By on November 2, 2016

vegas

“You’re in Vegas? Me too! Hey, I’m at the Hoover Dam, waiting for them to come get my broken McLaren!” My phone was “blowin’ up,” as they say, with texts from “Brayden,” the infamous owner of the Bitcoin Bimmer. And it was true: I was in Vegas, along with Brother Bark, to drive with EXR in their first-ever endurance event — the day-into-night, three-hour “United Fiber & Data 250.” The race was held at the same purpose-built, 1.4-mile road course that EXR’s parent company, Exotics Racing, uses for their rent-a-supercar experiences. Our practice and qualifying sessions were woven into the day there in such a manner that I also got to watch several hundred normal customers arrive-and-drive the cars of their dreams.

The Exotics Racing experience is very track-centric. They don’t do street rentals at all. They put you in a car with an instructor and you drive in a very controlled, very safe environment. During some of the downtime between practice sessions, Danger Girl and I held an impromptu time-attack challenge — me in a 458 Italia and her in a Huracan. (I won, but not by much: 1.3 seconds.) But if you’d rather drive a McLaren or Ferrari up and down the Vegas strip, there are more than a few companies that will oblige you. In fact, that was how Brayden had come to be in possession of a broken McLaren 570S; he’d rented one, promptly “railed” it out to Hoover Dam, and just-as-promptly popped off a coolant hose while idling in a line of traffic.

During my three days in Vegas, I saw so many people trundling around in rented exotics that I started to wonder: What kind of person drops a grand just to troll around the Strip? I know you probably have an immediate and negative response to that, not in part because you can just imagine my spoiled little pal Brayden hollering at Saran-Wrapped “Pimp and Ho Party” participants outside the Bellagio. But after doing the math, I’ve come up with a very different opinion.


Lamborghini Huracan on Track, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

There’s something inherently slimy and off-putting about the idea of renting an exotic car in Vegas, isn’t there? After all, the city itself is sort of the archetypical American Sodom and/or Gomorrah, its former identity as a Mob-controlled gambling capital having effortlessly transmogrified into that of a place where people feel free from conventional limits of morality or fiscal responsibility. As Virginia Woolf wrote, “Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions — there we have none.” She was talking about the idealized public library, not about “dressing like sexy kitten for Halloween” by wearing your lingerie and a set of $5.95 cat ears to Hakkasan, maxing our your secured credit card on Moet, then experiencing a brief, sharp moment of personal clarity at 2:38 a.m. when you sober up just enough to understand that you’re currently in the starring role of a cameraphone-recorded “airtight” session with three mostly interchangeable 30-something office workers from Van Nuys, but whatever.

Vegas is despicable because it’s a place where ants become grasshoppers. You know the parable: the ant works all summer while the grasshopper screws off. When it’s time for winter, the ant has food and the grasshopper has none. Most of us would like to believe that we are the ants of the parable, not the grasshoppers. We drive used cars, we have a budget, we plan and invest and scrimp and save. Then we accompany a friend to Vegas to celebrate his second marriage and we leave $5,000 poorer. Nobody ever brings anything home from that city. Your bags and your wallet lose weight; the flight home occurs in a sort of subdued greyscale haze.

The supreme ants in our society, of course, are the “Millionaires Next Door” — the self-made savers who wear $299 suits and drive pre-owned Toyota Avalons while sitting on a seven-figure nest egg. They are the winners of the middle-class rat race. They have no financial worries, at least not until after the second heart procedure. Moderation in everything. There is a certain segment of society that gets a near-pornographic enjoyment from reading stories of 60-year-old men who could stroke a check for an Aventador tomorrow morning but who still cook their own dinners using Costco bulk items.

We pretend that we admire these super-ants, but what we really like about the stories is that it excuses the drab colorlessness of our own existences. You haven’t taken a vacation in three years? You wear shitty Chinese shoes and spend your evenings looking for free movies on basic cable? So does Warren Buffett! And since it’s a choice for him, it must also therefore be a choice for you, instead of the logical summation of every cowardly life decision you’ve ever made! Nobody is above occasionally feeling this way, not even Christ himself; didn’t he say that rich people faced a camel-in-the-needle’s chance of heaven?

So what’s the opposite of a millionaire Avalon ant? Why, it’s got to be the Millennial who adds a thousand bucks’ worth of debt to his already-overloaded credit report so he can pretend to be rich. And the worst part? He’s actually making some terrible person rich in the process! Supercar renters turn 20-something Guy Fieri Starter Kit douchebags into bona fide millionaire ants! And what do you get in return? It’s easy to see what you get when you rent a car at the Exotics Racing track: for as little as $100, you have a chance to drive a very special car on a racetrack, something that you can’t do cheaper anywhere else. But what about Brayden, dropping north of a grand a day to sit in traffic and hope somebody will notice him? What does he get out of it?

