you went out. You might need to rent out entire theaters/restaurants/whatever due to security concerns. You have to hire a PR person or someone to deal with your legion of fans. I'm sure there's other stuff I'm not thinking of.

But the intangible things cost the most. Your every move is scrutinized by everyone; these days, frequently in real time. Imagine going to Billy Bob's BBQ Shack and seeing pictures the next day on Perez Hilton about how you're such a "porker." Imagine breaking up with your boyfriend and have everyone pontificating if he cheated on you or vice versa. God forbid if you wear a bikini at the beach and have a little flab showing.

A-listers choose this life, of course, but I suspect most don't go into it specifically because of the fame, but because they love acting. Some come to love the fame, and some hate it. But pretty much all of them have to deal with it.

For me, I'd probably want $5 million/year JUST to deal with the hassles and scrutiny. Of course, I'm an introvert and it'd be sheer torture for me (I'd seriously consider having my fingernails ripped out instead).
posted by desjardins at 3:45 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's why people become producers. No one cares what a producer looks like.
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder how often A-List celebrities get interrupted by fans while out eating and if that might make it a little less appealing.

Believe it or not, even though it sounds like that Simpson's joke where Ron Howard goes to a secret zoo that regular people can't go for, there are secret restaurants and bars in Hollywood, hidden down alleys behind what look to be perfectly nondescript doors. And they cost a fortune.

Salon mentions one in their obit for Julia Philips. Other restaurants have VIP rooms with access through the kitchen and the like. (James Dean used to go into the Villa Capri through the kitchen.)

The book Toxic Fame consists almost entirely of interviews with celebrities whose lives have been disrupted by their fame, and the repeated complaint is that they can't go out to eat dinner without being interrupted by fans.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:55 PM on January 31, 2012


Then again, people like Glenn Close and Meryl Streep manage to be seen and talked about only when they want to be - promoting a film, attending an industry event, maybe at a fashion show looking fabulous. Maybe they've paid their dues, so to speak, and don't have to tolerate the tawdry so much.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:55 PM on January 31, 2012


Bunny is right, there's a pretty healthy NYC ecosystem of unmarked, invitation only bars/restraunts.
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on January 31, 2012


$7,200 for laundry a year works out to about $125 a week. If you assume she has to dry clean virtually everything she owns and she probably just gets everything done professionally, then you tack on pick up and delivery fees that doesn't seem unreasonable at all. Hell getting 2 suits and a jacket done at my little local no frills places costs close to $30. And that's not in Beverly Hills.

I think Zooey Deschanel is only living a moderately more extravagant lifestyle than some of my big firm friends, except she makes 8 times as much and has no debt.

I could never be that restrained with my clothing budget if I had her money and her places to wear the stuff to.
posted by whoaali at 4:04 PM on January 31, 2012


Laundry can also include alterations, which are pricey.

And yes, I would not be nearly as modest with my clothing budget given the option. Think of the cravat pins alone.
posted by The Whelk at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2012


I would make Diamond Jim look like Cubic Zirconia Jim.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:15 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


30ft tall and made of soild gold!
posted by The Whelk at 4:16 PM on January 31, 2012


Tim McGraw Fritos

For a couple of seconds there I got Tim McGraw and Tim Matheson confused so I thought I lived in a magical world where one once could buy Tim Matheson Fritos. It was beautiful. The packaging flashed briefly before my eyes; Tim in his younger days (ie around "Animal House" and "Up The Creek"), winking mischievously, holding a corn chip. Oh man.

So I guess I now know what I'll be doing once I come across an obscene amount of money; I'll convince Frito-Lay and Tim Matheson to start doing business together.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:33 PM on January 31, 2012


How does this person pay a Federal Tax rate of 28%?!
posted by jnnla at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2012


First, there's the costs you can put a dollar amount on: you have to have security at your house, no matter how humble your abode. You might need bodyguards by your side every time you went out. You might need to rent out entire theaters/restaurants/whatever due to security concerns.

