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North and her dad are twins. They have the same exact personality. They have the same exact facial expressions. It’s so funny to watch them both together. Even when North was one year old, she’d walk out and do these same expressions. She’ll do these crazy angry faces — they’re so funny. And then she’ll do his exact laugh, like his really happy face.
I worry about giving my kids too much. We don’t do gifts. They have to really earn it. But we talk about it all the time, about not getting too much and just trying to be as grounded and well rounded as possible.
My mom had me at like 23 or 24 — she had my sister at 22. My dad was a bit older — he was like 36 when he had me. But I thought they knew everything. Before I had kids, I remember just thinking like, Wow, they had it so together. Am I ready? But you’re never ready. I say that to all my friends. Me in my 30s, Kanye was in his 30s, and I’m like, If we’re not ready now... I mean, this is pathetic. So we’re going for it. And it just happened — I was so freaked out. I was like, I thought my life was over. I was just so not a parent. I literally thought my life was over.
I was always really quiet and always wanted to do the right thing and never broke the rules and stuff like that. I was never like a crazy partier or anything that I feel like was breaking the rules. My parents didn’t give me financial help when I was starting out. Nothing. I got a job when I was 16. It was at a clothing store. I had crashed my car, and before I got another car my dad made me sign a contract that if I hit the car I was responsible for taking care of it. I had no money, so I had to go get a job, pay for it. I grew up so normal, when there were no cellphones, you know? Like we had phone hours on our home phone. We couldn’t just sleep with our phones next to us and be on the phone. Just setting those boundaries of like, okay, dinnertime. There's no phones. At nighttime, we put our phones away. And I think we’ll figure it out.
It was a clothing store called Body. It was honestly kind of like DASH, my clothing store. Like really cute, trendy clothes. It was right in Encino, and I used to spend every paycheque there if I didn’t have to take care of things. I loved it. I worked there for four years and helped them open up a store in Calabasas.
And then I never stopped working.
I’m the type of personality where I’m like, okay, I really want to buy this, so I have to make this in order to be able to buy that for myself.
I worked at my dad’s office for years — for like five years. I was always doing things on the side. When I was done with everything I needed to do at the office I would be buying and selling things on eBay and selling things to make money and making a profit on things that I knew people would like. When I got money I would spend it, but my dad would always teach me to save. He’d talk to me about credit and getting a little credit card and trying to build up my credit and showing me how to really balance my chequebook. My mom does take over the reins — but my dad was very instrumental, and he always taught me about credit. He always taught me literally down to the details of how to balance a chequebook. I think they should totally teach that in school.
When I was working for my dad I would always want to buy things. I didn’t have a credit card when all my friends had credit cards. So I would put it on his credit card, and he would always make me sign something that I would have to pay him back. So I guess that’s debt. I mean, it was like a couple thousand dollars, but I’ve always been pretty conscious, never really overspent — I’ve always really saved.
They never gave me money for rent or anything. Nothing. I always was working. I never asked people for money. That was never really my thing. I always just figured it out. The way that my parents taught me was, hey, when you’re 18, you’ve seen this lifestyle, I’m sure you’re going to want to upkeep it. If you’re going to want to live this way you’re going to have to get a job.
I don’t know if it will be the same for my kids. It’s a different time. I don’t know if I’m going to do that. I’d have to discuss that with Kanye.
Like I know one of my jeweller friends, when she travels, there’s always security outside the door. And I always was like, wow, that’s kind of crazy. But it makes sense. She’s a jeweller.
I travel with a couple of security people and my nanny. At home I have multiple security people. I need someone on every edge of my property. I live in a gated community, and I have them right at my gate. Someone came in yesterday, a friend, and was like, “Do you always have security standing outside your door? Because you never did before.” And I was like, “Yeah — 24/7.” It’s just what I have to do to make me feel safe or make me able to sleep at night. And I think that had to happen after what happened in Paris.
