Frugality is a subjective term. To the average Joe it could mean eating meals at home or scouring the internet for cheap flights. But to a billionaire it means showing up to work in a T-shirt and jeans, driving a Toyota or Volkswagen, and, in some instances, foregoing the purchase of a private jet or lavish vacation home.
Surprisingly, some of the richest people on earth are incredibly frugal, each one with his own penny-pinching habits.
From eating lunch in the office cafeteria with their employees to residing in homes worth a fraction of what they could afford, these five self-made billionaires — many of whom are also generous philanthropists — know the secret to keeping their net worths high.
Net worth: $51.5 billion
Despite his status as one of the richest tech moguls on earth, Mark Zuckerberg leads a low-key lifestyle with his wife Priscilla Chan and their newborn daughter. The founder of Facebook has been unabashed about his simple T-shirt, hoodie, and jeans uniform.
'I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community,' Zuckerberg said.
The trappings of wealth have never impressed the 32-year-old, who in December 2015 announced he would donate 99% of his Facebook shares during his lifetime. Zuckerberg chowed down on McDonald's shortly after marrying Chan in 2012 in the backyard of their $7 million Palo Alto home -- a modest sum for such an expensive housing market and pocket change for a man worth more than $51 billion. In 2014, he traded in his $30,000 Acura for a manual-transmission Volkswagen hatchback.
Net worth: $14.4 billion
Charlie Ergen is
a notoriously frugal business leader, but he also nickels and dimes in his personal life. Ergen has said that his frugality hearkens back to his mother's childhood. 'My mum grew up in the Depression,' he told the Financial Times. 'I don't have a mahogany desk.'
The self-made billionaire packs a lunch of a sandwich and Gatorade before work every day and, until recently, he shared hotel rooms with colleagues during travel.
Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex, eats lunch with his employees in the Zara headquarters cafeteria.
Net worth: $71.1 billion
Earlier this year, the founder of Zara was named the second-richest person on earth, but that probably won't change his personal-spending habits. Ortega has led an extremely private life for years, often retreating to his quiet apartment in La Coruña, Spain with his wife, frequenting the same coffee shop, and eating lunch with his employees in the Zara headquarters cafeteria.
Like fellow billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, the Spanish fashion magnate maintains a simple uniform of a blue blazer, white shirt, and grey pants every day. Some say he shouldn't be considered 'frugal' given his ownership of a $45 million Bombardier private jet, but he doesn't travel often because he's too busy working.
Net worth: $39.3 billion
Kamprad is one of the richest people in Europe, but you wouldn't know it flying next to him in economy class or eating lunch with him in IKEA's cafeteria. Save for a flashy spending-spree in the 1960s when he drove a Porsche and wore custom-made suits, the Swedish furniture-maker has been incredibly frugal -- some may even say 'cheap' -- with his billions, including driving a decades-old Volvo and frequently riding the bus.
The 90-year-old is worth more than $39 billion, but when he moved home to Sweden in 2013 after spending 40 years in Switzerland -- dodging high taxes, nonetheless -- he happily returned to his modest one-story ranch home.
Net worth: $2.5 billion
The press-shy software programmer built Epic -- a private healthcare company that sells medical-records software -- from the ground up, launching in 1979 with about $70,000 in capital.
Her company's success has made her a multibillionaire, but the 72-year-old has never been one to splurge. According to reports, Faulkner has had only two cars in the past 15 years and has lived with her husband in the same Madison, Wisconsin, suburb for nearly three decades.
In a May 2015 letter announcing her Giving Pledge membership and a promise to donate half of her fortune to charity, Faulkner wrote, '
I never had any personal desire to be a wealthy billionaire living lavishly' and said that, instead, she'll use her money to help others gain access to 'food, warmth, shelter, healthcare, education.'
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