Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. — Oscar Wilde
When I'm not writing my books or writing business proposals for large companies, I help an international concierge manage the playtime for people with money. These are people who don't have budgets for holidays. They just say where they want to go, for how long and how many people are travelling. They also have weddings at places like the Palace of Versailles and have weddings on three continents for their coterie of guests, where Krug is drunk like water and stars like Rihanna and Mariah are flown in to sing Happy Birthday.
I have sourced and booked a selection of houses for the world tour for a famous singer and her husband, booked trips to Paris for the Spring-Sumer 2018 Haute Couture Chanel show, plus planned private yacht parties for property developers and arranged bespoke scarves made for a party invitation from Hermes.
I write books about these people. It is not a life I live but I understand it.
Someone who is of this world once said to me, 'you understand luxury.' Indeed I do. I am a Taurus who was raised on Nancy Mitford and Tatler magazine. Now I write about lifestyle and love. Children and ambition. Secrets and keeping face. In my first book, The Perfect Location, I wrote about characters inspired by Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner and others. Some reviewers said my books were implausible. Those things that I wrote about would never happen. Now my plot lines read like newspaper articles. I just knew the rumours about men like this back in 2008.
Everything I write about comes from a source, a story, an experience, a situation. It's all fodder.
Lately, I have been thinking about the levels of wealth I see on a weekly basis now. There are several levels of the hierarchy of wealth. They are as follows:
1) Comfortable - You can pay your bills on time and have an overseas holiday every year. You travel on points and take photos of your bircher and croissant when you manage to get into the business club lounge. You can afford special events or a night at a hotel suite with your partner. You work really hard to maintain the fiscal momentum in your life. You consider stress part of the fuel that pushes you to get to the next level. You still have your old friends from school.
2) Well off - You pay your bills monthly and in advance, and travel overseas twice a year for the skiing and the sun. You check into the business club lounge on Facebook. You don't take photos because that's not cool. You start a collection of something. Maybe watches, often a good entry level collector's item, or art, if you know a thing or two, or know someone who can advise. You are now asked to donate to your old school, or your children's school. You can but it's not enough to have your name on the Arts Centre. Yet. You get a lot more friend requests on Facebook from people you went to school with but can't remember them.
3) Wealthy - Your bills are paid automatically from your household account and you don't need to check them or the statement. You travel four times a year, for the skiing, the sun, the music and the food. You also own a beach house and a farm which are visited regularly. You lift your head when you enter the First Class Lounge. You have a small theatre in the middle school named after you and a prize for the best Humanities student. Your circle of friends is smaller, and often well-heeled because they don't ask for stuff. You don't have Facebook anymore.
4) Rich - Your finance manager pays your bills. You pay-pass everything. You have a money clip with a wad of $100 and $50 notes adding up to $3200. You work three months of the year on a project, spread out over the 12 months period. You travel the rest of the year, only fly business, and have no idea about how many points you have. You give a nod of acknowledgement to the receptionist when you enter the First Class Lounge. You have shares in Facebook and a new social sharing platform which is in Beta phase but with better data protection than FB. You have a few close friends now. Maybe two. You all know where the bodies are buried. You trust very few. And either your family is everything, or you and your partner have had a shit storm of a divorce, and the kids are struggling.
5) Ultra-Rich - You haven't paid a bill in ten years. You don't pay for things, or if you do, you have no idea how much it cost. You don't work, but you work out. You own houses where you can ski, sun yourself, have large parties for New Year's Eve, and can land the helicopter. You have a pilot and a Gulfstream plane where your three-year-old has her own booster seat. You own a large tech company, you're developing your own social media platform, along with various other blockchain projects. You're remarried with a serious prenup. You are wondering what happens to the money when you die. You arrange your philanthropic causes according to your passions once you're dead. You worry about your kids and why they're assholes. You wonder when you became an asshole. You think about all the things money couldn't fix in your life. Cancer that killed your sister, the schizophrenia of your son, the drunk driver that killed your best friend. Money means nothing now but if you say that to someone who doesn't have any, then you seem disingenuous.
Money is fun but if you are chasing it to climb to the next level, think about it for a moment. What will it cost you?
That's what I write about. The cost of living well and how what we think will make us happy very rarely does.
Self worth is everything. What are you worth? You're more than the latest car or the latest iPhone. You don't need the huge TV. You don't need the latest Givenchy bag to prove you have value, that you matter. If it's a struggle to get these things and keep them, they they're not worth it. Being a functioning member of society who matters is not reliant on your 'stuff' because it's all just stuff. And there will be more stuff you think you need and you don't need it! You don't! You can travel the world collecting stuff, but nothing, nothing is as good as someone who tells you that you are the one they want to make laugh. Or the one who is on the list for 'People to call when the shit goes down'. This is your worth. This is what matters.
Happy days to you, my friends. xx