Mental Floss

How Ex-Presidents & Prime Ministers Make Their Money

Ethan Trex

Upon taking up residency in the White House, a president also assumes a tidy salary of $400,000 a year, plus extra cash for expenses. That's certainly not the kind of change you'd find under most couch cushions, but it's not such a princely sum that the president will be set for life when leaving office. While many leaders are either independently rich enough or old enough that they just retire after leaving office, others are desperate to make a buck or a pound. So how do ex-presidents and other former world leaders support themselves as they while away the autumn of their years?

Harry Truman:

When Truman's presidency ended in 1953, he headed home to Independence, Missouri, but there was a nagging problem: he didn't have any money. His business interests from prior to his political life hadn't generated any sort of savings for him, and he thought that taken a corporate position or endorsing products would cheapen the presidency. His only income was a $112-a-month army pension, so he did what former presidents now do without thinking: he sold his memoirs. Truman received a $670,000 deal for the two-volume memoirs, but after taxes and paying his assistants, he only netted a few thousand dollars on the project. Things got so dire that Congress passed the Former Presidents Act in 1958, which gave retired commanders in chief pensions of $25,000 a year. At least his health insurance was eventually covered; when Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, he presented President Truman and his wife, Bess, with the first two Medicare cards.

Jimmy Carter:

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Bill Clinton:

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Margaret Thatcher:

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John Major:

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Tony Blair:

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