What Do People Do to Afford Such Life?

Wife wanted to go get a $2,000 watch.

I don't usually get her anything so I thought yeah I will get her something special this Valentines. Drove to the CBD and saw a long queue outside Hermes, LV, Chanel. My wife told me there was a even longer queue outside Rolex. And my wife told me the purse and bags etc would easily cost $5k and above.

I thought everyone would be cutting back on expenses given the uncertainty but where are all these people getting money to spend on discretionary luxury goods? Not saying it is bad but where do these people do to be able to afford such luxurious lifestyle. To put it in perspective, I wear a Hush Puppies t-shirt (was a gift) and a brand-less short pants, I have been using iPhone 8 with shattered screen for 1.5yrs now. Been living frugally since entering workforce and I still feel I am very poor. When I step outside my home, my personal belongings on me might be worth $100-$200 max.

Any idea anyone?


              • @The-Kremlin: At the expense of drivers like myself who just want to drive safely as it is part of our job.. I happen to drive the speed limit pretty much all of the time, or 5-10% under if I feel I may need to brake suddenly if there is congestion. Personally can not stand drivers who drive so aggressively.. definitely has something to do with the protection of lockable doors and tinted windows. I've driven motorbikes in developing countries and people would never dare tail you or violently drive against you unless they were actually tough because you're going to get scolded or beaten up. Too many times I see cowards bullying people on the road in their SUVs and trucks.. quite annoying really.

    • Tommy Hilfiger

      Junk brand

  • +1

    Where did you she get the $2000 price from? Did she just pull it out of thin air? A great value female watch like from Seiko are usually under $1000 and it's hard to find a female watch around the $2000 bracket because there isn't much apart from Longines. Also why does your wife want you to buy something expensive like this for Valentines Day? Does she not request anything similar on say her birthday or your Anniversary? Because I am assuming if she does, you wouldn't be asking this at this time.

    As for how people afford these expensive things you have a few camps:
    1). The ones who are just trying to keep up with the Jones/cant actually afford them/racking up credit card debit/bad with money - No need to explain. These are the obvious camps. Or the missus is a high maintenance housewife.
    2), Flippers - Due to tax in Mainland China, a lot of these luxury goods are much cheaper in Australia and so a lot of the time, they flip them online. Also includes rare items that appreciate like Hermes bags and Rolex steel sports watches.
    3). Have a decent paying job/Inherited money

    If you cant afford it, I think you should have a real chat with your wife about having realistic expectations and maybe looking at something priced more within your price range.

    • +2

      "If you cant afford it, I think you should have a real chat with your wife"

      I'm sure the divorce will cost him more, the watch is probably the cheaper option for his future.

    • Frankly
      I don’t even wanna know what brand it is
      I think it’s one of those designer watch with diamonds, small ones so probably isn’t worth much, around it

  • My wife told me there was a even longer queue outside Rolex. And my wife told me the purse and bags etc would easily cost $5k and above.

    I've heard this before too. It's just to show off to friends, bought her Apple shares instead. She wasn't happy then, but she's much happier now.

  • Plenty of people living at home well in to and past their 30's who earn decent wages but refuse to be adults and move out.
    Means they have plenty of disposable cash to buy this stuff with, it's not surprising and I've worked with many 20 somethings in that position who turn up with $2k heels, $5k+ handbags and all the other accessories that match (watches, sunglasses, key chains, scarves etc) for many its all about or only about image.

    • which heels cost $2k?

      • +1

        Few brands out there can but I know Christian Louboutin can easily run you that much and more per pair.

      • +1

        Apparently my wife’s friend has many designer handbags and heels
        Each cost circa 10k
        I frankly don’t know why people spend such money
        But who am I to judge
        I just wanna get wealthy enough so that I don’t have to think twice when getting necessities lol

  • +3

    Population of 25 million. Richest 5% of population ~ 1.25 million people.

    Huge target market for luxury goods.

    Not saying all of the top 5% will be customers. When you include "aspiring rich", there is just a large target market.

    Why would they choose to buy something that costs more than another product that gives similar utility? Because they can.

