Editor’s note: Anthony Bourdain tragically took his own life on June 8, 2018. This story was first published on on March 2017, and remains here in its original form.
Bourdain, who paints a childhood portrait of middle class upbringings and parents who weren’t good with money, says he lived on debt for half his adult life. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging about this,” he told Wealth Simple, “but the sad fact is, until 44 years of age, I never had any kind of savings account. I’d always been under the gun. I’d always owed money. I’d always been selfish and completely irresponsible.”
Bourdain worked in culinary school, took home extra money playing poker, and maybe “moved a little product.” But he always lived paycheck to paycheck. Over the years he burned through credit cards, let his taxes and rent go unpaid, and stacked debt on top of debt. “I didn’t put anything aside, ever,” said Bourdain. “Money came in, money went out. I was always a paycheck behind, at least. I usually owed my chef my paycheck.”
Today however, after success as an author, chef, and TV host, he is debt free, with money to invest. His investment strategy is about honest, easy decisions, and never having to worry about money again.
Here are some highlights of his financial views from the interview with Wealth Simple:
“I’m not a haggler. There’s not enough time in the world. I tend to go for the quickest, easiest, what’s comfortable. I want it now. Time’s running out.”
“[After Kitchen Confidential was a success], I contacted the IRS and I paid what I owed. I paid American Express. Since that time, I am fanatical about not owing anybody any money. I hate it… I don’t want to carry a balance, ever. I have a mortgage, but I despise the idea. That was my biggest objection to buying property, though I wasn’t in the position to pay cash.”
“I’d like my daughter and her mom looked after, both while I’m alive and after. They shouldn’t have to worry if something bad happens, so my investments and savings are based on that. I’m super-conservative… To me, money is freedom from insecurity, freedom to move, time if you choose to make use of time.”
“My investments advisor understands that I’m not looking to score big on the stock market or bonds. I have zero understanding of it and zero interest. Life is too short… If getting that extra money means a lot of phone calls and talking to financial analysts and lawyers, I don’t want it. I don’t want to have those conversations.”
On Paying Taxes:
“Nobody likes paying high taxes, but I don’t mind. I don’t need to hire some hotshot to spend 12 hours a day figuring out how to chisel the government out of an extra few thousand dollars… A friend said, “You live outside the country more than half of the year. Create a bogus residence in the Caymans and pay no U.S. taxes.” I’d feel like a shit doing that. I’m an American. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to have those kinds of conversations. I’m putting myself to sleep just thinking about it.”