Photo: LadyGagaVEVO via youtube
What’s worse than wasting money?Spending it on things that you think make you look good, but really make you look silly.
A few years ago, I was invited, along with a group of my friends, to a party at a waterfront mansion here in Fort Lauderdale. The house featured two elevators, about 20,000 square feet, and a living room that resembled an upscale hotel lobby.
As we stood in a small group marveling at a side of life we’d never seen, one of my friends said, “Doesn’t this make you wonder what you did wrong? I mean, why don’t we have houses like this?” My response: “Really? I was just thinking about how long it would take to walk from the garage back to the master bedroom when I left my keys on the nightstand.”
Since my first mansion party, I’ve been to many others. I’ve also ridden on mega-yachts, kicked back in vast home theatres, and otherwise enjoyed the spoils of other people’s good fortune. I’ve learned something along the way: It’s fun to know rich people. But I’ve also learned that trying to impress people with ostentatious displays often creates the opposite effect. In other words, things you think are earning envy may be causing people to think you look silly.
You think you look younger.
What you might look like is someone who's so insecure they had to pretend they weren't getting older by getting plastic surgery.
And don't even get me started on breast enhancement, especially the (literally) over-the-top variety.
Tasteful jewelry, especially on women, can definitely add to one's appearance.
But if you're wearing too much, you might as well just wear a dress made of $1,000 bills. It's brassy, not classy.
As for men, there's a fine line between good and gaudy.
I get it: If you have millions of dollars, you've got to put it somewhere, and where you live is as good a place as any.
But if you're borrowing heavily to impress your friends with a house that's way bigger than you need or can afford, you're not looking rich, you're looking crazy.
Besides, who wants to walk the length of a football field to let the dog in?
Clothes may make the man, but super-expensive clothes might make that man look like he's trying too hard. As with jewelry, there's a fine line between good taste and tasteless.
In my 10 years as a stock broker, I learned there was an almost inverse relationship between a person's true wealth and their apparent wealth.
In other words, the guy in the jeans driving the station wagon is the rich one -- the guy in the fancy suit driving the Porsche is the one trying to sell him stuff.
Opens in new window: http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/big-spenders-dollar-320-000-bar-tab-and-more/3xd2dj69
If you've spent money on items in the list above, you probably found my critique inaccurate -- even insulting. That's not my intention.
Having wealth is good and spending money is fun. So what separates the shallow nincompoop from someone leading a life well-lived? It isn't about the amount of money you spend or what you spend it on. It's all about why you're spending it.
If you don't like yourself or live in fear that others don't like you, no amount of money or possessions will change that. That's what makes you look dumb: spending to boost your self-esteem.
On the other hand, if you like yourself and are spending to indulge a passion, or to make your life more interesting, good for you. You're the type of spender I want to hang out with.
But I still don't want to see how fast your Ferrari will go.