Monday, December 19, 2022

The Huge Cost Of Opulence 

An Example Of Opulence
The cost of opulence is often far greater than we might expect. The people seeking to accumulate wealth are often driven by a variety of reasons and it is not always to show off their riches. The kind of riches and grandeur and riches that most individuals can only dream to enjoy are expensive and out of reach for the average person. What many people don't understand is that such trappings are frequently overrated.

Over-the-top displays of wealth are something I find rather silly. Much of the desire to live this way is to attract positive attention and to make those living in such grandeur an object of envy. The idea you can fall into or backdoor your way into wealth is pushed forward by fairy-tale-like media stories about it happening to someone else. Usually a person of average means.

The subject of an opulent lifestyle became the issue of this post due to my seeing a movie where the main character started bouncing off the walls when transferred into the world of the "rich and famous." They rapidly learned that life tends to be a trade-off and try as you might you can't have everything. In some ways adopting a lifestyle of opulence appears exhausting. 

Living large does not come cheap. In addition to expending a great deal of effort to make this appear effortless, you will be taxed in more ways than you can imagine. This includes people you have no interest in wasting your time. Another problem is people will focus on getting their hands in your pocket at every opportunity. In short, people will see you as a target and so will every charity under the sun. 

If you collect cars or just have one that you only drive now and then it does not take long to get the message that a car must be started or its battery will go dead. It must be recognized that even if you do keep them properly charged, batteries only last so long. Time takes its toll on many things and ownership complicates life. This is why so many people prefer to rent rather than buy. It is also why so much wealth is held in intangible assets and paper promises. 

This avoidance of direct ownership is something people may end up regretting if the financial system comes upon rough times and defaults soar. Still, regardless if you own or rent, when it comes to real estate, lawns need to be mowed, trees need to be trimmed, and roofs replaced. All this comes at a cost. Not only can maintenance be expensive but it can also be a time-consuming bother. On top of what is considered normal maintenance, you can also have that occasional storm or freak occurrence that sooner or later happens to most of us. 

We Can Reject Opulence
There is a lot that can be gained by rejecting the high cost of opulence and simply embracing the freedom it lets us enjoy. This does not mean you need to reject wealth, just that you don't have to get so caught up in being rich that you forget the value of a balanced life. From the cheap seats, we can often enjoy the same show and maybe even enjoy it more. Sometimes you do get more for less. When I was told this by my rich uncle decades ago I was offended and wondered why it was OK for him to have nice things but I should "settle" for less. Over the years I have come to appreciate his opinion when it comes to this issue.

It is said that Buddha, the South Asian renunciate who founded Buddhism saw the responsibility of owning worldly goods as a burden on the soul and not the answer to a better life. Buddha was born in what is now Nepal, to royal parents, but renounced his home life to live as a person who labors, toils, or exerts themselves for a higher or religious purpose. Buddha saw "things" as a major distraction to our ability to achieve personal growth.

Whatever is not yours, abandon it; when you have abandoned it, that will lead to your welfare and happiness for a long time.

Buddha, MN 22

But, this article is not about Buddha, it is about how as a person moves to more lavish, larger, and luxurious surroundings, the cost of living soars. Living the so-called good life can drain a person both financially and mentally. Years ago I heard a song with the lyrics, something like, "You don't know the problems I got, I'm a millionaire, and your not." Many Americans, especially baby boomers, have reached the point where they recognize they have far too much stuff. they are also finding that "downsizing" is easier said than done.

While most of us would quickly agree that we would rather be rich than poor, this does not mean we are required to take on the outward trappings of wealth. Generally, people find meaning and fulfillment through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Survival and food come first and as we work our way up the Maslow pyramid most individuals find there are a lot of things money can't buy. 


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  1. One thing most people seem to forget is no matter if you are Elon Musk, Bill Gates or the homeless person on the street. When it comes time to meet your maker, everyone leaves this planet with the same amount of wealth, which is 0. So many fall into the trap that they own stuff and more stuff, when in reality we pay to use stuff.

    When it is our turn to take a dirt nap, someone else will get to use, abuse or destroy all the stuff we slaved and stressed over. The bottom line is, material things on this planet are all temporary. As the beach picture showed, it's best to stop and smell lots of roses because you can't take it with you when it's time to say goodbye to this planet.

  2. I remember a few years ago. A neighbor across the street from where I live owned a large piece of property, he got sick and died. He had no heirs so all his belongings was either put on the sidewalk to be collected or his vehicle was hauled off. His home was torn down and the city auctioned his property off. Within 24 months, 4 new homes went up and it's like he never existed. There's wisdom in the saying: "Life Goes On". That's how temporary life is.