Jimmy Carter is the only modern-era president to return full-time to the house he lived in before he entered politics.
In fact, he’s also the only living president who saves taxpayers money, specifically less than half the $952,000 budgeted for George H.W. Bush and the $1 million for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Carter, who will become the second president ever to reach age 94, opened up about his modest life in Plains, Georgia, with wife, former first lady Rosalynn, telling The Washington Post, “It just never had been my ambition to be rich.”
Unlike his successors, the Democratic former president, who served one term, purposefully chose not to join corporate boards or get paid as a public speaker because “he didn’t want to capitalize financially on being in the White House.” While others choose to fly via private jet, the Carters fly commercial.
While he doesn’t “see anything wrong with” other former presidents collecting monetary gain from their White House experiences, (“I don’t blame other people for doing it,” he tells the Post), Carter, who is now cancer-free three years after a melanoma diagnosis on his liver and brain, reveals that he prefers a simpler life.
He enjoys spending time in his study or swimming in the pool, even occasionally building furniture and painting in the garage. Meanwhile, his wife likes to practice tai chi and meditate in the mornings. After making their own yogurt, the couple watches Atlanta Braves games or Law and Order in the afternoons inside their two-bedroom rancher assessed at $167,000.
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The Carters’ frugal living may have to do with their failed peanut business.
They returned to Plains from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. when he was 56 years old as his peanut business was $1 million in debt. “We thought we were going to lose everything,” Rosalynn told the Post of the company her husband was forced to sell.
These days, they live off the income of his numerous books as well as the $210,700 annual pension all former presidents receive.
“He doesn’t like big shots, and he doesn’t think he’s a big shot,” said Gerald Rafshoon, who was the 39th president’s former White House communications director.
As for what he thinks of current commander in chief, President Donald Trump?
“I think he’s a disaster,” Carter, who has rarely spoken out about Trump, told the Post. “In human rights and taking care of people and treating people equal.”