The lifestyles of the rich and famous seems synonymous with posh homes, luxury cars and the finer things in life. Yet more and more successful tech entrepreneurs are opting to rent homes rather than buy, drive old jalopies over new luxury sedans, and brown bag it to work rather than splurge on lunch. But then, the tech elite didn’t strike it rich by doing things like everyone else.

When you’re rich it’s called being frugal, for the rest of us, it’s just being a cheapskate. Or perhaps more poignantly, rich people are eccentric, while everyone else is just bleeping nuts. In that vein, let’s take a gander at some of the nutty things rich folk do. Yes, because it makes us feel better about ourselves for being such dismal failures by comparison.

David Karp, Tumblr – he once told Forbes he has a Jason Bourne mentality when it comes to home décor and international travel. He likens traveling light to absolute freedom and takes only one carry-on bag with him, no matter the destination. Amusingly, Forbes goes on to describe a $1.6 million dollar, 1,700 square foot loft as “modest,” but okay, by New York standards that’s practically slumming it. Karp is said to own just one suit, sparse furnishings, and has a compulsion for purging what little he owns. Here’s hoping he doesn’t scrimp on the dry-cleaning bill for that lone suit of his.

Brooklyn-loft Karp


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook – for the longest time, Mr. Zuckerberg rented a modest home despite having a net worth in the billions. He eventually broke down and snagged himself a 5,000 square foot Palo Alto home worth a mere $7 million, which basically amounts to a log cabin for a guy like Zuck. He drives a $30,000 Volkswagen to boot.

Zuckerberg Home

Jan Koum, WhatsApp – this tech billionaire once Tweeted, the next person to call him an entrepreneur would get punched in the face by his bodyguard; highlighting both his willingness to flaunt his wealth, while concurrently denouncing it. Son to immigrant parents, Koum reportedly signed his billion dollar Facebook deal in the same building where he stood in line to collect food stamps with his mother. But according to Forbes, the lucrative merger almost didn’t happen because Koum had purchased a non-refundable ticket using frequent flyer miles and told Zuckerberg, if they don’t sign the contract before his flight, the deal wouldn’t happen. Luckily, the contract was inked in time for Koum to make his bargain flight, earning him a cool 19 billion; who says it doesn’t pay to be frugal?

What's App

Tony Hsieh, Zappos – Okay, so there’s frugal, and then there’s Tony Hsieh. Despite selling his online shoe store to Amazon for $1.2 billion, Hsieh lives in a trailer park in Las Vegas, and no, we’re not even talking a double wide bolted to the foundation, rather, Hsieh prefers a silver Airstream with his pet llama, parked in a space with a monthly rental fee. But Hsieh isn’t a complete cheapskate, because he also invested $350 million of his own money to revitalize Las Vegas’ Freemont Street; hence illustrating the difference between frugal and eccentric.

Hseih lives in a trailer park

Hseih lives in a trailer park with pet llama Hseigh’s pet llama, Llamapolis.

Hseih lives in a trailer park

Freemont st

Jack Ma, Alibaba – once a grade school teacher earning less than $20 a month, Ma hasn’t veered to far from his roots after creating the world’s biggest retailer, worth over $230 billion. According to the Daily Mail, Ma still yearns for the simple life, enjoys meditation and doesn’t believe in making enemies. He can best enjoy the “simple” life in his $23m US property in upstate NY. Or in the second most expensive property in the world (based on price per square metre) at $1.5b HK. Barker Rd

Parker Rd Jack Ma

Jack Ma's Adirondack property

Read more about Jack Ma’s Adirondacks property here

5 money saving tips for budding billionaires:

  • Cut your own hair – nothing says frugal billionaire better than a cheap a*$ haircut; just ask Donald Trump, he looks like he bought stock in Flowbee.
  • Drive economy – sure, you can afford a Rolls, but that Prius gets 40 miles to the gallon. Then there’s solar panels, collecting rain water and living so far off the grid that even Ed Bagley Jr. would tell you to tone it down a notch.
  • Buy Bulk – yup, that billionaire box club ain’t gonna stock itself, so go ahead and get that industrial supply of caviar. Just don’t be surprised when all the feral cats in the neighbourhood start circling your storage room like ravenous sharks.
  • Pack a lunch – despite being on a first name basis with the world’s most famous chefs, brown bagging it to work can save you a bundle. Nothing makes you feel like you’re chumming up with the common man quite like bologna and cheese.
  • Humble abode – it’s tempting to sink your hard earned cash into some fancy digs, but living frugally also means saving on your monthly rent or mortgage. If you’re the sociable type, try living with a roommate or AirBnB that spare bedroom for extra cash.

The grass is always greener

Those of us without cash dream about making it big, while those with enormous wealth seem to dream of simpler times. Trite as it sounds, it seems the best path toward wealth and happiness starts from within… your mansion (just kidding!). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach for the stars. If you have a killer app idea, drop Dapper Apps a line and perhaps we can help.



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