Luxury Is A Drug

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.

Gucci sneakers.png
These Gucci sneakers retail @$650. Think I’d be impressed if your wore them?

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.

 

 

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12 comments

  1. Hi Cindy ! Very profound, as usual ! We purchased a ” luxury” car, a Swedish Saab, ( no longer made), for a thousand dollars. It is a 2006, and runs great, for around town.
    As you said, borrowing money for things that we think will impress others is folly.
    I do have a ” designer” purse, but I only have one, and it is 15 years old, with no signs of wearing out. I hope you are feeling better. I have been praying for you since you posted about your time in the ER.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sally how kind of you. Yes I have been feeling better. Thank you so much.
      I drive a so called “luxury “ car but it’s a 2013 and I bought it used. Retail it’s worth $56k but I only paid $20k cash for it. Each time I drive it I laugh. I use a Kate Spade handbag that I got for free 10 years ago. Still going strong! Luxury? Nope. Smart? Absolutely. Like minds think alike. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to admit, I am puzzled by this post. If you or me or no one claims to want what someone else has, but as a want rather than a need, still gives that individual a feeling of indulgence or decadence, to me it is a luxury. I don’t understand claiming someone is nothing because things that give them personal delight, or a sense of luxury, are different wants than another person. I get that people buying or spending money to impress really does the opposite-it does not impress me either. But if someone has a free designer purse, and it gives the pleasure, why would it not be luxury to them? And if not a luxury that gives personal pleasure, what’s the point of owning designer anything?

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    • Hi Sam. Designer isn’t luxury anymore. That’s the whole point. The meaning of what is a luxury is changing. Rapidly. There is no point or meaning to owning anything designer anymore. Impressing people with what we used to think impressed no longer works either. For me, sitting out on my deck with ice cubes in my glass on a hot summer afternoon is a luxury. But only to me. If a person tries to ram down someone’s throat how fortunate and special they are because they have a deck with glasses full of ice cubes, because they live their life better than anyone else, well, then, yes, of course, that person is a nothing. Just something short of a moron.
      I did state that I was expressing MY opinions. People are free to have whatever lifestyle they would like and express their own opinions as they see fit. Just please refrain from lecturing everyone else that their lifestyle is better than others because they have the capability of buying designer crap, status cars, taking numerous vacations and have maid service. Mr. Money Mustache pities people like that, as well as I do too.
      Hope that clears it up.
      Thanks for your question.

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      • That’s what blogging is-each of that post get our own opinions and view point out there, and we are entitled to our own. I’m still puzzled (not in a judging way but a noodling it around way), mostly because of some of your previous posts, but of course, our viewpoints change over time. Thanks for letting me think on the post a bit more. Have a great summer-with lots of ice!

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      • LOL, Sam. That’s so funny. BTW I love ice. Thanks! I wrote today’s post because someone was trying to impress me with their financial aptitude, in such a way that they bullied me into agreeing their way was superior to mine because they were able to BUY luxury items. In retirement, a kiss of death as its the quickest route to financial ruin. I had to hold myself back from laughing in their face because luxury items technically don’t exist anymore. We have Social Influencers, like Kim Kardashian showing us what’s in, what’s out, what’s important, what has value. Should anyone get caught up in that nonsense, its just a recipe for disaster. But then again, that’s my opinion, which is based on experience.
        Hope that helps even more.
        Yes, things are changing at a rapid pace today, especially retirement. We need to stay on top of everything and keep on learning.
        Stay the course.
        Lifestyle inflation can kill a retirement plan in seconds.

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  3. Honestly, I get it. I never thought of it as a ‘drug’, but oh boy, it really is. We have vacationed ‘in luxury’ (to us, anyway) and it’s hard to go back. (i.e. first class on airlines, Yacht Clubs on cruises). BUT, we are getting wise. We enjoyed it, but it just can’t be sustained. We have decided to change gears a bit and started are planning to start hiking and are excited to visit National Parks in the good ole USA. Will we cruise again? Of course. Just not as luxuriously. At least for now.

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    • HI Sharon. sounds like a very good plan. Maybe we can get together on one of our country’s many trails? Wouldn’t that be fun!
      Would you believe that we used to go to Europe every year! Oh the things we used to do! I wish I had known then what I know now and I would have paced myself. Once you go top shelf it is so difficult to go lower. Oh well. Thanks, as always for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I keep going back to this post-a good one by the way, Cindi, as it really has me thinking. I totally get Sharon’s comments. I’ve never flown first class *though the tight accommodations and additional stops might make me feel that it is worth the extra for my comfort not to impress) and the couple cruises we were on were the cheap cabins. But, our dining room meals were the same as those with the full on suites, our deck chairs were the same, our seats for the shows-again the same. We were in the cabin to shower, change, and sleep so would have been a waste. of space. I am all with you both about seeing more of the beautiful USA from the luxury of good fitting shoes!

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      • Sam, what a great statement: seeing USA from good fitting shoes. Worth every penny!
        In the long run, I think its just best that we do what we can, for ourselves. I think just like you do. I would have arrived at the same conclusion you did about the cruises. We have good perspectives.
        Thanks again, as always, for your comments Sam! I appreciate them.

        Like

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