Grammy Award winner Dionne Warwick, who found fame in the 1960s singing “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” filed for bankruptcy yesterday.
Younger folks may recognize Warwick from the 1990s, when she was the celebrity spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network, or as a member of “Hollywood Squares” in 2002. She was also on “The Celebrity Apprentice” a couple of years ago.
Despite all of her success, Warwick is now almost certainly poorer than you, me and even the local bag lady — at least on paper.
In fact, here is a breakdown of Warwick’s current assets and liabilities:
- Total Assets: $25,500
- Total Liabilities: $10,700,000
- Net Worth: ($10,674,500)
According to TMZ, a representative for Warwick seemed to blame the IRS:
“In light of the magnitude of her tax liabilities, Warwick has repeatedly attempted to offer re-payment plans and proposals to the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board for taxes owed. These plans were not accepted, resulting in escalating interest and penalties.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking: How in the world can anybody go bankrupt if they’re earning $250,000 annually?
In Warwick’s case, her monthly expenses consumed 99.95% of her income ($20,940) — including $5000 on housekeeping and $4000 for a personal assistant. That’s a recipe for financial doom no matter how much lucre you’re bringing in each month.
As a point of reference, my monthly household living expenses — for everything from the mortgage to entertainment — currently come to, on average, just a hair over 50% of my income. That provides me with a nice cushion for distributing the remainder of my income to stuff like my rainy day and emergency savings accounts, my long-term savings for big ticket purchases, my retirement fund, and … oh, yes — my TAXES!
True, the cushion wasn’t always that big — a quick check of my expenses spreadsheet shows that, 12 years ago, household living costs consumed 75% of my income — but it was still enough to ensure I could meet all of my obligations and responsibilities in life. How Ms. Warwick thought she could continue to do the same by saving a nickel out of every $100 she earned is tough to comprehend.
The bottom line is financial freedom doesn’t depend on money so much as it relies on a commitment to fiscal discipline and personal responsibility.
Remember, there are lots of folks out there earning millions of dollars every year who aren’t financially free, just as it’s also true that there are folks earning less than $40,000 who are financially free. Dionne Warwick is just the latest in a long line of millionaire celebrities whose spectacular financial failures can usually be traced back to the same fatal flaw: a steadfast refusal to spend less than they earn.
Photo Credits: istolethetv (Dionne Warwick); Marcy Hargan (Bag Lady)