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She Spends Less Than She Earns: Zooey Deschanel

This article was written by in Frugality. 22 comments.


It’s not often that a young, female star of music, movie, and television can avoid financial scrutiny. Tales of financial woe tend to be much juicier, anyway. It’s not difficult to remember the Britney Spears train wreck. She couldn’t handle earning more than $700,000 a month. At least her antics kept her in the news.

I’ve been recently enamored with Zooey Deschanel. She’s a fine actor and a fine singer; I own her three albums on vinyl — including a Christmas album, something of a stretch for me. But today I learned something that increased my respect for her: she spends responsibly. According to the financial disclosure she included when she filed for divorce last year, obtained by TMZ, she keeps her spending under control.

Zooey DeschanelThat’s not to say she doesn’t spend extravagantly. According to the disclosure, she pays $4,000 per month for a mortgage ($3,000 of which is interest on the loan), $1,000 per month on groceries, $1,000 on entertainment, and $2,600 on clothes including laundry. In all, Zooey spends more than $27,000 a month. That’s not exactly frugal living.

That doesn’t tell the full story. The actor also disclosed that she earns $95,000 per month. She owns her own businesses:

  • Oscar Jaffe Productions, a loan-out company. This is a type of organization used in entertainment so that when a film or television producer hires an actor like Zooey, the production company pays the actor as a corporation, not as an employee. Since the actor wouldn’t be an employee, it reduces the tax liability for the company producing the show or movie (all other things being equal).
  • She & Him LLC, a music licensing company. Again, with a corporation owning the licensing rights to her music, there might be some tax advantages above and beyond what might be the case if Zooey were to own the licensing rights herself.

From the earnings of these two businesses, she passes $95,000 to herself as income. All of Zooey’s expenses, including debt, add up to less than 30% of her pre-tax income. That’s not bad — but it’s not too hard to accomplish when you have $95,000 per month to work with.

Photo: breezy421
TMZ [pdf] via Well Heeled Blog

Updated January 27, 2012 and originally published January 25, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar MoneyforCollegePro

That is certainly an inspiration. We need more good financial role models in Hollywood. Unfortunately, that seems to be where the majority of people learn how to live their lives.

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avatar Tyler S.

I can’t say that I’m her biggest fan, but I do have a much more respect for her now after reading this. It’s encouraging to see someone like that making good financial decisions rather than blowing everything on ridiculous cars and homes and going bankrupt soon after.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

She must be a strong and independent lady to be surrounded by spendthrifts, yet keep her standards as she has set them. A good role model.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

A bit off track, but I think those who have been blessed with a position of notoriety (?) and a huge cash flow have some sort of responsibility that goes with a position. Example: A football player making millions. Instead of thinking only of his personal wants and desires, he could think about how his choices effect teens or children. I’m not saying not to get 14 vehicles, just don’t advertise it. Advertise, instead, how important it is to donate to those in need. (whether money or time) Or advertise how the person used cash wisely by using it as seed money for a business. Things like this. What do you all think?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

It comes down to what we expect from celebrities and public figures. Everyone deserves some privacy, but if you’re a public figure, particularly if you’re representing a community (your town or the United States as a whole), you should represent in the best light possible.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

I don’t know much about her or her showbiz career but I’m impressed with her financial habits especially being an entertainer where it’s so easy to splurge splurge splurge on extravagant luxurious items.

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avatar Kathryn C

I didn’t pick up the stuff about Oscar Jaffe, I’m surprised no one is picking up on the tax loophole she created for the company producing the show. Interesting. I guess you could argue that she is a business. I wrote a piece on her too, but am most interested in the fact that she doesn’t seem to have any fixed income exposure. Hmmmmm

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Perhaps she’s expecting New Girl to hit 100 episodes, go into syndication, and benefit from residuals from syndication. It may not be as “fixed” as fixed income may be, but some prime time stars can live of residuals.

And I checked her financial disclosure again. It lists $1,645,000 in stocks and bonds… so it doesn’t specify how much is in stocks and how much is in bonds. She didn’t disclose any income from investments, but she could be re-investing for now, while she’s still making $95,000 a month. Or maybe she just didn’t report it.

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avatar Miss T

I think she is a great role model. Considering she could spend all she has like her peers she really is setting the bar by doing something different. I think she is wise to save for the future. Acting can be a volatile career and not long lasting.

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avatar Andy

This information came for a divorce disclosure. A great role model she is not.

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avatar 20's Finances

It’s hard for me to speculate because I’m not making that much money, but I find that she isn’t a role model. Sure, she is doing better than others, but spending almost 30k per month just sound ridiculous to me.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

I never heard of her until her TV show came on and I’m a regular watcher. It’s a fun show. She seems pretty grounded and this article reassures me of that. It’s sad she’s going through a divorce, but at least they seem to be handling it civilly and perhaps amicably. Good for her on her spending habits. I wish I could get her to be a guest speaker at one of my work events, but I don’t think my budget would allow. :-P

BTW – her sister is the girl on the TV show “Bones”. They look very similar, but I think Zooey is prettier (sorry).

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I’m sure she spends more than most of us because it is part of the business she is in. Most of us don’t have to go to black tie awards programs or appear on talk shows to promote our products. It’s telling that a person in the entertainment industry is unusual for being fiscally responsible. Says something about the industry as a whole.

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avatar Amber

I said the same thing on Well Heeled’s post — according to her post she only donates $1,500 per month to charity. That’s 1.5%. Sure, it’s great she spends less than she earns, but her charity contribution percentage kind of grosses me out.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

I find that she is in tune with giving. And that’s what counts. Who knows, she may decide to up the amount. Nothing gross about it.

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avatar Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Interesting sneak peak. Thanks for sharing.

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avatar krantcents

Spending only a third of her income is a good standard to live by. I hope she is investing the rest to have if her careers tanks.

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avatar Ken

Any alimony to Ben Gibbard?

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

The judge will determine that…

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avatar PK

Does she retain anything in earning in the business? Nifty tax write off, if you can get it!

I agree – impressive, but mostly on a relative level. $27,000 a month is a lot of consumption – but I have to give her loads of credit for keeping her spending reasonable compared to others in her profession. The fact that many entertainers end up broke is enough to give Zooey props for her spending…

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avatar jay

It’s refreshing to hear that not all actors/actresses are destined for financial failure. I’ve always found it almost impossible to comprehend how a famous actor could get into debt with so much cash coming in every month. Glad to see lovely Zooey has her head screwed on.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

Do we have any idea how she stacks against her sister (or other show biz family)? Was it good parenting that led to her attitude toward money or did she see something she did not want to repeat. With a little more information we might be able to learn so much more from her.

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