Bankrate: What was your first year on the show like?
Schirripa: My first season
-- I got cast in June 1999 -- you had to work
as a local hire, which means they don't pay your
way, they don't put you up, none of that. And
my agent advised me not to take it. She said,
"Steve, it's going to cost you money."
And I said, "You know what? I've got money,
I'm doing OK and I'm looking at the bigger picture
here." And I paid my own airfares, I put
myself up, I fed myself, and that first year I
think I made $24,000 on the show and it cost me
about $22,000 to make the $24,000. That's not
counting commissions and taxes. So I actually
lost money the first year. But the next year they
made me a regular, HBO flew me out here, I still
kept my house in Vegas.
Bankrate: Hard cast to work with, right?
Schirripa: Oh, it was great, all good friends. They took me in as one of their own right from the first day. It's a great story. Financially, I've obviously made much more money than I ever could have made and it's given me the opportunity to do these books. "The Sopranos" is the foundation to do all this other stuff.
Bankrate: How do you handle your money? Do you take an active part in your investments?
I just bought a three-bedroom apartment here (in
New York) preconstruction and it's being built.
I've got the house in Vegas. I have a guy at Merrill
Lynch that I've had since before I had a lot of
money, since '87. I'm conservative. I'm not a
stock guy; I've got mutual funds, and he handles
my 401, my retirement stuff. I'm not a big stock
player. I learned my lesson a few years ago when
I had no money, and everything is relative, right?
A guy gives me a stock tip, I swear to God, I've
got two grand to my name, he guarantees me this
stuff is going to go through the roof, I invest
$800 and I blow $700 of it and that was the biggest
lesson I learned.
My house in Vegas is paid off and now I've got this
apartment overlooking the Statue of Liberty, conservative for New
York standards but it cost me $1.6 million, expensive for me. I'm
pretty conservative. I'm not a rapper so I don't have gold teeth
and bling-bling and own 85 cars. My idea of success is being able
to do what you want when you want. My daughter is going to private
school, she's going into ninth grade, it's pretty expensive. I don't
have to worry like when I was a kid, should I have the hamburger
or the chicken, you know? That to me is success.