Thursday, 9 December 2010

Everyone wants to be a billionare so freakin bad...

When it comes to money, there are essentially two types of people in this world: those who have it and those who don't. The DON’T category is further divided into those who have access to money that does not belong to them, and those who don’t have any resources so to speak.

Now I come from a middle class home, but parts of my family could be classified as wealthy... they’re the 'we-charter-our-own-airplanes-and-yachts kinda rich. But even so, I would classify myself as one of those people who don’t have money.

See when it comes to money, my definition of rich is when you only fly first class and stay in the Penthouse or Presidential Suite of every hotel; you possess your own 7-star furnished home or three, a nice luxurious car or ten, and several other essential items like a Rolex and a closet filled with designer gear AND you have tonnes of extra cash in the bank so that if you had to lose it all tomorrow, you’d be able to go out and buy everything again WITHOUT incurring ANY debt whatsoever... meaning you DON’T have a bond or mortgage, or a credit card that’s in the red and you don’t owe a single soul or entity a single penny.

From my definition I can tell you that there aren’t many people that are really rich or wealthy... although many would think that they are or pretend to be and the majority of them would only really have ACCESS to money.

One of my acquaintances is one of them rich people... they’re the 'when-we-go-overseas-we-stay-at-the-Kings-Palace-as-his-guests-&-when-theres-a-wedding-in-the-family-statesmen-&-royalty-from-all-over-the-world-attend' kinda rich. I’ve known her for quite some time but we’ve only really become friendly over the past few years when we got to know each other a little better. We usually go out now and then either for coffee or spend the day shopping etc. And we’re the weirdest pair because we have absolutely nothing in common... she’s married with kids and is a good decade older than I am... but for some reason we are quite comfortable with each other. I like her because she’s down to earth and I can be playful and totally honest with her... and she likes me because I don’t kiss her ass or give a shit about her money and I’m not materialistic and completey honest to the point of being blunt – she thinks it’s hilarious.

Anyways, spending time with her has taught me a great deal about really wealthy people. Firstly, they don’t display their wealth or status. There’s no show or ceremony every time step out of the house because class is something that no amount of money can buy. And unlike brand whores who need to define who they are by the (very visible) labels they wear, simple and understated seem to be the two labels that stick with these people. When I look at her, she always looks casual yet elegant, poised and relaxed.

At first glance, you’ll NEVER say that she’s one of the “elite”. All her labels are neatly tucked away on the insides of her clothes and only a skilled fashionista will be able to tell what or who she’s wearing. She drives a beautiful 7-digit car with coffee stains on the dashboard, an old tattered issue of Marie Claire on the passenger floor and the kids’ toys on the back seat, she’s not pretentious about it. She owns her money, her money doesn’t own her.

There is nothing more frivolously fascinating than watching a rich person spend their money. I’ve been out shopping with her numerous times in various upscale neighbourhoods and she’s the type of person that will walk into Louis Vuitton, buy two handbags for R17 000 each without blinking and ask me if I want one, then grin as I scoff at the notion of owning such clearly over-priced merchandise and bitch about capitalism and the starving children in Sudan.

But here’s the thing... she CAN do that. She CAN go out on a whim and get the latest Prada or iPhone or a small country or what-ever-the-hell-else she wants to. And I suppose anyone else with a yearly income of between 100 to 200-million could and would do the same thing. She is in the ‘has money’ category and not many people are like her.

I know an alarming number of people who have ACCESS to money... it’s a middle class thing... but they think or act like they’re rich, often living an extravagant lifestyle on a pauper’s salary. The simple truth is that most people in this day and age live way beyond their means, more so than any other period in history. Everyone wants to be a billionaire so freakin bad... and what’s worse is that most people aren’t willing to work for it. I know guys in the younger generations that expect to leave to school, work for a year and then buy brand new BMW’s.

Everyone’s out for a get-rich quick scheme... hustling their way through life so that they can be gawked at and admired for what they have, not who they are. And I can’t understand why. Is it a low self-esteem thing? Is it the psychological effects of post-Apartheid where everyone who was previously disadvantaged and wasn’t allowed to own or consume anything now suddenly wants to own and consume EVERYTHING in sight, because they secretly believe that it will be all gone tomorrow?

Most times I consider myself so fortunate because I don’t have that need to compete in that way... that I can love beautiful things but not become enslaved by them, and I’m not drowning in debt just to prove to the outside world that I’m worthy of my place on earth or that I'm just as good as they are. If I can afford it, I will buy it and if I can’t my heart doesn’t break and my world does not shatter. I am excessively rich in that I’m at peace within myself and content with my lot and if I can get more it would be great but if not, I know I’ll be perfectly fine without it.

Take it from someone with a background steeped in wealth, and being surrounded by it, I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects of insatiable greed and the lengths that people will go to, to get what they want just to find that their efforts were in vain because no amount of money in the world can fill those emotional and spiritual voids... nothing good will ever come from the culture of acquiring and consuming. It inevitably results in the worst offenses committed by mankind and is a major contributing factor to the current state that the world is in.

And trust me, that no-name imitation bag purchased from China Town for R120 works just as well as that R17 000 Louis and no one will be able to tell the difference.

5 comments:

  1. Duh. its our version of dale carnegie's book-
    'how to make money and influence indians'

    :P

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  2. true true :) I hate it when ppl with not that much money try and put on like they are so wealthy but everything is on credit and if you went into their home at month end there's no food in the cupboards :)

    lol its funny when you see girls with huge louis vuitton bags n all dolled up n then they get into a little Hyundai or something in the parking lot.

    I wish I was rich like your friend!!!! Then I could devote my life to helping animals *sigh*

    I know some very rich ppl and they are down to earth and not flashy, it's the kinda rich ppl who are the annoying ones :P

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  3. pserean - lol... SA is particularly guilty when it comes to that "culture of consuming"... and I think its because during Apartheid, none of them were allowed to own anything... now they're overcompensating :P

    Chantal - lol, very true... it's like the "middle management syndrome" where most of them are often on power trips and are assholes whereas the real bosses: CEO etc are the nice guys... same applies here. People who flash too much are clearly overcompensating for something... the REALLY rich are often the plain understated people :)
    I wish I was rich like her too because I'd really liek to get involved in charity work in 3rd world countries - in education specifically.

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  4. Well said!There are very few billionares like your friend though. I absolutely hate it when you talk to a rich person and all they can talk about is how many Ferrari's they've bought and the latest penthouse they have acquired.
    Like you pointed out true richness lies in your simplicity as human being, I wish I knew more humble people in this world!

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  5. safs786 - As deplorable as the arrogant & boastful rich are, I have to say that I find poor-arrogant-boastful-people to be even worse because while we may dislike that arrogance and boastfulness, at least with the rich guy there's an element of truth to it.

    Nothing irritates me more than average people who have nothing to be proud of, yet feel its necessary to brag about what they have and then go out to acquire more so that they can brag some more...

    Its kinda like a really good-looking guy thats arrogant. Sure he wont have as many admirers and he won't be considered as attractive to a lot of people because of his personality, but if he's handsome, he's handsome... its the truth.

    But when you get some skinny ass ugly mofo walking around thinking he's the shit, it puts you off even more...

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