Once Rich Celebs Who Are Now Scraping By

The Internet loves to say millennials don't know how to save cash, but they clearly haven't taken a close look at the playbook for ultra-rich celebs. No student loan-owing young professional is squandering a not-so-small fortune on jewelry, plastic surgery, and healing crystals. But apparently, money evaporates faster than water in Hollywood. Whether you're locked in a bad contract (we've long heard the evils of selfish management) or you've resigned yourself to hawking teeth whitener and weight loss tea on Instagram while your album sales tank, once the money goes, so does the team that helped you make that money. It's a vicious cycle that early aughts mega-stars like Lindsay Lohan, Aaron Carter, and Bow Wow learned the hard way.

Though most of us could probably make a few hundred thousand a year work (it'd be a major upgrade from our sardine-sized apartments), these celebs are barely scraping by in their mansions. If only they ate less avocado toast (or simply paid the IRS like everyone else).

Lindsay Lohan

It's no secret that things haven't been easy on Lindsay Lohan in the last decade. There was once a time when the star was a coveted actress with leading roles in the most well-received teen comedies of the decade, including Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. In 2004, on the back of her success with Mean Girls, she took a dive into the music industry. Her first album, Speak, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts. According to Forbes, the actress pulled in a whopping $11 million in 2005 (most of which came from her massive Just My Luck paycheck).

Unfortunately, her legal issues rose as quickly as her fame. Between DUIs and erratic behavior, the young star had trouble landing lucrative roles. Her 2007 flick I Know Who Killed Me was criticized in the press and her 2012 comeback The Canyons amounted to nothing more than a poorly received softcore adult film masquerading as a drama. After allegedly failing to pay rent and posing in Playboy for some cash, the IRS seized her bank account, claiming she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. Though Charlie Sheen allegedly loaned her $100,000 to pay off some of her debts, she supposedly still owed $100,000 before her mother lost their family's home to foreclosure. Lindsay Lohan's net worth is reportedly around $1 million (a measly sum for Hollywood), for which she can thank a gig as Lawyer.com's spokeswoman. That employee discount is probably pretty helpful, too.

Drake Bell

Drake Bell was once one of the most recognizable faces on children's TV. During the late '90s and early '00s, he rose to fame on beloved Nickelodeon classics like The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh. Sadly, he's the ultimate proof of why you don't ever want to peak in high school.

When Josh Peck, Bell's comedic co-star, lost a massive amount of weight, you knew things were changing. During the final seasons of Drake & Josh, Peck rose to fame as an acclaimed Hollywood actor and widely popular YouTuber. On the flipside, Bell's career completely floundered. His 2014 album, Ready Steady Go!, sold just 2,000 copies during its first week (which is typically the best week for any record's sales), and he was forced to file for bankruptcy. According to TMZ, the actor claimed to owe a whopping $581,000, but made just $14,099 the year prior. This was a huge decrease from his typical earnings of over $400,000 a year. He allegedly had $2,820 in monthly income and $18,771 in monthly expenses (which didn't even include legal fees from his various DUIs). Eventually, his $1.5 million home was foreclosed.

At the time of this writing, Bell's net worth is reportedly less than $600,000 with little hope for improvement. Even his voice acting work in Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man hasn't been able to make a dent in his debt. Though Bell just began releasing his first new music, it's only been a series of singles.

Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins

Bankruptcy isn't crazy, sexy, or cool. Though TLC is one of best-selling girl groups in history, their careers have been tarnished by financial hardship. For a time, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, were millionaires, but it was short-lived. Really short-lived.

"I will never forget the day we were millionaires for literally five minutes," Watkins told The Guardian. "Because the check was written to us and we had to sign it over, back to [Pebbles, their former manager]."

Their first bout of bankruptcy happened in the late '90s after their first two albums made LaFace Records over $100 million (and the late Lopes set fire to her boyfriend's home and was subsequently sued for $1.3 million). It got them out of their poor contracts, but T-Boz (and her crippling health issues) found herself in more financial trouble in 2011. While Chilli managed to amass a $10 million net worth (partly thanks to a VH1 reality series), T-Boz filed for bankruptcy twice. She reportedly owed creditors over $750,000, but only took in $11,700 per month. Her catalog of multi-platinum records made her just $1,200 a month in royalties.

If that's not a tip-off about TLC's financial status, their Kickstarter page definitely is. Yep, Kickstarter. The legendary girl group didn't even pull in half a million from fans for their final album.

Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino

Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino has a bigger situation on his hands than simply being short on cash. At the time of this writing, he's facing five years of possible jail time for tax evasion. While the reality TV star was busy fist-pumping on MTV's Jersey Shore, he reportedly pulled in a whopping $2.55 million per season. Unfortunately, he failed to pay taxes on nearly $9 million of his earnings between 2010 and 2012. Needless to say, the IRS wasn't thrilled, and Sorrentino pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion.

Sorrentino's financial woes have been painfully documented on Jersey Shore: Family Vacation. Throughout the series, he shrugged about downsizing his car (from a custom Ferrari, whose used tires he sold on eBay for $9,999), squirmed at the cost of engagement rings, and was the butt of more than a few jail-time jokes. His net worth is just $300,000, but, considering he's facing $250,000 in fines, it could be cut down.

Aaron Carter

He may have beaten Shaq, but Aaron Carter isn't beating the IRS. The musician (and younger brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter) was once teen royalty. His singles like "I Want Candy" and "Aaron's Party" pulled in millions before he finished puberty. Carter was also a part of a love triangle that defined the early aughts (when it's 2004 and Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan are fighting for your affection, you know you're hot). Unfortunately, someone mismanaged Carter's finances. You can't fault him too much because he was a 15-year-old millionaire. What was he supposed to know about money?

In 2009, Carter was slapped with a million-dollar tax lien from the IRS from bills dating back to 2003 (i.e. his would-be sophomore year). The problem was that he wasn't pulling in nearly the same amount of cash at age 25 (he reportedly made less than $2,000 a month). He filed for bankruptcy in 2013 claiming to have just over $8,000 in assets and $60 in cash. According to TMZ, he owed over $2 million, including a $31,166 American Express bill and over $1.3 million owed to the IRS.

Though Carter managed to reach a deal with the IRS in 2014, he's been very open about being over $150,000 in debt in 2016. "Financially, I'm in a terrible position," he said in a Life Or Debt interview (via Us Weekly), but maybe after a stint in rehab, things will finally start looking up.

Teresa Giudice

We're used to seeing Teresa Giudice's mansion on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but the table-flipping reality star is allegedly in the hole for $11 million. Why? Teresa and her husband, "Juicy Joe" Giudice, had some pretty juicy crimes. After mail, wire, and bankruptcy fraud — and a combined 56-month prison sentence — the reality TV family reportedly owed $414,588 in restitution.

According to Page Six, the Giudices managed to pay off half of their restitution by 2016, just in time for Juicy Joe to buy Teresa a brand new Lexus as a get-out-of-jail present. Due to their restitution payment schedule, they're pretty much only allotted enough cash to pay for food, shelter, and other necessities. Where did the Lexus come from? Who knows. Maybe a Lexus is a necessity if you're a Real Housewife. Either way, the Jersey girl is at least broke enough to threaten a paparazzi with a beat-down for asking about her finances. The wound has got to be pretty fresh.

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt

Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt from MTV's The Hills may have high net worths, but that means nothing when you're blowing through millions. In 2016, the reality TV couple admitted to squandering their six-figure paychecks, which they reportedly earned for various staged paparazzi shoots, public appearances, and their leading roles as MTV's favorite villains.

"I was kind of playing house," Montag told People. "I felt like I was someone I wasn't. We had business managers who told us to stop spending but we acted like we knew what we were doing."

Speidi ended up squandering the vast majority of their fortune — between the $1 million Montag spent on plastic surgery and the $1 million Pratt dumped into his crystal obsession. To save on cash, the celebs have been staying at Pratt's parents' rental property for the last six years. When rent is zero, you can scrape by on almost nothing. But with a brand new baby, things aren't going to be cheap.

Shad 'Bow Wow' Moss

If you've forgotten about Bow Wow, the charming young rapper who dropped the "Lil" infront of his name after reaching the age in which his cars could be repossessed, you might recognize him from being roasted online. The once-rich star, who raked in millions for flicks like Like Mike and The Fast and the Furious, was caught posting stacks of someone else's money online with the caption "Liquid cash." He was also dragged by fans for pretending he had chartered a private flight and for editing himself into a picture with Tupac and Dr. Dre and passing it off as real. By now, you probably get the idea: Bow Wow's lux-looking social media is apparently totally fake.

For the last few years, Bow Wow has been having some real financial problems. According to TMZ, the star owed nearly six figures in back taxes. He reportedly fell behind on his $300,165 business loan, owed $100,000 to a tour bus company, got his Lamborghini repossessed, and was being sued for the $25,000. Debt collectors were also allegedly trying to shake the star down for more than $283,000, which he owed for leasing a Ferrari in 2008.

