The Creative Ways Barack And Michelle Obama Spend Their Money

There's no denying Barack and Michelle Obama are American royalty. While they may be king and queen in the figurative sense, their leadership and humanitarian efforts show just how well they can rule. As you can imagine, the former president and first lady have amassed a huge fortune that will likely continue to grow with the influential duo's work ethic. 

"Right now, I'm actually surprised by how much money I got," the former president said during a 2018 speech in South Africa about wealth inequality, per The Hill. "And let me tell you something — I don't have half as much as most of these folks, or a tenth, or a hundredth," Obama, whose net worth was estimated to be around $20 million at the time, said. "There's only so much you can eat," he continued. "There's only so big a house you can have. There's only so many nice trips you can take."

As he encouraged others with deep pockets to share the wealth, he added, "I'll pay a little more in taxes. It's okay, I can afford it. I mean, it shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more, and more, and more, instead of saying, 'Wow, I've got so much, who can I help? How can I give, more, and more, and more?'" Emphasizing the value in giving back, he continued, "What an amazing gift to be able to help people, not just yourself." Keep scrolling for more details on how Barack and Michelle Obama spend their earnings.

What is Barack and Michelle Obama's net worth?

It's no surprise Barack and Michelle Obama are worth a pretty penny considering the vast amount of work they are involved in. Following their departure from the White House in 2016, the pair signed a deal with Netflix, reportedly worth millions, to produce TV shows and films for the streaming service, per Variety. Plus, they also signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House to produce their memoirs valued at $65 million.

In addition to their most lucrative business ventures, Obama earned a $400,000 salary as president and still receives $205,700 a year from his annual pension thanks to the 1958 Former Presidents Act, according to the Evening Standard. These days, Obama charges the same amount of his previous salary per speaking engagement, and according to CNBC, he was paid $800,000 for two Wall Street speeches and at least $1.2 million for a third in 2017.

With Obama's post-presidential perks and his pricey projects, his net worth is estimated to be $70 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Meanwhile, Michelle also carries her weight in the Obama house with her book deals and appearances, for which she charges $225,000 per engagement (via New York Post). Like her husband, Celebrity Net Worth estimates her individual fortune to be about $70 million, making their combined assets a total of $140 million. Although one may struggle to spend that many millions, the Obamas know exactly how to use their fortune.

Taking care of their daughters is their first priority

Before the Obamas have fun with their income, they make sure to take care of their daughters, Sasha and Malia, first and foremost. The girls both attended Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., and the private school costs between $45,000 to $50,000 per year depending on the grade and additional fees, according to the school's website. Since the daughters moved to the White House when they were only 9 and 6, that means the Obamas could have paid around $50,000 per daughter for 12 years of education, which come to more than 1 million spent on Sasha and Malia's grade school tuition.

Like her parents, Malia went on to attend Harvard University, and the prestigious school costs the alumni about $50,000 a year. Sasha moved on to the University of Michigan, which set her parents back nearly $70,000 for out-of-state tuition. However, both daughters spent their 2020 academic year at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I feel for them because Malia is a senior, this was her last year in college, and Sasha has essentially missed her second year in college," Michelle shared while speaking on the "Today" show in March 2021. "But for Barack and I, we have cherished this time," the proud mom admitted. "It's even fun just peeking in and hearing them in their online classrooms. It's like, 'Oh, you actually did your reading. Ah, you have an opinion.' I like that."

The Obamas know how to live large

After living in the White House for nearly a decade, it's no surprise the Obamas have high expectations when it comes to their lodging. Following their departure from Pennsylvania Avenue, Barack and Michelle Obama rented an 8,200-square-foot home in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C. before purchasing the home for a reported $8.1 million, according to The New York Times. Boasting eight bedrooms and nine-and-a-half-bathrooms, the Tudor-style house is sure to impress their elite neighbors. In fact, The Washington Post claimed the home was the second-most expensive in the neighborhood, with the first being Jeff Bezos' $23 million estate.

But after laying down roots in Washington, the power couple treated themselves to a second home in Martha's Vineyard, purchasing a 29-acre estate on the Edgartown Great Pond in 2019 for a whopping $11.75 million, per New York Post. The sprawling mansion is perfect for entertaining and even hosted the former president's 60th birthday party in August 2021. 

They go all out for their parties

We know the Obamas are always down for a good time and don't mind splurging for a special occasion. Conveniently, their stunning vacation home was the perfect backdrop for Barack Obama's star-studded birthday celebration. The venue was supposed to house 400 of their closest friends before the event was scaled back due to COVID-19 concerns, according to CNN. Despite the hiccup to their lavish affair, their guests had plenty of extra room on the dance floor after cutting their guest list in half.

