This Is How Much Money Joe Biden Is Actually Worth

By and large, the men who have served as President of the United States have been quite wealthy when they reached that office. For example, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both wealthy landowners when they became president. Expressed in today's dollars each of their net worths would have been in the hundreds of millions, as USA Today reports. Recent presidents, such as John F. Kennedy or the Bushes, were born into wealth but also got quite rich on their own. Of course, there have been exceptions. Harry Truman, for example, was nearly broke when he left office, according to Presidential Profiles, and might have been destitute had it not been for Congress authorizing a presidential pension.

Joseph Robinette Biden, the 46th president, is somewhere in the middle. Born to a working-class family in Pennsylvania, according to the Miller Center, Biden slowly, and over the course of several decades, amassed a nest egg that is nowhere near as lofty as that of some of his predecessors — but it's still respectable.

The modest senator

Biden was elected as a Delaware senator in 1972, before he was 30 years old (via Britannica) — the legal minimum threshold for this position (but turned 30 soon before being sworn in, per the U.S. Senate) — and stayed in the job for the next 36 years.

But the fancy title did not bring him much money, unlike others, according to Politifact. When Biden claimed that he "entered as one of the poorest men in Congress, left one of the poorest men in government, in Congress and as vice president," he wasn't lying — at least no discoveries were made to dispute this. Public records on senator's wealth weren't a thing back in the 1970s, when Biden entered politics, so it is hard to verify how much money Biden had when he entered politics, but what was found later on in his career shows that he didn't have significant assets or investments. According to OpenSecrets, Biden was for years one of the least wealthy lawmakers, ranking 570th out of 585 people in 2005, then 614th out of 636 people a year after that, and 626th out of 639 people in 2007. Biden's estimated average net worth was negative $47,493 in 2005; negative $12,491 in 2006; and negative $52,493 in 2007 — he got more loans than actual money at the time.

However, it is true that senator salaries grew substantially in the 36 years while Biden was in the Senate, per the U.S. Senate. Biden started with a salary of $42,500 per annum in 1972, and when he left the office of senator in 2009, he was earning $174,000 per year — four times more.

Joe Biden's academic paycheck

In the last third of his senator years, Joe Biden was also teaching as an adjunct university professor at Widener University in Chester, PA, since 1991, educating the students on Selected Topics in Constitutional Law and the workings of Congress. He wasn't teaching full-time, but shared the Saturday seminar with Professor Bob Hayman since 2003, with mostly Hayman grading the students and managing administrative details, while Biden created the course syllabus — he also had to appear in college for half of the lectures. The position of an adjunct university professor brought him a $20,500 stipend per year, which was in the top range of average payments for the position — the average salary for an adjunct professor staff is somewhere between $6,000 to $12,000 per seminar per year, although master's programs and business schools do pay more. Still, Biden's professor salary makes him "the third-highest-paid Congressional professor," per Roll Call.

But this was not the only academic position Biden held. When he became the Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 2017, he earned a $372,000 salary in 2017, rising to $405,000 in 2018. After taking an unpaid leave of absence due to his presidential campaign in 2019, his salary fell to $135,000 (via Forbes).

The moderate vice-president

After Joe Biden left the senate in 2009, he entered the White House for the first time as the vice president during Barack Obama's presidency, keeping the position until 2017. He earned an average vice-presidential salary of $225,000 per year, as reported in Forbes. But his position affected his wife Jill Biden as well, who was employed by the state to teach English at Delaware Technical Community College, making around $60,000 a year. After Biden became vice president, Jill took a new teaching position at Northern Virginia Community College, closer to Washington D. C., and with a heftier salary of $83,000 per year.

But it wasn't just salaries that brought money into the Biden house in that period, as stated in Bidens' tax reports. Long years of paying contributions to the Social Security system, along with different pension funds and annuities, did start to pay off, as Biden was 66 when he took his vice presidency position — the age of retirement. Therefore Joe and Jill Biden both cashed in $385,000 of Social Security benefits, and another $890,000 from other retirement funds. When Biden left his vice-presidential position in 2017, he declared a wealth of $2.5 million, combined in real estate, pensions, and insurance funds (via Forbes).

