In Stop Acting Rich, I profiled the “aspirationals” (people who act rich . . . but actually aren’t rich). Perhaps Shakespeare was referring to these people when he said “all that glitters is not gold.” Yet many Americans are guilty of judging the wealth of others based on whether or not they drive prestige makes of motor vehicles. Judgments of this type are often inaccurate.
Last month Automotive News reported that the vice president for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services indicated that leasing accounted for half of all sales of new Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Further, this 50% figure is rather consistent in good times and in bad.
How does this 50% figure compare with the lease versus purchase ratio for all those passenger vehicles acquired in America? It is much higher than the norm. Over the past decade leasing accounted for approximately 20% of all new passenger vehicles that were acquired.
But what about the acquisition methods employed by America’s millionaires? According to my national survey database of millionaires, overall only 11.3% [about 1 in 9] leased their most recently acquired vehicle. Also, only 13.8% of millionaires indicated that they leased a Mercedes-Benz [Toyota 8.0%].
In fairness to Mercedes-Benz, nearly 1 in 10 millionaires reported that his most recently acquired vehicle was a Mercedes. And the large majority [86.2%] of them purchased their Mercedes instead of leasing it.
If the aspirationals are really interested in emulating those who are truly rich, they may wish to purchase instead of lease their motor vehicles. But by definition aspirationals are much better at spending income rather than accumulating wealth.