When you disconnect someone’s means from their lifestyle preferences, otherwise-befuddling choices begin to make sense. The rich person who drives the Accord? Well, their ability to make money is unrelated to their taste in automobiles. The person spending their meager paychecks on luxury travel and racking up credit card debt? Well, their choice of education and professional earning ability (or lack thereof) doesn’t really have anything to do with their preferences for First Class, does it? Credit cards are a little like steroids, in that way: They allow you entry to a world that you otherwise would be incapable of accessing on your own, which is why both are frowned upon but prevalent nonetheless. 

After all, the fact that places like Aspen and the Hamptons are full of rich people doesn’t mean people without money aren’t interested in vacationing to those places, too—they’re just the destination equivalents of the NBA teams full of 7 ft.-tall men. Except this time, the “height” is generational wealth. 

The answer, then, when you find yourself facing this mismatch, is to decide what’s easier to change: your preference or your ability. 

Would it be easier to learn to like beer, or to build a champagne pocketbook? Both are challenging: In a world full of champagne glorification, training yourself to be ambivalent about those white bubbles is an endless uphill battle. You can’t let your defenses become too porous, lest you find yourself blacking back in from a lie-flat Business Class seat to Europe.

Similarly, when the reality is that most humans are actually drinking water, very few can afford beer, and even fewer can afford champagne, hustling to achieve a Veuve Clicquot balance sheet might feel like a waste of time. 

If John Steinbeck was correct about Americans’ status as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” many of us have chosen the latter path. If you’d like to get off this ride, maybe the answer is obvious: Stay off your phone, where all the champagne propaganda lives.


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