Former Nickelodeon star Josh Peck says the biggest misconception people have about child stars are that they're financially "set for life."
"But that's not the truth," Peck, 35, tells CNBC Make It. "I had to work." Moreover, he says, he had to learn how to manage the money he did have — because he was providing for both himself and his single mother, who had struggled to financially support the duo.
The biggest financial lesson he learned over the years: "Make sure to have it diversified," he says. "Don't have all your eggs in one basket."
At face value, Peck made quite a bit of money from his iconic television show, "Drake & Josh," which ended in 2007. In his new book, "Happy People Are Annoying," which published on Tuesday, Peck wrote that he averaged roughly $15,000 per episode, making a total of roughly $900,000 over his show's four seasons. After a 20% agent and manager fee and another 30% for Uncle Sam, he added, he was left with about $450,000.
"Still not bad," he wrote. "But spread that over five years, which is how long it took us to shoot all 60 episodes, and it breaks down to a little less than $100,000 a year."
Much of that money didn't go straight into a savings account. Instead, it had to be enough for two people to live on. Peck says that when the show ended, he only had about a year's worth of savings built up.
"I'm not complaining. It was just the reality," he says.
Due to his unstable financial upbringing, Peck says he learned how to be frugal with his money early on. After the show ended, he continued to act in both television shows and movies, starring in ABC's "Grandfathered" and, more recently, a 2021 continuation of "Turner & Hooch" on Disney+.
Today, he makes the majority of his money as a social media influencer and podcaster, and says he divides his income between three buckets: one he manages himself, one that sits with a family money manager and one that he invests into real estate.
"My exposure is in three places, so if one thing got hit incredibly hard, I would [probably be alright]," he says. "There's a good chance that you're not going to get hit on all three fronts at the same time."
Peck also considers himself a saver. "I just love a sale, and I really won't shop unless there is a sale," he says. If you gave him $1,000 right now, he says, he wouldn't go on a spending spree, or even invest it in the stock market.
Rather, he says, he'd purchase a camera — if he didn't own one already — and use it to post videos online, because "I know that is singlehandedly a thing that I can do, completely with my own power, to create an income stream."
In other words, he says: "I would invest in myself, instead of putting it into a company and hoping that all the stars aligned for it to really return my investment."