Disney former child star Christy Carlson Romano on how she lost millions

Christy_Romano

Christy Carlson Romano is an actress probably best known for her roles as Poppy Blu on the live action Kim Possible series and Ren in Even Stevens. She became a member of the Disney family while still in her teens. But she did not go on to become the big star that other Disney alum such as Selena Gomez and Zendaya have. She’s comfortable financially – acting occasionally, running her YouTube channel that she monetizes and posting sponcon. But that’s after losing all her Disney money, which, she said, was quite a bit at one time. In her current video, Christy explains briefly how she blew through her money and offers advice for others to avoid the pitfalls she ran into.

Christy Carlson Romano is no stranger to being a role model for kids after starting her career on the Disney Channel.

The Emmy Award nominee, 37, used her platform to impart some financial wisdom while recounting “how I made and lost millions of dollars” in a video posted Thursday to her YouTube channel. “This is how I blew all my Disney money. I started making money with Disney when I was 16,” she began.

“My biggest thing about child actors, you aren’t told that the work is going to slow down,” Romano explained later in the video. “In fact, I was told the opposite, specifically by my mom, some of my team, even my money manager at the time.”

She then took a walk through a serene grassy area as she explained the ins and outs of the entertainment industry for child stars.
Romano expressed regret for having not invested wisely or buying a house during the early years of her career. Although she put some of her money toward college when she was 18, she dropped out a year and a half later (Romano later finished her degree when she was about 30).

“Then I had this money at my disposal,” she explains. “I was never told how much money I was making. Money didn’t have a purpose for me, I didn’t really know what it was. I just knew that I had it and didn’t care about it. That’s a problem.”

Romano also recalled helping her parents out with money, which made their relationship and other parts of her life “more and more complicated.” At 21, she parted ways with her family for about a year, “because I didn’t like the way that my money was being managed. And it was a sad year for me, but it was also an interesting year.”

The Even Stevens star said she subsequently gained a better understanding of how much money she had, but not how to handle it. With a relationship that made her feel she wasn’t “good enough,” Romano began spending to try and fit a certain lifestyle. She particularly remembers dropping the most money on “big ticket items” at Ralph Lauren, a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, and a psychic that “managed to get a lot of money from me.”

[From People]

Christy told the story of the psychic scamming her into buying a $40K crystal in 2019. I’ve posted Christy’s full video below. I took a lot from it, and I’ve never made Disney money. I recognized many of the same mistakes I made, though. She said pretty early in her discussion that we need to teach children about money, and I can’t smash the Like button enough on that. I learned about money by watching my parents and they aren’t great in that department. Obviously, our circumstances were wildly different but somewhat like Christy, I had to go broke to learn how to budget and save my money. Still, I never had Christy’s money to lose, and I certainly didn’t have any significant income at such a young age. It always pains me to hear a family siphon off a child. In addition to mismanaging her money, her parents were mismanaging their own. They’d struggle with paying their mortgage so when she had the money, they looked to her to help. Christy mentions Coogan’s Law a few times in the video. I was surprised at how little income Coogan’s Law actually protects. But at least it attempts to reserve some of the child’s earnings for them. However, once the child has access to that money, there is no law to stop the parents from flat out asking for it.

As for the rest of it, nothing Christy said is too far-fetched considering her age and celebrity. Having worked for Ralph Lauren, I know exactly how much can be dropped in one visit. She didn’t invest in high return items like real estate, art or stocks because she was young with a ton of money and no one advising her. She bought clothes and cars and stuff to endear people to her. That’s why this video is so important for young actors. Because it seems like so much money and like it will always be coming in. She also talked about the darker side, like making a movie she’s ashamed of because she was desperate for cash and how much of an actor’s income goes to their team and not in their pocket. She also mentioned that the “net worth” figures we see on the internet are completely bogus. Christy assured everyone that she is okay now. She’s happy, working, and raising her two daughters whom she hopes don’t go into show business. Whatever they end up doing, I’ll bet it’s with a pretty good head on their shoulders.


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23 Responses to “Disney former child star Christy Carlson Romano on how she lost millions”

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  1. Sigmund says:

    Honestly, childhood stardom seems to do more harm than good for most actors/entertainers. There’s the rare exception, and I’m glad to hear that she’s healthy and happy now, but I’m not at all surprised to hear that she had issues financially. Making that kind of money at such a young age would mess with your head, plus it seems like child stars are incredibly vulnerable to abuse (financial, mental, sexual, etc).