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It probably lasted about seven or eight minutes. It wasn’t that long. They definitely wanted to get in and out and knew what they were coming for. I was specifically targeted and had been followed for like two years. I figured they had done their research through social media. They were pretty clear: I had done interviews about my jewellry and my pieces, so they always knew it was real. And I guess I was so open about talking about that. When you get engaged, you want to post the photo of your ring. I mean, that’s natural, no matter what size ring, where it comes from. Everyone does that.
All that stuff definitely has changed for me in my life. I never say my whereabouts. And if I do, I make sure there is tons of security outside. I will do something, save it, and then post it when I leave. I think I really attribute that experience that I had in Paris to helping me shut down and completely not worry about the digital world and live in the moment and at home and with my kids and my family and my husband.
I’m really on top of my financial situation. I do everything. I see everything, write every cheque, I'm on top of every last detail. I was always taught to be like that. Like it’s definitely helpful to have a manager or someone pay your bills so they go out on time. But I think once you start giving too much control away, you could really just lose sight of what you have and what you need to do, especially if you spend a lot and have a big lifestyle.
My mom’s really smart, so I love to call her for advice all the time. I think it would be such a great book for her to write — a money book. Anytime I have a question, she'll say “Yes, that’s a good investment. No, don’t do that. Trust me, that’s stupid. Don’t do that.” If I wanted to buy a car or a piece of jewellery or something, back in the day she would just be like, “No, it’s not worth it.” She always tells me to buy real estate. I call the people that I respect and are super smart and get advice all the time. There’s a good family friend that I call every time I have an investment or I want to do something, and I get their opinion on it. I mean, I don’t think I can do it on my own. I’m not saying I know it all. But I definitely am a saver and more frugal.
I have a budget. I don’t talk about specifics — I find that to be tacky and just inappropriate. I don’t talk about like, oh, this is my budget, and this is my shopping budget and my living budget. But I know what I spend monthly and what it costs to run my household and what it costs to run this home. It’s hard all the time to stick within a budget, for sure, but I think it’s a good guideline. And I’m the type of personality where I’m like, okay, I really want to buy this, so I have to make this in order to be able to buy that for myself. So I’ll make it happen. I’ll say to my business managers, like, “Okay, I really want to get this, but I’ll do this work thing to clear that out and balance it out.”
I’ve been actually downsizing, which has been making my managers happy. Kanye is a bigger shopper than me. He has big archives of stuff. He shops for furniture. He shops for like everything. Beauty products I shop for; makeup, beauty products. Online. I like Sephora. I don’t like presents anymore. I just don’t want that stuff right now. I don’t buy a lot. I used to buy myself something every birthday and just be like, okay, if I work hard all year then I can treat myself to something. Like a car or a pair of earrings. Something that I really wanted all year. But I've been getting rid of my cars. I used to really care. I loved cars. I still like them and I have a certain look, but I don’t care like I used to. I don’t need my flashy car. It doesn’t really matter to me.
Is it cheesy to just say the best investment I’ve made is I’ve invested in myself and believed in myself?
I love having my makeup line and I hope to be doing that for a really long time, yes. As far as the TV show, I don’t know if I’ll be doing it in like 20 years or whatever. I mean, honestly, with our family it’s like never say never because you just don't know. Right now, we’re in Season 14, and it’s so much fun and it’s so crazy, and we’ve had like maybe 10 spinoff seasons of other shows, so what’s that? Like 24 seasons of shows that we’ve just been filming over the last 10 years? I definitely see us going a little bit longer. There’s still an interest, so it’s like, why not? It’s always just fun to do.
I’ve always had that insane drive. Like if I want something bad enough, I always figure it out. Before I used to be just like, Oh it’s luck. But I have this drive inside of me where I’m just like, okay, this is the vision that I see for us and for the family, and let’s make it happen. I mean, I always want to win, and I’ve always been like that like from the start. Like, when I was like 11, 12 years old and The Real World came out, I told my best friend, “Oh I need to be on a reality show.” And I was like, “We’re going to sign up for The Real World.” And she was like, “Okay, well I’m not, but I’ll help you make your audition tape.” And I was like, that’s it.
As told to Wealthsimple. Originally published July 5, 2018.
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