Maybe the Clintons are just bad at personal finance

Maybe the Clintons are just bad at personal finance

With revelation after revelation of Hillary Clinton claiming to be dirt poor, destitute, and living in a cardboard box following her husband’s exit from the White House, one has to wonder whether she truly felt that way or the Clintons are simply bad at handling money.

However, many people wrongly assume that once a millionaire, always a millionaire. Someone worth $10 million usually doesn’t run into trouble unless he is paying for a lifestyle equivalent to that of someone worth $100 million. It’s just bad financial management at a grander level. This is equivalent to someone earning $50,000 a year but spending like he earns $100,000 a year. The same outcome will result as debt piles up, creditors repossess items, and your financial life is ruined for a period of time.

In the case of the Clintons, “dead broke,” as described by Hillary, meant about $2 million in assets and around $10 million in debt from 2000 to 2001. The debt mostly consisted of legal fees incurred fending off investigations ranging from Whitewater up to Bill’s affair with Monica Lewinksy. In other words, the Clintons were living like people worth $2 million but creating scandals of someone worth $50 million. The math simply doesn’t add up.

In Mrs. Clinton’s defense, being $8 million in the hole might seem like “dead broke” when you’re used to living a very upscale lifestyle. In this line of thinking, a rampant Clinton supporter explained that the Clintons simply have “a life and a set of expectations that are different” than most Americans, which excuses Hillary’s comment.

That statement, I believe, is entirely true. The Clintons, following their departure from the White House, were used to a lifestyle that most Americans will never attain. Thus, it is difficult to relate to $8 million in the hole since most Americans will strive to accumulate a small fraction of that amount for their own retirement.

However, here is where the car goes off the rails. The part Hillary Clinton leaves out of the equation is how their “dead broke” situation was almost entirely of their own doing. From Whitewater to Lewinsky, actions of Bill and Hillary Clinton contributed to the need for attorneys to represent them against prosecutors investigating the couple’s behavior. Whether financial, or physical, the Clintons were their own worst enemies when it came to finances.

The media has been somewhat dismissive and dubious of Hillary’s comments, but no reporter has actually asked her if she thought her own actions, and those of her husband, contributed to their financial situation when leaving the White House in 2001. We as a society shouldn’t have to feel bad for people who can’t afford the scandals they create.



Nate is founder of the blog He is a software developer by day.


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