"When I go back home and, if I can put a roof on my uncle's house or help out one of the relatives, then when you go to dinner, 'The big meatball is for Jay! Jay gets the big meatball because he paid for the roof!' And then you get the big meatball and you get to sit at the head of the table," said Leno. "It doesn't get any better than that."
Leno, who hosted "The Tonight Show" for 22 years and now hosts CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," said he never set out to become a multi-millionaire: "I enjoy working more than I enjoy making money. I like to work hard. I was never someone who was always trying to make a gazillion dollars."
Networks and other venues did end up paying him well — he reportedly earned as much as $30 million a year at the height of his career — but that didn't change the "really conservative" financial philosophy he adopted from his Depression-era parents: "They just frightened me to death, saying, 'You gotta save every penny!' And I'm glad they did."
"So many people get to be the age I'm at now and they've got nothing because they just blew it all," Leno added. "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."
Jay Leno's Garage
" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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