During a 2012 child custody case, Bow Wow admitted he was pulling in just $4,000 a month and had only $1,500 in his bank account. With the cancellation of CSI: Cyber and his recent suicidal statements on Twitter and Instagram, fans are really hoping the singer can turn things around.

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson may have a $3 million net worth, but that's nothing when you've squandered your entire $400 million fortune. Mike Tyson's career is a case study in bankruptcy. According to The New York Timesthe boxer, who regularly commanded $30 million for one night's work, owed creditors a whopping $23 million in 2003.

Among these debts were over $170,000 for a gold chain with 80 carats of diamonds, a combined $17.4 million in unpaid taxes to the IRS and British tax authorities, and over $600,000 to various law firms.  He used the sale of his once-abandoned Connecticut mansion to pay a $9 million divorce settlement to Monica Turner, who also had a lien on his Las Vegas home. At the time, Tyson was also reportedly still on the hook for $800,000 to former trainer Stacey McKinley and $450,000 to music producer Jimmy Henchmen (yes, we almost got a Mike Tyson album).

The star has admitted he "went crazy" with money and spent the majority of his fortune on jewelry, prostitutes, mansions, and cars. After serving jail time for cocaine possession and a trip through rehab, he's slowly making cash from his Las Vegas show and a new book. Though he's pulled himself out of debt, he's got next-to-nothing compared to his previous fortune.

Stephen Baldwin

There aren't too many celebs who can get away with not paying their mortgage for six years, but Stephen Baldwin was one of them. Six years seems like a long time, right? The Apprentice vet was finally fired by his bank — sort of. After allegedly failing to pay his $7,000 a month mortgage and having an estimated $1.1 million in debt, Baldwin's house was foreclosed and auctioned off in early 2017.

Baldwin has a history of financial problems. In 2012, he was charged after failing to file his New York state tax returns for multiple years and had to pay $300,000 in back-taxes to avoid jail. He also lost a $17 million lawsuit to Kevin Costner and filed for bankruptcy in 2009 after owing more than $2.3 million.

While Stephen Baldwin may not be as successful as his brother Alec Baldwin, whose impression of Donald Trump landed him an Emmy, he still found significant success in films like The Usual Suspects and Bio-Dome. Unfortunately, he's snagged less roles in recent years which means financial problems were inevitable without a significant lifestyle change. Perhaps he can ask his bro for some help, but, considering Alec teased him on national TV for being a Trump supporter, who knows?

Toni Braxton

According to ABC, Toni Braxton has pulled in $170 million from hits like her massive 1996 breakup jam "Unbreak My Heart." She's also amassed seven Grammy awards in her decades-long career as an R&B trailblazer. Unfortunately, she's probably considered hawking at least a couple of those awards to help fix her financial problems.

Though Braxton pulled in millions, she claimed in a 20/20 interview (via ABC) that she only received $1,972 in royalties from her first record contract. Her record label debt (and a slight home decor addiction) led her to first bankruptcy, but she managed to claw her way out after landing a different multi-million deal. However, the success didn't last.

The singer's next three releases "only sold a few hundred thousand copies each," and she was forced to cancel her self-funded Las Vegas show after being diagnosed with microvascular angina and lupus. In 2010, she filed for bankruptcy again, claiming to owe "between $10 million and $50 million," according to The Daily Mail.

Since then, the singer has considered posing in Playboy to help pay the bills, but found success on reality TV with Braxton Family Values. Unfortunately, Entertainment Tonight reported in Septemeber 2018 that the star left the series amidst contract renegotiations, and The Blast claimed in March 2018 that she was on the hook for more than $780,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes. Oops! Are we looking at bankruptcy number three?

Dennis Rodman

In a strange turn of events, Dennis Rodman may be the person who saves us from a nuclear war — just don't expect him to pay for his airfare (or his wedding dress). The star, who appears to be the missing link between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, somehow squandered the $27 million he made playing in the NBA. According to The Daily Mail, Rodman pulled in $9 million in a single year with the Chicago Bulls at his peak.

In 2012, The Los Angeles Times reported that Rodman was behind on over $800,000 worth of spousal and child support payments, and could barely afford his own "living expenses." The star was reportedly "extremely sick" and his "marketability" was shrinking "with age and illness" (such is the cruel world of Hollywood and professional sports).

As of this writing, Rodman is estimated to be worth just $500,000, but he's pretty used to being broke, at least in other ways. According to a 2016 interview with Viceland, the former NBA star broke his sensitive nether regions three — yes, three — times. We're not exactly sure which part of this is the hardest to believe.