Well, I suppose that depends on whether or not my bodyguard is Liam Neesom from Taken. He has a very specific set of skills, you see.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:33 PM on January 31, 2012


Besides being very attractive to me, Zooey Deschanel is also keeping a very large percentage of her "salary". That's awesome. Zooey, call me.
posted by plinth at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2012


Bunny Ultramod writes "Believe it or not, even though it sounds like that Simpson's joke where Ron Howard goes to a secret zoo that regular people can't go for, there are secret restaurants and bars in Hollywood, hidden down alleys behind what look to be perfectly nondescript doors. And they cost a fortune."

That's not all that surprising; even my little back water town has an invitation only establishment and at least one place that is quasi secret where each table is in it's own room for maximum privacy.

Burhanistan writes "It's more than most anyone here gave, ffs."

While true that seems like an inconsequential metric. And it's a shockingly low amount as a percentage of income; though as was mentioned up thread there could be a lot of labour giving that isn't being accounted for.
posted by Mitheral at 5:55 PM on January 31, 2012


Charity giving really seems to have deeper connotations in the States. It's like some sort of spiritual whitener to remove the tawdry stains of capitalism from one's soul.

You can make doodads on the backs of Chinese child labourers, wedge out opposition companies with congressional lobbying and rip-off poor unsuspecting doodad buyers in your community, yet be regarded as an upstanding member of society as long as you throw a chunk at some tax deductible establishment that is often laughingly referred to as a 'charity'.

I think 'charity' is a real misnomer : Romney gave $7M to the rich Mormon church to fuck the Californian marriage vote; but that could hardly be classed as charity.

And if you have a wife, kids and go to church it would seem you are a saint. What a weird place youall have.
posted by peacay at 7:30 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


30ft tall and made of soild gold!

Yeah, and do you know how much it costs to have attractive, discreet young men/women come to your house and soil it?!
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 7:31 PM on January 31, 2012


> While true that seems like an inconsequential metric. And it's a shockingly low amount as a percentage of income

Yeah, but if we're comparing people to each other then a sum total is just as valid a metric as a percentage of income when it comes to what value they may offer to other people. Judging by a percentage is kind of a subjective moral thing. But yeah, "charity" just refers to any old 501c(3) out there, but perhaps they gave to something worthwhile like Doctors Without Borders or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:00 PM on January 31, 2012


Judging by a percentage is kind of a subjective moral thing.

I believe Islam mandates 2.5% of income to charity, regardless of the wealth of the person, which is less of a "subjective moral" thing and a more objective proportion.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:16 PM on January 31, 2012


True, but 1) there's no enforcement of that in Islam, 2) we're not supposed to judge others based on visible charity. Plus, it's not income, but net wealth calculated per annum. But we were talking about this in the context of passing judgment on someone who nevertheless donates more in aggregate than those who were judging them. I'll happily abandon this since it's mostly a strawman scenario anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:33 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Buhranistan that is not a minor detail. It's like mistaking an income statement for a balance sheet.

If we had a trivial wealth tax (like a half a percent) for one year our government's balance sheet crisis would evaporate in a year. The masses of people who have no wealth with substantial cash flowing into the income tax system seem oblivious to this.

The first time a Muslim pal of mine explained to me they were expected to give from their wealth it fucking blew my mind. It is obvious that is how we ought to do it if you think about it for five minutes.
posted by bukvich at 8:55 PM on January 31, 2012


All I'll say is that if you give less than 1% of your annual income to people who need it more than you and your family, you may want to re-examine your financial priorities.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:44 PM on January 31, 2012


well there is a kind of an upper limit to how much you can spend on food but restoring a house or redecorating is perpetual and never ending. --The Whelk

Brewster (Richard Pryor) figured that one out in Brewster's Millions, where he had to spend $30m in 30 days to get his inheritance.


the cameras would casually see the defaced famous art work, and I'd be like "Well I just like it better this way."--oddman

In The Magic Christian Peter Seller's character buys a famous Rembrandt and then cuts the nose out of it with scissors.
posted by eye of newt at 10:05 PM on January 31, 2012


I wonder how anybody spends $9600pa on utilities. For a household of 3, we spend about $1200, so her utility footprint is about 24 times mine. I honestly have no idea how I could bump up my electricity, water & gas usage by 2300%.

