“They can’t afford the lives they’re living,” Frankel, 47, tells Money for the magazine’s September issue. “And if the music stops, they’re going to get in some trouble.”
Frankel ensured that she would not find herself in that trouble when she signed her first contract to appear on The Real Housewives of New York City. Money reports that Frankel, who was paid $7,250 for her first season, would not agree to give Bravo profits from endeavors that she used Real Housewives to publicize.
“Everybody else just had to try to play catch-up after they saw what I did,” Frankel says.
Frankel’s financial woes are now long behind her — she made $100 million by selling Skinnygirl in 2011 and can still use the brand name, according to Money — but she started her career in tougher circumstances.
“Until my late thirties, everything was just an anxiety and a struggle,” explains Frankel, who racked up $20,000 in credit card debt. “It’s like the way people feel when they eat something and they don’t feel good about it. … I’d be on the phone begging to get the [fees] reduced.”
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She has a philosophy about debt: “You can’t put yourself in a position where, if the s–t hit the fan, you couldn’t pay all of your bills at one time,” she says. “If the world came to an end, I would be able to pay for everything. I might not be left with much, but I can afford what I have.”
“I feel humbled,” she said at the time. “It took my three days to feel like this is my apartment. Wow, I can’t believe I live here.”
In March, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Girardi said on The Wendy Williams Show that she spends $40,000 per month to facilitate her lifestyle. She said, “If you want to look good, it’s hair, it’s makeup, it’s wardrobe, and then those people that help facilitate that. They’re not cheap.”