Scott Stapp

Rolling Stone readers rated Creed the worst band of the 1990s, but for a time, lead singer Scott Stapp was rolling in success. According to The Daily Beast, the band won a Grammy for their hit "With Arms Wide Open," "sold 40 million records worldwide," and became "the ninth best-selling band of the 90s." So, where did it go wrong?

Between 2000 and 2009, the group went from selling out arenas in seconds to hawking 75 cent tickets and being sued by their fans for a historically terrible performance. By 2014, Stapp was penniless and living in a Holiday Inn. Prior to that, he was living in his truck and unable to afford food or gas.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Stapp was convinced he was "a CIA agent on a mission to assassinate President Obama." In a jarring Facebook post (via Rolling Stone), the singer claimed his money had been stolen and he hadn't been paid royalties. His wife had filed for divorce days prior, citing the star disappeared from home and became a "paranoid shell who threatened to kill himself and harm his family" after taking "amphetamines, crystal meth and steroids." At one point, AXS claimed his net worth was just $10,000.

Since then, Stapp has been on a road to recovery and even started touring again after being admitted to a psychiatric facility where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As of this writing, his estimated estimated net worth is $400,000.  

Joey Lawrence

Throughout the early '90s, Joey Lawrence made teenage hearts pitter patter on the hit coming-of-age comedy Blossom. The young actor starred as Blossom's same-named older brother, had a Billboard-charting pop single, and graced the pages of teen magazines like Teen and Tiger Beat (in true teen heartthrob form). Lawrence seemed to have it all, but there were no words to describe his finances as an adult other than woah!

As an adult, Lawrence starred alongside Melissa Joan Hart in the hit sitcom Melissa & Joey (as if anything could be more perfect for two '90s teen stars). After the series ended in 2015, the star found himself in some financial hot water. According to The Blast, Lawrence made $534,000 the year Melissa & Joey ended, but had just "$60 cash and $8,000 in the bank" by 2017. His expenses exceeded $25,000 a month, and he was pulling in a monthly wage of just under $7,000. On top of that, the star and his wife, Chandie Yawn-Nelson, had over $355,500 worth of liabilities.

Celebrity Net Worth claimed the star was worth -$400,000, but Lawrence managed to settle his debt in 2018. Hopefully, the film projects he has in the pipeline will lead him to a path of financial stability.

Geoffrey Owens

According to The Los Angeles Times, The Cosby Show was "the most-watched program on TV for five straight seasons." It's unclear how much Geoffrey Owens made for his portrayal of Elvin Tibideaux, but with 60 million viewers, he was probably pulling in a pretty penny. Yet, somehow, he ended up working at Trader Joe's (which supposedly has great health benefits, so is it really that bad?).

Owens has steadily worked in Hollywood since The Cosby Show ended in 1992. Aside from a recurring role in the short-lived TV series Built to Last, the star has mostly resigned himself to bit parts and one-offs, which worked out with his Cosby Show residuals. At least until Bill Cosby was found guilty of "drugging and sexually assaulting a woman," according to The New York Times, and accused of similar crimes by dozens more. When The Cosby Show was pulled from the air amidst scandal, Owens was left scrambling to support his family.

"I said to myself, 'I have to do something' ... the answer ended up being Trader Joe's, which is actually a wonderful situation for me in many ways," Owens told People.

Since the news of Owens' job hit the internet, the star has been offered "a recurring role" in a Tyler Perry drama and a guest spot on NCIS: New Orleans, according to Mic. But there's still no shame in his side hustle.

Willie Aames

With roles in series like We'll Get By, Swiss Family Robinson and Eight Is Enough, it almost seems like you could turn on the TV at any given time during the '70s and see Willie Aames. After landing the role of Buddy in Charles In Charge, he managed to make the difficult transition from child star to adult actor. According to ET (via The Huffington Post), the star was making over $1 million a year at the height of Eight Is Enough, but as of this writing, he's worth an estimated $100,000.

According to The Kansas City Star, Aames "filed for bankruptcy twice since 1997" and went as far as "holding a yard sale in front of his foreclosed home" to attempt to dig himself out of financial ruin.

"I found myself virtually homeless," he told ET. "I stayed with friends when I could, slept in parking garages or slept in the park. It was shameful. I remember laying underneath the bushes thinking, 'Is this how it turns out? Is this how my life really turns out?'"

Through the years, Aames struggled to find a job, even getting rejected or a gig as a wilderness guide. Eventually, he found work in construction, and he was hoping to becoming a financial advisor. In 2010, he unexpectedly found work on a cruise ship, and worked his way up to becoming cruise director (Perfect job for a former '70s star, no?). He made a steady return to TV a couple years later.