Magnificent book deals

Book deals are often a lucrative business for those who invest in their public persona, from politicians to show business characters. The Bidens published several books throughout their life, receiving $81,250 in advance payments from Sterling Lord Literistic in 2005, then collecting $71,000 in royalties two years later for Biden's first memoir "Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics" (Via Forbes).

Jill Biden published a book for kids in 2012, titled "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops," earning $24,400. According to Forbes, it was only in 2017 when the couple started to amass their wealth — when they made more money in one year than in the previous 18 years. But it wasn't directly through Biden's political endeavors: What brought in the money was their memories — in the form of books. In 2017 Joe and Jill Biden earned $11.1 million, making the biggest chunk of the sum — $10 million — through two corporations called CelticCapri and Giacoppa. These two businesses focused on Biden's merchandise products, such as coffee cups, T-shirts and of course books. This substantial amount was largely created from the selling of the couple's memories — Joe published "Promise Me, Dad," while Jill wrote "Where the Light Enters."

It wasn't only the books which sold well, a number of speaking events accompanied their publishing dates. Some brought in more than the others, ranging from $8,000 for an event in Michigan, to a hefty $190,000 for another Drew University engagement in Madison, New Jersey. A year later, in 2018, the couple collected a total of $3.7 million from their writing and speeches.

Presidency earnings

When Biden finally became a president — on the third attempt — in 2021, his salary also grew. As per Cornell Law School, the president earns $400,000 per year in office. This is not all, as the president receives a non-taxable travel account, worth another $100,000. There is also $50,000 in extra expense allowances, and the entertainment budget, with an additional $19,000 – per year, reports CNBC. This makes for a total of $569,000, a substantial rise from the initial $400,000 per year.

This might not seem much compared to, say, tech billionaires, but it is worth noting that the Bidens also save on accommodation since they reside in The White House, as well as on transportation costs — they are entitled to the use of a presidential limousine, Marine One helicopter and Air Force One plane. 

The best perk of being a president is probably the life-long continuation of their government payroll, which means Biden will receive around $200,000 in pension benefits per year, free health care, and paid travel when traveling as an ex-president. Jill Biden, on the other hand, despite being busy with many official duties as the first lady, receives nothing. As previous presidents and their spouses have done, Joe and Jill Biden will likely publish memoirs from the presidency years as well — as they are already established authors — which could bring them millions.

Charitable, but not impressively so

The Biden couple were generous even before they started to make big money, as they gave away $70,000 between 1998 and 2016. In 2017, when the wealth started to roll in, they donated $1 million to groups including the United Jewish Federation of Chicago and the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. A year later, their contribution was $275,800, falling to $14,700 in 2019 (via Forbes).

Though their donations are substantial, in the decade prior to 2008, the Bidens' charitable donations as a proportion of their income fell far short of the average U.S. household, according to ABC News. While the average charitable household was reported to be donating around 3% of their income, the Bidens were giving away just 0.2%, though they claimed their time was also being donated to good causes — such as aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Bidens devoted $30,704 to charity in 2020, and in 2021 a further $17,394, of which $5,000 was contributed to the Beau Biden Foundation, the charity institution named after Biden's deceased son (via Politico). The foundation's goal is to help to prevent child abuse, but not all money was spent on this noble cause. According to CharityWatch, the foundation received $3.8 million in 2020, with $1.8 million coming from the Biden Foundation, but spent only $544,961 on actual social programs it promised. For this, the foundation was given a "B" rating and did not meet CharityWatch's Governance & Transparency standards for 2020

Joe Biden proprietor

Biden took the classic road to building wealth by climbing the property ladder, taking out a number of mortgages to finance his purchases, as per Forbes. After he made some money with his first business in Delaware, he soon invested in the property market, buying three houses in Maryland in six months — one included 80 acres of land. Renting the houses out, Biden's family — his late first wife and children — lived in a house where they exchanged management of the country club pool for rent. 

