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Everything The President Has To Personally Pay For

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Vote up the expenses you're surprised the president has to cover.

Assuming the highest office in the land is an American aspiration, but what the president has to pay for out of pocket may come as a shock. Sure, the White House is already paid off - and the presidential salary is hardly small - but the leader of the free world is technically on the hook for a surprising amount of presidential expenses. 

Some of the expenses are normal things you'd expect for any American household - such as buying groceries to make their favorite foods or picking up their own dry cleaning tab - but other expenses are highly specific. For example, though there may not be a law requiring the First Lady to dress to the nines, it would be uncouth for her to wander around the White House grounds in a Pokémon onesie. 

The commander-in-chief may have arguably more power than anybody in the country, but there are still a number of things the president cannot do without a little personal spending money.

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  • Groceries
    Photo: Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    2,521 VOTES


    Although the president's rent and utilities are entirely covered thanks to American taxpayers, their groceries absolutely are not. There's a longstanding idea the president is expected to pay for many of the same expenses the average American does. While the house is paid for, normal Americans have to buy their own groceries, and so does the president.

    The good news is there are extremely talented chefs on the White House staff who turn those groceries into incredible meals.

    2,521 votes
  • Dry Cleaning
    Photo: Lauren Gerson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    2,091 VOTES

    Dry Cleaning

    Dry cleaning may not be a regular budget expense for the average American, but for the president, it's essential. They're required to look sharp each and every single day; historically, that has meant wearing nice suits.

    But taxpayers aren't paying for the president to get their expensive suits meticulously cleaned. Over time, those dry cleaning visits add up - and the president has to foot the bill. 

    2,091 votes
  • Private Parties
    Photo: Andrea Hanks/The White House / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    2,125 VOTES

    Private Parties

    If the president hosts an official state dinner, it'll be covered by the government. But every other type of party is on the president's personal dime. Paying for your own party is one thing if you're hosting a little get-together with friends, but presidential parties are massive affairs, and the costs add up quickly. 

    Not only does the president pay for food and beverages for each private event, they're also expected to pay for servers and large crews to assist with setup and teardown.

    Presidents even pay for their own Thanksgiving meals - after pardoning a turkey, of course.

    2,125 votes
  • Some Redecorating Costs
    Photo: Courtesy Reagan Library / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    1,607 VOTES

    Some Redecorating Costs

    If a president wishes, they're given a $100,000 stipend to redecorate segments of the White House. First Lady Jackie Kennedy famously did this in the 1960s, and gave one of the first televised tours of the White House afterwards.

    President Barack Obama, on the other hand, used his personal funds to help decorate the White House more to his liking. He also had the opportunity to choose from several historical items, such as desks and rugs, from past administrations.

    President Donald Trump reportedly paid approximately $1.75 million to redecorate the White House upon moving in, but it's not clear exactly how much was out of pocket.

    1,607 votes
  • Toothpaste And Other Essentials
    Photo: Chuck Kennedy/The White House / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    1,770 VOTES

    Toothpaste And Other Essentials

    It wouldn't make sense for the commander-in-chief of the armed forces to keep track of how much toothpaste or deodorant they have. Aides take care of procuring those small, incidental items for the president when necessary, but that doesn't mean they'll pay for it.

    At the end of each month, a bill is sent to the president's family with an itemized list detailing everything bought for them over the past few weeks. They may not have made the purchases directly, but they are expected to make sure everybody who did is compensated.

    1,770 votes
  • Professional Hairdressers
    Photo: Krisanne Johnson/The White House / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    1,440 VOTES

    Professional Hairdressers

    During former First Lady Laura Bush's eight-year stay in the White House, she was reportedly surprised by just how expensive the whole operation was. But that didn't stop her from hiring a professional hair stylist.

    Bush was terrified at how much attention - negative and positive - had been paid to previous first ladies. She didn't want the stress of trying to ensure her hair was perfect on her own.

    1,440 votes