How to Live Like a President: Jimmy Carter’s Frugal Lifestyle

Not many presidents embrace a frugal lifestyle.

Many U.S. presidents have taken advantage of speaking opportunities and other ways to make money off of their experience in office. They use this money, and wealth they may have from other sources, to live a lavish lifestyle.

Jimmy Carter is a pleasant exception. Those who want to live a frugal lifestyle can take some lessons from his playbook.

A Modest Life in a Small Town

Carter was born and raised in Plains, Georgia. The small town has a population of fewer than 1o00 people. Sadly, it also reportedly has a poverty rate of 40%. Despite this, Carter moved back to Plains after his presidential term came to an end. It is a place where he can – and does – live modestly.

Putting in Hard Work

A president can make a lot of money. In fact, they can earn thousands of dollars per speech when they are out of office. However, Carter never wanted to make money off of being a president. He had served the people, and he would go on to live life independently out of office.

He had a peanut business, but it was in massive debt. In fact, he was forced to sell. Moreover, he and his wife thought that they might lose everything. Nevertheless, he stuck to his principles. Instead of taking those speaking gigs, he decided to become a writer. He’s authored more than thirty books.

He uses the modest income from the book sales plus the $210,700 annual pension he receives as a former president to love comfortably.

Details of a Frugal Lifestyle

Here are some of the frugal lifestyle choices that the president has made according to The Washington Post:

  • He lives in a two-bedroom house valued at $167,000.
  • When he flies, he uses commercial airlines, instead of private jets.
  • He takes daily walks with his wife, a free activity that also offers great exercise.
  • They cook for themselves, eating modestly, and storing leftovers in a cooler on the kitchen floor.
  • They even grow some of their own food, like fresh blueberries.
  • For leisure, he enjoys swimming, building furniture, painting, and watching television sports.
  • He participates in community, including teaching Sunday school.
  • He knocked down a wall himself when remodeling his house recently.

It all comes down to values. He’s a small town guy at heart. He enjoys the simple things in life. If you find richness in the everyday things around you, then you don’t need to spend a lot of money to be happy.

A Frugal President

Jimmy Carter isn’t just frugal in ways that reduce his own costs. His lifestyle also saves money for taxpayers. After all, a president is entitled to certain things once he leaves office. In comparison to other presidents, he makes low-cost choices.

For example, the federal government pays for an office for every former president. Carter’s costs $115,000, which is less expensive than that of any other president. He spends about one week per month there. Nevertheless, he and his wife slept on a pullout couch for years, instead of opting to have living quarters built at extra cost.

His total annual government bill is typically less than half the cost of other former presidents.

What are your thoughts on how Carter lives compared to other presidents? Comments welcome!

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