Money

Jay Leno's brilliant money-saving strategy is something anyone can try

Comedian Jay Leno has made millions over his career, but his massive success hasn't changed his conservative money philosophy.

From the moment he entered the working world, he always had two incomes. "I'd bank one and I'd spend one," Leno tells CNBC. And he made sure to spend the smaller amount.

Before Leno's career took off, this meant saving the money he earned working at a car dealership and spending the money he made as a comedian.

"When I started to get a bit famous, the money I was making as a comedian was way more than the money I was making at the car dealership," he says, "so I would bank that and spend the car dealership money."

Jay Leno, former host of NBC's  "The Tonight Show"
NBC | Getty Images
Jay Leno, former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show"

He continued using this strategy even after landing his gig as the host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" in 1992, which reportedly paid as much as $30 million a year at the height of his career.

"When I got 'The Tonight Show,' I always made sure I did 150 [comedy show] gigs a year so I never had to touch the principal," Leno says. To this day, he's never touched a dime of his "Tonight Show" money.

Anyone can employ this strategy — it all starts with creating at least two streams of income, which is a hallmark of the richest, most successful individuals.

"Self-made millionaires do not rely on one singular source of income," writes Thomas C. Corley in "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life," a culmination of his research on hundreds of self-made millionaires. "They develop multiple streams. Three seemed to be the magic number in my study. ... Sixty-five percent had at least three streams of income that they created prior to making their first million dollars."

Additional streams could be real estate rentals or side businesses, Corley writes. Or, like Leno, you could get a part-time job.

Start by thinking about how you can generate more money. Next, employ Leno's strategy: Save the larger form of income and spend the other.