Aircon / heating running 24/7, year round? Showering for 16 hours per day?


I went to a family party at the "rich" family's house, and I can imagine this easily. (And by rich, I just mean a nice house in a nice area, well furnished. Along the lines of the "This Old House" renovations. Not opulent, but well-appointed.) I live in a crappy 900 sq ft condo, and my utilities + monthly assessment end up being abut a third of that.

1- HVAC. High ceilings, lots of square footage, many stories means lots of HVAC equipment. Add in that if you have pets or aquariums or art, you probably aren't going to be turning it off when you go to work every day or out of town for a week means your bill goes up.

2- If you have a large enough house, you probably have a phone system. You may not need it, but it probably came with the house. All those phones and intercoms sitting there running 24x7 costs money. As does the phone lines coming in: you probably get stuck paying commercial prices for the phone service.

3- You probably also have business class internet service. Up until a few years ago, this meant that you probably had a T1, and now maybe you just have some kind of $100 a month Comcast business plan.

4- General electricity. What I notice about "nice" houses is that there lights, gadgets and various other gee-gaws everywhere. Yes, perhaps if you've renovated recently, you'll have one of those nice addressable lighting systems where you hit the "night" button and only a few lights remain on. But even then, that probably means that you have exterior lighting and hallway lighting on, sucking down money. Those little 16w bulbs lighting the curio cabinet(s) and on and on, ad nauseum.

5- TV and whatnot. Being in the industry, you probably subscribe to both satellite and cable. You probably have an entertainment system, and the requisite amplifiers and widgets probably are in a closet somewhere, running 24x7.
posted by gjc at 4:52 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I think judging someone's spending without knowing who they are and what they purport to care about is meaningless. Someone who minds their own business and isn't shilling for charities can do whatever they want. But if someone is out telling the world to support this and contribute to that, and then isn't doing the same thing themselves, that's where I might feel like they are a-holes.
posted by gjc at 4:54 AM on February 1, 2012


Very interesting. The first year I was married, our combined income between the two of us (me in school, interning, and part time job, him working two poorly paid gigs 60 hours a week) was something like 21K pre-taxes and our rent, not including utilities (which in a New England winter could be around 300$), was 850/month. My grocery budget was 80$ a month. On the one hand, reading this list makes me slightly appalled to think that at one point in life, we lived in one of the more expensive places in the country on less than these people may spend on *pool expenses*... on the other hand, now we make much, much more than 21K a year, and even though we only have two small kids as add-ons who don't cost much to feed, I would find it very, very difficult to get back to living on a budget that small. We could, of course, but it would mean giving up the little luxuries like the occasional 3$ coffee, the Netflix subscription, and the 30$ a month a spend for data on my phone. I'm guessing that for Hollywood types, at some point, when you make enough money, dropping 300K on boat expenses a year starts to just seem like a "little luxury," on par with my 3x a week Dunkin Donuts latte habit.
posted by takoukla at 5:58 AM on February 1, 2012


I wonder how anybody spends $9600pa on utilities. For a household of 3, we spend about $1200, so her utility footprint is about 24 times mine. I honestly have no idea how I could bump up my electricity, water & gas usage by 2300%.

I live in a 1200sq ft. hovel and my utilities are easily $320 a month - that's nearly $3900 a year. Add in a very hot summer or very cold winter and my heating and cooling costs would almost double. Either Zooey is getting a bargain or I'm getting screwed!
posted by BrianJ at 8:03 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well if she lives in LA she doesn't have the very cold winter problem.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 AM on February 1, 2012


But, shakespeherian, she's soooo dainty and frail. ;)
posted by BrianJ at 8:17 AM on February 1, 2012


I wonder how anybody spends $9600 on utilities.

