Frugal Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford’s claim that, “I always lived very frugally. I flew around in a private jet, I had a boat, but I always lived very frugally” is sufficiently amusing to have drawn scorn from Felix Salmon and Ezra Klein. And, indeed, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for a man “forced to fly on a commercial plane for the first time in almost two decades,” especially when his gains were not only ill gotten but caused so much harm.

Setting aside Stanford’s baggage, though, owning a private plane and a boat could indeed be part of a frugal lifestyle for a man worth $2.2 billion.   Plenty of middle class people own boats and some even own planes.  Bill Whittle managed to save up enough to buy one eight years after leaving his buddy’s garage!

Presumably, frugality is measured on a sliding scale based on ones resources.  If you’ve got $500 in the bank, then flying coach on vacation is probably extravagent.  If you’ve got a few hundred mil lying around, spending $5 million for a Lear jet might be considered a perfectly reasonable purchase.  Indeed, if your private plane is actually being used for mega-million dollar business deals,  it might even be a prudent investment.

Photo: Getty Images

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    The citical sarcastic responses of Klein to Al Gore’s supposedly ‘green’ lifestyle seems rather muted in compariso to his response on Stanford.

    Gee.
    I wonder why.

  2. Michael says:

    Because (almost) everybody wants to be green. Nobody wants to be frugal.

  3. The problem is, Stanford’s calling himself “frugal” in billionairish; the nation is listening in middle-class barely-scraping-by-ish.

  4. E.D. Kain says:

    I think living frugally ought then to be coupled with living charitably – when you’re worth 2.2 billion the simple fact is you ought to be giving most of it away. If you have any desire to live frugally and you’re still worth that much, then by God just give it away…or invest it in something worthwhile….

  5. Bithead says:

    @Michael

    That seems to me an attempt to speak for (almost) everyone, really being an attempt to bolster your own position.

    @ E.D. Kain :
    It’s amazing how many working definitions of ‘frugal’ and ‘charity’ there are…. most of them originating among people with designs on OPM.

  6. James Joyner says:

    I think living frugally ought then to be coupled with living charitably – when you’re worth 2.2 billion the simple fact is you ought to be giving most of it away.

    In addition to paying a huge amount in taxes, many if not most of these people do in fact establish foundations and otherwise give vast sums to charity. Stanford’s bios generally include “philanthropist” in the first line.

    But, aside from his criminality, is it your view that the rich aren’t entitled to buy luxury goods or otherwise have more lavish lifestyles than us ordinary schmoes?

  7. Fausta says:

    He owned six frugal private jets: One for every day of the week, and then he stayed home on Sunday.

  8. odograph says:

    Do you actually want to be “brown” Bit?

    Do extra damage to the environment, beyond what is necessary for your own prosperity and comfort?

    After to you go fishing do you kill a few extra trout just to make your point?

  9. odograph says:

    In addition to paying a huge amount in taxes, many if not most of these people do in fact establish foundations and otherwise give vast sums to charity. Stanford’s bios generally include “philanthropist” in the first line.

    Brings new meaning to OPM doesn’t it?