    Why do people judge others that live differently to themselves, whether wearing tatty clothes or wearing designer clothes? Because we're so used to our own social norms.

    • 1.25 million people is pretty tiny compared to other countries.

  • Cheap debt basically. Also read up on the Wealth Effect. ABC covered it in a recent article.

    • Yes a very interesting article. Hopefully some of the "house price will plummet soon" zealots will take notice.

  • +11

    Given the demographics of this site may tend towards millenials and younger generations , it may be hard for some to fathom that there was a time, just 20 years ago, when housing was affordable.

    If you're a Gen X and bought before house prices went stupid then you've basically won the lottery. If you haven't had a divorce, or pissed it away gambling or other frivolities, with a fulltime job you've probably been able to pay off what seems like a tiny mortgage compared to what is now an average mortgage. There's a large cohort of the population in this demographic - in their late 40s, early 50's who are at their peak earning capacity and have lots to spare.

  • Easy. Whats the quickest way to make money since covid? BitCoinTrading!

  • +5

    Don't forget the rich are getting richer in these times.

    • The poor are getting poorer too…they are leaving savings in interest bearing accounts that pay less than inflation.

      It's the mindset too that keep the poor…poor.

  • you gotta keep up with the joneses

  • +2

    Where do these people get the money to buy luxury items??

    He says, standing in a line to spend $2000 on a watch. Ask yourself how you're gonna afford it and you'll have your question answered.

    • Haha fair point…
      I guess I wasn’t wholeheartedly willing to buy that watch but had to give in to please the missus
      $2k isn’t a a small sum frankly and it does put a hole to my wallet
      Then there is this huge crowd that behave as if, for lack of better word, these luxury goods are FOC
      Just wondering if I’m missing something - how can I be like then but I won’t splurge on luxury goods, probably a good computer or something more practice for less than half the price

      • +2

        but I won’t splurge on luxury goods

        You literally did! Why do you not see this? You're just the same as them regardless of feeling towards it.

        • +1

          no -
          those in the queue came out from the shop happily
          i would have come out from the shop with a broken heart
          yeah partially i dont enough to be able to just throw $2k for a watch
          and thats why i wonder how these people do it.. im jealous

          • @legendary-noob: You can't see behind the facade - I'm sure you and your wife came out of the shop smiling too.

            You don't know the financial position of these people, whether they are in debt, struggling to keep up their lifestyle.

            The other thing you need to notice is that there is selection bias in play. You'll only see people who can afford to buy luxury goods at the luxury good store. Go sit in a Centerlink and you may ask "How are there so many people that can't afford the basics week by week?"

      • +2

        normal people buy brand new SUV's or hatchbacks worth 30-50k like it's nothing and they depreciate straight away. I wouldn't worry about a small splurge like a 2k watch, that's really nothing in the scheme of a lifetime. Just get it, enjoy it and it is about happiness at the end of the day. Enjoy some of your hard work.

  • Bikies!

  • -1

    The question is rhetorical, right?

    They can afford it because they can?

    An obese person asks a skinny person how they can afford to take in all those calories. Well, I have a high-metabolism.

  • +1

    Think of it like this. Are you okay spending 500 on a bag? Probably yes. Then someone who earns 10x what you earn thinks about the 5k bag the same way you think about the 500 dollar bag. There are at least hundreds of thousands of people who earn 10x what you earn or more. There are stories where a family survive on say a single income of 60k and they probably look at your life style as pretty extremely lavish in comparison.

    Funny thing is even in the rich there are people that look at the super rich (e.g. private jets) with amazement.

  • +3

    In economics its called the 'wealth effect', say you own an asset and its price/value goes up quite a bit. You feel wealthlier and therefore spend the cash you have laying around on frivolous stuff you would not ordinarily spend on, even though you are not actually cash richer. This is particularly true in Sydney. People who own real estate have seen their net worth skyrocket by doing very nothing. At the end of the it in an illusion and can be your downfall if you don't recognise it and stick within your means.