    • Alissa says:

      The ones who seem to come out the best are the ones whose parents tell them it’s for fun and don’t rely on them as a source of income for the family. unfortunately, the sort of parents that would have that mindset are often not the ones pushing their children to child stardom.

      • AnnaC says:

        Agree; look at Ariel Winter vs Nathan Gould from Modern Family. Her troubles with her parents, especially her mom, are well known. Awhile ago I read an interview with Nathan Gould where he talked about how his parents didn’t rely on his income but as he got ready to take charge of his money encouraged him to invest in real estate, etc.. and if he was careful he could live comfortably and wouldn’t have to work again if he chose not to, or could go to school indefinitely, travel, and take his time to figure it out.

      • Haylie says:

        Parents who live off their child’s income are no different than those parents who open up lives of credit/put bills in their minor children’s names, thus ruining their credit before they turn 18.

      • terra says:

        My mother has taken every penny of my little brother’s survivor’s benefits from our father’s death. My grandmother and I added it up the other day and so far it’s over $115,000. She has not even attempted to get a job, a cousin spent close $40,000 on her in one year . . . and still not even allowance for my brother.

        He’s getting close to going to college and he has nothing to fall back on which is the exact opposite of what our dad would have wanted.

    • Ainsley7 says:

      It really seems to come down to the parents and how they handle it. Like, having a kid become the main source of income is just wrong. Any money a kid makes should go to the kid in some way or be invested for the kid’s future. I also wouldn’t have a problem with them using it for a siblings education or something depending on how much the kid is making. College is expensive. It should not be a source of income for the parents at all really. That’s not what kids are for.

  2. milliemollie says:

    Isn’t she most famous for voicing Kim Possible?

    • Caro says:

      Yes, that’s what I know her for.

    • JS says:

      yeah, that was a record scratch for me. Given that she originated the character of Kim Possible, how could that not be her #1 thing?

    • Melissa says:

      Depends on your age. I was too old for Disney by the time Kim Possible came out, but I know her from Even Stevens.

      • milliemollie says:

        True, but she’s definitely more known for voicing Kim Possible than having a part in the live action version of it.

  3. Susan says:

    Wow. I don’t know the words to explain…how impressed I am at this video, the raw honesty, the advice, etc. I’ve never heard of her before (wrong generation LOL) but I am a fan! Honestly, I have complained for years that they don’t teach enough basic life/money management in high school. Not everyone goes to college and or has parents that know what they are doing!

    • pottymouth pup says:

      this took a lot of courage; I’m sure it was a bit embarrassing to admit to some of the naïveté publicly

      the advice is great not only for child actors/musicians but also good to help motivate teens and young adults to get a better handle on their finances, how much things cost, budgeting, etc.

    • Christine says:

      I am with you. The normal person version of this is the massive marketing campaigns credit card companies inflict on any incoming college student, no matter the college or university. I was lucky enough to have a family that paid for my college tuition, books, room and board, and I was too dumb to recognize the trap before I was ensnared. I really hope things have changed since I was a student in the 90s, but I’m guessing no.

      I talk to my 11 year old about the evils of credit cards all the time, I just hope a bit of it remains in his head, for later.

      • Anna says:

        Yeah, the cc companies got me, too, in the early 90s with no family sense about money, and honestly the mindset is the hardest to shed. It took me until just last year to climb out of debt I kept getting myself back into. Now all that remains is the deep hole of student loan debt. That whole generation of early 90s are indentured servants to the government and private companies for student loans.

  4. SusanRagain says:

    Having money and the way people, including family, can change in how they see and treat you. I’m the youngest sibling and only female. For a period of 3 years I worked 60-70 hours a week because I wanted to buy a small house.

    In the name of “help me, we are family” 2 brothers out of 3 constantly borrowed money. Never attempting to pay it back.
    Money changes the way people treat you. I can not stand parents who make $ from their working child actor kids. You are the parent, act like an adult.

    High schools need to start teaching basic money management, basic living skills.

    I wonder how the lead kid actor in Young Sheldon will turn out. He seems very talented but a million things can go wrong.

