What do you do with a billion dollars? Buy a couple mansions. Buy some cars. Buy a yacht. And you still have $900 million left. At that point, you have to start inventing whole new ways to waste money.
This piece is based on an AskReddit thread. Link on the last page.
I worked at a bookstore in New York City that was in the same building as some luxury condos.
We had a couple walk in and tell us that they had just moved into the building and needed to buy a library’s worth of books so their brand new library looked well furnished and used. They gave us specifications for what type of books they wanted and had some specific items they wanted but for the most part they were buying in bulk so they just took our recommendations for books that would make them look smart and cultured. It took two hours and they had a team of four of my coworkers walking them through the store and making selections for them.
They spent $25,000 that day on books just for the appearance of having a library.
A lot of rich people watch the weather report for multiple cities with ski resorts. If a lot of snow drops someplace, on a moments notice, a group of about a dozen will meet up at the private jet and go skiing for a couple days.
During the trip, they might jet over to see a nearby sporting event. Then back to work as if nothing special happened. A couple days later, the designated accountant on the trip will send a spreadsheet around to everyone with their part of the bill for the trip. This bill can also include loses from the poker games played on the jet during flights.
Dated a guy who had a place at Ocean Reef (super exclusive, extremely wealthy community in upper Florida keys).
Sat with 5 other couples, going back and forth about whose mega yacht we should take out that evening.
Bob and Cindy’s is the closest to the canal… but oh, Jim and Donna’s is bigger! But, Mark and Tina’s jacuzzi is already heated!… but Dale and Ira’s has a full staff tonight!
I was just like… I have a kayak?
There are people who have seasonal furniture.
“Well, it’s getting on into April so we better get the spring couches and chaise lounges out of storage, and swap out the winter dining table and china for the spring set. Better get out all the matching drapes, too.”
The following is a true story.
My friend: Hey you wanna fly down on my jet to Myrtle Beach and golf tomorrow?
Me: Uh… I have work. Sorry.
I was 17, my friend was 19. His Dad owned an oil company – yes, an oil company. They were going to Myrtle Beach for business and invited my Dad and I who couldn’t go because we actually had to earn money.
Really rich people have house managers at all of their properties. These people coordinate all the domestic staff, and manage the properties so that they are instantly liveable at a moment’s notice (down to the flowers of choice in every room) even if the owners only come in for a week or two in a year.
Their secretaries will usually call the house manager the day before saying, “oh they’ll be in London for a few days” and the manager will arrange everything from the pickup from the airport in the cars he knows each member prefers, coordinate with the secretaries to figure out any appointments they may have, instruct the chef to make their favourite menus. All of this is done without any input from the owner. That’s what they pay for.
I had some family friends growing up who had a hand-made monopoly table. It was wooden with silver pieces, and they used real cash.
Have you ever heard of “valet garbage service.” It’s real, and it’s as ridiculous as you think it is.
I was out in LA walking around a nice neighborhood. You tell it was the kind of area where people would have housekeepers.
It happened to be garbage day. Suddenly all these servant-type people appeared. They went into the yards, got the garbage cans from where they were stored. Wheeled them out to the curb, then as soon as the garbage truck passed, they wheeled the garbage cans back into hiding.
I talked to someone who lived there and turns out its part of the homeowners’ agreement that garbage cans cannot be left on the curb at all and they paid an extra fee for this mandatory valet garbage service.
I had just heard about a service called a Night Nurse. They live with you once your baby is born and take complete care of the baby all night. I heard it costs $150k for their services but after a month the baby is supposed to sleep through the whole night. Even though I’ve never heard of it, why wouldn’t rich people pay to have someone else take care of the worst parts of parenting?
I have a relative by marriage who buys land just so that no one can develop it.
I work retail in a really rich area and you’d be suprised at the amount of obviously rich people who steal just for the thrill of it.
Being a salesman, I can usually spot a wealthy person based on their clothes or how they talk or even how they walk.
A fair amount of these people, from 11 to 60 years old, will straight-up shoplift just because they think they can. Partially because they dont think a $60 item has any real value.
Met a cool young girl at my college – she was literally a Princess.
She said that princess was the closest English word to describe her status. Before coming to school, she had NEVER – dressed herself, bathed herself, walked up or down stairs without a maid holding her hand… I initially found this out when I heard her ask someone for help going down a flight of, like, 6 stairs. She was cool about it, though, and willing to learn.
My boss once told me to call his assistant to tell her he was going to NYC Friday. I asked his assistant why he said that. It was so the condo could be prepared for him. Basically do grocery shopping so everything they might need is there like milk and other short-term stuff.
I was once offered the opportunity to have someone run a bath for me for $500 at a hotel (no added perks, not sexual, no company- just a bath with rose petals). Apparently thats what rich people do.
I have some really rich relatives (like tech industry multimillionaires) who have a party every year where all their rich, tech friends bring the highest quality liquor they can find. Most of it goes completely unopened. Everyone knows that rich people have amazing parties, but I think the waste and nonchalance would surprise people.
