NFL star Rob Gronkowski and Jay Leno use the same brilliant money saving strategy

Why Jay Leno never touched his 'Tonight Show' money
Why Jay Leno never touched his 'Tonight Show' money

Comedian Jay Leno and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski have more in common than multi-million dollar bank account balances.

They're careful when it comes to money. Leno and Gronkowski both view their main source of income as something to be saved rather than spent.

"To this day, I still haven't touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money," Gronkowski writes in his 2015 book "It's Good to be Gronk." Instead, he lives off his endorsement deals, which have included BodyArmor SuperDrink, Dunkin' Donuts and beef jerky company Oberto.

"I live off my marketing money and haven't blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school," continues Gronkowski, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract with the Patriots in 2012. That contract also came with an $8 million signing bonus.

Rob Gronkowski
Tom Szczerbowski | Getty Images

Leno, on the other hand, has never touched his earnings from NBC's "Tonight Show." Even at the height of his career, when he reportedly made as much as $30 million a year hosting the program, Leno preferred to live off the money he made doing comedy gigs on the side.

That had become a tradition for him. From the moment he entered the working world as an unknown comedian, 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.

The habit stuck even after Leno's career took off. "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. "I've never touched a dime of my 'Tonight Show' money. Ever."

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

Leno, who now hosts CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," says his conservative philosophy gives him financial peace of mind. "So many people get to be the age I'm at now and they've got nothing because they just blew it all," he says. "I put my money in a hammock and say, 'You relax. I'm going to go work.' And when I come back, I put some more money in the pile.

"It sounds ridiculous, but if everything ends tomorrow, I know I'll be fine."

Just about anyone can use the strategy that works for Leno and Gronkowski. It starts with creating at least one additional stream of income, which could be real estate rentals, a side business or part-time job. Next, save the larger paycheck and spend the other.

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Jay Leno has no debt thanks in large part to abiding by this one rule
Jay Leno has no debt thanks in large part to abiding by this one rule