In his First Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789, Washington announced his intention not to accept any salary or other remuneration for serving as president.
“I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the Executive Department;” he said during his inaugural address, “and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the Station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.”
At that point, a salary had not been decided upon, yet. When Congress began to debate over what the compensation for President of the United States should be, Representative John Page of Virginia said, “[T]he constitution requires that he [the president] shall receive a compensation, and it is our duty to provide it.”
To get around the “shall” portion of the compensation for President, two others simply gave theirs to charity.
John F. Kennedy was the wealthiest man ever sworn in as President of the United States. He had given his congressional salary to charity, and he maintained the practice once he got to the White House.
Herbert Hoover, whose net worth was estimated to be nearly $4 million in 1913, divided most of his presidential salary between various charities. He used the rest to supplement the incomes of his staff.
President Elect Donald Trump said when he was still Candidate Trump that if he won the presidency, he would forego a presidential salary.
“I won't take even one dollar. I'm totally giving up my salary if I become president,” Trump said in a video posted to his Twitter account.
Most recently the president-elect told “60 Minutes” that he would take a $1 salary because the law required him to take some kind of compensation.
According to Title 3 of the US Code, the US President “shall earn” a salary of $400,000, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment.
Like most employees, the president receives benefits in addition to a salary. Unlike most employees, though, these benefits include free transportation in the presidential limousine, Marine One, and Air Force One and free housing in the White House.
At the end of their terms, presidents are still on government payroll, which includes an annual pension of about $200,000, healthcare, paid official travel, and an office.
Trump, if really wants to, can always do what John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover did. After all, he really doesn't need the salary, and living in the White House will probably be like staying at a Motel for him, considering what he is used to.