(CNN) – Running for president can extract a heavy and personal financial toll on a candidate, especially if that candidate doesn't have a so called "day job" at the time or millions in the bank.
And that's why Mike Huckabee says he can't afford to jump into the presidential race any sooner than he absolutely has to.
Speaking to reporters at an event organized by the Christian Science Monitor Wednesday, the former Arkansas governor and current Fox News host said it makes little financial sense for him to start a presidential campaign earlier than the summer, when voters in the early primary and caucus states really begin paying attention.
"If I run, I walk away from a pretty good income," he said, according to Roll Call. "I don't want to walk away any sooner than I have to because frankly, I don't have a lot of reserve built up. Most of my life was in public service. Therefore I didn't come away wealthy."
The Arkansas Republican currently hosts a weekly program on Fox News, is a commentator for ABC Radio, and continues to make money on the speaking circuit – all gigs he'd have to give up if he became a presidential candidate.
But despite being on top of the pack in many recent polls, Huckabee has long appeared reluctant to mount a second presidential bid and said Wednesday he essentially went broke during his first campaign for the White House four years ago.
"In order to run for president last time, I cashed in my life insurance, my annuities, I pretty much went through everything that I ever had as an asset that I thought I might someday live on," he said. "One thing I committed to myself, to my wife and God, was that if I do this I'm hopefully going to be in a position that I'm not so completely destitute at the end of it, that I have no idea what to do if I get sick."
Huckabee also recently acquired an $800,000 property in the tony Blue Mountain Beach area of Florida and is in the process of building a $2.2 million home there. According to the Arkansas Times, the former governor took on a $2.8 million mortgage for the property and home, a figure that of course translates into a hefty mortgage payment.
Huckabee's comments came a day after an interview with ABC, during which he bemoaned the rigors of a national campaign.
"It is a very grueling process," Huckabee said of running. "I think the fact that I've done it before gives me both a sense of gravity toward the process, but it also gives me an understanding that it's not always smart to be the first guy out of the corral and out there in the arena riding around on your pony by yourself."
He also suggested that the odds will be heavily stacked against any Republican hoping to unseat President Obama.
"You don't beat presidents easily," he said. "And this idea that he's just an absolute one-term and easy to beat – this race is going to be like climbing a ladder, pointing toward you, because Barack Obama is going to start this race with a billion dollars, he's going to have no primary opponent."