    Other reasons whey people are livng large at the moment:
    * low interest rates
    * high savings levels as people have saved during various lockdowns and being forced to stay home (pent up demand)
    * buy now and pay later programs like Afterpay, Klarna, Zip etc
    * stockmarkets have fully recovered from the crash at the beginning of the covid crisis and people feel rich
    * housing boom with prices reaching record highs again (esp in regional areas)
    * surging crypto markets (not just Bitcoin)
    * record macroeconomic stimulus (domestic and international) proping up economies and equity markerts around the world

    • This. Learned something new. Thanks. Maybe I don’t have enough properties to make me feel that.

  • +2

    Try to buy a house and see how many rich ppl there is. There are ppl offering cash for mil+ houses and offering way over the bank valuations.

  • +1

    I share your curiosity about that luxury watch/handbag buying segment of the population. I would also like to see profile breakdowns of these people:

    • Really bad drivers you see on dashcam videos
    • Guys that walk around in tank tops and have not showered recently
    • People that do hard drugs
    • People that buy into franchises without due diligence
    • People that have enough free time to post comments on OzB

    Where do these people come from, and why do they not have any friends that scream "That's crazy, don't do that!!"?

  • +5

    I know in Sydney, there is a lot of wealthy people around. The divide is probably getting larger in cities like Sydney. The amount of expensive cars i see being driven around as well as those expensive brands being carried around. I know of someone's wife who bought a burberry nappy change mat… It cost like $600 and is used to put a baby with a dirty nappy on and change the nappy….

    • Yes
      I know someone who does something similar but not change mat in her case
      And I never understood why

    • Well before my dog passed away, he was using a Le Creuset food bowl. Looks good though. Bought an Alessi one too, but didn't end up giving it to him. Is that comparable to the nappy change mat?

  • $2k isn't a huge amount for a decent watch these days. Although it was a significant sum to me at the time, I paid $850 duty free in 1998 for a Tag watch and it hasn't missed a beat. It's one of my treasured possessions that I'll pass down the family. Hopefully not the Captain Koons way though….

    • Make sure you get that watch valued sometime, and have it reflected in your insurance.

    • yeah I bought a Tag watch around then for around $2k, still wear it to this day, has been perfect for over 20 years now and I could still get more than my money back by selling it second hand.

  • Alot of people also live at home with parents, alot of my colleagues in the age bracket 20-30s earning a pretty decent salary can afford to buy extravagant items as they have no rent/mortgage to pay and live of the bank of mum and dad.

  • +5

    Id also like to know why every second car in the Costco carpark (specifically Ringwood VIC) is a german SUV.

    • +1

      The thinking is - survive off bulk quantities of canned tomatoes, noodle snacks and peanuts for 10 years and save enough money for a German SUV.

      • I think most are - live with my parents and possibly my brother/sister and their kids in a big house together, buy one big german SUV for us to share.

        And the tomatoes/noodles….

      • you've described my life story perfectly.

    • +1

      German SUV's are simply not that expensive anymore, and relatively reliable nowadays. In fact they are even cheap if you go for a near new model. There are korean/japanese cars that are equally if not more expensive

      • Sure, i can spend plenty on a japanese/korean suv - but only if i got top of the line! And when you say german suvs are cheap, i cant agree with regards to Mercedes GL, Audi Q7, BMW X5 like i was talking about (all above $100k for the entry level)

        • You can easily pick up a near new Q7, GL, X5 for well below $100k nowadays with low kms and even under factory warranty.

          And only do top of the line japanese/korean SUV's can compare to the level of equipment and comfort to a typical German SUV so its a fair comparison

    • +1

      We had our daughter at a private hospital, I think I was the only one who wasn’t making 100k a year considering they all had 50k+ cars and wore Chelsea boots at the fathers class. I was there in my cheap Suzuki and $80 black ASICS shoes

  • I know people who own these things. They are up to their neck in credit card debt and find whatever ways they can to claim Centrelink while working cash jobs in dodgy backstreet kitchens.

  • put it on the investment loan, pay it off over 25years and negative gearing, yay!

    • Why pay it off at all!

  • +1

    People with real money don’t queue outside a designer store.

    You’ll find most of these “queuing” people are spending every cent they earn, living off inherited wealth or using criminally- attained funds.

