You Don’t Have to Drive a Prius

June 6, 2023

A recent trend I’ve noticed is that people who spend on luxury items like supercars seem to get a lot of hate on social media. 

Maybe it was the rise of the internet marketing guru posing with a rented Lamborghini (here’s one of my favorite Instagram accounts that documents this phenomenon). 

Maybe it’s the influence of hustle culture, perhaps best characterized by the phrase “Nobody Cares, Work Harder.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand the righteous indignation of people who drive a Prius because Warren Buffett does. 

I love cars. My dad loves cars, and he shared that passion with me. Part of the reason that I was so driven to succeed was so that one day I could buy a supercar of my own. 

Anyone remember this poster? I was among an entire legion of 80’s kids that grew up with it tacked to the wall of my bedroom. 

I believe that our money should be used to serve us; not the other way around. I use my wealth to create experiences that bring me joy. And for me, supercar ownership is one of those joys.

Now, you don’t have to like cars. If you only see cars as a means to get you from A to B and don’t understand why anyone would own something other than a Prius, that’s your prerogative. 

However, one of the things I encourage people to do is figure out whatever it is that brings them joy, and integrate that into their wealth plan. Maybe it’s luxury travel, or collecting wine, watches or art. 

Whatever your passion, the idea that we must deny ourselves in order to be responsible is a subtle way that society encourages us to keep ourselves small. We’re supposed to be successful, but not too successful, and we should definitely never show off. 

But here’s where most people get it wrong, and at the same time perhaps explains where some of the disdain comes from. 

Little known truth: you can own luxury goods for free, or close to it.

My last McLaren cost me less to own than a new Honda Accord.

Picture a Rolex watch, a Birkin bag, a bottle of collector-grade wine, or a piece of exquisite art. What do these items have in common? They’re not just symbols of affluence; they’re investments that, more often than not, appreciate in value. This is the real luxury market – a domain where savvy investors play and win.

Now, contrast this with the purchase of an entry-level Gucci belt or a Louis Vuitton wallet. While these items carry the allure of a luxury brand, they are what I like to call ‘aspirational buys.’ They’re the gateways for many into the world of high-end fashion, yet they lack the rarity and potential to appreciate in value. They’re beautiful, no doubt, but from an investment standpoint, they’re not in the same league.

In 2022, leather goods made up 52% of Gucci’s revenue by product category. This means people spent roughly $5.5 billion buying belts and wallets. This is the dirty secret of these luxury brands. They seed product with the ultra-wealthy, often paying them or giving it away for free, so that the decidedly non-high net worth masses will buy entry level items. 

So how do you go about investing in luxury goods?

Just like any other investment, you have to put in the work. 

You have to spend the time to understand the market, recognize scarcity, and choose items that are rare and sought after. This isn’t just about enjoying the finer things in life; it’s about making strategic choices that ensure these luxuries don’t just sit as depreciating assets in your garage (or cellar). 

This approach aligns perfectly with the first rule of the wealthy – “Never lose money.” True luxury investment pieces rarely lose value. They’re the physical embodiments of rarity, desirability, and timeless appeal – all factors that contribute to their appreciation over time.

As you navigate the luxury market, ask yourself: is this an aspirational buy, or is it a rare piece that will be sought after in the years to come? Your answer will determine whether you’re just spending money or making a wise investment.

Remember, in the world of luxury, scarcity rules. The rarer the item, the more likely it is to appreciate. Whether it’s a limited edition watch, a vintage wine, or a piece of art, these items have histories and stories that transcend their material value.

Luxury is not just about the glitz and glamor; it’s about understanding the market and making choices that will reward you in the long run. It’s about living your best life, and using your money on things that bring you joy.

Consider this: I have a dear friend who is incredibly successful. One day he was admiring my McLaren and was saying how cool it was, but that he could never own a car like that. After all, he was in a small town, and people already knew him and he couldn’t jeopardize his reputation by driving around in a flashy car. 

I offered an alternative narrative. Every time I pull up to a gas station and a kid comes up and asks me about my car, I invite them over, offer to let them sit in it, even take their picture. This is one of the best parts of the experience. I get to rewrite the stigma that super car owners are self-indulgent wieners, and make that kid’s year. I get to inspire them to chase their dreams and set big goals for themselves. 

I’m proud to say my friend is now on his second McLaren. He takes it to local fundraisers, and gives rides to the underprivileged kids in his town. He uses it to inspire and create joy for others. And of course, he gets to experience the freedom to enjoy the fruits of his success – on his own terms. He recently thanked me publicly for giving him the push he needed to break free of other people’s expectations and talked about how owning his cars have enriched his life. 

Sometimes, all we need is permission to rewrite the script. You never know what lies on the other side. 

Investing in Elegance,


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