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Archive for the ‘wealthy’ Category

More or Less

I don’t aspire to be a wealthy person and I’m not sure how well I’d handle the responsibility of managing a large sum of money. Would I spend it recklessly on too many clothes or shoes? Hide it away and be afraid to spend it on anything? Would I sit around a roulette wheel marked with the names of favorite charities and spin to see who gets the benefit of my donation in a given week? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be flashy about it. I’d probably give some thousands away, anonymously, to people I know and love who would appreciate a windfall. I’d definitely pay off my mortgage and get all repairs done around the house just for the satisfaction of saying, “Ahh, that’s done!” Oh, and a real vacation would be fabulous.

I have nothing against wealthy people. But today I was behind a guy driving a Maserati Quattroporte. I didn’t have to think long to remember that Maserati equals beyond expensive. I see a sticker price of $23,000 for a Ford or Chevy and I cringe, knowing I might buy the same car after it’s a couple of years old and the price is just that much lower. So far, I have never bought a car for more than $10,000. I shake my head when I see a Ford Expedition with a sticker price of $36,000 or the other SUVs on the road. They’re like sheds on wheels that hold at least six people, the dog, golf clubs, a bicycle, a lawnmower and a garden’s worth of mulch stacked in the back.

But the Maserati I saw today has a sticker price of – ready? – One hundred twenty-six thousand dollars! In numbers:$126,000. For a car. A car that can crash, get a ding from a grocery cart, skid on ice or hit a raccoon in the dark of night. It’s a car, just a car. That is more than triple the price of my first house! It’s not even a friendly car — it seats only two people. A friendly car has room for guests, for sharing a ride, for taking the kids out for ice cream. Then I imagine a 4-year-old kid with an ice cream cone in that car. Ha! That ain’t happening. Nope, not a friendly car.

I wonder first, “What kind of job does a person have, to make enough money to buy that car?” Curiosity begets fantasy and I think of possibilities: The owner is a world renowned brain surgeon; financial genius who invested well and made big bucks early; a Trump or Gates who did super well while very young at real estate deals or computer inventions; or the guy learned the secret of growing deciduous trees in the desert.

This musing deteriorates quickly to: What a loser. Does he really think he’ll turn the heads of all the ladies because he has that car? That men will be jealous of him or admire him more, if at all, because he drives that car? He could buy four or five perfectly good cars and turn them in every year for a new one for that kind of money. What is he thinking? See, that’s the thing. I can’t imagine spending that amount of money on a car and I don’t know what someone with that much income thinks. The cost of his one car is equal to several years of my past salary. I’m guessing and comparing his purchase to what I would do with the same money.

I’m not impressed by a man’s flashy car. He’d have to demonstrate a lot of personality, intelligence, sense of humor and generosity as character traits immediately if he wants to make an impression.

As for a woman who flashes the automobile bling, I feel sorry for her first and then wonder, “What does she DO in order to afford that car?”

What makes a wealthy person choose a certain super expensive car to buy over the kind that regular people drive?

Is it a mathematically relative choice?

“Well, I cleared $2 million last year and I need a new car. The Maserati has served me well. I will buy another.” Because I can, is unspoken and is it really a need or a want?

Is it a “making up for childhood needs” decision: “We had nothing when I was growing up. No shoes, no indoor plumbing, not even a bicycle. I walked to buy flour so Mom could make us bread at home – 5 miles, up hill, both ways. When I get rich, I’m going to buy the most expensive car that I like!”

Is it because Consumer Reports advises that it’s a great car, needs few repairs and gets 40 miles per gallon if you drive it mostly on highways at 65 mph?

Seriously, I don’t envy or hold a grudge against wealthy people. If they’ve earned their money honestly, good for them. If they want to share some of it willingly with others, wonderful. If they want to bury it in the back yard and live in a shack, well, that’s stupid, but it’s their money. I’d just like to know what influences them to decide how to spend it.

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