A special report on that slippery substance we love having but hate thinking about. How we spend . . .
MARIAH CAREY copped Marilyn Monroe's piano from a Christie's auction in 1999. The white baby grand set Mimi back more than $600,000.
JOB: veterinary-school student
LOCATION: Blacksburg, VA
SALARY: $3000--assuming I find a decent summer job.
DEBT: $100,000 in student loans
TYPICAL ATM WITHDRAWAL: I rarely go, but if I do, $20.
LAST SPLURGE: $130 for my share of a Tiffany serving bowl and matching candlesticks for my older sister's wedding present. I split the gift with my younger sister.
PRICIEST DINNER: $150 at an Italian place. I took my ex-boyfriend there for his birthday. I remember it well because I didn't realize how nice it was until the check came!
NUMBER OF CREDIT CARDS IN WALLET: Just one.
NICEST LINGERIE IN DRAWER: A $35 bra.
BIGGEST MONEY SECRET: I don't have any--money, I mean, not secrets . . .
STEEPEST SALON BILL: $60. Bad move; it wasn't even a great haircut.
MONTHLY RENT: $340 for my share of the house; I have two other roommates. We have a porch and a yard, too.
WORDS TO SPEND BY: It scares me that I'm building up so much debt in vet school without building up any savings. But as long as I keep passing classes while maintaining some kind of social life, I'm happy.
KELIS AND HUSBAND NAS dropped $36,000 on his-and-hers removable gold tooth caps. His upper grill reads "Nasty"; hers, "Tasty."
Jillian Starr Orrico
JOB: Internet account executive
LOCATION: San Francisco
DEBT: $12,000 in credit-card debt, but I'll pay it off with my next commission check.
TYPICAL ATM WITHDRAWAL: $60. It feels like a safe amount-- not $100, but still enough for a cab ride and dinner.
LAST SPLURGES: A condo in downtown Chicago for $300,000, with a $17,000 cash down payment; a $2000 French bulldog; a $1200 plane ticket to Brazil to visit my guy.
FAVORITE WAY TO CUT CORNERS: Clothes. I have some nice things, but I wear T-shirts and the same two pairs of jeans every day to work.
BIGGEST DINNER CHECK: $1800. I was 23 years old, and it was my first client dinner. The VP of sales yelled at me for 15 minutes straight when he saw the bill. It's the only time I've ever cried at work. Apparently, I still hold the record for most money ever spent on a client dinner at that company--at least it wasn't my own money!
LINGERIE HABIT: $100 on each visit to Victoria's Secret--it sucks me in every time.
BIGGEST MONEY SECRET: I'm in sales--we have no money secrets!
STEEPEST SALON BILL: $350
DINNER WITH FRIENDS--SPLIT CHECK OR ITEMIZE? Just split it.
WORDS TO SPEND BY: Money is just paper--it's not worth anything unless it's used to get what I want.
KIMORA LEE SIMMONS spent $30,000 on buying and decorating her Christmas tree to celebrate the holy holiday.
LOCATION: San Francisco
TYPICAL ATM WITHDRAWAL: $80
LAST SPLURGE: $645 for the new fall Paige Kooba bag and $1800 for a month long sublet in New York City
I KNEW I'D MADE IT WHEN. . . I stopped asking taxi drivers for my coin change back.
MOST ELABORATE SCRIMP: While on a company trip at the Ritz Carlton, I didn't want to buy lunch, which wasn't paid for, so I packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the breakfast buffet. I just couldn't bring myself to pay $20 for a sandwich for lunch!
WORST MONEY ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: A friend told me to take my bonus to Vegas and try to double it.
DEBIT OR CREDIT? Credit. I get one percent cash back on all purchases.
WORDS TO SPEND BY: I try to live as if I make only $50K a year. Since my dad is a financial planner, I've been saving for retirement since I was 16.
DONATELLA VERSACE never leaves home wearing less than $190,000 worth of jewelry (Versace, of course).
JOB: owner of Bean Creative, a Web-development studio
LOCATION: Alexandria, VA
SALARY: $120,000 in take-home; business makes $1.5 million in sales
DEBT: A $950,000 home mortgage
FANCIEST WINE: $150, Warre's vintage port from 1963
PRICIEST DINNER: $500 per couple for a birthday with friends at The Inn at Little Washington. The ceiling dripped on us, so we got upgraded to the chef's table--usually several hundred dollars more.
LINGERIE SPLURGE: $80 on an amazing, sexy bra to celebrate the end of nursing my first daughter
SAVING SECRET: I pack my lunch.
MOST EXPENSIVE PAIR OF SHOES: A $200, well-loved pair of Via Spiga boots
WORDS TO SPEND BY: I'll happily pay $90 to have my house cleaned so I can spend my weeknights playing with my kids instead.
Worldy goods-renouncing POPE BENEDICT XVI reportedly wears Gucci sunglasses and Prada loafers, which retail for $550 and $540 respectively.
JOB: product and furniture designer
LOCATION: Portland, OR
TYPICAL ATM WITHDRAWAL: $20 to $60
LAST SPLURGE: A $300 vintage road bike. I also splurge on things like organic or local produce.
WHERE I CUT CORNERS: On things I can get for free elsewhere, like bottled water and plastic bags, and on restaurant meals I can make at home.
HIGHEST AMOUNT BORROWED FROM FAMILY: $3500 recently for a car loan
MOST CASH LENT: $200 to two friends for tickets to a music festival
MONEY SECRET: I actually enjoy not having a ton of money. Just getting by is fine with me.
RECENT REALIZATION: My dad told me not to worry too much about money, because debt is a part of life; you dig yourself out of debt just to fall right back in.
STEEPEST SALON BILL: $60
DINNER WITH FRIENDS--SPLIT OR ITEMIZE? I tend to order items under $10; I wouldn't mind splitting, but typically my friends like to itemize.
FANCIEST KITCHEN APPLIANCE: A $125 retro mint green--chrome toaster
WORDS TO SPEND BY: I try not to buy too many things; I spend more of my money on experiences, like traveling or going to shows.
NAOMI CAMPBELL threw herself a three day, $1.8 million blowout as Burj Al Arab (the seven-star Dubai resort) for her 36th birthday this year; spent $25,000 on a custom-made line called Spiritual Lingerie that promises to heal her soul.