Businesswoman, supermodel, author, and creator of “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra Banks, is worth an estimated $90 million.
But despite the fortune she has amassed through her modeling, TV work and business pursuits, Banks has always been more of a saver than a spender, she revealed in an interview with MONEY.
“I was always more interested in experiences over things,” she told the magazine. “Things didn’t make me happy. I saved, saved, saved. But I saved to a fault. About 15 years ago, my accountants pulled me aside, and they were like ‘Tyra. You’re not spending money. Nothing. You’re just giving it away to the government. You need to spend some damn money!'”
Banks gave in to their demands and created an “F Account,” which stood for “Frivolous Account.” And Banks took that literally, saying she spent it on “stupid stuff.”
“In hindsight, I should have bought art and things that appreciated,” she said. “I was getting private planes, nothing to show for it. It was a private-plane kinda moment for me.”
But Banks set herself a limit for this extra spending.
“And I had a budget to spend frivolously for the year, every year,” she said. “I needed that to feel safe.”
A frugal lifestyle can teach you valuable lessons.
Banks told the magazine that after her parents got divorced, she moved into a one-bedroom apartment with her mother and brother. Her mother, Carolyn London, gave Banks and her brother the bedroom while she slept on the floor in the living room.
Banks credits her mom for educating her on real estate investment. Getty Images;
“[My mom] said ‘We’re going to live here for one year,'” Banks said. “‘And we’re going to make this the most beautiful place in the world. But in one year, we’re going to be move to a two-bedroom.’ So then we moved and we got that two-bedroom in a year. The day we moved in, my mom was like ‘This is our oasis, this is our paradise. But in one year, we’re moving to a three-bedroom.’ And lo and behold, in one year, we did that.
Banks said she lived in that three-bedroom apartment until she was 20.
“And that’s where she groomed me to become a real estate owner,” she said.
Choose investing over partying.
Banks bought her first house at age 20, and she credits her mother with teaching her essential money lessons.
“While a lot of models were partying it up and going shopping and buying a closet of designer clothes or staying at the top hotels during fashion week, I was at the DoubleTree or Embassy Suites, saving my money, and bought a house at 20 years old,” Banks said. “[My mom] explained to me investing is super important.”
Banks’ new book, ‘Perfect is Boring,’ is all about what she has learned from her mom.
Find someone trustworthy to help handle your finances.
At age 19, as her modeling career taking off, Banks met with someone to talk about managing her money.
My mom said ‘You’re starting to make some money. It’s not a lot, but I’ve read about this investment banker and I want to meet with him and tell him that he should start managing your portfolio,'” Banks said. “So she went to meet with him and he was like, ‘Look, I don’t take anything below a million dollars to start.’ And my mom’s like, ‘Look, here’s $10,000. They say my daughter is going to be a star and that she’s going to make a lot of money. And you will not regret this.’ And he said yes.”
He’s still her money manager to this day, Banks said.
Don’t be afraid to sometimes brag about your accomplishments.
Banks has an unlikely role model: Kanye West.
She said that although some people see him as self-centered, she admires West for never “dull[ing] his own shine to make anyone feel comfortable.”
Everyone needs someone in their life they can “be Kanye” with, she said.
“I was Kanye with my mama,” Banks said. “I was able to come to my mama and say ‘Look, I’m on the cover of this! I’m all that! We’re doing this thing! I made $5,000 on this job. We’re going to make $10,000 on the next job! Bam bam bam!’ To say it, to dream it, so it can be true — you can’t do that with everybody, because they will think you’re totally narcissistic and insane. But you need those people in your life that you can be unfiltered and dream big with.”