I met up with a friend of mine the other day for a function. He rolled up in a new Lexus IS350 that costs about $43,000 out the door. Immediately, I was envious of his wheels given I just drive a $20,000 Honda Fit named Rhino. My thoughts of doing the economical thing of buying out the residual value after the three year lease expires went out the window. I began fantasizing about what sports car to buy in 2017.
No, no, no! I told myself several minutes later. Sure, I'd love to drive a fancy car, but I reminded myself that I hate the stress of worrying about damaging expensive things. I enjoy parking in a crowded parking lot and not caring about a door ding. I'd much rather own stuff I can just throw away without any after thought.
Back in 2005-2008 I was extremely into collecting fancy watches. One friend had a FOMOYOLO mentality and bought a couple $8,000 IWC watches, just because he liked their style. So of course I started collecting watches because I thought, why not me too? I've got just as much money as him and I work harder. The funny thing is, before hanging out with my friend, the most expensive watch I'd ever purchased was a $500 Seiko. Now here I was spending $12,000 on a Rolex Stainless Steel Daytona. It was nuts!
SUMMER TIME BUCKET LIST
I went to Wimbledon this summer to celebrate my good friend's 50th birthday. He and his family were staying in a $2,500 a night suite at The Berkeley Hotel at Hyde Park. Meanwhile, junior rooms cost $650 a night. I would have none of that.
Instead of staying with my friends, I decided to take up an offer from one of my advertising partners and stay at their corporate apartment in East London off Brick Lane for free, baby! The one bedroom corporate apartment wasn't very fancy, but it had a kitchen, a bathroom, two beds, a balcony, and wifi. What more does one need? I didn't go all the way to London to just chill out in a room. Taking the tube 25 minutes to meet up wasn't a big deal.
Despite not flying first class or staying in the same five-star hotel as my mates, I was still able to enjoy the same birthday party as the other 80 guests, play at Queen's Club with Mats Wilander, and go watch Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer battle on Center Court at Wimbledon before they retire. Wimbledon really was a dream come true.
There's probably an 80% overlap in lifestyles between the middle class and the wealthy. It's only a marginal 20% of life where the really rich get to experience more than the rest of us ever will.
For example, some of the people at the party have NetJets accounts at $100,000 a pop that gets used up at a rate of $6,000 – $10,000 an hour, depending on the plane size. One fella lives in a 15,000 square foot mansion in Pacific Heights. But beyond living large and flying private, everything else is pretty accessible to most middle class and mass affluent people. It might be tougher sending your kids to private school for $40,000 – $60,000 a year, but it's still doable with financial aid, grants, and scholarships.
Although my residence wasn't anything fancy, I just remember coming home happily exhausted every day from all the activities. After taking a nap, we'd walk around the corner on Brick Lane to eat the most wonderful chicken shashlik bhuna at a Bangladeshi restaurant for 25 pounds. Heaven I tell yah. Although it was costly to fly to London and spend a small fortune for Wimbledon tickets to be with my friends, it was worth it.
TRUE FRIENDS TRY AND MAKE MONEY AN AFTERTHOUGHT
Your true friends won't make you feel bad about your lack of wealth or your abundant amounts of wealth. They'll just be happy to have you around to hang out. I'm happy to subsidize the shabu shabu team dinner bill for this one tennis ace who went 3-0 for us in Districts. He's finishing up college and lives in a two bedroom apartment with his mother and two brothers.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your very wealthy friends want to take care of you, then you might as well thank them graciously and let them hook you up. They just want you to feel comfortable and enjoy your company. You can make it up to them in many non-monetary ways. I'm sure hitting with Mats Wilander cost the birthday boy at least $8,000 for the eight of us for two hours. We all just hugged and took pictures afterward and smiled.
It's human nature to want what your friends have. Just realize that your spendy friends may very well have much more money than you know due to hidden income, an inheritance, or family assistance. Don't fall into the trap of keeping up with your friends if your income cannot follow along.
The comedian, Kevin Hart said it best in one of his skits, Stay In Your Financial Lane. Take a look at the video below where he describes why he can't hang out with pro athletes because they ball too hard. Be forewarned, the video is laced with swear words if you are easily offended.
Sports Illustrated reported that 78 percent of NFL players face bankruptcy or serious financial stress within just two years of leaving the game and 60 percent of NBA players face the same dire results in five years. I find these stats very hard to believe, but surely there is some truth to these scary figures.
Don't let your friend influence you to spend way beyond your means!
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Updated for 2019 and beyond