Snooki Got Paid in $200 Gift Cards the First Season of Jersey Shore
Money Talks, and so should we. Here, powerful women get real about their spending and saving habits.
Not only did Jersey Shore birth several iconic phrases—fist pump, grenade, meatball, the list goes on—it also bestowed upon us one of the greatest reality TV stars of all time: Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a Snooki. During the show's heyday, she was most often seen tanning, funneling wine, and/or doing cartwheels on the dance floor. The gig was all about having a good time—after all, the cast didn't get paid for the first season. Instead, "We would get $200 a week from the Shore Store. I had never gotten that much in a week, like, every single week, because you usually get paid every two weeks," Polizzi recently told InStyle to kick off our new column, Money Talks. "That was crazy for me."
Though she's now married with two kids, the party will seemingly continue: MTV recently brought back the original cast members for Jersey Shore Family Vacation, a new-and-improved series set at a shore house in Miami, airing Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET. Here, Polizzi gets candid about her humble roots, why she got booted from her first job, and how she spends her cash.
On her upbringing... I grew up in a middle class Italian family who taught me that you have to work for your money. They made me get a job at 13. I was a bus girl, and I got fired in two days because I didn’t want to clean other people’s crap. Then I got into retail and worked at Filene’s. I stayed in the sales associate world for a while and went to Forever 21. Then, in high school, I worked at a baseball stadium selling food and drinks. I got awesome tips there.
On her biggest indulgence... I always have to take a car service because I can’t drive in the city. The last time I did, I hit, like, seven cars. I also like to change up my purses. I’m not really a designer person, but I do love designer bags, so once in a while I’ll buy myself a new Gucci or Louis, but I would say that’s every six months, not even. I spend a lot on the kids when it comes to new outfits and shoes and toys, which I need to calm down with.
On saving... My main goal is to always try and save, and I invest in properties. Me and my husband have a lot of shore houses that we buy, make amazing, and rent out. We’re trying to build on that to have a lot of income.
On sharing expenses... I feel like in a marriage you always do it the old-school way: combine everything and work with what you have.
On splitting the bill... When we first started dating, Jionni always paid for me, which was amazing because I met him during Season 3 when I was already making money. He knew I was making money and he still would pay for everything.
On credit cards... I wasn’t allowed to get a credit card until I was financially stable. My parents basically babied me ’til I was 21, so they didn’t want me to go into debt right away. I have two now: My main one is United, which I collect miles on, and then I have my Etsy credit card, which I use for my Etsy store.
On taxes... Jionni and I do our own taxes every year. I do ClickBoot, I do spreadsheets, it takes a full day. I like to see everything so I know where to save and where to stop spending. We have a financial adviser who helps us, but we like to keep it simple—we don’t like a lot of people in our business.
On her friends... My friends never look at me like, “Oh my god, you make good money.” I went to dinner with them last week and they didn’t want me to pay for the full bill. They never try to take advantage of me because they’re my real friends and they don’t care about that stuff.
On retirement... I have a retirement account. As far as when I’m going to stop working, I never want to stop, because I love what I do. I love reality. I love having my own brand and my own business. I like keeping busy. If I’m not doing anything, I feel like I’m wasting my time. I definitely don’t want to stop, ever. I’ll work until I stop breathing.
On the best thing money brings... An opportunity for my kids to have the best life possible when it comes to going to a good college and having a good future.
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On raising well-off kids... Even though I spoil them sometimes here and there, I want them to know that they have to work for their money just like my parents taught me. I’m already doing chores with my son and he’s in Kindergarten. I want to teach him that he can’t just get everything for free—he has to work for it.
On the gender pay gap... I’ve never experienced it. We all got the same pay on Jersey Shore. If we didn’t, I probably would’ve freaked out.