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How to Avoid the FALSE PROMISE of the Madison Avenue Lifestyle
The Madison Ave lifestyle is everywhere we look. You know what I’m talking about… A fast pace… Nice houses, nice new cars, two new motorcycles in the garage, a hot tub next to the pool, fancy restaurants every night… Everything you want there, at your disposal. Advertisers are experts at exploiting our dreams of having the ability to live like this. (The glamor of a shiny new car on wet pavement at night is a sure sell.) but there’s one group of advertisers who are especially good at tricking us into believing the lifestyle of Madison Ave. is accessible to all of us… The credit card companies.
Let’s look at some of their advertisements. There is one major credit card that you are all familiar with. Their TV ad slogan? “It’s wherever you want to be!” And it usually shows people traveling around the world, enjoying all that life (with credit cards) has to offer. Now, what is this company trying to say here? They try to make you believe that this credit card will take you anywhere and everywhere you want to go in life.
I just received a pre-approved credit card application in the mail. The title said “get the credit you deserve!” Makes you feel good doesn’t it? …To know that you deserve something. It makes you want to stand up and fight – because it implies that right now you’re not getting what you deserve. After all, credit is a constitutional right, isn’t it?
Here’s an excerpt from another one I got in the mail the other day. Part of the sales letter read: “Only a select group of people will ever wear the Gold Card. It instantly identifies you as someone special – one who has gained a higher degree of financial freedom (emphasis added) – and one who expects higher levels of financial flexibility, convenience and service in all your dealings.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Especially the part about financial freedom. After all, isn’t financial freedom what we all want?
All of these advertising campaigns are built around one principle: “You can improve your lifestyle by using credit rather than spending money.”
There is a problem here… This premise is a lie!
Here’s the reality: you may live better for a few years using credit, but then you’ll spend the rest of your life living below your means trying to pay it all back. It’s all illusion.
Credit tricks you into thinking you’re doing well (or at least doing pretty well) because you have all of these “stuff.” But here are the facts: If you make a $2,000 credit card purchase at 19.8% and only make the minimum payments, it will take you 31 years to pay it off and you’ll pay $8,202 in interests! This means that using credit you pay five times more than using cash.
Pursue. Buy all these nice things on credit, and I’ll only use cash. Let’s see what happens. In the beginning, you’ll have a nice car or two, a nice boat, nice furniture, and a great stereo, etc. And I will drive older cars. I will have furniture and clothes from “old American garage sale”. And I’m probably going to deprive myself of this motorcycle that I would really like to have, because I don’t have the money to buy it.
To all appearances, it will seem that you are much more successful than me… At first. But what is really going on here? In a few years, I will not only catch up with you, but pass you by and leave you in the dust financially. That’s because when you paid $10,000 for a $2,000 purchase with your credit card, I saved until I had the $2,000 to pay cash. Then I was able to invest the extra $8,000 you spent on interest. You had compound interest working against you, but I had compound interest working for me! (And that’s where you want to be!)
ten or twenty years later, you’ll be in debt to the earlobe, still trying to live the illusory lifestyle of Madison Ave. But I’ll be driving 4 or 5 year old cars instead of new ones, while I quietly watch my investment portfolio grow into the millions – literally!
Until then, I will work because I want to, not because I have to. And I can afford to buy just about anything I want…in cash! …While you’re sweating the economy and the next downsizing or looking for the next $50 pay raise – just so you can stay on top of all those credit card payments you’re making for things you bought years ago and probably forgot by now anyway.
Are you starting to capture the image? Credit is of no use to you. It promises (and delivers) short-term gains. But it still brings long-term pain. Pursuing the Madison Ave lifestyle using credit further moves you away from it. Rich people understand this principle. That’s why they are rich. There is a fascinating book called “The Millionaire Next Door”, written by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. (Published by Paperbacks, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.) The authors have spent many years interviewing the wealthy. (Those with a net worth between $1 and $5 million.) and some very interesting things emerged from their study.
Let’s look at the auto buying habits of the wealthy. What kind of car do you expect a millionaire to drive? An expensive luxury car or a beautiful foreign sports car? Well, Stanley & Danko have discovered that’s not the case at all. They found that the most popular brand driven by the wealthy is Ford. And the most popular models are the f-150 pickups and the explorers!
Here’s what Stanley and Danko have to say: “How do millionaires go about acquiring vehicles? About 81% percent buy their vehicles. The balance leases. Only 23.5% of millionaires own new cars • Most haven’t bought a car in the last two years • In fact, 25.2% haven’t bought a motor vehicle for four years or more How much do millionaires pay for these vehicles? The typical millionaire (those at the 50th percentile) paid $24,800 for their most recent purchase, note that 30% spent $19,500 or less.
Also note that the average US buyer of a new motor vehicle paid more than $21,000 for their most recent acquisition. That’s not much less than the $24,800 paid by millionaires! Moreover, not all of these millionaires bought new vehicles. How many indicated that their most recent vehicle was used? Almost 37 percent. In addition, many millionaires have indicated that they have recently undersold, i.e., they have purchased cheaper vehicles than before.” (pp.112-113)
in other words, millionaires drive average vehicles! Why do they drive average and older cars instead of brand new luxury cars?
1. They’re rich *because* they drive older, average cars, and they know that if they were buying new fancy cars all the time, they wouldn’t be rich.
2. They don’t feel obligated to maintain a status symbol or “keep up with the Joneses” because they know they are worth so much more than the Joneses could even dream of.
My wife recently spoke with a mechanic who dreamed of buying his own setup for his auto repair business. But for him, it was just a dream. He could never afford it. Yet in his driveway was a beautiful, brand new, turbocharged, king cab diesel 4×4 pickup truck and etc., etc. In fact, he even joked about the “mortgage” on his truck. But what he didn’t realize was that if he hadn’t bought into the lure of that gorgeous new pickup truck, he could have bought his garage and owned his own business.
If he had driven an older truck and bought his own business instead, he would finally have had the freedom to drive whatever he wanted! Achieving the Madison Ave lifestyle appeal kept him from achieving the Madison Ave lifestyle!
To live the Madison Avenue lifestyle, you must first avoid the Madison Avenue lifestyle. Don’t spend $10,000 on a $2,000 purchase because you bought it with a credit card! Instead, save $2,000, buy it with cash, and invest the $8,000. Eliminate all your debt – including your mortgage – then invest the money you’re wasting paying interest.
If you do this regularly, compound interest will work for you rather than against you, and in twenty years you will find that you have a new address on Madison Avenue!
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