They housed their guests in a "massive" tent outside and provided black masks for the occasion, which were custom made with a 44x60 monogram, according to People. Their cocktail napkins and staff badges also featured the one-of-a-kind design. Plus, Obama's guest list featured A-listers like Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and John Legend. The man of the hour was reportedly basking in his glory and "never stopped smiling," a source told the outlet. "Literally, every time I saw him, he had the biggest smile," they shared.

They spend a lot on philanthropy

Although Barack and Michelle Obama spare no expense when it comes to their living arrangements, they still have plenty of cash to give away. After the former president won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he donated his $1.4 million award to a variety of charities, per Evening Standard. Additionally, the pair donated $64,066 to over 30 charities in 2015, according to the former president's tax returns. However, Forbes reported that Obama gave more than $1 million to charity between 2009 to 2015.

The philanthropic couple also has a charity of their own called the Obama Foundation, and the two donated over $1 million to the fund in January 2020 to help build the Obama Presidential Center in the South Side of Chicago, per Chicago Tribune. The former first lady also vowed to give $500,000 of the proceeds from the sale of her book "Becoming" to the Girls Opportunity Alliance, which she created to help educate women around the world. "My hope is that this donation will help more bold and brilliant girls reach their fullest potential, continuing upward on their path toward becoming the women they are meant to be," she said in a statement announcing her contribution, per The Hill. Adding that she feels a "responsibility" to lend a helping hand, she said, "This duty of giving back is what my parents and grandparents taught me, and it's a value I've tried to live by my entire life."

The Obamas travel the world in style

Along with their lavish events, sweet digs, and charitable donations, Barack and Michelle Obama spend a pretty penny to travel the world in the most luxurious accommodations. In 2019, the Obama family traveled to the South of France where they rented a $62,000 a week home in Provence, according to the Evening Standard. They were also photographed paying George and Amal Clooney a visit in Lake Como, and they've been seen vacationing with Richard Branson in the Caribbean. The former president himself has been known to let his hair down on vacation and was even spotted kitesurfing on one of his island trips. 

 "There is something spectacular about seeing a new place, being exposed to new ideas and experiencing a new culture," Obama said about traveling at a tourism summit in April 2019 (via SFGate), adding, "Traveling makes you grow." In addition to having a thrill for adventure, he said exploring is even more special with his daughters. "As a parent," he continued, "When you are able to watch that sense of discovery in your children's eyes, that is more special than anything else."

They know how to make a fashion statement

Throughout their time in the public eye, Michelle and Barack Obama have always been praised for their fashion sense at a great cost. In fact, first families typically pay for their own wardrobing unless an item is gifted to them and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government, per Daily News. "I paid for all my own clothes and accessories — with the exception of some items like the couture-level gowns I wore to formal events, which were lent to me by the designers and would later be donated to the National Archives, thus adhering to White House ethics guidelines," Michelle wrote in her memoir "Becoming," per Elle. "I wanted to draw attention to and celebrate American designers, especially those who were less established, even if it sometimes frustrated the old guard," she said of her approach to dressing as the first lady. 

But since her departure from the White House, Michelle's been able to have more fun with fashion and she isn't afraid to take a risk with a daring piece. Such as the $3,900 Balenciaga boots she sported to an on-stage talk with Sarah Jessica Parker in 2018, per Vox, which she chose solely because "they were just really cute," she said, adding, "I was like, 'Those some nice boots!'" As first lady, she felt an obligation to be modest with her wardrobe since "fashion does have meaning," but, "now, I'm free to do whatever," she said. 

Sasha and Malia also have expensive taste

It looks like Sasha and Malia Obama got their fashion sense from their mama. From when we met them as little girls wearing matching floral dresses, to their chic styles today, these two have known how to put their best foot forward from the start. And like Michelle, they aren't afraid to rock designer goods. 

The girls are frequently spotted wearing brands like Moschino, Alexander Wang, Alice + Olivia, and many more, but their gowns by Naeem Khan at the White House State Dinner in 2016 put them on the map as trendsetters in their own right. In fact, their embroidered couture dresses were worth nearly $20,000 each, according to People. It's unclear whether the Obamas foot the bill for the then 14 and 17-year-old's dresses, or if the designs were donated to the National Archives, however, a splurge that big seems out of character for the charitable family.

Obama taught his daughters to be frugal

From a young age, the Obamas made sure to educate their daughters on the value of a dollar even with their great wealth. They were reportedly given an allowance of $1 a week each as kids back in 2009, according to CBS News, and they had their own savings accounts by ages 12 and 9, the former president shared on ABC News' "Good Morning America" in July 2010.

While discussing the importance of educating kids about their finances, the then-president admitted, "so many of the problems that we see had to do with the fact that just basic calculations about compound interest and — and what that means, you know, kids aren't taught that." He shared that he and Michelle were trying to teach Sasha and Malia the basics about banking at the time, explaining that they show the girls how they can "use the math skills that they're learning in school to figure out that if — if they keep $100 in their bank account at 2 or 3 percent interest for six months, this is how much money they're going to have at the end of it."