I think that’s the element that jars me when I spend time with them – the sheer amount of expensive items that go to waste. Really nice TV and entertainment system and tons of game consoles that haven’t been played in years. Bottles of fine liquor never opened. Electronics opened and used once, only to be replaced shortly by a newer model or a newer interest.
Unusual screw you, I’m rich” hobbies are also taken up for a few months, then forgotten in place of a new cool hobby. Weird hobbies like deep diving, exotic game hunting, skydiving, starting a random business that you’d never expect to make real money, etc.
My boss will go to the bank, buy multiple boxes of dollar coins ($1000 each), and then go through all the rolls looking for rare coins to keep, then returns the rest to the bank.
This is what he does for fun. With his spare money.
Rich people make a habit of afternoon tea.
Imagine drinking tea and eating little sandwiches and scones off of fancy cups and plates while in an extremely elaborate and ornate room with a view.
Now imagine spending between $2000 and $5000 on each of these teas.
Now imagine doing that every. Single. Day.
A girl I know is a nanny for a very rich family and they flew her to the other side of the world to take care of one of their three kids. Just one. The other two have their own separate nannies.
I had a roommate from Paraguay in college who was super-rich. Her “helpers” moved her into the dorm and set everything up for her. I was still unpacking when she arrived and she was so excited about seeing what it was like to have a “real” college experience. She was actually pretty cool and a maid cleaned our room and bathroom for that year so I can’t complain. She also let me wear any of her designer dresses I wanted when we’d go out.
It just amazed me though how different our lives were. I was working a part time job and scraping by to make tuition. She never went to class and would just go to the beach all day.
I heard this second hand, but it’s true. I used to work for a large national bank that had a branch in Harvard Square in Cambridge. It’s ridiculously busy when Harvard starts classes in the fall as new students open accounts.
My friend had a young guy come in who was from Saudi Arabia and was happy to be there setting up his first bank account. Said the guy was obviously very rich, but very nice and polite.
We got commission based on how much money was brought into the account. She asks him how he is going to fund the account; he tells her by wire. She asks how much, and he asks her what she thinks: should he ask for $500k or for $1 million? She calmly suggested the million. He agreed. Account was funded for $1m by wire the next day.
Before Thanksgiving, the young man comes in again and explains that his bank card has stopped working and asks if she can help. She checks his account. It’s overdrawn. She explains to him what this means and he nods and asks if she can help him wire $5 million more into the account to make sure he gets through the end of the school year.
Nice kid, but he could not fathom the fact that the card would stop working because he spent all of the money in the account.
I come from money, and all of our family friends are in the millionaire range.
Take the stories you read about rich people with a grain of salt. For example, my buddy from college worked at a golf club. The guy with the new Audi smoking $100 cigars was always the first guy to have his credit card declined and get chased off the course for being behind on membership dues.
My current boss owns three race planes at over a million dollars a pop (not to mention hundreds of thousands a year in maintenance) and he drives a 6 year old CRV. People have weird priorities.
I grew up in the wealthiest town in Massachusetts, so I have a seen quiet a bit. A common hobby is collecting cars, My neighbor used to collect BMWs from different eras. They were all beautifully maintained.
Also, I babysat for another family in my town that would sail the world most of the year and only come back to their home occasionally. A few different families were friends with the President at the time (Bill Clinton), and roads would be blocked off every time he came over for dinner.
I used to know this one super-rich guy. He was the CEO of a company I formerly worked for. One time, he had an enormous pool installed in his backyard. It must have been a hundred feet deep. But thats not the weird part. He insisted on filling it with a submerged “sunken ship” so that he could dive around in it and pretend he was exploring a shipwreck.
Rich people are so good at making money that they actually make money buying multi-million dollar paintings. Not even by selling them. By giving them away.
This information is pretty old, so these loopholes might have closed or changed in some places, but it goes like this:
1. Buy painting for $1 million
2. Painting appreciates to $2 million
3. Donate painting to a museum. Museum pays you the $1 million you originally paid for it, so you get your original money back.
4. The $1 million of appreciation is considered a donation, which is tax deductible so you get to deduct that from your taxable income. This saves you (in the US) ~40% of $1,000,000 (or $400,000). In the past or in other countries, the top tax rate might be as high as 60% or even 90%.
So, you get your money back, plus a $400,000 (or $600,000 or $900,000) profit. You don’t have to pay capital gains on the appreciation of the painting. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
This one is pretty messed up. My classmate at university was from a wealthy Russian family that had deep connections to the government and oil industry. He was so ridiculously rich that I couldn’t even fathom it. The way they used their money was… horrifying.
He found a few friends of similar ilk and they started some kind of underground club where they would fly in really sexy Instagram “models” from all over the world for “photoshoots”. In addition to buying them nice clothes and things like that, they would hold just ridiculous parties where some really messed up stuff went down.
The only reason I even knew about it is because I worked as a part-time limo driver and these guys would occasionally hire me to drive the models around.