We’re gonna take a break from our regularly scheduled programming today.
This post will be a bit brief. But I think it’s important. And it really complements (and reinforces) the concepts I laid out in the article I recently put together on celebrity suicides and discrediting the notion that money buys happiness.
There’s yet another cautionary celebrity tale that I think must be shared.
Rolling Stone put out this amazing piece on just what in the world has become of Johnny Depp’s finances. Indeed, what’s become of Johnny Depp.
Please take the time to read it. I’ll wait.
It’s insightful. It’s engaging. It’s maddening. It’s surprising. But it’s also cringe-inducing and gut-wrenching.
Unfortunately, it’s, perhaps most of all, sad.
Johnny Depp has earned an estimated $650 million throughout his career.
Let me repeat that.
650 million dollars.
And a few other estimates have pegged it considerably higher.
He’s approaching the point where describing the amount of money goes from an “M” to a “B”.
In fact, his movies have all combined to net $3.6 billion. So there’s the “B” right there.
Johnny Depp is practically a business unto himself. Actually, he’s almost a country. His lifetime earnings lap the annual GDP of the Cook Islands more than twice over.
That would make sense since he owns an island.
This is where the wheels come off.
And this is where the cautionary tale begins… and ends.
Johnny Depp has earned millions upon millions of dollars over the course of his (still relatively short) life.
But. He. Is. Broke.
He is, as Rolling Stone puts it, bankrupt.
What happened here is a tale as old as time.
He very simply spent more than he made. He outspent his earnings.
It is not what you earn that matters; it’s what you keep, save, and invest that will ultimately determine your finances, flexibility, freedom, and opportunities in life.
Being a great earner means almost nothing. Being a great saver means almost everything.
Johnny Depp is a very famous movie star. Johnny Depp made hundreds of millions of dollars.
He is not financially independent.
I worked at a car dealership. I made, at my absolute peak, $60,000 per year.
Yet, I am financially independent.
Plus, I’m almost 20 years younger than he is.
The difference here is that I lived (and still live) below my means, while Johnny lived above his.
It’s basic math.
I made sure to lock down the scarcity mindset before moving over into the abundance mindset. It appears that Johnny Depp has not been familiar with scarcity for a very long time.
I’m not ripping on Johnny Depp here, nor am I tooting my own horn.
But I am discussing this today because it’s pertinent that we understand five very important concepts:
- Money does not buy happiness. I want to repeat this. Money does not buy happiness.
- Earning a lot of money does not even come close to guaranteeing financial security. In fact, it may end up accomplishing the opposite.
- You can make a lot of money and still be broke. What you save and invest matters way, way more than what you make.
- It absolutely does not require a high income to become financially independent quickly and/or young.
- High earners, even (or especially) celebrities, are not necessarily free to do whatever they want in life.
Johnny Depp is apparently not financially independent. He’s the opposite of this. He’s instead very much dependent on his continued ability to sell movies and make money, for better or worse.
It’s very likely that for the foreseeable future he’ll basically be forced to do roles/work, regardless of whether or not there is the internal desire or motivation present to do so. It’s a very simple proposition: make movies to earn money. At 55 years old, with his earnings history, he should be set to do whatever he very well pleases for the rest of his life (and 10 lifetimes after that). But he is, unfortunately, not in that kind of position.
His lack of freedom means he is chained to his massive pile of stuff, debt, and numerous obligations that he may or (more likely) may not want to live up to.
The Johnny Depp of yesterday wrote a lot of checks that the Johnny Depp of today can’t cover. I mean that in the financial sense and the non-financial sense. One has to believe Johnny doesn’t want to trot around as Jack Sparrow when he’s 80 (as much as Penélope Cruz might like to see that). What a depressing idea that would be.
In my opinion, the biggest mistake Johnny Depp made was committed many years ago. He came to LA to chase his dream in music. He instead went into acting for the money. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Don’t put that future version of yourself in peril. Think about that future version of yourself, because that person one day will be you. Visualize that future you and the life you want that person to live. Then will it into reality through proper execution.
Don’t put a price on your dreams.
Don’t chase the buck. I assure you, you cannot catch it.
The Rolling Stone story goes down a dark rabbit hole for a bit, where Johnny discusses bottoming out and contemplating suicide. Even by the end of the article, it’s not entirely clear that Johnny Depp is even okay. It seems to me that he is still in a really bad place right now.
This is very, very sad. It’s extremely troubling to me.
Rich people, celebrities, beautiful people, whomever you can think of – nobody “has it all”. Nobody. Certainly not me.
As I recently shared, life is a constant challenge. Happiness is a moving target. And it’s a target only you can see and aim for.
You have to be constantly vigilant and self-aware, cognizant of what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with, why you’re doing it, and whether or not you should continue to do it (the fact that you’ve been doing it is not by itself a good reason to continue doing it).
But much of that requires some measure of control and freedom in your life. You have to have options and flexibility.
Being financially independent is so wonderful because you can pick and choose your spots in life.
When you have to get out of Dodge, you can do so. When the right opportunity presents itself, you can jump on it. When you’re truly passionate about something, you can take the time (because you can make the time) to pursue that.
If you don’t have options, you end up backed up in a corner. And that’s a miserable feeling right down to your core.
Neither fame nor fortune can do anything for you when that’s where you’re at. Only freedom can. And that’s why freedom is far better than fame and/or fortune.
The good news, though, is that it takes neither a high income nor even a lot of wealth/passive income to become financially free – or at least free enough to have a good measure of flexibility in your life.
Just think about what having $20,000 in the bank (or stock market, better yet) does for your psyche. Just think about how much better you feel if you know that you could walk away from whatever you’re doing and be just fine for quite a while.
That’s an amazing feeling!
Yet it doesn’t even cost that much.
Now crank that flexibility up a few levels. That’s financial freedom.
Financial freedom feels that much more amazing, yet it still doesn’t cost that much.
I say that because you can’t put a price tag on your freedom. You can’t put a dollar sign on your life. Your dreams shouldn’t be for sale.
It becomes a choice early on: your life or your money. And if you choose the latter, you’re going down a dark road.
As Charlie Munger put it:
I did not intend to get rich, I wanted to get independent. I just overshot.
Aiming for financial freedom is such a thing where most of the benefits are conferred quite early into the journey. The money actually comes later.
And by then, you’ll already have (or should have) figured out that it’s not money that produces happiness. It’s everything else in your life that makes you happy, but everything else will require the resources available to fully enjoy it. The money just allows for that process to play out. Money is a facilitator. That is all.
The problem is, people continue to chase after the short-term highs by circumventing that entire process and instead exchanging their money for stuff, consuming and spending more than they should/can. They continue running on the hedonic treadmill at faster and faster speeds, wondering why they can’t stop running and get happy.
I spent a lot of money. Now where’s my damn happiness?
Well, it doesn’t work like that.
Pitbull figured this out.
I genuinely hope Johnny Depp also figures this out before it’s too late for him.
What do you think? Did you read the story on Johnny Depp? Any thoughts on all of this?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: imgflip at imgflip.com/memegenerator/Be-Like-Bill.
P.S. If you’d like to become financially independent and enjoy some of the benefits I just laid out, please check out some great resources that I’ve personally used on my way to achieving financial freedom at just 33 years old – all on a middle-class income!