There are a lot of things out there to scam and swindle money out of stupid people. I call them “Stupid People Traps”. Lottery tickets are a good example of a stupid person trap. Pyramid schemes are another. I’m sure you can think of plenty.
But just because those traps are easy for us to see doesn’t mean that there isn’t another level of more sophisticated traps tailored for just us. These I call “Yuppie traps”.
You know the career guy who drives a Lexus to work, has a wife and three kids in a little half-million dollar McMansion in a covenant community, right next to a golf course? Do you want to know the secret to obtaining that lifestyle?
Truly? Are you ready?
To have your mind blown.
‘Cause here it is:
Yeah, the guys you see in the fancy car and polo shirts, or the soccer moms in the new SUV, they’re most likely up to their eyeballs in debt. I know this because I get to go into their houses and fix their stuff. Nine times out of ten they want the cheap, short-term fix to the expensive, long-term fix because they have no money whatsoever, not after spending their remaining savings on granite countertops.
You might think that these intelligent people (and they are fairly intelligent) are crazy or something for not keeping up with their finances. But you only think that because you’re not one of them, yet. Fair warning, you might be headed for the trap yourself. Unlike lottery tickets, which are a well-known scam, this one has never been revealed to you. It is: your lifestyle.
In the beginning, a young man with a decent job decides it’d be a great idea to spend some of his newfound cash on a nice luxury car. It’ll make him look good with coworkers and friends. It’ll impress the chicks. It’ll make him seem like a bigshot. It sounds like a good idea at first, and it just may work, but hold on a second.
Aside from having to pay a metric assload worth of car insurance, you can’t just drive a luxury car with jeans and a t-shirt. You’d look like a total poser stepping out of Ferrari or Porsche in average, Target brand clothes. This young man knows this, so now he has to spend even money on an appropriate wardrobe – nice suits, nice slacks, and $60 dress socks made with sea snail shells to wick away sweat. Yeah, those exist.
At this point, our young man looks the part of a big shot. He even feels like a big shot. He holds in his hand the envy of all his coworkers and crushes it at the bar with confidence. However, there’s another problem.
You can’t drive a nice car, with nice clothes, and take your fling back to a run-down, single bedroom, 700 square foot, garden floor condo. After spending all this money, our hypothetical young man must now pay over two thousand dollars a month (on top of car payments) to get himself an apartment in a skyrise so he can impress his dates.
And an impressive skyrise apartment needs impressive furniture, right? Your countertops can’t be cheap ass veneer on plywood. They have to be legit granite countertops. Let’s not forget about retiling the bathroom. Triple the square footage, triple the price. Make that quintuple, since we don’t want to forget the walls, and you can’t get that cheap crap at Home Depot either. His and hers sinks would impress. All of this is beginning to add up.
Let’s talk about diet. Captain Crunch won’t cut it for this new lifestyle. A young man who drives a luxury car shouldn’t be seen at a low to middle end grocery store. That’s for loser bachelors.
Eventually, I’m sure our young man will find the right girl to settle down with. He is “high status” after all. An “alpha male”. His girl will therefore need luxury ring and the luxury McMansion. Luxury vacations in Aspen, where skiing is not a poor man’s sport. High-end gyms and home fitness equipment in a finished basement. More granite countertops on every surface and a second luxury SUV in the garage. And hey, why not a recirculating, tankless water heater for a few grand? A house that size requires two furnaces, and plenty of insurance. Add to that not just a mortgage, or taxes, but also an HOA. Thousands come in a month, and thousands go out.
Our hypothetical young man lives a life perched on a fragile cliff where debt and bankruptcy wait at the bottom. God forbid he ever lose some income and get knocked down a SES or two, since his honey’s hypergamy will finish the job that debt collectors could never do. I hope he likes paying off lawyers and child support.
And what started all this? The poor guy just wanted to have a nice car. That’s the problem with Lifestyle: it’s a trap for the smart and wealthy because you can’t just dip your toes in or go halfway, because then you will be seen as a fake. Trying to keep up with a certain lifestyle requires buying the entire package. It’s an all or nothing game that’ll cost you far more than you imagine. Most people don’t have the foresight to recognize this. They think it’s an additional 10 grand here or there. They don’t notice all the other costs that come with it. “Lifestyle”, as it is defined by yuppies and advertisers, is simply a trap designed to swindle money out of intelligent people.
All those car and cologne commercials are set up that way for a reason. They’re supposed to get the most money from the aspirational 14%, which is to say, you.
But you shouldn’t give it to them. It’s not that worth it. Realize that there are extraneous costs to everything you buy, especially in cars and houses. For example, luxury cars aren’t built to last because the core demographic, the true yuppie rich, trades in their cars after two years for the newest model. Paying an extra $400 a month for the luxury of walking downtown from your apartment is a high price to pay considering you’d come out ahead by getting a cab every drunken night out. The difference in price between the base cost of an item and the inflated price yuppies are willing to pay can be thought of as just another tax. A yuppie tax.
Here’s an alternative that I personally advocate for: go minimalist. That doesn’t mean be poor, but it means dodging the allure of a certain lifestyle and buying things on a need by need, and case by case basis. Our young man could have looked at things a different way. He could have decided to keep his paid-off car, his old but functional wardrobe and cozy little apartment, and still would have been a big shot. He could have realized that trying to be a rich guy in America was a fool’s errand, and instead spent his extra ten grand on the best vacation ever.
Ten grand can take you literally anywhere in the world. Imagine that. You can leave town and go to a place where no one knows you, and you can make yourself into a bigshot, at least to live the fantasy for a while. You’ll get to see and experience things never seen before, and, when it’s all over, you can return to normalcy without needing to get financing on your life for the next thirty years. The kicker is that living small and vacationing big should develop a more interesting personality and bestow better life stories for our young man than the rich guy who is stuck keeping up with the Jones’ in his home country.
Plus, it’s cheaper in the long run.