While it seems everyone wants to eulogize the reality show careers of Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt of The Hills, The Price of Fame set out to itemize.
In piecing through bits revealed in their we-are-broke-and-we-were-stupid confessionals in the Daily Beast and elsewhere, we've been able to quantify their fiscal waste. The couple has burned through at least $10 million, according to the Daily Mail. They're now camping out at Spencer's parents' beach home in Santa Barbara, reportedly subsisting on burritos and perhaps wondering how their 15 minutes fizzled out faster than Alka Seltzer.
"Somebody who reaches that pinnacle of success has to realize that success is very fleeting," said TPOF resident expert Mitch Slater, senior vice president of investments for UBS Financial Services. "Just look at the heap of child and teen actors that became financially ruined for not saving any money."
Just how profligate was Speidi, as they became known during their six seasons on the MTV show that went dark in 2010? Let us read on and learn from their covetous ways.
The numbers tell a story that might have made an even better docu-series -- perhaps one that could have competed with Jersey Shore before that vapid vehicle of vulgarity wiped The Hills off the map.
What they spent:
--$2 million on Heidi's nowhere music career. She wanted Britney Spears. She got the remainder bin. Her album Superficial sold less than 1,000 copies in its first week of release in 2010.
--$1 million-plus on Spencer's wardrobe. He told the Beast they were props.
--$500,000 on Heidi's plastic surgery, including boob jobs, nose jobs, chin job, booty job and just about every other job that doesn't pay. This is a guess. The actual operations were estimated at $300,000. It was the $2,000 per nurse visit and bandage change during her recoveries that led us to suspect her mid-six-figure tab.
--$35,000 a month on a Malibu mansion, the Daily Mail said.
--$8,500 a month on a Hollywood Hills rental.
--$11,000 for a rebuilt engine, plus larger undisclosed costs, for a monster truck that he drove once on the show.
Where it came from:
--$3 million in income and endorsements from the first two years of The Hills alone.
--$100,000 per episode for Montag and $65,000 for Pratt in the last season.
--$3,000 per photo of the couple at their peak.
Where will it come from?
Pratt has inquired about working as a reality actor's agent and told no thanks, the Beast reported. Montag got a temporary gig on VH1's Famous Food. But it's apparently not paying the bills because Pratt's parents buy the groceries. Pratt, who turns 28 in August, said he learned that reality TV isn't a career. Montag, 25, wondered aloud why her small-town values did not make her sock away the money.
It's the kind of hindsight that could have made the difference between being reality has-beens with a financial future to cautionary-tale punchlines.
"They clearly forgot the golden rule of financial literacy: to immediately pay yourself first," Slater said. "It's hard for me to imagine that nobody said to these two young people, don't forget that this can all go away like that and you need to save."