    If you are f-off rich your personal shopper comes to your house with a range for you to peruse or you visit the store out of hours at your convenience.

    If you have assets of a only a few million and are still trying to legitimately build wealth, you are often buying online or avoiding stores with queues as your time is far more valuable. You may not even be buying designer stuff at all because you are spending all your spare time and cash investing building more income generating assets.

  • Its never been easier to run a successful small business nowadays

    People just need to want financial success and commit. Plenty of people making more money from 'side hustles' than their day jobs - and turning them into full time businesses as well.

    And yes there are those who also live beyond their means…

    Nothing wrong with a stress free, 9-5 life however. Just don't expect the finer things in life either.

    • +1

      I hear this all the time but I never see the proof? Most side hustles and most startups fail because running a successful business is actually really hard! I’ve never met a successful business owner tell me it was “easy”.

    • +4

      Its never been easier to run a successful small business nowadays

      Unless you're in Melbourne.

    • +1

      Those that do are busting their chops working crazier than a 9-5

    • +1

      Perhaps the right thing to say is that it's never been easier to start a small business.
      But to be successful after the first 18-24m… I don't think so.

      • that's exactly what I said…..

  • Its "easier" but definitely not easy. Like I said, you still need to have that burning desire to succeed and commit to it.

    Easier in the sense that anyone can do it with a computer, smart phone and internet connection. You don't have massive overheads typically associated with startups and you can outsource most tasks to cheap overseas labour. The amount of information online that's so easily accessible is also a godsend.

    Failing typically does not involve absolute bankruptcy and its easier to just pick yourself up and try again, or try something different

    The proof is the amount of actual wealth/money people have, especially in cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Small businesses like dropshipping, starting a youtube channel, microservices - even simple import/export/rebranding business models are supplementing incomes

    • Everyone who dreams of getting rich says do dropshipping, YouTube channel etc.
      You might have had some success if you started doing it 10 years ago.

      Import export rebranding could still have a success chance if you get the market fit right and enough business acumen. But it’s not easy. You can commit all you like, work your ass off and if you get one person in the supply chain screw you over (which happens regularly, especially if you are inexperienced) your whole investment is down the drain.

      Being an entrepreneur is really tough you need a unique personality. I know a few successful ones but many more who thought they could do it and end up failing miserably, losing $$$. Better for most people to work hard and get a promotion as a wage slave.

  • +1

    I have no idea, whenever I think about spending money I have a mini breakdown, and start questioning my life, sad huh.

    I also think some, most people have no morals, and dont care who they screw over, as long as theyre better off than everyone else.

  • I wish I had such life :(

  • +1

    OP - are you asking “why are some people rich?”


    • No the question is "why do people pretend to be rich?" If there are so many people buying $2000 watches, are they really as exclusive as people think they are? Time to go up to $4000 watches.

  • Time for a new wife. I mean, why wear a watch that’s less than $10k?

  • I'm going to admit that I'm one of those crazy people buying into high fashion but I'm generally a discreet person (avoids attention) that just loves the design, quality and know the history/origins of certain fashion pieces (they become almost like iconic historic artefacts to me). But agree that many do it for the face-value or "flexing". I like to compare the queues of loud brands such as LV and Gucci (that turn people into walking billboards) compared to Prada (which is quieter in brand visibility). And also agree that many do have bad credit, debts and/or priorities and may not be considered "wealthy".

    There was a fashion documentary I saw which had the theory that high fashion is designed to have a high price tag (despite craftsmanship or brand) which is enough to make it appear in some way "exclusive" but it wasn't impossible to reach for the common working class which digs into consumer's mentality in striving to achieve it.

    • You don't need to watch a documentary, just go to any northshore suburb where people like to compete like that.

  • +5

    I think people should simply be less judgmental

    90% of comments are - "debt, rich parents, live beyond their means, keep up with the joneses" etc

    Some people just like nice clothes. Some people spend the equivalent (if not more) on camping gear

    Some die hard fishing fans spend equally as much on fishing gear/boats

    Same with any other hobby or interests

    And with all hobbies/interests, there are those who spend irresponsibly and those who are financially sensible based on their income/savings/situation

    What is not of value to you does not mean its not of value to others

  • +1

    if we had a society, where, besides a house, everything had to be paid for up front in cash, barely anyone would be driving a fancy car or walking around with an LV handbag. Everything fancy you see, is paid on credit.

