Do you know people who can’t manage their money? Rich people or I should say, people who use to be rich? Allow me to explain. I have found in my experience there are three kinds of rich people.
– The Responsible Rich
– The Irresponsible, Thieving Rich
– The Newly Poor Rich
The Responsible Rich are either people who grew up with money but had parents that didn’t hand them everything or they earned their money through hard work. If their family had money, they had to work on the family business and didn’t get a trust fund dumped on them when they were eighteen. They know the value of a dollar, work hard for their money and treat people as they wish to be treated. The other version of the Responsible Rich are rich people who use to be poor. They know what it’s like to live on pasta and potatoes. They save for a rainy day, don’t blow all their money on cocaine, hookers and giant initial pendants covered in diamonds. They are generous but mindful of fiscal responsibility. This is how I wish all people would be regardless of their financial circumstances. They live within their means, save for a rainy day and don’t look down on people because they provide you a service (like cutting your grass or cleaning your house).
Then there are the Irresponsible Thieving Rich. These are the ones who make the tabloids. They usually run large corporations, screw people out of their life savings so they can get a seven figure year-end bonus and have no souls. We hear about them in the news and I wonder why more of them aren’t in jail instead of some idiot who was busted for growing pot in his basement. Then I realize – “Oh yeah, they’re rich!” The worst offenders in this category are the Irresponsible Hollywood Rich. When they aren’t flashing their mini-skirted “cash and prizes” in public, running people down with their SUVs or crying crocodile tears for breaking parole and not wanting to go to jail, they are stealing. It’s how the rich stay rich. How do I know? I’ve seen it.
Years ago when I was working for AIDS Project Los Angeles, we had a fashion show fundraiser with Gianni Versace. There were many “names” at that event. Not one, not two but at least two dozen of them that I saw were stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down. Ladies would walk in with tiny, thin handbags and would walk out with those same purses looking like chipmunk cheeks stuffed full of nuts. They had expensive gift bags for crying out loud but nooooo, they needed to take the hotels silverware, the Versace patterned napkins, mini-lamp shades and even a TABLE CLOTH! Yes, these are people you know and they are scum. Stealing from people with AIDS and to what end? Since Gianni needed these for his next show in Milan, our company would have to pay to replace them. Good going glitterati!
Who came to my rescue? Steven Seagal! I love that man more than words can say. I knew he was a friend of Gianni’s so I went up to him, told him what was happening and pointed out the worst offender as he was making his get away. I took great pleasure in seeing that very tall Mr. Seagal putting him up against a wall and literally shaking the stolen merchandise out from under his suit. He is exactly like he is in his movies. It was like watching “Under Siege” for real only without all the guns.
The last type of rich person to look at is the Newly Poor Rich. These are people who were raised rich or became rich and then lost their money. It can be through the crash or bad investments but usually through no direct fault of their own. Their problem is they have no idea how to be poor. I don’t mean how to beg for money with a cardboard sign. I mean, economize, budget, live within their means. They’ve never had an issue with spending money and don’t understand why you shouldn’t be buying lattes every day, why you should eat at home instead of eating out, why you should bring a sandwich to work, etc. They just don’t get it and are driving themselves more and more into debt in a desperate attempt to maintain a lifestyle they can no longer afford. Sad really.
So what can we do, besides print money for ourselves and wait for the day our Skynet overlords decide to take over the planet? I say we live by example. Be frugal, live within your means. You want a treat, fine! You want five treats? Think about that. When at all possible buy locally. I know it’s hard to restart the economy by buying American-made goods since we make so little now but supporting your local Mom and Pop stores is the next best thing. Discover the joys and cost savings of cooking at home instead of eating out. And let’s not forget the most important thing of all, remember the people who behave badly and use their behaviour as object lessons. There is nothing wrong with working hard, having nice things and spending that money. It’s all on the choices you make, either rich or poor. In the words of the immortal Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility.”