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Nikki Reed
Credit: Monica Ahanonu

Nikki Reed burst into the public consciousness at the ripe age of 15 when she starred in Thirteen, a semi-autobiographical film based on her adolescence. But she didn’t necessarily have the financial means that her newfound fame seemed to reflect. “There’s a common misconception that you’re rich just because you’re able to do a movie, but I was not a rich kid,” she recently told InStyle at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, Calif. For our new column, Money Talks, Reed gets real about growing up with a single mom, the financial success of Twilight, and sharing expenses with her husband, Ian Somerhalder.

On her upbringing... Money was openly talked about. I grew up with a single mom who just basically laid it all out. We knew everything about money: if there were struggles, if there weren’t, how much she made. She also worked out of the house for a while as a beautician, so there was a lot of transparency. It wasn’t at all taboo.

On what she learned about money from her parents... I learned a lot about independence. I moved out very young—at 15 or 16—and, before I did, both my parents sat down with me and explained that part of being an adult was really understanding how to be responsible for yourself in more ways than one. They sat down and talked to me about making a budget and really gave me the tools for dealing with money market accounts and IRAs, etc.

On her first big paycheck... Twilight. For the first six or seven years of my career I was head down, working, working, working, working. When [Twilight] happened, I was able to feel like I was fully independent and taking care of myself.

On working odd jobs... After Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown, I decided I wanted to work in a clothing store in Kauai, where my mom lives. A family member of mine brought up a really good point that working sporadically is very specific to the entertainment industry. I felt like having a normal 9-to-5 routine was really important for my personal growth. I learned a lot of really great things about myself in that process, and I would definitely recommend it to my younger self again. I was opening the store, counting out all the money, and handling all the finances.

On her first investment... The very first thing I wanted to do when I could afford it was buy a tiny piece of income property—it was more important for me to do that than buy a house for myself.

On spending... I’d like to spend all of my money on bringing our families together for experiences. That’s one area where we don’t even think about money. We would rather bring all 10, 15, 20 of our family members together to have a really great holiday together than anything else.

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On saving... I’m very frugal. I try to be smart with my money. I drive to and from the airport. I don’t fly myself first class. It’s not about being cheap—I just try to think about what that value gets me.

On sharing expenses... Most things are pretty joint. Ian and I were both two very independent people before our relationship and coming into this marriage, so that’s how we’ve chosen to function throughout.