Luxury is hardcoded into the mind of a modern human.
(Often innocently.) As you become more self-aware and decode the blueprint society tells you to follow, everything begins to change.
As a 20-something-year-old, I worshipped luxury. I drove the BMW, wore the fancy suits, had the Versace briefcase, and worst of all, had a nasty way of treating my fellow humans.
Luxury was the cause.
These have been my learnings about luxury, which many people often don’t learn until later in life.
A love of luxury reveals a person’s true character
If you have to wear Gucci loafers to a meeting with me, we can’t be friends.
Shallow people fall for the lie of luxury. They want to look good and get your respect they haven’t earned yet based on what they wear. I’ve found people of substance wear normal unbranded shoes and clothes.
They’d rather spend any money they earn on their kids or family than impress society with a stupid logo.
Luxury = Inflated Ego
Some of the biggest knobs I’ve ever met worship luxury.
One comes to mind. During the height of the 2020 bat virus his iconic business was in trouble.
He had to close his office and couldn’t run music events anymore. Instead of taking it easy, he went out and bought a brand new red Range Rover for his pregnant wife.
“Mommy mobile” was the Instagram caption. Idiot.
Every interaction I had with him involved some whacko briefcase with leopard prints on it or an oversized gold watch that looked like it belonged in an Egyptian museum full of pharaohs.
His ego was sky-high. He thought he was invincible. He talked down to his employees and paid them peanuts — and joked about it.
If it weren’t for all the fake luxury, I would never have seen his oversized ego that recently made me delete his phone number.
Fake has become so acceptable that people get offended when you keep it real
— Aaron Will
Luxury is a gimmick
Over the years I’ve noticed the few high-priced items I’ve owned have also been the worst quality.
I had a nice watch that broke after two years. The BMW I had always had loads of mechanical problems compared to the old Honda Civic I now drive. The quality of luxury items is hardly ever better.
Often it’s worse.
What you’re paying for with luxury is the brand. Brand is an illusion that marketing brainwashes you to believe in. Once you understand this you see luxury for the gimmick that it is.
Buy moderately priced quality instead of overpriced luxury.
Luxury keeps you enslaved
You may have heard the term “stuck in the Matrix” from the famous 1999 movie starring Keanu Reeves with the same title.
There are many meanings for this phrase. One of them is that the Matrix is a system where the people are trapped by consumerism. They constantly need to buy new stuff so they can get ahead or feel enough.
The enslavement part of the Matrix comes from the debt needed to be a modern consumer. All the stuff has a cost. All the constant upgrading costs a small fortune.
When you take on huge debt you outsource your time and freedom to a bank (like the banks I used to work for). Once you get stuck in this debt trap, you become enslaved by this virtual Matrix. You go to work not because you want to … but because you have to.
Luxury produces modern slavery.
No new car looks as good as being debt free feels — Business Famous
Luxury is a boat anchor in your underpants that weighs you down
Years ago Elon Musk (love him or hate him) got rid of most of his possessions. People thought he’d become a hippy.
Elon said his possessions weighed him down like a boat anchor. What he meant was they take away your:
(And add hidden stress.)
These are the most valuable currencies in the world. Once you sell all the crap (as I have) suddenly you have a level of mental clarity that’s hard to explain.
Some luxuries won’t make your life any better, but losing them after having experienced them will certainly make your life worse — Nassim Taleb
Luxury is a red flag of the worst people in the world
Choosing the right people to surround yourself with is crucial.
I’ve found luxury to be a great measure. People obsessed with luxury will sell their grandmother’s soul to get it. If you find these luxury addicts in your inner circle, they’re likely using you to climb the luxury ladder.
The #1 place they hang out is in luxury clubs and bars. If you avoid these places you’ll avoid many of them.
The hidden cause of the desire to chase luxury (that most of us fall for)
So let’s discuss why this luxury plague is everywhere. My friend Ayo knocked it out of the park in one sentence:
The desire to look wealthy comes from a place of insecurity.
People obsessed with luxury are insecure. They don’t feel good enough. Maybe they can’t find love. Maybe they were treated badly by their parents. Perhaps their boss at work overlooked them for years.
Instead of fixing their insecurities they try to cover them up with luxuries. When I see people posting selfies in private jets all the time, I don’t think “rich b*tch/prick!” No. I think “who or what hurt you?”
Improve yourself instead of worrying about how rich you look.
What to do instead of bend over for luxury for the rest of your life
Chase control of your time
Free time feels better than any luxury item. It gives you the headspace to be creative and chase wild personal goals. Do that instead.
You become wealthier when you need less
Get comfortable with the idea of having less. It’s not easy, obviously.
But as the advice I recently got goes, all eventual success comes down to one thing: impulse control. If you can control your impulses over time, you can detox off the heroin that is luxury possessions.
Forget about how you look financially
As you’re reading this you might think my sh*t doesn’t stink and I’m too smart to fall for status games. Not true.
I have a metal debit card that has various rewards. Everywhere I go I try to use it. The trouble is the card isn’t issued by a bank so often it gets picked up as possibly being fraudulent or it has issues processing transactions.
The tap & go chip on the card has problems too.
When I go out with friends there are times when I will pay for the meal. When we get to the cashier to pay the bill my card often declines because of the issues mentioned earlier.
If a card can’t process a payment both your friends and the cashier will assume it’s because your bank account is empty. As hard as it is to admit, this situation makes me feel bad every time.
I’ve learned to accept this reality because the rewards I get for using the card far outweigh the perception of how rich I am.
Choose the invisible real luxury
Good health. True happiness. A family that loves you.
Have practical habits for the weekdays and splurge on the weekends
No one wants you to live like a monk without a single pleasure in the world. Financial Samurai blogger Sam Dogen has a great idea.
Buy the Toyota Camry for the weekdays and occasionally rent the Benz on a weekend holiday. Or buy a practical home for the weekdays and every so often on the weekend rent a luxury apartment.
This gives those who refuse to give up on luxury a middle ground that won’t destroy financial lives.
Add up the things money can’t buy
My friend Genius Turner said “To truly feel rich, one merely has to add up everything that money can’t buy.” I love this advice.
This strategy leads to some sort of gratitude practice. A time when you write down what you do have, so you don’t fall for the delusion there’s more you must have.
Final Thought: The brutal reality of luxury
Having millions of dollars might sound nice. There’s a lot you can do with all that extra cash. But what’s forgotten is this…
If you can’t come up with a way to be happy and live a good life on a middle-class income, you likely won’t be able to figure it out if you have millions.
You bring you with you through the different income brackets. Don’t forget that. Focus on deeper truths than “I want to buy X luxury item.”