Mr. Money Mustache has a great slant and opinion on luxuries. He equates them with doing drugs. Luxury, states MMM, is just another human weakness. (click here)
Most of us have tried drugs in one form or another, right? Coffee gives you a little boost. Alcohol makes you a bit more silly and friendly. Marijuana is amazing for bringing out creative ideas and highlighting the texture and humor in life. But the key to all drugs is that they come with a balance of positive and negative effects. So only a fool would overdose on any of them in a breathless pursuit of their positives, while ignoring the well-documented negatives. Luxury behaves in exactly the same way.
If I were to get used to all of this, I would become unhappy if I could not have it, I would be pretty much screwed. Because at that point, I would have designed a lifestyle so narrow and delicate, that it could easily be toppled by something as trivial as an economic recession.
And yet most people do this all the time. When you borrow money to buy a consumable product, you are instantly teetering atop the ultimate house of cards. You are getting yourself used to the rare luxury of your new toy. This is why I laugh and cry with frustration at the absolute insanity of borrowing money for a car, and the fact that ninety percent of Americans do it.
Luxury to MMM, when he wrote that post, was being picked up at a foreign airport by a black Lincoln limousine and being driven to a super luxurious hotel, where he would be wined and dined for his opinions on frugality. Makes sense, right? The problem with sustaining bouts of luxuries is that you get used to them very quickly. Once you do, like a drug, it’s hard to get through withdrawal.
But what exactly is a luxury? If you have $10 cash to your name and no debt, you’re living better than 71% of the world’s population and you’re richer than 15% of American Households. Put together! (click here) Most of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. (click here) Globally, the majority of people live on about $3 a day. Just the sheer fact that you may have running water in your home or be able to make an ice cube for your drink, would be considered a luxury to those living in India, Africa or China. 87% of those living in Europe or North America live on $50 a day and are considered rich by global standards. Would you consider having running water, a luxury, a drug, as Mr. Money Mustache has claimed? Probably not. You and I would consider running water a necessity. A God given right. And we certainly would want it more and more and more.
Luxury has been defined as the state of great comfort and extravagant living. But to whom? Having heat, hot water, clothes to wear, food on the table and a space to sleep with a roof over your head can be defined as the epitome of luxury if you’re part of the 71% Global Economy. Yet, in reality, we consider the things I just listed as necessities. That’s hardly a drug. MMM’s viewpoints, then, according to my own opinion are just nothing more than that of an elitist. In fact, his whole ilk are nothing more than elitists. They claim they know the value of a dollar but realistically, they haven’t a clue. They think they’re living close to the bone (frugal) and pat themselves on the back accordingly. In reality, they’re nothing more than the self-induced, weak drug addicts they claim to disdain. Why? Because they have houses and cars and running water and ice cubes and heat and clothes and way more than ten dollars in a bank account.
In economics, a luxury good is a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, so that expenditures on the good become a greater proportion of overall spending. Luxury goods are in contrast to necessity goods, where demand increases proportionally less than income. (click here) Elitists, such as Mr. Money Mustache then has the power to proclaim to the world what can and is a luxury. MMM is stating that a black limousine picking him up at a foreign airport is a luxury. To a politician or a dignitary, it’s just another day in the life. Boasting about a recent vacation or hiring a maid shouldn’t give anyone a sense of accomplishment, or a feeling of success.
Nobody today really knows what luxury is anymore. Luxury is changing. Brand names have creeped into $2500 sweat pants, $1500 sneakers and $500 underwear. The concept of luxury is getting blurry, making it less clear where it begins and ends (click here) Is a $2,500 dress still a luxury item when you’re renting it for a fraction of that price? Does the shine of luxury fade if you get a bargain on a used coat and then resell it a few months later? What matters most is that the products are objects of desire. In other words, it’s the desire, as expressed by others, that makes what you have, considered a luxury to them. So, if no one desires what luxury you claim to have, it’s not really a luxury. See above about your vacation and house maid. You don’t impress me much. You haven’t reached status level. You’re just another clog in the wheel. You are, as Mr. Money Mustache stated, a weakness, a drug addict. You’re a nothing.