June 13, 2007

learning from Paris Hilton

Posted in money, newspaper, opinion column, spending at 11:41 pm by weiszguy

My column from the June 13, 2007 edition of the Greenhorn Valley View:

It’s mandatory to discuss Paris Hilton this week.  Have you ever wished you were the offspring of an international business magnate?  Have you ever wondered what kind of financial advice you would give to the über-rich?  I have.

Imagine that you have more money than you will ever need, like Paris Hilton.  Your life is filled with expensive toys, vacation homes, nice cars, iPods, and bottled water.  Is your life improved by having all these nice things?

A boat can be a fun toy to own; spending all day on the water can be relaxing.  Like most toys, however, it has a price, and the price is not just monetary.  I have a friend who used to own a boat.  He got rid of the boat because, in his words, “It got so I didn’t own the boat anymore, it owned me.”  A boat requires a lot of time and energy to maintain.  And having invested all that time and energy, you have to use it often, to justify all the time and energy.  After all, if you’re not going to use it, why bother with the time and energy?

Not many of us can hope to ever wallow in Hilton-like wealth.  In all likelihood, Paris will never have to worry about where her next dollar is coming from.  For many of us, though, it is likely we will have more money than we need at some point in our lives, whether through landing the ideal job, or landing an inheritance, or by getting lucky with the lottery.  And that extra money can make us feel rich.

But consider that the cost of an object is sometimes much more than the dollar amount on the price tag.  Even if you can purchase an item without breaking the bank, it may not always be wise to do so.  If my friend still owned his boat, it’s possible he could not just feel owned by it, but imprisoned by it.  Ask Paris Hilton how she likes prison.


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