 Plus, in addition to their allowance, the girls were encouraged to get jobs such as babysitting, and as they got older, they were spotted working summer jobs. According to the Boston Herald, Sasha was even seen serving seafood at a restaurant back in 2016.

The Obamas invested in their family

Barack and Michelle Obama paid a big price to become mom and dad. The former first lady revealed she suffered from a miscarriage and sought out in-vitro fertilization in her 2018 book, "Becoming," per BBC. She admitted she felt "lost and alone" while discussing her experience on "Good Morning America," adding, "I felt like I failed because I didn't know how common miscarriages were because we don't talk about them." 

Sharing that she started to worry about conception at around age 34 when she realized "the biological clock is real" and that "egg production is limited," she then went ahead with IVF. The treatment can be quite pricey with the average cost of one cycle to be around $12,000 to $17,000, and with medication, the fees could rise to nearly $25,000, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported, per The New York Times. However, most people need more than one round of IVF before they are successful, not to mention the countless other procedures needed, like genetic testing of the embryos, that contribute to the grand total. Studies predict that most women typically need three rounds, while others report that six cycles may be necessary. 

With two daughters of their own, it's possible the Obamas could have spent over $50,000 in order to conceive, but the parents would probably agree that it was a sound investment. 

They prioritize fitness and trying new activities

Staying in shape has always been important to the Obamas and they don't seem to mind splurging on the latest fitness trends. Michelle Obama has been known to fancy a SoulCycle, per TMZ, and she previously revealed on Twitter that the spin class is fun for the whole family. "I love it when my girls join me for a little SoulCycle. We all are in the dark, moving to the beat on the bikes. We love it," she shared in 2015, per Women's Health. One Soul Cycle class in the D.C area is $32, not including the gear they need in order to peddle.

In addition to attending fitness classes, the Obamas are often spotted trying new activities on their island vacations. They were seen white water rafting in Bali when the family traveled to Indonesia, according to Time, and the former president and first lady were also pictured paddleboarding in Hawaii. 

Expensive cars aren't really their thing

Although the Obamas like living in luxury, they don't seem to care much for pimped-out cars. As a former president, Barack isn't allowed to get behind a steering wheel due to his life-long Secret Service detail that must always be at the helm. Plus, as an advocate for climate change policy reform, he makes sure to ride around in fuel-efficient automobiles. The commander-in-chief has been spotted in a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid and 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee aside from the Secret Service vehicles he's chauffeured in, according to Hot Cars. Prior to his stint in office, he drove around in a 2005 Chrysler 300C.

But while he may be restricted from enjoying the open road, that doesn't mean his family is too. In fact, the Obamas gifted Malia a brand new car for her 16th birthday in 2014, according to the Daily Mail. "Ladies and gentlemen in DC, watch out!" Michelle reportedly joked at the time, adding, "Malia Obama on the road — kinda frightening."

They don't mind splurging on good food

It's no surprise that someone as well-traveled as Barack Obama knows a thing or two about good food. The former president even broke bread with the late Anthony Bourdain when they enjoyed some "outstanding" street food together in Vietnam, which he said was one of his "favorite moments" while talking to The Skimm. As for the states with the best grub, "Memphis barbecue, to New Orleans jambalaya, crab cakes in Maryland," are his top picks. "America's got a lot of good food out there," he said, however, "There are a handful of states where the food is terrible, but they shall go unmentioned," he added. 

The former president has also been known to have a liking for fine dining, and he's been spotted at some of the most exclusive restaurants in New York City like Blue Hill, Il Mulino, Estela and Carbone, per Eater. However, going out for a bite as president wasn't all that easy, "I don't get to sneak out period, but once in a while I'll take Michelle out on a date night," he said while speaking to Bourdain (via Eater). "The problem is, part of enjoying a restaurant is sitting with other patrons and enjoying the atmosphere and too often we end up getting shut into one of those private rooms in the back."

Their pets live a pretty good life too

The Obamas also have expensive taste when it comes to their pets. The family famously had two Portuguese Water Dogs, first Bo in 2008, who died in May 2021, per NPR, and then Sunny in 2013, according to the Obama website. Portuguese Water Dog puppies can cost between $1,500-$2,890, Pet Budget reported, and first-year expenses could be over $4,000, while yearly care could be more than $1,500. With a life expectancy of about 12 years, the total cost of ownership is estimated to be around $22,355. However, the figure is subject to rise due to a number of other expenses like training, supplies, and pet insurance, making the final figure closer to $62,555 and $124,515. 

With two of these puppies at home, the Obamas had to shell out a lot of cash to keep their pooches happy. In fact, the former president has been known to spoil his pets with trips to PetSmart, and they get all the presidential perks, like trips on Air Force One and one-on-one time in the Oval Office. Not to mention all the belly rubs and playtime they get from the head of the household.