Ever wondered how much George Washington was worth? How about HBO legend (and my new fave) John Adams? Or Mr. President Obama? Well you’re in for a treat kiddos, I just got a tip from one of our readers that The Atlantic recently did a story on this and it’s pretty wild! It won’t help you out in your own financial endeavors, but it’ll be great for convo starters ;) And perhaps it’ll motivate you a bit too?
I was tempted to copy and paste the entire list here, but figured you wouldn’t even recognize half of them anyways so decided against it. Haha… at least I didn’t remember ‘em (*cough* William Henry Harrison, *cough* Rutherford Birchard Hayes). Instead I decided to grab the ones I personally like myself, along with some others who stood out for one reason or another. A handful of these were pretty shocking!
And before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, don’t put too much stock in the details and exact numbers here. There are a slue of variables that come into play, so just use ’em as a general gauge of success. Here’s how they calculated it:
“Having examined the finances of all 43 presidents (yes, 43; remember, Cleveland was president twice), we calculated the net worth figures for each in 2010 dollars. Because a number of presidents, particularly in the early nineteenth century, made and lost huge fortunes in a matter of a few years, the number for each man is based on his net worth at its peak.”
So remember, it’s in TODAY’S dollars and at the presidents’ PEAK. Some liked to live above their means as they got older (naughty Thomas Jefferson), while others haven’t hit their prime yet ;)
Famous Presidents & Their Net Worths:
|President (#)||Net Worth||How they built it|
|George Washington (1st)
John Adams (2nd)
Thomas Jefferson (3rd)
Abraham Lincoln (16th)
Ulysses Simpson Grant (18th)
Theodore Roosevelt (26th)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (35th)
Lyndon Baines Johnson (36th)
Richard Milhous Nixon (37th)
William Jefferson Clinton (42nd)
George W. Bush (43rd)
Barack Hussein Obama (44th)
< $1 Million
< $1 Million
|Real estate, Presidential Salary
Real estate, Law practice, Farm
Real estate, Political positions
Family Trust, real estate, books
Family Trust *Had he inherited it
Real estate, Business (radio & TV)
Interviews (think David Frost), Books
Autobiography, Public Speaking
Oil, Sale of Texas Rangers
Mainly Book Royalties
So it seems the big winners are JKF & good ol’ George Washington! With Honest Abe and many others toward the end of the spectrum. And who knew Obama was down around there too? I guess had I put some thought into it it would made sense, but I guess that’s why I find this whole thing appealing :) I learnt sumthinn tooday!
If you’re a financial nerd and love this stuff too, I highly recommend checkin’ out the article in its entirety: The Net Worth of the U.S. Presidents: Washington to Obama.
As it mentions in the article, “one of the most important conclusions of this analysis is that the presidency has little to do with wealth. Several brought huge net worths to the job. Many lost most of their fortunes after leaving office. Some never had any money at all.” Fascinating stuff!!
(Photo by chascar. Blinged out by J$)
PS: If you’re just getting started in your journey, here are a few good resources to help track your money. Doesn’t matter which route you go, just that it ends up sticking!
- The "Budget/Net Worth" spreadsheet - the colorful Excel template I personally use.
- The "Money Snapshot" spreadsheet - a simple Excel template I created for my former $$$ clients
If you're not a spreadsheet guy like me and prefer something more automated (which is fine, whatever gets you to take action!), you can try your hand with a free Personal Capital account instead.
Personal Capital is a cool tool that connects with your bank & investment accounts to give you an automated way to track your net worth. You'll get a crystal clear picture of how your spending and investments affect your financial goals (early retirement?), and it's super easy to use.
It only takes a couple minutes to set up and you can grab your free account here. They also do a lot of other cool stuff as well which my early retired friend Justin covers in our full review of Personal Capital - check it out here: Why I Use Personal Capital Almost Every Single Day.
(There's also Mint.com too btw which is also free and automated, but its more focused on day-to-day budgeting rather than long-term net worth building)
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I would definitely have to agree that Washington was the wealthiest president of all time by a very large margin
Barack is at $5mil and he isn’t even out of office yet! He has yet to start the public speaking circuit
I love the John Adams miniseries on HBO! Paul Giamatti does such a great job in that role. If John Adams is your new fav, you should read ‘Founding Brothers’ by Joseph J. Ellis. It gives a really interesting perspective on John Adams and all of the founding fathers while they were trying to make America happen. (obviously only interesting if you are a huge history nerd like myself, but def one of the best books I’ve read on the subject!) I’m glad to see that good old George is in the top 2 of this list!
Yeah it’s interesting to see how wide the numbers vary between them. To be an attorney, and have a net worth of less than $1M (at your peak) seems unheard of to me. And Barack does seem to be on a good head start. I guess I gotta starting writing books!
Wow, so JFK would have been the richest – simply by inheritance.
I’m not as surprised about Obama – he’s still so young and budding. I’ll have to check out that Adams thing on HBO – Netflix! Very interesting post buddyyy!
Bar a few exceptions, it looks like being a celebrity in this day of age (which every president is), a slaveholder in years gone by, or a lawyer at any time would yield the most financial success.
Ooooh never heard of ‘Founding Brothers’ before, I’ll most def. be looking into that one! The older I get, the more curious and intrigued I become on our founding fathers… I’m turning into my dad every day.
I wouldn’t say that wealth has nothing to do with it. I would reckon to say that all of the presidents were wealthy, even though Abe Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant had less than $1 million. Back then $500,000 would have been considered quite wealthy.
Huh! Interesting stuff. I really would have NEVER of thought that George Wash was worth THAT much!
I also would of thought that Obama would have been worth a whole LOT MORE! Give him time though, I think that a few years after his presidency, his net worth will skyrocket. First Black president, any book he writes, even if it’s horrible, will be an instant money maker!
Is it even fair to compare the current president to past ones? Clinton wasn’t worth $38 million when he left office. Modern presidents can make a lot with books and speaking engagements.
Probably not fair at all, but it still makes for interesting fodder ;)
Off shore accounts are not counted.
Are you trying to say these politicians hide money? ;)
Think it woulod be more interesting to see what they were worth when they werre elected President, rather than what they earned afterwords. Originally found this on Foxnews, where the first sentence says that Kennedy was married to an oil heiress. They fail to point out that she married Onassis after Kennedy was killed.
Interesting! I bet if you take out everything *after* presidency too, that the $$ would be far far less. But still doesn’t mean they weren’t raking it in :)