People have basically touched on this, but I run a house (dad's house) that hits more or less this number. Besides the fact that there's real winter there, the other things have more to do with setting up a household that is just flat out not concerned with electricity usage. And it can be tough to undo these systems once they're up and running which is a major pain. So a few things

- pumps that run at odd hours of the day that keep the cistern filled for watering the lawn, see also: timer-operated lawn watering
- a bunch of TVs/computers/gadgets that you don't turn off
- heated water running into the toilets to keep condensation down in the summertime [I literally did not know that people did this until last year]
- keeping the heat at a constant level in a place with big windows and high ceilings, as well as climate control devices other than just heating/cooling including humidifiers and dehumidifiers [think running five air conditioners 24/7 to keep the humidity level constant]
- pumps and other things for the koi pond
- six bathrooms, some with jacuzzi
- running the dishwasher and the laundry and the oven all the time if you have staff who manage the household

And this is without really high maintenance stuff like swimming pools and hot tubs and home cinemas and that sort of thing. Purely on a square foot basis, that's a totally believable number. This was an interesting article.
posted by jessamyn at 8:21 AM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


All I'll say is that if you give less than 1% of your annual income to people who need it more than you and your family, you may want to re-examine your financial priorities.
posted by burnmp3s


I happen to give a heck of a lot more than 1% away in a year, but only because I can and and WANT to. But the ONLY financial priority anyone should have is providing for themselves. Beyond that, nobody should feel the slightest bit bad about keeping 100% of their income.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:34 PM on February 1, 2012


$9600 on utilities doesn't seem that outrageous for a larger size house.
It gets cool where I live and the central heating warms four large-ish rooms (insulated) to 18 degrees (65f). It runs on gas and is a pretty recent model, so is reasonably efficient. The gas bill in the winter quarter is about $2000. About half that in the autumn and spring periods, and even in summer we still cook and heat water. So that is over $4k for gas.
Our power bill is about $2400. It covers appliances, electric blankets in winter, quite a lot of clothes drying in the cold and wet months, and a couple of fans in summer. We don't have any aircon and every light is a CFL or LED.
Our water bill is about $1200, and we use rain water for the garden so that is all inside.
So my six person household pays over $7600 p.a. with us trying to be reasonably frugal.
If we set the thermostat to 21degrees (70f) year round and had aircon, I expect we would add at least another $3-$4k.
posted by bystander at 11:50 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other thing to remember with all this talk of utilities is that it's a very minor item in their budget. They probably aren't going around replacing the showerheads with low flow ones or caulking their windows to get that number down. As long as it is "reasonable" relative to the value of the house, no one cares.
posted by smackfu at 6:55 AM on February 2, 2012


I wonder how anybody spends $9600pa on utilities. For a household of 3, we spend about $1200, so her utility footprint is about 24 times mine. I honestly have no idea how I could bump up my electricity, water & gas usage by 2300%.

Household of 2 (plus a 3 year old) here. We pay roughly 3500 a year in utilities, give or take, and that's with a smart thermostat to program when people aren't in the house. And under-5-year-old energy efficient furnace and air conditioner. I could easily see paying double that, and a bit, with a big enough house (especially if one doesn't bother with energy saving appliances or bulbs or you name it). Add in a hot tub (omg, so much electricity) and/or a pool to heat? And a sprinkler system? Boom. Easy peasy.

What I find more astounding is that Zooey Deschanel spends only a tiny amount more than the wife and I do on telephone expenses every year. And definitely less than I do on auto expenses. How does she get by only spending $2400 a year?
posted by antifuse at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the ONLY financial priority anyone should have is providing for themselves. Beyond that, nobody should feel the slightest bit bad about keeping 100% of their income.

