Several presidents have chosen to refuse the goldfish bowl sized salary that Congress provides them with. Those who have opted out include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. The Founding Fathers penned a legal language that required a president to receive some form of pay in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
As you can imagine, it hasn’t been easy for those who choose to stick with the status quo. One of the biggest challenges is avoiding the temptation to pocket the money for oneself or their families. In a nutshell, that’s why it’s not uncommon to see First Spouses who have held more lucrative positions prior to becoming the nation’s leader take on the mantle of president while still keeping their day jobs.
A few actually did the deed in true style and have sworn to never accept their predecessor’s hard earned money again. The best bet is to donate it to a worthy cause. The latest iteration of this trend is being touted by the next president in the oval office.
Who is the Least Rich President?
Despite the prestige that comes with sitting in the Oval Office, presidents don’t necessarily make as much money as one would assume. The average US president earns a salary of $400,000 per year and enjoys a $50,000 expense account, but that doesn’t mean they are rich.
While some presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, inherited money from their families, others came from humble backgrounds and struggled to build wealth. Nonetheless, most of these men were successful enough to get elected to the Oval Office.
For instance, James Garfield was born in a log cabin and didn’t have a lot of money before taking the presidency. But he earned a reasonable paycheck as president and eventually had a decent net worth after his tenure. He was also the first president to receive a pension after retiring from office, which allowed him to live comfortably in retirement.
Which President Was Not a Millionaire?
The job of president is a hugely powerful one, and it comes with several benefits. The US president gets paid a monthly pension, medical care and Secret Service protection. And he’s also entitled to lucrative speaking engagements and book deals, which can further boost his wealth.
Despite all of these benefits, a few of our nation’s past leaders haven’t taken full advantage of their status. These men were born poor or didn’t earn much money before they became president.
For instance, Abraham Lincoln was a country lawyer before running for office in the U.S. He made a good living as a town postmaster, but he didn’t become rich until his presidency.
Thomas Jefferson earned his wealth from a large family estate in Virginia and a presidential salary. He also inherited thousands of acres of land and hundreds of slaves.
While many of our presidents have enjoyed immense wealth throughout their lives, a few are worth less than six figures in modern currency at the time of their death. 24/7 Wall Street analyzed the financial records of our presidents and adjusted them for inflation to December 2018 levels.
Does Every President Get Paid For Life?
If you’ve ever been inside the White House, you know that it’s home to a team of staff members who work around the clock. In addition, presidents get a pretty sizable salary while in office.
But did you know that they also receive a lifetime pension?
Upon leaving office, former presidents are entitled to a taxable lifetime pension equal to the annual basic pay of a Cabinet Secretary. This amount is set yearly by Congress and was $221, 400 in 2021.
On top of this, former presidents are also entitled to lifetime health benefits and Secret Service protection.
These perks have helped former presidents maintain their lifestyle after leaving the White House, even if they struggled financially during their term in office.
After they leave office, former presidents can become a public speaker and start charitable organizations to raise funds. Some former presidents have made lucrative careers like Barrack Obama, who commanded up to $400,000 to speak to a group, George W. Bush, who got $700,000, and Bill Clinton, who got $200,000.
Do US Presidents Have to Pay For Their Food?
In addition to their six-figure salary, Presidents also enjoy a number of perks that lift the financial burden off of their shoulders. These perks include a $50,000 annual expense account, $100,000 nontaxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment, according to Reader’s Digest.
But there’s a catch to all these perks: While the White House comes with its own chef (who happens to be paid by the government) Presidents and their families must pay for their own food. This was confirmed by former First Lady Michelle Obama in a 2018 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Despite that, a president’s food choice can be a function of family heritage, personal preference, physical condition and social obligation, Katie Vigilante, senior lecturer in political science at Oxford College of Emory University, tells Reader’s Digest. Often, their favorite food is a simple dish that they grew up with.
However, the White House chefs prepare meals for official state dinners and events, which are covered by taxpayers. Cristeta Comerford, the White House’s Filipina-American executive chef, has cooked for four presidents.
Who is the Richest President Still Alive?
The richest President still alive is currently Donald Trump, who has a net worth of $3.1 billion. He inherited large amounts of money from his father, and has invested it in real estate and resorts.
He is also thought to have made millions from paid speeches, which boosts his wealth even further. Former presidents like Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have also earned millions from their writing careers.
Some of these Presidents inherited money from their parents and wives, while others acquired it during their own lifetimes. Some of the most notable rich Presidents were:
George Washington had an incredible fortune when he was alive, with hundreds of millions of dollars in today’s currency. He was a lawyer and politician who was one of the founding fathers of America, and was able to grow his fortune throughout his life by owning land in Virginia and other areas.
James Madison, the fifth president of the United States, was one of the wealthiest Americans in history, with a net worth of $101 million at the time of his death. He possessed a home in Orange County, Virginia and owned thousands of acres of land.
What President Was Born Poor?
Aside from a few well-heeled presidents, many of the US’s most influential leaders have come from modest beginnings. Some notable examples include Andrew Johnson, Harry Truman, and Abraham Lincoln. Others, like James Garfield, never really got their start in life, owing in part to the lack of opportunities in their home town.
Most people are familiar with the concept of poverty, but this term is used for different types of social and economic disadvantages. There’s the monetary sort, and there’s the non-monetary kind, which can encompass health care, education, transportation and housing. Essentially, it’s the state of having less than a dollar to spend on goods and services, or the lack of these necessities in the first place.
Despite these differences, poverty is still a real thing. The good news is that there are a few ways to help prevent it from taking hold in the first place. Whether through personal finance, community involvement or government intervention, there’s a lot that can be done to improve a person’s standard of living.
What President Went Broke?
Despite being the most powerful person in the country, some presidents struggled with money. These former commanders in chief were forced to sell their possessions to pay off debt, or even go bankrupt altogether.
Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of our country, was a wealthy landowner who had a bad habit of living beyond his means and making poor investments. His inherited debt, bad farming practices, and his excessive spending left him $107,000 in debt (roughly $2 million today) when he died.
James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, also suffered from financial problems when he took office. As the president, he spent a lot of his money on travel and entertaining expenses, which led to a massive debt.
Ulysses Grant, who served two terms as president, also had trouble managing his finances. He invested in a financial firm, but it went south when an investor embezzled funds. In order to recover, Grant wrote a memoir about his time in the military, which became a best-seller.
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