So let’s say that Brayden’s total cost for renting a supercar over the course of two days was $1,500. And let’s say that he could have invested that money at an average 7-percent return instead. (We can argue over that 7-percent figure, but it’s reasonably well-supported by recent historical data. The Boomer years will never come back. Sorry about that.) Thirty years from now, he’d have $11,418! That’s real money, right? Well, adjust it by taxation (at current rules) and it’s $6,364. Adjust for inflation at current rates; it’s $2,900. So if Brayden waits until he’s 53 years old, his $1,500 supercar rental can be $2,900 in cash instead.

Obviously, $2,900 is more than $1,500. But what the inflation calculators and financial planners don’t tell you is that there’s another kind of inflation out there. It’s the inflation in what it costs to have fun as you get older. When you’re young, you have fun by interacting with people, having spontaneous adventures, taking life as it comes. Most of the best times of my pre-middle-aged life were late-night BMX rides, spur-of-the-moment trips with a budget under $100, eating fast food with friends after a long day on mountain bike trails. As you age, you need to plan with more certainty. Your time is worth money, so you spend money to defend it. You don’t take buses, catch rides from friends, or fly standby. You don’t sleep on hotel room floors or split hamburgers with people. Your body can’t take the punishment.

That’s why I always laugh at people who defer all of their gratification to the secular afterlife of late middle age and/or retirement. It won’t be the same. Furthermore, after 20 years of training yourself to be an ant, how are you going to just turn into a grasshopper? After two decades of watching your investments grow, you really think you’ll just cash them out and start living the dream? Or will you continue to save against the medical horrors that await all of us at the end of our lives? At the age of 50, won’t “dying with dignity” have a greater presence in your mind than “wheelying with ferocity”?

There’s one last little calculator that bears mentioning for those readers who identify as cis straight XY chromo-people: Brayden ended up meeting a girl on the Strip after the rental car company came and swapped him a Huracan for his broken McLaren. She was pretty, in her early 20, in a mood to have no-strings fun. That’s the kind of thing you can’t buy when you’re older. You can get a facsimile of it — there are websites out there, of course, and college girls who like to earn a buck — but the real thing, that hot rush of driving a $250,000 car and meeting a pretty girl and having a night above the Vegas Strip that you’ll never forget: what’s the cash value of that, my friend? Look at it that way, and I’d say that a rental supercar is a smart investment indeed. Never mind the parables, and forget the millionaires next door. Sometimes, it’s good to be a grasshopper.

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147 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: The Millionaire Next Door, Or The Vegas Supercar Rental?...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    still a waste of money, if you can afford the $1500 go for it I guess but i would rater take the 1500 and spend it on a killer weekend somewhere( plane fare from NY to Iceland for example) I would not go and an experience, driving up and down the strip so folks can say way another guy blowing cash they may or not have a dime a dozen in vegas, but at least he got to drive it a bit and see Hoover dam, he could have put $1500 down on red and watch the ball come come up black, to each their own I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “i would rater take the 1500 and spend it on a…”

      Hella good snowblower! (Localized that for you.)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Airfare to Iceland is cheaper than 15 bucks, but the overall weekend will run you as much.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        WOWair has $99 fares from Boston to Iceland. The return trip will probably cost about $229, so you could probably do the round trip for around $330. NY to Iceland is $159. For those of us in Boston, they have a $159 fare to Amsterdam with a stopover in Rejkavik. Paris is $189 and Stockholm $200. Alicante in Spain is $229 now but rises to about $500 in the Winter.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      seth1065: ” if you can afford the $1500 go for it I guess but i would rater take the 1500 and spend it on a killer weekend somewhere( plane fare from NY to Iceland for example) ”

      We just booked a weeklong trip to Paris (direct flight from the Midwest plus hotel) for $850 each. That will give us more than a day of memories. OK, that’s baguette not included but, still.

      I suppose for a wee bit more we could have gone to Rome and rented a Vespa.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Gee, I wonder if this Lotus 650S Spider was a rental?

    http://www.foxla.com/news/local-news/215024402-story

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the fear began to take hold. The fear that my 401k would not be sufficient to see me through retirement to my grave. If only I hadn’t rented that McLaren.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Jack may project the persona of a misogynistic, egotistical, sociopathic serial groper. But rather than run for President, he occasionally produces wonderful social commentaries such as this.

    There is a phenomena referred to as ‘poverty mentality’ which creates a mindset in people that leaves them focusing on a fear of losing everything and therefore they are irrationally risk averse. The uber ants as it were. Many grew up dirt poor or lived through the Depression.

    Then there are those who spend, not just their own but other peoples’ money. They judge themselves and others on their ‘lifestyle’ and consumption.

