Most of us want to be different. Some like to have the latest fashion accessories or gadgets. Others want to have nice clothing, cars, and houses. Those of us who are financially aware will agree that material wealth does not represent actual wealth—many people who sport the latest Apple Watch may have a net worth substantially lower than what it should be for an Apple Watch owner. In fact, it’s the ones who practice stealth wealth who may actually have the greatest net worth to material wealth ratio.
While stuck in traffic on Highway 101 (“The 101”) last week, I tried to entertain myself by counting the number of luxury automobiles I could see in a ten-mile stretch of highway. It was frightening how many there were: over 50 Mercedes including at least 5 AMG’s, 11 Tesla Model S’s, one Tesla Model X, another dozen Maseratis, one Lamborghini, another 30+ BMW’s, and a similar number of Lexus and Infiniti’s priced over $50,000 MSRP.
I think that there were more Mercedes than Honda Accords on the highway! In this case, does driving a luxury automobile actually distinguish you from the working masses? Does leasing a 5-series BMW or an AMG even show that you are a class above the rest? I don’t think so.
If you happen to live in a city or region with large numbers of wealthy residents, you might actually be fortunate that you might be priced out of wealth portrayal! If everyone around you drives a Mercedes, Hummer, Beamer, or Tesla, you don’t have many other options leftover to be unique. Maybe if you decide to splurge $2000 a month to lease a Bentley Continental GT, you can join the masses and still be stuck in traffic, but in style.
Likewise, if all of your coworkers wear Loubs, you might not feel unique if you wore them either. I find it to be an interesting phenomenon that the more blatant display of wealth that surrounds me, the less tempted I am to own expensive material.
Hey, it’s not all bad if everyone around you drives a Mercedes. You know that not everyone can really afford one, and you might not be as tempted to own one yourself.
Does this approach to wealth impact you in the same way?
(Photo courtesy of Flickr)