    • +1

      Not everything and not everyone. For example, I would much prefer to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for a car, because if I had that as a loan on my credit file, I would never be able to qualify for a home loan to buy an investment property

      The property I bought has appreciated well beyond the cost of the car itself

      Call it a ponzi scheme or whatever, but this is the reality of the world we live in

  • Line in front of Rolex? Good luck in getting any of the professional model.

  • In 2017, I almost spent $3000 for a Tag watch that someone was able to organise for me from the US, glad i settled for apple watch, Since then, i dont feel aneed for any other watch :)

    • You don't feel it yet, but I don't think you would be wearing that watch in 5yrs time. Being Apple products and ever changing technology.
      A good watch could last a lifetime, then again Apple watch could last a lifetime too, who knows what will happen tomorrow.

  • +4

    You're asking the wrong question.

    The question you should ask is what I can do to make more money.

    What other people do, is what other people do. As my scottish english teacher used to say, if your neighbour wants to fk goats, then that's his choice and none of your business.

    Don't compare yourself to others, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

    As for "I thought everyone would be cutting back on expenses given the uncertainty "
    - People who used to spend $10-20k a year on holidays have nothing else to spend it on now - however those people aren't those lining up in stores.

    There are plenty of mid-high income earners who are also in the same boat, nothing to spend their income on, just want to buy something nice.

    Also, there are a huge number of rich people internationally, there are more super rich people in asia than there are people in Australia, so keep that in mind. Brands are also big in asia.

    If you don't have more than $200 of possessions on you, that's your choice, if that's how you want to live.

    I like utility and although I could spend thousands on bags and wear them around, i wear hard yakka and crumpler bags because they work, that's because what I like.

    Don't get too worked up over what other people have, what other people do, and what other people like.

    Do what you like.

    FYI I have been using an iphone 8 up until 6 months ago, mine didn't have a cracked screen though, but it was so worn that the charging jack wore out and I could only charge wirelessly.

    I got a new iphone xs (yes, when the iphone 11 was already out and iphone 12 coming) because I got $1400 off the RRP thanks to the jbhifi instore deal and the ozbargain telstra jbhifi deal. Thrifty. VROOM VROOM

    I have friends who make a fraction of what I do and they go buy a brand new iphone 12 on preorder/launch day. Each. To. Their. Own.

    Oh btw. Buy your wife the watch if you can afford it. It's cheaper than a divorce. Good lawyers are $700-1000 an hour. asian females don't dig home brand fyi, assuming your wife is asian.

    • +2

      Oh btw. Buy your wife the watch if you can afford it. It's cheaper than a divorce.

      Now that is the real bargain there.

    • +1

      asian females don't dig home brand fyi, assuming your wife is asian.

      I know plenty of asian girls who could care less about designer labels. Look at Canvas CEO - only wanted a $30 engagement ring.

  • -1

    I see few mention of Jones. Did anyone ever play "Jones in the fast lane"?

    That's how you become rich yo


    • yea, i remember setting it up so we were earning millions - not much to do in the game other than max out the earning potential

  • People in rich countries have a lot of disposable money and therefore these lux brands do well. Yes, there will be a percentage of crazy people borrowing money to buy a 5K handbag but the majority will be using their disposable income.

    Some people spend on cars, some on holidays, some on lux goods and some keep buying investment properties. The worrying factor here as many noted is young people buying expensive cars as their first car.

    • OP question is where the disposable income comes from?

  • These luxury goods usually hold their value well or even appreciate so it's not as if they are throwing away money completely. Many of those queueing are very likely in it for profit, i.e. flip the items on global marketplaces such as FB and IG.

  • +3

    I have been using iPhone 8 with shattered screen for 1.5yrs now

    Pro tip from someone using a smashed LG V40 for a while. I recently put a cheap screen protector on it (over the smashed glass).
    It still looks smashed, but now it feels as good as new!

