Mercedes is offering $100,000 rebates on its leftover 2012 Maybach sedans. This still means the car is $300,000. Although I could technically afford one, I choose not to buy one.
Money, for most people, is something to be spent. I've even seen this philosophy expressed online, on financial sites. If you aren't "having fun" with your money, what is the point?
One of the digs I get from folks is, "Well, no wonder you are against leasing a new Lexus, you are just poor and can't afford one!"
I could go out today and buy a brand-new Lexus - or a dozen of them - and pay cash. But of course, that would be sort of pointless, and it would deplete my retirement savings considerably. Even buying just one really makes no sense, even if it would only put a small dent in my overall net worth.
Why? Because I don't need one. And thus, I choose not to buy one.
Others don't choose as wisely. Many folks, upon retirement, sell their family home, cash it out, and then go blow it all on bling. The expensive motorhome comes to mind, for example, or perhaps the expensive yacht.
While those are "fun" things to have, they have high overhead costs, and over time, they lose their allure. And when that happens, you are stunned to realize that you have squandered tens of thousands of dollars - perhaps hundreds of thousands - on depreciating machinery.
That's the problem with having money. You can spent it, to be sure - but then you no longer have it.
When you don't have money, well, it is a lot easier to spend the borrowed kind. A $30,000 pickup truck seems like a reasonable proposition at $500 per month. But paying cash? Well, you realize that you'd rather keep the money that buy some poorly made piece of crap that looks shiny and smells new - for about three months.
You cannot own money without accumulating it. And you cannot accumulate money by spending it.
Seems like a simple proposition, but it eludes most folks. They view wealth as something to be shown off and rubbed in other people's faces. And a bank account or 401(k) statement is not something you can park in your driveway.
I could afford to do a lot of things. But I choose not to. Why? Because even a million dollars is not a lot of money, if you go and spend it all. And when you are done, you own a lot of crap, and now you are poor.
Others choose differently. That is the beauty of our country - people have choices. But regularly, we hear from these people, after they have run through their money with their foolishness, and then want the rest of us to bail them out.
I choose not to. Bail them out, that is.
UPDATE: Mercedes is bringing back the Maybach, but this time not as stand-alone brand, but a special edition of the S-Class Mercedes. The option costs $75,000. I could buy one and pay cash (and a horrific tax bill, not only for income tax, but registration and title fees) but I choose not to.