Money

The brilliant reason Jay Leno has never touched a dime of his 'Tonight Show' money

If you're resolving to save more money in 2018, you may want to take a cue from self-made millionaire Jay Leno.

The comedian and former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" has used a brilliant money-saving strategy since he began his career.

From the moment he entered the working world, "I always had two incomes," Leno told CNBC Make It last year. "I'd bank one, and I'd spend one."

And he made sure to spend the smaller amount.

"When I was younger, I would always save the money I made working at the car dealership, and I would spend the money I made as a comedian," he said.

"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, so I would bank that and spend the car dealership money."

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

Leno continued relying on this strategy even after he started hosting "The Tonight Show" in 1992, even though he reportedly earned 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 said. "I've never touched a dime of my 'Tonight Show' money. Ever."

Leno, who now hosts CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," said 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," the 67-year-old said. "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."

While most of us will never make the kind of money Leno makes, the strategy is sound: Generating multiple income streams can help you increase your savings and diversify your earnings, so that you're less impacted by downturns.

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

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" premieres on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 10 p.m. ET. This is an updated version of a previously published article.

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