Expert Q&A

Q&A with Playboy model, reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson


Her life changed overnight when the former dental assistant was invited to move into the Playboy mansion, but when it comes to money, she has her feet on the ground

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Playful Playboy model and reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson may be living the dream, but she has both feet firmly on the ground when it comes to her money.

Kendra Wilkinson, author,
‘Being Kendra’
Q&A with Playboy model, reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson

Being Kendra: Cribs, Cocktails and Getting My Sexy Back

One-time dental assistant Kendra Wilkinson vaulted to fame in a lighthearted reality TV show based in Hugh Hefner’s famed Playboy Mansion, but has moved beyond it. Now married to Minnesota Vikings football receiver Hank Baskett and a mother, her latest book is “Being Kendra: Cribs, Cocktails and Getting My Sexy Back.”

The California tomboy with the serious softball chops was scraping by like the rest of us, working as a dental assistant in her home-town of San Diego when a moonlighting job as a body-painted model landed her at the Playboy mansion for Hugh Hefner’s 78th birthday bash.

Within days, Hef invited her to move in, and she soon became a star of the hit E! series “The Girls Next Door,” a lighthearted reality TV show that revolved around the fairytale lives of Hefner’s three live-in girlfriends.

Armed with glamour-girl looks, an infectious laugh and a tomboy’s personality that pokes fun at the Playboy fantasy, Kendra quickly moved beyond the mansion to land film roles (“The House Bunny,” “Scary Movie 4”), book deals (“Sliding into Home”) and a hit self-titled reality TV show of her own.

In her new memoir, “Being Kendra: Cribs, Cocktails and Getting My Sexy Back,” the candid cover girl dishes on her marriage to NFL wide receiver Hank Baskett, the birth of their son Hank. Jr., and her battles with postpartum depression and baby weight.

We caught up with this supermom to talk mansions, money and credit cards. When you were a kid, what was your relationship with money?

Kendra Wilkinson: Any penny I got, I would put in my pocket! I saved everything. I remember I used to put together shows for my neighbors and they would give us change! I remember I opened my first bank account at Bank of America when I was around 10 years old with $25 that I won off of an art contest. I thought that was so much money at the time. From then on, I wanted to save as much money as I could.

I’m still the same, I guess; when I set my eye on something, I’ll save up to get it. I dreamed of things like skateboards, not diamonds. During high school, what were you most likely to spend money on?

Wilkinson: There was a pair of white platform Payless shoes that I blew my money on. I was obsessed with clean white shoes so that’s what I spent my money on. Did being an athlete and a tomboy affect how you spent your money?

Wilkinson: My dream was to have a Sector 9 longboard. I had my eye on it for like three years. It cost $150 and I made a goal to get that. I saved up for so long and I actually ended up getting it!  I’m still the same, I guess; when I set my eye on something, I’ll save up to get it. I dreamed of things like skateboards, not diamonds. Do you remember your first credit card?

Wilkinson: I STILL don’t use a credit card! I try to stick with cash and debit cards. I like to keep it pretty simple. I was always worried I would forget to pay a bill and owe more money so I never really had a credit card. It sounds like you were unusually level-headed when it comes to money.

Wilkinson: I’ve always had to work to make my money so it’s kind of a part of who I am. I like working hard to get what I want. It made me feel like I was doing something right. It taught me if you work hard, you can allow yourself to sometimes play hard. You life changed virtually overnight when you met Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Were you prepared to handle the fame and wealth that followed?

I would rather work hard and take the hard money than take the easy money. It makes me feel like I deserve it.

Wilkinson: Again, I don’t like life too easy. So when money started coming at me too easy, it made me nervous and I actually didn’t accept it for a while. I went to massage therapy school, actually, when I was at the mansion because I was thinking of how to make my own money. I would rather work hard and take the hard money than take the easy money. It makes me feel like I deserve it. With the financial success of “The Girls Next Door,” “Kendra” and your books, do you now allow yourself the occasional splurge?

Wilkinson: We splurge on vacations from time to time. Although we save a lot, even when we splurge on vacations, we do it kinda frugally; we use frequent flier miles, we do Starwood points. We use our resources to allow us to vacation without having to completely splurge. Marriage and starting a family can certainly change your perspective on money. How has domesticity changed yours?

Wilkinson: We’ve already opened an account for baby Hank’s college! We always put a percentage of everything into his account. We work as a family. We allow ourselves and each other to splurge, but we are always on the same page because we let each other know what we want and need. Never behind each other’s backs. What money advice would you give to young people starting out today?

Wilkinson: Just to always remember where you came from. I didn’t come from fame and fortune. Even after everything, I still think that money isn’t everything, and I’ll always be a hard worker. We work hard now so we can play hard later!

See related:Q&A with ‘Super Rich’ author Russell Simmons

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