The Millionaire Next Door

Cars and Homes as Costumes

As long as we are headed towards a controlled economy, I would like to add my two cents worth and perhaps a bit of comic relief. We can encourage people to become more fiscally responsible! I suggest that we begin by altering the spending habits of the hyperconsuming/income statement affluent (IA) population. I mentioned on Twitter that 86% of those who drive prestige makes of cars are not millionaires. Some of these folks think that they will be rich tomorrow so why not act rich today. Plus, many of these hyperspenders think that they can enhance their overall satisfaction with life by driving prestige makes of motor vehicles. But satisfaction does not come from a new car showroom.

Affluent impostors who drive prestigious makes of motor vehicles and dress the part are in full costume, that is the “I want to be perceived as affluent” uniform so popular in America even today.  But what is in fashion today can be quickly changed by government mandate!

How can we neutralize one of the symbols of affluence that IAs employ? What if we are required to submit a statement of our net worth each time we file our income tax returns? Shortly after filing, the IRS will send each of us a certificate. It certifies one’s rank/level of net worth compared to all other taxpayers who are in the same income/age cohort. This is the basic ingredient in a strategy designed to help transform spenders into savers.

The certificate received must be submitted at the time we purchase license plates for our vehicles.  Those whose levels of net worth places them in the bottom quartile (IAs – the hyperconsumers) will be issued license plates with red numbers.  Those in the top quartile, the balance sheet affluent (BAs), will receive plates with green numbers. All the others, the average guys, will be issued plates with gray numbers. 

Imagine the sudden impact upon the IAs who must conspicuously display their real level of wealth.  It could cause panic in tony neighborhoods and at country clubs across America. All those wearing wealthy costumes will be unmasked. They might feel compelled to start taking cabs to and from the club…or riding with the balance statement affluent friends. 

But what if you, Mr. Hyperconsumer, are committed to acting rich via the car you drive and keeping your club membership at the same time?  You do not want to tell others that you are an actor. So then, before dawn, park your car in the members only lot with its rear end up against a wall. If your state requires two license plates, then buy a carcover. 

What degree of prestige is associated with the fellow who is in the bottom quartile of wealth but who drives a car that is in the top quartile of sticker prices? If this mandate is enforced then actors who drive expensive cars will likely be ridiculed and even viewed with contempt. Perhaps these folks will begin to focus upon ways with which to become genuinely wealthy and, accordingly, more satisfied with life. It is a new world order.

The same system could be applied to homes. Homeowners in the BA category will be issued  government mandated green numbers with which to display their address on their mailbox. The IAs will receive red numbers.  Some in costume may realize that there is not much prestige in living in a home designated by red numbers. Could this start a revolution?  Imagine it: more and more people living in homes they can really afford! And now there is recognizable status in doing so. 

The effects of such legislation may go well beyond what our lawmakers intend. For example, what if you are an aggressive and enlightened trick or treater? You want to maximize your return on prospecting time (treats collected). Focus on green-numbered homes/neighborhoods. Green is the symbol of potential big treats.

2 thoughts on “Cars and Homes as Costumes”

  1. I think this would be a great idea. However, I think that most of those who are wealthy know who the posers are. It shows up in the words they use and in their attitudes.

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