Becoming a movie star or TV star or celebrity athlete or what have you may seem like a dream come true, but it doesn't always solve as many problems as you might think.

In the recent issue of Forbes, I found a "Celebrity 100" list, ranking celebrities according to their power and money, prompting me to wonder how some of these celebrities have done over time. And sure enough, a glance at the Celebrity 100 list from 2001 shows some changes.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books that have made her (and Scholastic Books (NASDAQ:SCHL), among others) rich, saw her annual earnings rise from $36 million to $75 million. Oprah's earnings rose from $150 million to $225 million. Tiger Woods advanced from $53 million to $90 million, while Howard Stern jumped from $30 million to $302 million, thanks in great part to his $500 million five-year radio deal with SiriusSatellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI).

Other celebrities didn't fare as well. Rosie O'Donnell dropped off the list, as did Bruce Willis, Siegfried and Roy, Stephen King, and countless others. Survivor winner Richard Hatch not only fell off the list, but ended up dispatched to prison. Regis Philbin's earnings dropped from $35 million to $21 million. You get the idea. When we scan the Celebrities 100 list for 2016, we'll likely find many, many more current rankers long gone.

One obvious reason is that careers don't stay on fire forever. Models, athletes, TV and movie stars -- they all age and fall out of favor as new shows and films become big hits. But there's another, more insidious reason: bad financial management.

Bankrupt biggies
It's not the rare few celebrities who lose control of their financial fortunes. Those who have filed for bankruptcy include celebrities ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Gary Coleman, with Burt Reynolds, MC Hammer, Kim Basinger, and many others in between.

At, Karen Hartline details some of the financial blunders of these and other folks. Kim Basinger, for example, spent $20 million buying an entire town in Georgia -- not a widely recommended way to make money and save for the future. Boxer Mike Tyson spent big bucks on items such as pet tigers, sometimes racking up expenses of $400,000 per month. MC Hammer's "40-member entourage had their hands on all of his money and eventually outspent his $33 million income on lavish day-to-day living." Debbie Reynolds' troubles were tied to a failed casino in Las Vegas. Former football star Derek Sanderson lost millions to drinking and bad investments.

So what can you take away from all this? That you can do better! You might not have as much today as some celebrities do -- but in 10 or 20 years, you may well be worth more than they are. If you're reading Motley Fool articles, you've obviously got investing on the brain and are likely trying to go about it responsibly and effectively. Take advantage of all that we offer and you can set yourself up for a primo retirement.

One celebrity example
I recently read about one TV star who's trying to do the right thing financially -- Scott Patterson, who plays diner owner Luke on "Gilmore Girls." There's much to admire about his approach: He's reading widely on money and he considers Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-A) Warren Buffett a hero (as do I). But I think you might be able to do better than Scott. Here's some of his approach, according to Phyllis Furman in the Daily News:

  • "He drives a $90,000 Mercedes and a $60,000 BMW and lives in a spacious home in Hollywood Hills, purchased in 2003 for $1.27 million." So far, so good. That doesn't seem overly extravagant, though to save more he might have stuck with just one car and less expensive digs. It's certainly a step up from his past: "A little more than a decade ago, the six-foot-tall actor and ex-baseball player, who spent time on a Yankees' minor league club, was broke and living in a 1966 Pontiac Tempest that he bought for $400."
  • He's tapping the services of a professional financial planner. This is often a good idea, especially if you don't have the time or interest to carefully manage your own money. (Luckily, choosing an advisor is something we can help with.)
  • He apparently recently visited "a 'top derivatives' guy on Wall Street." Yikes. He may not have noticed some of Warren Buffett's thoughts about derivatives (not to mention those of Buffett's partner, Charlie Munger). In 2002, Forbes quoted Buffett as saying, "There's no place with as much potential for phony numbers as derivatives," with Munger adding, "To say that derivative accounting is a sewer is an insult to sewage."
  • Patterson, like many of us, lost a lot of money in the recent go-go years leading up to the dot-com bubble burst. "He lost $25,000 in one day on tech stock eToys. He said the loss occurred because his broker failed to heed his directions to sell when the stock hit $1." And he lost "$5,000 in one night gambling in the Bahamas." These moves suggest that he may be a little too open to taking big, dangerous risks. This is another area where good advice can help.

Patterson's financial planner had him set up an emergency fund with a year's worth of living expenses, as well as a pension plan to which he's making maximum contributions. "A low-risk investment portfolio, a mix of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds came next. Patterson got in and out of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in two days and reaped a profit of $30,000. He wanted to buy Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) but Fishman 'kept me away. Thank God he did,' Patterson said. The portfolio has grown between 8% to 10% annually."

Is all that good? Well, much of it is. But staying in a stock for just two days means you've been gambling. And Microsoft is considered by many to be a great long-term holding, especially at recent prices.

You can do better
So go ahead and envy celebrities their millions, but remember that many of them don't keep that money. You can, with some planning, keep your money and increase its value considerably. If you're looking to secure a solid financial future for yourself, check out our Rule Your Retirement newsletter. You can, and should, try it for free for a whole month. Our free trial allows you to peek at all the past issues, which feature a host of "Success Stories" -- people who retired early and are willing to share their strategies.

For further Foolish reading:

Microsoft is an Motley Fool Inside Value selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian's favorite discussion boards include Book Club, Eclectic Library , Television Banter and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Microsoft. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written: The Motley Fool Money Guide and The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens . The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.