The Los Angeles Way of Life?

I tweeted last night about my minor obsession with Quora. I find all of the questions and answers fascinating, and as you can see below in my tweet I have a special place in my heart for the personal finance area of the site.

Yesterday I found a question under the personal finance topic that just about floored me. Someone making good money and living in LA asked why everyone around him/her seemed to have much nicer homes and cars than he/she did. I’ll quote the question for you, but you should read the question and the answers here (after you finish reading this post of course).

I make $165,000 a year and I live in Los Angeles. I’m at the top of my industry but so many people in LA have more expensive homes and expensive cars. Do all of them just make more than me? What can I change to live that life? I don’t want more expensive things just for the sake of stuff, I want to live in a safe neighbourhood and let my child go to a great school. I want my family to have the life I dream of them having.

What can I do to keep up with the Joneses? At first glance you’d think that’s what this person is getting after, but in reality it’s a bit deeper than that. The question really boils down to this: how can I give my family a great life? What stands out to me the most is not that this person wants to provide a better life for his/her family but that he or she is generally curious what kind of money you need to make to live the Los Angeles lifestyle.

This is interesting because so many people confuse the appearance of wealth with actual wealth. It’s easy to make yourself look wealthy. Expensive cars can be financed, as can large houses, toys and vacations. Inevitably though all that debt will catch up to you if you’re not careful. The Los Angeles (or Hollywood) way of life is more of a facade than anything.

Someone by the name of Andy Johns gave an impressive answer with some great advice to boot. He said:

My advice to you is to not give in to the bullshit around you. Congrats on the career success. But don’t blow it by giving in to LA dogma.

Spot on, Mr. Johns. Spot on.

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