“That’s nothing!” My Dad’s friend said after I pointed out a Bentley sitting in VIP Parking at the Miami Open, a Tennis tournament my family attends every other year in South Florida. He jokingly called his brand new BMW a “poor man’s car” as we drove out of the parking lot onto the main road, surrounded by Porsches, Lamborghinis, and other exotic cars. In most places around the world, the thought of a BMW being a necessity is ludicrous. But this is Miami, one of the wealthiest cities on Earth.
Riding an economic boom from Latin and Asian money pouring into the real estate sector, Miami has grown drastically over the past decade. Downtown Miami now resembles a mini-Manhattan, but right in the middle of a tropical paradise. Construction cranes dominate the skyline, building condos that will be priced into the millions of dollars. New nightclubs sponsored by top celebrities are popping up on every block, and some restaurants in Miami rival the best eateries in places like New York City and London. And for many now living in this tropical paradise, all of these luxuries are considered a standard for the middle class.
But the crazy thing about all of this is that no reasonable or logical human being would think that a $100,000 Porsche and a $1,000,000 condo are required to live a happy and satisfying lifestyle.
Yes, if you’ve made an incredible amount of money and want to enjoy some of it, this kind of behavior is completely fine. But you will destroy yourself financially if you try to live a wild lifestyle on an average income.
When everyone and their dog gets a lease on a BMW, it seems like spending $500 a month on your car is a requirement for a happy life. If all of your friends have gone out to that new restaurant downtown, don’t you deserve to blow $200 on a night out? Well, if that night out can eliminate 20% of your savings, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The biggest lesson Miami taught me is that when it comes to spending, you have to understand your perspective and appreciate all that you have. Billions of people around the world would kill for the average American lifestyle. So if you think that you HAVE to have that new purse or SUV, think again! Be smart with your money and spend it for your own personal satisfaction, not to impress others and keep up with the joneses.