Protecting Your Privacy: We will never call or email you asking for money. There is no fee to apply. Close

The Presidential Paycheck - Where Obama Gets His Money

Obama is now officially a lame duck, but it doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to rake in the bucks on the lecture circuit and writing books after his term is over. Here is a look at the Presidential income over his eight years in office.

We may forget it sometimes because our government is made up of elected officials, but the President of the United States is more than a title … it is a really difficult job. Like any job, it comes with a salary and benefits, however, I think most past-presidents wouldn’t say they ran for office for the money. When the U.S. Constitution was written, it was agreed that the president would receive a salary. That was in 1789 and the salary was $25,000. It may not seem like much, but in 2015 dollars, it translates to an annual income of $640,164.32.

Donald Trump is definitely rich enough to not to need the POTUS income, but it is a Constitutional law that the position be paid. It would actually be illegal for him not to accept the presidential salary.

US Constitution, Article II, Section 1 The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Now, if he were to use his presidential position to influence business deals for his private company – The Trump Organization – then that would be called a conflict of interest, and is also illegal in the U.S.

Other past-presidents have also been independently wealthy enough to not need the salary. The 35th president, John F. Kennedy, came from a very wealthy family and, had he lived, would have inherited part of his father’s estimated $1 billion. The Kennedy family wealth was built by patriarch Joe Kennedy who survived the great depression by pulling his stocks out before the market crash. Incidentally, he was also a rumored liquor-seller during Prohibition.

Not every nation provides such a generous salary for their leader as the U.S. China, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, pays its leader only $22,000 USD per year. However, the Chinese government is notoriously corrupt and the ruling elite often receive kickbacks. In fact, Liu Tienan, the former director of China’s top economic planning agency, was recently jailed for life for taking 35.58 million yuan (over $5 million USD) in bribes.

The president's official annual salary is $400,000, but that's only one piece of the money pie. He also gets a $50,000 expense allowance, a $100,000 travel allowance and a $19,000 entertainment allowance.

In 2015, the average American household spent $2,842 on entertainment while the occupants of the White House got to use up to $19,000. This would be for costs outside of the entertainment already provided for the first family in the White House including a movie-screening room, swimming pool, jogging track, tennis court, basketball court and a putting green. The Obamas also have an executive chef to cook all their meals, but they pay their own grocery bill. All food costs are automatically deducted from the president’s salary.

Along with that great six-figure salary, there are a host of benefits that come with the position of president. It wasn’t until 1958 when Congress passed the Former Presidents Act that past-presidents received a pension. Before that, some past-presidents suffered financially after leaving office including Thomas Jefferson, who sold his personal book collection to form the Library of Congress, and poor James Monroe who died penniless.

Although still wealthy, President Obama’s income last year was the lowest of his entire presidency. The reason was a fall in his book royalties to only $60,745. In 2009, he made a whopping $5.7 million in royalties.

Obama has written three books: "Dreams from My Father", "Audacity of Hope", and "Of Thee I Sing”. He only collects royalties for the first two as all income from the last is donated to charity.

The hourly salary Obama made during his presidency seems very high, but being president is also probably the most difficult and stressful job in the nation, and only one person can hold the position at a time. In 2015, anesthesiologists, physicians, orthodontists, surgeons and psychiatrists all averaged about $90 per hour, while the average hourly wage for chief executives was $84.19. Child care workers only made $9.77 per hour; a salary lower than bellhops, locker room attendants and manicurists. That goes to show you that not all hourly wages are based on the importance of the job.

In the last 15 years, the Obamas have made over $23 million dollars, although President Obama’s net worth is only estimated to be between $2-7 million as he leaves office. Net worth is your assets minus your debts. This calculation is not for the faint of heart as it literally tells you how much money you would have if you sold everything and paid off all your bills, and hopefully there would be something left over.

President Obama generated such interest around the world when he became president that his books sold really well. He has also been paid $10 million for the rights to his story – this is not for his autobiography. He doesn’t even have to write a word!

On the other hand, Bill Clinton was given a $15 million advance for his autobiography, and George W. Bush, well, he lagged behind with only a $7 million advance for his autobiography. I guess the publishers were aware that words were never his strong suit.

Click to View Full Infographic

Being a past-president of the U.S. is a highly lucrative position. Books and speaking engagements are worth countless millions and provide a very comfortable lifestyle after leaving office. Who knows … perhaps one day a past-president could become a reality show star, and why not since the incoming president is one!

UP NEXT: Engineering "The Beast": A 3D Look at the Presidential Limo

Learn More About Consumer Finance

  • Get help navigating complicated consumer finance issues
  • Increase your credit level
  • Accomplish your financial goals
Learn More

Leave a Comment