Let’s face it, Americans love their cars. Automobiles are arguably the primary possession that many people, rich and poor, use to show off their personality to the world. Ford or Chevy, pickup truck vs. sports car, soccer mom or CEO.
But we probably care a bit too much about our vehicles. At the end of the day, they are designed for transportation, and more and more people are starting to realize that it’s foolhardy to spend more than necessary on a car.
Even some celebrities are starting to wonder why someone would pay so much for a new ride. Sure, most do buy some fancy toys and like to show off their success. But many actors, athletes, musicians, and even billionaires are now being seen driving around in very reasonable vehicles that most average Americans can afford.
The following five celebrities are some of the most notable people in the public eye who feel very comfortable driving practical, budget-friendly automobiles.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – Toyota Prius
As one of the highest-paid actors in in the world, Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio certainly doesn’t need to worry about a budget. But he is among the many Hollywood celebrities who has opted to go electric, a choice that often finds them riding around in a relatively affordable Toyota Prius. While some seem to do this more as a one-time photo op to make them appear conscientious about climate change and their carbon footprint, DiCaprio has been seen around town many times over the years in his favored EV ride.
2. Jennifer Lawrence – Volkswagen Eos
The woman most famous for her portrayal of archer/savior Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games has long been lauded for her down-to-earth persona and every-girl nature. Jennifer Lawrence’s choice in automobiles certainly doesn’t betray that reputation. Even though she can rake in upward of $20 million for a film role, she seems very comfortable cruising around in this $30,000 car. And why not? She has nobody to impress.
3. Kawhi Leonard – 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe
After leading the long-lowly Toronto Raptors on an underdog success story to an NBA championship in his very first season with the team, star forward Kawhi Leonard became just the third player in league history to win Finals MVP for two different teams. Soon after the parade, he opted to move on to a new team in La La Land, and this decision will allow him to make $103 million over the next three years. He definitely can afford any vehicle he wants. But the future Hall of Famer has always been known for his frugal nature, even reportedly cashing in coupons for free wings. The one tale that fits most with Kawhi’s personality is that he continued driving the 1997 Chevy Tahoe he first got in high school long after he became a multi-millionaire celebrity. “It runs … and it’s paid off,” he once said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
4. Steve Ballmer – Ford Fusion
Kawhi’s boss is another NBA figure willing to drive on the cheap. In 2014, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer leapt at the opportunity to buy the Los Angeles Clippers after former owner Donald Sterling was exiled from the league. But even before that, he was the recipient of a Ford Fusion Hybrid to commemorate the sales milestone of one million models sold that included Microsoft’s onboard Sync communication technology. While many ceremonially gifted cars likely get donated away to charity right after the press conference, Ballmer reportedly actually used this automobile that retailed for $28,000. And he was happy to in part because his father worked for the iconic American carmaker and the family had always had an affinity for the brand.
5. Adele – Mini Cooper
Even more than actors, musicians are notorious for being wasteful with their money. The ethos of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” never included time for budgeting spreadsheets after all. But Adele has grown so beloved in part due to her relatable personality, and many would include her preferred car in that characterization. After she achieved global stardom from her remarkable voice and songwriting ability, the chart topper did elevate her lifestyle. But she said her only big purchase beyond real estate was a new Mini Cooper, according to a 2016 profile by the E! network. “Rather than travel around in limousines, she opts to jet around the city in her little car,” reported E!.
It is always nice to see the rich and famous stay connected to reality. Sure, they can buy whatever they want once they hit a certain threshold of financial security. But many celebrities have enough trouble staying grounded, and every little bit probably helps in terms of not losing touch with how the other 99% of people actually live.
And while celebrities do not always make the best role models, these examples of practical spending are something we can all take to heart. Even the Average Joe can probably save a few bucks and get by on less car than they want rather than watching half their paycheck disappear every month on payments. Given that there are great services out there like Protect My Car — which can provide help with used car insurance, an extended warranty, or a used car service contract — it is easy to feel safe and secure in a reliable option even if it doesn’t roll right off the factory showroom.
So have no fear about keeping up with the Joneses or wasting money on a junker that is going to break down constantly and leave you in the lurch. Be like Leo and drive an affordable car you like rather than throwing away all your hard-earned money just to impress some strangers. If rolling in the cheap is good enough for Adele, it’s good enough for you.