Financial literacy - How to prosper
Michael Emerson
'Lost' actor grounded in frugality

q_v2.gifHas that attitude helped you in the years since you've become famous, to sort of keep your feet on the ground and maintain your financial security?

a_v2.gif I think that having spent so many years with the wolf at the door, I'm leery of a sense of comfort or complacency. I always feel like I'm just a heartbeat away from having to look for work again. So even though Carrie and I are more prosperous in the last couple of years than we ever have been, we're not going crazy and buying things.

In show business, it's such a feast-or-famine enterprise, and it would be wrong to think that today's prosperity turns into tomorrow's prosperity. Today's prosperity may be a freak, so it wouldn't be prudent to get too comfortable with it. We tend to put a lot of money away for the proverbial rainy day, and I'm a great believer in rainy days.

q_v2.gifDo you have any business interests?

a_v2.gif No, I haven't a sideline -- a restaurant or an enterprise of any kind outside of the enterprise of being an actor.

“I think that having spent so many years with the wolf at the door, I'm leery of a sense of comfort or complacency.”

q_v2.gifDo you tend to take a hands-on approach to handling your own finances, or do you have a team of trusted advisers that you rely on?

a_v2.gifBecause our money affairs became so complicated in recent years, it was impossible for me to take care of it solo, but we haven't gone the route of full-on business management either. I like to see the checks come in, and I like to write the checks that go out. I like to have some tangible idea of what we have and where it is. But we do ask for and get help. We've needed it; I have been grateful for it, and I think it's money well-spent.

q_v2.gifDo you have your own philosophy about what it takes to achieve and maintain financial success?

a_v2.gifI have to tell you that I don't think often about financial success. I think about what I need to do to make my work the very best. It may sound fatalistic or passive, but I have always thought that money, in a way, would take care of itself if I did my work well. I mean, this is a person who works in the arts talking. But I made a mental trade-off. I've always tried to go where the best script was, not where the best paycheck was. I have taken short-term losses in that respect, but I think that in the end, it paid off better that way. It paid off more slowly and more unpredictably, but I think in hindsight -- and a lot of financial thinking is hindsight -- it was the best policy.


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