When his wife and daughter died in a car crash in 1972, Biden bought a new home, a 10,000-square foot DuPont house in Wilmington, for $185,000. This home was heavily mortgaged over the next few years, but as the property value rose, so did his investment. He sold the house in 1996 for $1.2 million, investing some money, $350,000, in a neighboring plot of land and building a cottage on it — mortgaging this too. 

When 2017 rolled around, Biden's income shot up, and he splashed out on another house — a 4,800 square-foot holiday house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for $2.7 million. Luckily for him, the real estate market since exploded, and the house is now worth 25% more at a cool $3.4 million. The cottage in Wilmington was rented out to the U.S. Secret Services between 2010 and 2016, earning the Bidens $26,400 a year.

Living off loans

Joe Biden achieved a luxurious lifestyle in part through constant borrowing and repaying loans, to the point where he managed to get his three children to private schools and university, all through different types of credit — to finance his daughter Ashley's course at Tulane University, he took out at least six loans worth $700,000, per Forbes. He spoke about his strategy in 2015 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, promoting the economic logic of perpetuating loans: "Home ownership is how most middle-class families save, how most middle-class families build assets and for many, it's the way you send your kid to college, borrowing against it."

But this did come at a price, as Biden always "stretched himself thin" until 2017. His desire to continually improve his lot led him away from building extensive wealth in the long run, instead focusing on covering the needs of a daily life, and leaning heavily on loans. Biden never invested in stocks and diversified mutual funds, as he saw this could compromise his integrity while employed in a government job. By investing in different pension funds, insurance policies, or by just holding money in a cash account, he lost millions in potential profits.

Big spender Joe

Joe Biden always paid his taxes, contributing $6.7 million in income tax between 1998 and 2019. In 2017, he added more than $3.7 million to the U.S. Treasury, and an additional $1.8 million over the following two years (via Forbes).

But as Biden's earnings went up, so did his expenses. The Biden's household staff spending totaled $8,600 in 2017, and exponentially grew to $95,250 in 2020, eleven times higher than four years before. According to Biden's tax reports, $180,000 in total was spent on domestic staff since 2017. In addition, a new pool was installed in Rehoboth beach house in 2017, which cost around $75,000. Two years later, the Biden's beach house wasn't enough, as the couple rented out another holiday property, a big mansion in Virginia, for $20,000 per month. They did repay some of their interest on mortgages though, around $80,000, created through substantial loan takings (via Forbes). Joe loves his cars too, and owns several collectible items –- two Corvettes (a 1967 Convertible and a GS model), a Cadillac Limousine, and a GMC Yukon.

Where is the rest of the money?

Despite Biden's diligent tax returns and transparency, it is still a mystery where a portion of the millions he earned went. When $11.8 million of disclosed expenses is deducted from the total of $17.3 million in earnings, combined with a reported $1.2 million to $2.9 million worth of pension fund holdings and similar, there is still some money missing — more than $2.6 million. Forbes speculates he could have given the money to foreign charities or his family members, as gifted amounts less than $30,000 do not need to be declared on tax returns.

Biden's generosity to his kin does manifest itself elsewhere, with him supporting his family by sometimes giving them positions in institutions close to him, such as in the case of the Beau Biden Foundation: Hunter Biden and late Beau's wife Hallie Biden were all on the board of the foundation (via The Hill).

This has attracted controversy, too: When Hunter got his job at Ukrainian gas company Burisma, he was reportedly given $50,000 a month, as per The Cut. Some claimed this was given in exchange for Joe Biden's political influence, especially when the New York Post claimed to have exposed allegedly private correspondence between Hunter and Burisma — denied by both Hunter and Joe Biden. According to Politico, no such correspondence was proven, while the managing director of Penn Biden Center, Michael Carpenter, stated this was "a Russian disinformation operation."