I used to go shopping at lunch time . It was my favorite thing to do when I was having a bad day. My old office was in a great neighborhood for lunch time shopping. There were a bunch of great stores, including one that sold designer shoes for like $5! I’m exaggerating, but they were cheap. I don’t go shopping at lunch time anymore because my new office is in a very different kind of neighborhood. Now I work just off Madison Avenue in the 60’s…which is kind of like working on Rodeo Drive. On the corner is Hermes and while I’d like a Birken bag, I would also like a new car and they are practically the same price! There are 4 jewelery stores on this block alone and the size of the diamonds in the windows is astonishing. This morning, I noticed a set of dominoes in the window of Barney’s…the dots were diamonds. DIAMONDS! Why is that necessary? Who is going to buy something like that? Really?
Clearly, I cannot afford to shop in this neighborhood. But it’s got me wondering…what if I had a million dollars…or five million…or a hundred million??? Would I shop around here? Would I buy a handbag with a price tag equivalent to a Hyundai, even if I could afford it? Would I suddenly need diamond-studded dominoes? Or perhaps a jewel-encrusted handbag in the shape of a cupcake a la Sex and the City (Judith Leiber is right down the street also and I see that damn cupcake every day!)?
It’s part of my job to deal with wealthy people and it’s fascinating to me how different people react to wealth. In the past I’ve worked mostly with entertainers and I’ve seen people receive contracts and go nuts, buying houses and diamonds. On the flip side of that, I had one client who didn’t insure a piece of jewelery because she was embarrassed that it had been so expensive, so she didn’t tell me about it for months. I’ve found that sometimes how you grow up and your financial history plays a part in your reaction to wealth…especially sudden wealth. It all makes me wonder what I would do.
I’ve not had the easiest financial path. I grew up watching my parents go through financial highs and lows. Sometimes, my mom wore jeans with unfashionable holes in them so my brother and I could have new school clothes. But then I got a new car for my 16th birthday. At one point my dad wore a diamond Rolex, but then he sold it to pay for car payments and groceries when he was out of work. Basically, when things were good, they were really good, but in times when the economy was bad, things really sucked. My parents are spenders and they never really got a grip on the whole concept of saving for a rainy day. So as I because an adult responsible for my own financial well-being, I took a lesson from my parents and spent money like it was nothing. Eventually I found myself in a shit-ton of debt…a very long story for another post next week! Luckily, I’ve gotten out of that situation and I’ve vowed to never spend frivolously ever again.
That brings me back to my original question…what if I was a millionaire? Does that change the definition of spending frivolously? I really like helping people, so I would probably spend a good portion of my money helping people somehow. I’d send some people to college because I am a big advocate of education. I’d help some people I know pay some medical bills. I’d make sure everyone in my family had a mortgage free home to live in. I’d adopt like every stray dog because their poor little faces in the Sarah McLachlan commercials break my heart.
I really like purses…as you all know. Right now I can’t justify spending $1,200 on a Gucci bag because that’s just too much in relation to my salary, but if I have a million dollars and I’ve already done all the things I just mentioned, then isn’t $1,200 really just a little pittance? I think I’d buy the damn Gucci bag. The Hermes, though, will always just be too expensive! I will also never spend $80 on a white t-shirt or any such non-sense. My $9 tees from Target are fabulous, thank you very much. I just can’t see myself doing anything crazy…like buying tons of clothes or a big, giant house or hiring a bunch of staff or even having someone like me working for me. I mean, I am certainly capable of paying my own bills and reconciling my own bank statements!
I think my big indulgence would be travelling. I love going to new places and I don’t get to do it nearly enough. My first trip would be a road trip…I’m just not sure where I’d go yet. I’ve been dying to take a road trip for the past ten years. It’s just tough to get enough time off work to make it worth it. If I had millions it wouldn’t matter. I’m thinking Graceland! I don’t know why…I just think it would be fun to tell people I was going to Graceland. First international trip would be to Italy…my SIL went last summer and I’ve been wanting to go ever since I saw her pictures.
So…what would you do if you had a million dollars?