    • AnnaC says:

      This. I’m the oldest of 4 and am the only one who has never borrowed money from my parents. Oh, take that back, they loaned me $1,000 to buy my first car and paid it back, in full, with interest. One brother stole a relatives identity; relative threatened to sue and I loaned him money from a small inheritance to pay it back (with an installment contract to pay it back). Brother then decided that since “it was money I hadn’t earned” he didn’t need to pay me back. Another sibling decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur with my parents underwriting every “investment” opportunity that inevitably ends up in the red, in large part because he invests in himself (cars, trips, etc.). sigh

    • lucy2 says:

      That young actor was so good on Big Little Lies, I was kind of sad to see him be Young Sheldon. It’s one thing to work on the occasional project in a small role, but to be the lead of a show at such a young age, especially a show tied to a massive hit, that’s a whole different level. I hope he has good parents.

  5. (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

    The ONLY thing I took away from a COLLEGE money mgt course was to always sign your checks differently than your printed name (ie: if you have first, middle, last, only sign first/last). It never really taught how to make a realistic budget, how much of a % to set aside to invest, save etc. Our teacher was a newly married 35 yr. old who would tell us that she “waited” to have sex before getting married, how they got married the day his divorce was final, how horny she was, and how great sex is. I was barely 18 when I took the class, and THIS is what we were “learning” on a daily basis lol

    Even though I worked since 11 (baby sitting, then “real” paying jobs, with tax forms, from 15 on), I had no real idea of how to manage money. I bought what I wanted, saving for something “big” (like my stereo), and spent… Got my first cc at 18; B of A had booths on campus and signed up kids for a “starter” card (parents had to co-sign), and it had a $250 limit. It felt like “free” money. I went nuts. PAYING it, was another story! lol

    As an elem. teacher (for 30 yrs before retiring), I never made much, but I had no real idea of how to save/budget… always seemed to be SO MANY places the money went after rent, ins. etc. Anything left seemed “fair” to spend. Twice, I had to take a consolidation loan to pay off my cards in a manageable way.

    After the 2nd time, I got wiser. I managed to buy some stock, acquire some savings… but always on my mind is getting older, what my needs will be as a single person w/out kids to help me (not financially, but more like when I’m not able to move around or do that much for myself).

    FF 10 yrs ago: my uncle died and left us all a SIZABLE inheritance. Like “stupid” money. To me, it’s like Monopoly money. I have no real concept of how to deal with it on a daily basis. I signed on with a Wealth Management company to invest it, so I can grow it to be here when I will need the bulk of it (like for 24 hr. rotation of health care aides to help in my home). I have a great advisor, part of a team of 3, who is working with me on the reality of HOW to be able to spend on what I want (take a couple of trips each year (when Covid is over) to a monthly “draw” to supplement my reduced pension (early retirement due to illness 7 yrs ago). I don’t know where I’d be w/out this help.

    I think all kids should be taught, from an EARLY age, how to save, even if it’s a few cents at a time, to be taught to do a realistic budget, balance a checkbook, how to invest, even if it’s just a middle school/high school class with Monopoly money, all REAL LIFE skills that we take for granted. We’re not going to learn by osmosis.

    • Anna says:

      @(TheOG) Jan90067 That’s so smart. I’m really wanting to hire a money manager and advisor, too. Would be grateful if you had a recommendation…

  6. Jessica says:

    Yeah no, she’s probably best known for BEING Kim Possible in the show.

  7. lucy2 says:

    I’m kind of shocked how many people I know with good jobs, steady income, create financial problems for themselves and have bad credit (not talking about those with emergencies or other hardships of course).

    I desperately wish schools would teach a basic course in budgeting, paying bills, credit, etc. It would help so many people! And there really should be some sort of crash course for anyone who hits it big – actors, pro-athletes, musicians, etc. So many blow through money like water, and realize way too late that it won’t last forever.

    • AnnaC says:

      I believe the major sports leagues have something like this when rookies join the league. I know the NFL and. MLB do and part of the education is bringing in retired athletes who got into financial distress. Unfortunately, they often think they are invincible, will get Jordan/LeBron/Brady, etc. type endorsements, won’t get injured and the money will never stop flowing. In some ways it’s sweet but so sad as oftentimes the athletes are trying to help out their family and friends, hiring them as assistants, etc, while they also develop larger than life spending habits. I worked at UTexas when Vince Young was QB, really nice guy, and was sad to see his career never meet expectations and the money he wasted that could, and should, have kept him comfortable for life.