How Growing Up Poor Inspired Chelsea Handler to Succeed

"I was 15 when I was 2. I was like, 'What's our financial situation?' " Handler says in the latest issue of PEOPLE

Photo: Misha Gravenor

Chelsea Handler was always keenly aware of her family’s finances.

“I was 15 when I was 2. I was like, ‘What’s our financial situation?’ ” Handler, 40, says in the latest issue of PEOPLE.

As the youngest of six born to Seymour, a used-car salesman, and Rita, a homemaker, Handler grew up in New Jersey and enjoyed summers at her family’s home in Martha’s Vineyard. But “I’d go to my friends’ houses and I could tell things were different,” she says the comic and best-selling author.

For more from Handler – including why she took a year-long break from Hollywood – pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Now living in a beautiful home in Bel Air, California, the former late-night talk show host looks back at her childhood as something that inspired her to never give up in her pursuit of success in Hollywood.

“I just thought, ‘I don’t ever want to live like that. I don’t want to worry about the phone being cut off, and I don’t ever want to have people not be able to depend on me,’ ” says Handler, who launches her four-episode documentary series Chelsea Does on Netflix Jan. 23. “My parents were great and there was a lot of love in our house, but they were kind of hot messes.”

Related Articles