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Life lessons from inside the world of the uber-rich

Betsy Wagner
Senior Producer

If author and actress Jill Kargman ever appeared in a horror movie, she would be that person calling from inside the house. After growing up on the tony Upper East Side of New York City, she has made a thriving career out of poking gentle fun at the richest of the rich who live there.

But even after a lifetime of living among them, Kargman still seems gleefully shocked by today’s ostentatious displays of wealth. “In the 80s, even though it was this very decadent, Gordon Gekko ‘greed is good’ time, there was this real embarrassment of riches,” the 45-year-old told Yahoo Finance’s Jen Rogers for the series My Three Cents. “So the girls in my class who had drivers and limos, they asked to be dropped off two blocks away from school because it was embarrassing, whereas now they're pulling up with the driver in the SUV and they're flaunting logo bags. Everything is so over-the-top and there's so much conspicuous consumption, and I find that really depressing.”

And then there are the moments and characters that even this New York Times best selling writer couldn’t make up: For instance, the woman who humble-bragged to Kargman that, at the end of every year, she needlepoints the tickers of her husband’s top stock picks as a gift for him. “I was like, ‘I'm swallowing vomit right now. You're so embarrassing,’” Kargman said laughing.

Keeping it real

Kargman may have grown up with means herself (Her father, Arie Kopelman, was President and COO of Chanel), but she has no patience for the idle wealthy. In fact, she has an ambition and work ethic that no one could ever call into question: She graduated in three years from Yale University, has written or co-written 12 books, starred in her own hit Bravo series “Odd Mom Out,” had a radio show, a cabaret show and is the mother of three.

Remarkably —and fortunately — Kargman has managed to avoid the plight of others who were raised with money. “I think that the worst thing for some of the people that I see is that there's a depression where they don't have the aspiration to get rich because they're already rich,” she said. “And then they still have holes in their lives and in their souls, and so they're depressed, and there's nowhere to climb.”

Kargman credits her parents, especially her father, for teaching her the importance and value of good old-fashioned hard work. While he may have helped her land internships during college, he made sure to keep her ego in check. “He would say, ‘I just want you to know you didn't get this internship because you're so great, you got it because I picked up the phone,’ ” she recalled. And, in a lesson that has lasted her entire life, he insisted that she be the first one into the office in the morning, and the last to leave at night: “He just very much impressed upon me that work ethic is everything.”

My Three Cents with Jen Rogers is a weekly interview series that explores celebrities’ history with — and relationship to — money and career. Find it exclusively on Yahoo Finance.

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