Jay Leno never carried debt, even before he was a big earner. He stayed out of the red thanks to one simple strategy: He didn't buy on credit.
"I rarely used credit cards," the comedian tells CNBC Make It. "I didn't buy anything I couldn't afford to pay for in cash. I always liked, 'Here is the money, give me the thing, transaction over.'"
Leno started his career with a minimum wage job at a McDonald's as a teen. A few years later, when he was jump-starting his career as a comedian, he had to supplement his comedy gig earnings with money he made working at a car dealership. At first, the paycheck from the dealership was the bigger of the two, so he banked that and lived off the other.