  • +4

    money has no value unless it is used, otherwise its just a number on a screen (doesn't increase quality of life), money is only useful when we use it for food, shelter, entertainment and to improve quality of life.

    • +2

      Having $1k on the screen is better than $0 and if you have no where to live you can afford a hotel room for the night rather than a homeless shelter.

  • How many people on ozbargin go on travels once a year?

    How much does that cost?

    Its just what you deem worthy to spend on.

    Also some people just much better with money, invested much younger.

    Be cool to do a tiki tok asking them what they do.

  • +1

    My wife has a few items that when purchased were outside of her means considering what she was making at the time. (Fresh out of uni wages)

    However, these were items (bags / purse etc) that she's saved for over the years and wanted for quite some time. It sounds ridiculous for her to have spent however many thousand on a bag, but if we really take a few steps back and look at how much I've spent on car parts, gadgets,games, phones etc over the years she's probably still been more frugal on average despite these large one off purchases.

    So while someone might have a genuine interest for this kind of stuff, there's also the person on the other end who wants to show off their $5000 handbag and use it as a status symbol when they really can't afford it.

    On that note, the purse was I think $1500 and she uses it daily and has ever since I met her. It's like 10 years old now and looks brand new. I've been through a heap of wallets, amounting to probably that amount in the time I've known her. Idk if I'm an animal or they're shit quality but I always destroy them / have them looking like crap within 1-2 years. No matter what I spend ($50-300 generally) they always end up looking ratty. Not sure if I need to step up in price / quality / change material or what. My point is in this case, the exorbitant price for a purse was actually good value for money.

    • +1

      Totally the same with wallets I always destroy them. I think I am an animal though yes, so probably you too.

      Has gotten better now that I make so many purchases with tap and pay on my phone. This actually saves me significant cash through wallet longevity.

    • Curious what brand hers was that lasted so well?

      Also wallets probably die quicker due to all day use in your hot jeans with keys etc plus friction of moving legs. A designer bag likely experiences very little abrasion etc.

      • +1

        Prada, and you're right having it sit in a handbag vs my front pocket probably makes a difference.

  • +1

    Buy a fake one for $10-20, if they dont make a fake one then its probably not worth 2k for a real one anyways

  • +1

    If she values material possessions over you, then it’s time to find a new wife or divorce her

    • was about to say Griffindinho!!

      your wife seems superficial…

      imagine what she expects to receive in divorce

      you get your broken screen phone she gets Hermes and you get herpes

      bury the money in the earth before it's too late

  • ASians are rich in Sydney. Let's face it, majority were Chinese nationals with lots of moola.

    Forget luxury bags. There are people on my street with $200,000 Porsches and Mercedes Benz and I don't even live in a 'rich' area.

  • I don't have a problem spending $1000 on gold or silver bullion. I know I can get back that money (and probably more) in the future. But when someone wants to spend $500 on sunglasses, $2k on a hand bag, or $500 on shoes, I question the wisdom.

    If the person is wealthy (high end doctor/lawyer/etc) and they can afford to splash $20k a year on luxury goods, then good on them. But what I tend to find is poor people striving to want to own an LV hand bag. They either buy a fake (why!?), or do as one of my relatives did: she bought a second hand bag. She wouldn't tell me how much it cost, but she assured me it was a 'good deal'. The bag itself was quite worn and she wouldn't be impressing any wealthy people with it.

    This is even worse with cars. A couple of people I know strived to own a Mercedes and Porsche. They ended up buying 15 year old cars. The repair bills were tearing them a new one every time something broke. What a poor person doesn't realize is luxury cars retain luxury parts costs well into the future. A mechanic sees a Porsche Cayenne drive up and instantly knows they can charge $250/hr because that person 'must be rich', even when they are not.

  • Trade stocks. I made 50k in the past week trading stocks like FFG and IOU. There is a lot of hype right now in the market but that's where a lot of money can be made - you just gotta know when to pull out.

    • +3

      you just gotta know when to pull out

      That's where I went wrong. 2 kids later and my investment is well into the negative.

    • Penny stocks (FFG $0.26 up 182% today). You might have made money but it is a proven way statistically to lose money for most people.

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