"I had a romantic, 'Aren't I a good girl?' take on divorce, but the truth is that was stupid,'" she told Town & Country magazine in its February cover story.
"When one stops working at the height of one's career, it's just stupid not to say, 'I want to make sure I have a house,'" she added.
MacGraw, 72, starred in the 1970s classics "Love Story" and "The Getaway" -- as well as the hit Aaron Spelling series "Dynasty" in the 1980s -- but has lived modestly out of Hollywood, in Santa Fe, N.M., for 17 years.
"I haven't made a living lately at all," she said. "I'm much more famous than I am rich, but I'm able to scale back my lifestyle. I know a lot of people who were where I was who can't imagine living any simpler, but I haven't got a lot of expensive wants."
MacGraw called her experience as a movie star confusing, "terrifying" and "exhausting."
"People think it's fabulous, but the truth of it is that it's exhausting," MacGraw said. "There's so much craziness that comes along with being a movie star that you can get so confused. Unless you've spent your whole life waiting to be the center of attention, it's pretty terrifying."