ABAnthony Bourdain is now reportedly worth millions of dollars and is one of the richest chefs in the world — but the chef-turned-TV-personality had a number of financial roadblocks on his way to success. From blowing his money on drugs to racking up thousands in debt, as he told WealthSimple, an online investment management service, n a recent interview, has learned the hard way how to be more financially savvy. Here are some of the lessons we can take away from the top chef’s experiences.

1. Start saving when you’re young

Until he was 44 years old, Bourdain, 60, didn’t have a savings account. He called his delay in saving “a sad fact” and said, “I’d always owed money. I’d always been selfish and completely irresponsible.”

He’s not alone, however: nearly 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and 28% have no money saved at all. Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together,” said even people on a tight budget can make room for savings from each paycheck. “It’s important to start the habit as early as possible,” she said. “Even if the amount you’re saving feels minuscule, it’s really about building that foundational habit so when you do start to make more, you do not have to make a lifestyle shift.”

No matter where you are in your career, start putting away at least $5 a month to get in the healthy habit of saving.

2. Don’t owe anybody money

Bourdain learned the hard way that owing money can take a toll on personal finances — and mental well-being. The chef talked about the stress of constantly owing money when he struggled with substance abuse. “I didn’t put anything aside, ever. Money came in, money went out. I was always a paycheck behind, at least. I usually owed my chef my paycheck: again, cocaine,” he said.

Coupled with costs from extravagant trips to the Caribbean that he paid for with credit cards, the debt piled up. David Gutzke, wealth management advisor for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, said there’s lots consumers can avoid falling down similar paths. “It’s important to set aside time weekly or twice a month to go through your spending and make sure you’re staying within your means,” he said. “You don’t even need a strict budget, but if you have a regular paycheck look at how much is coming in and how much is going out.”

Avoid impulse buys. “One splurge can destroy your budget for a whole month or quarter or even more,” Gutzke said.

3. When you see a good opportunity, take advantage

Bourdain’s rise to the top is the result of a number of high-risk decisions that ended up paying off. After completing one year of college, he decided he wanted to drop out and go to culinary school and work at chef jobs in New York City. And after he wrote the popular book “Kitchen Confidential,” a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like to work in restaurant kitchens, he was hesitant to stop working full time as a chef and unsure how much money he could make outside the kitchen.

But he found that his restaurant was increasingly filled with reporters interested in talking with him, so he decided to start touring and talking about the book, which ended up paying him more than the book sales did. “I was old enough to realize I’d been handed this incredible, lucky break and I was very unlikely to get another one,” he said.

It was after that his TV and writing career took off and he was able to start saving money regularly.

4. Pay all your taxes

Bourdain was irresponsible financially in many ways, and even avoided paying taxes for 10 years — but now he’d never think of skirting Uncle Sam. A friend once alluded to an easy way to evade taxes, creating a “bogus residence” in the Caymans, but Bourdain said he takes pride in paying everything he owes — even if as a rumored millionaire it’s a high number.

“I’d feel like a shit doing that,” he told WealthSimple. “I’m an American. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to have those kinds of conversations. I’m putting myself to sleep just thinking about it. I’d rather make a lot less money. It’s honest dollars. Everybody gets theirs: my partners make money, I make money, the government gets theirs. If they call me in for a full audit, great, here I am. It’s all there. I lived a lot of years afraid of the bank, the landlord and the government calling. Nowadays, it’s nice to not be afraid.”

Source:  Kari Paul, MoneyWatch