Maybe it's because I'm not a libertarian or whatever, but this doesn't make any sense to me. To me at least, ethically as a human being it makes sense to have helping others as some sort of priority in your life, and that extends to financial decisions. Obviously there are more ways to help others than just giving money, but there are more ways to be happy or have fun and we still prioritize spending money on those things. If you have $1000 of income you're deciding what to do with, then spending $10 on making someone else's life better seems like a reasonable thing to do. It's not about feeling bad because you haven't fulfilled your charitable donation obligation, it's about realizing that some of your money could be better spent by someone else than by yourself. Not everybody has to be Bill Gates giving most of their money away to help people, but not everyone should be Scrooge saying "Are there no work houses?" either.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:04 AM on February 2, 2012


Maybe it's because I'm not a libertarian or whatever, but this doesn't make any sense to me.
posted by burnmp3s


Its easy. Nobody is or should be obligated to share their income, property or ANYTHING with anyone else.

it's about realizing that some of your money could be better spent by someone else than by yourself. This doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:58 AM on February 3, 2012


Nobody is or should be obligated to share their income, property or ANYTHING with anyone else.

How do you feel about taxes?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:22 AM on February 3, 2012


How do you feel about taxes?
posted by adamdschneider


I feel bullied into paying them to a government I don't support. But that's an entirely different topic.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:56 AM on February 3, 2012


Its easy. Nobody is or should be obligated to share their income, property or ANYTHING with anyone else.

Talking about obligation is skirting the issue. You said "the ONLY financial priority anyone should have is providing for themselves. Beyond that, nobody should feel the slightest bit bad about keeping 100% of their income." Saying that people should not be obligated to help others is not the same thing as saying that people should not make helping others a priority at all, or that people who don't help others should not feel bad. For example, it would make no sense to say that married people are obligated to give their spouses one complement per week or any such other quota. But if someone says that saying nice things to their spouse is not a priority for them at all. or that they very rarely compliment their spouse, that would be to me a sign that they should re-examine their priorities and interactions. Basically in my opinion helping others financially is a good thing, if you're using all of your money for your own needs, you are probably missing out on a relatively easy opportunity to do something good financially (aside from all of the other non-financial good things that you presumably do in your life).

it's about realizing that some of your money could be better spent by someone else than by yourself.

This doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.


Can you explain more about why you don't think this is a logical? Let's say your brother has been unemployed for a while without health insurance, and then requires major life saving surgery that he can't pay for himself. Certainly it would be reasonable to say "I was going to buy a new TV this year, but my brother needs this money more than I do so I will give that money to him instead." Similarly, it makes sense to realize that people of all sorts that you don't directly interact with in life also lack the resources to get through major issues, and that those people have more of an immediate need for money that you have than you do.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:12 AM on February 3, 2012


[Folks maybe take the "your personal philosophy about taxes" side discussion to MeMail. The sort of "interrogating one user about their beliefs" doesn't really scale that well.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:36 AM on February 3, 2012


I'm not sure how to make my point more clearly than I have, but I'll try... Everyone is perfectly within their rights to hold on to their time, money, possessions, etc even if someone else could use them more immediately - regardless of circumstances. And nobody needs to re-examine priorities if they don't want to share or help someone else. Some people will be in a position to help others but won't and that's fine. There's no obligation to and nothing wrong with keeping what's theirs for themself.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2012


I think we are probably just talking past each other. I never said that people were obligated to share their money or help others so you don't need to convince me that they have a right to not share or help. And you said earlier that you give a significant amount of your income away to help people so obviously you do see it as being a priority in your own life. Probably the only thing that we seem to definitely disagree about is that I would see not giving any money away as being a sign that you could organize your finances in a better way (just like not putting any money away for retirement would be a similar sign of a need for improvement) whereas you don't.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:52 AM on February 3, 2012


When setting up a "personal corporation" saves taxes, you know things are screwed up.

I work in Hollywood and have a personal corporation. Almost all actors, directors and writers do. Here's a reason why: Agents and managers (and often lawyers and business managers) take large percentages of your income. So, let's say you're paying your agent 10%, your manager 15% and your lawyer 5% (all standard rates). Typically this money is sent from the studio to your agent or manager, who skim the commissions off and then send you the remainder. If you are not incorporated, you are paying income tax on 30% of your salary that will literally never pass through your bank account. Yes, you can claim the business expenses when you do your taxes, but it's far simpler to be incorporated.

There are other reasons to incorporate, some which do save you money, but the above reason was what motivated me the most.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


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