Self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran: I always fly economy because I'm 'too cheap'

Barbara Corcoran: The simple way to make sure your kids don't grow up...

Star of ABC's "Shark Tank" and self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran, who sold her real estate firm, The Corcoran Group, for $66 million in 2001, might have more than enough money to afford first class, but the budget-conscious entrepreneur reveals she still flies coach.

"I always fly economy if I'm paying the tab, because I'm too cheap to spring for an expensive ticket," Corcoran tells The Points Guy.

"I'm even too cheap to use free miles to upgrade, because I realized those free miles can buy one of my relatives who don't have the money a free ticket to somewhere."

However, Corcoran — even when sitting in economy — makes sure her surroundings match her millionaire mindset and adds a bit of ambiance.

For instance, "Once you put a cloth napkin on the tray, it's practical, things don't slide off — and most importantly, I'm suddenly at a restaurant in my mind," Corcoran says. "It sets the tone and makes a difference, especially when you're squeezed in the middle seat. All of a sudden, I'm in my own universe. I'm floating above the clouds having my gourmet meal."

The real estate mogul adds she's "enormously productive" during flights, because it forces her to be hyper-focused. Other travel tendencies Corcoran has include asking for the window seat and never checking a bag, claiming she's the "tightest little packer you'll ever meet."

Corcoran, a mother to a 12-year-old daughter and 23-year-old son, adds that she doesn't let her children sit in business class either, telling them if they want to travel luxuriously, they have to work for it.

"When my son was five, he said, 'Why can't we sit in those big seats?' and I said, 'Get a job,'" Corcoran tells The Points Guy.

"When you have rich kids — which, if you think about it, I have rich kids — you have to be very, very careful. It's complicated not to let them feel privileged," Corcoran told CNBC Make It.

She isn't the only Shark who makes her kids sit coach. Though Kevin O'Leary flies first class, he has been known to banish his kids to the back of the plane, according to Business Insider.

"At 16, my son is making the connection between money and personal freedom. I think that's the greatest gift I've ever given him: to help him see that connection. And I constantly reinforce it by doing Mean Dad things like making him sit in those crappy economy seats," reports Business Insider, quoting from O'Leary's 2015 book, "Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money."

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay uses a similar tactic with his children.

"They don't sit with us in first class. They haven't worked anywhere near hard enough to afford that," Ramsay told The Telegraph in April. "At that age, at that size, you're telling me they need to sit in first class? No, they do not. We're really strict on that."

As for Corcoran, perhaps her frugality goes back to her humble beginnings. The real estate mogul grew up with nine siblings in Edgewater, New Jersey in a cramped apartment, and had already worked 22 jobs by the time she was 23 years old.

"We all had to contribute. We all had to hustle," Corcoran says.

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Disclaimer: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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