    Jack is correct that Bitcoin boy’s spending on an exotic will not substantially change his life. Just like forgoing that store bought coffee each workday will not result in your being rich.

    It is however the mindset that is the problem. There needs to be a happy medium. One cannot live like Ralph Kramden when he found the suitcase full of money. “Easy come, easy go.” And “When I had it, I spent it and enjoyed it.” These are not the statements of someone with a stable happy family life.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Moderation is key. I have a nicest house… that I can easily afford. I have the nicest bikes and cars… that I can easily afford. I could be driving much older cars or have bought them used. Same things with my bikes. I could have purchased a ‘fixer-upper’ house in the same school district and saved a lot of money. I spend those hours riding my bike (something I love) instead of working on my house (something I don’t particularly enjoy).

      Rather than renting an exotic car for $1500, I rented a 911 for a half dozen instructed laps around a racetrack for $200. Moderation.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      The generation whose formative years were during the Depression are passing from the scene. My Dad picked a 22 rimfire varmint gun at age 8 and went poaching – to put meat on the table if my grandfather had a bad day working. OTOH, my Mom had a comfortable childhood but knew those who didn’t. You can bet their boomer kids got hammered with the poverty mentality. But in each successive generation, that tendency towards parsimony is attenuated. With a 19 trillion debt, the Boomer’s grand-kids may wind up back in the position of my parents generation.

      Disagree on forgoing store bought coffee. Five bucks at Starbucks 300 days out of the year year in and year out will add up, as will unlimited data plans on ‘indispensable’ cell phones.

  • avatar
    Coopdeville

    So in the end he still paid $1500 to have sex? I can go to Vegas tomorrow and do that too, albeit in an arrangement that’s much more honest about the role of money in the exchange.

  • avatar
    319583076

    One immutable fact of life is: interest earns interest.

    Interest is either working for you or against you right now and forevermore. It is the one key that can open both the gates of Heaven and the gates of Hell. Which gate it opens is your choice.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    “Well, adjust it by taxation (at current rules) and it’s $6,364.”

    What “current rules” would those be that turn $11,418 into $6,364? A middle-class schlub currently pays 15% for long-term capital gains. With a $9,918 gain, 15% tax hit on that, and adding back in the original principal, I get $9,930.

    Yeah, there’s also state tax, but there are several states that don’t charge it, and it’s not usually that high for middle-class incomes. Certainly it’s not going to take out a $3,600 bite.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    People can say what what they like about Jack, but the man knows how to paint a picture with words.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    “The supreme ants in our society, of course, are the “Millionaires Next Door” — the self-made savers who wear $299 suits and drive pre-owned Toyota Avalons while sitting on a seven-figure nest egg. They are the winners of the middle-class rat race. They have no financial worries, at least not until after the second heart procedure. Moderation in everything. There is a certain segment of society that gets a near-pornographic enjoyment from reading stories of 60-year-old men who could stroke a check for an Aventador tomorrow morning but who still cook their own dinners using Costco bulk items.”

    Jesus- nailed it, even down to the heart procedures. I’m trying to reduce my moderation, both to prevent the second procedure and to enjoy life more in between, but as you say later, its not the same. But it’s also never too late.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I rented a ‘Vette from Hertz for week. I think it was literally the best $800 I have ever spent in my life.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Hertz in Vegas? I paid 6 something for three days with all of the good insurance.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Got it at John Wayne (how appropriate) and drove it out to the desert. I think they are well over a grand/week if you can still find them now. On a related note I saw a real G.T. 350H signed by none other than Carrol himself at my local drive-in a few weeks ago.

    • 0 avatar
      whynotaztec

      just had an SRT Charger through Turo – 60 bucks a day!

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        There’s some pretty hot stuff nearby on Turo, and I’ve thought about indulging just to have some fun, but I don’t think I could do it in good conscience, considering what I’d be compelled to do to something like a new Corvette.

        If it were owned by Hertz I wouldn’t feel bad, but I can’t look the owner in the eyes and then do what needs done.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I’ve never heard of Turo until now. It’s like Craigslist but renting used cars from people? I see a ’11 Camry for $30 or a CTS Coupe for $160, since you can set your own price apparently.

          And I agree, I’d feel mighty guilty hooning a Panamera around all day or $200 then handing it back to Craig.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Turo allows you to rent privately owned cars, and offer your own cars for rent. I haven’t looked into how these are insured against or otherwise protected from abuse by random strangers. There may well be some liability protection and deposits worked in somewhere.

            All I know is that I (or anyone else) could put far more than a few hundred dollars worth of wear and tear into a performance car within 24 hours, but I’d feel like a super jerk if it’s owned by an individual with feelings and a budget, rather than Big Rentalz.

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            I have to hand it to Turo renters.

            Just the other day, someone in my car club had his Turo’d Porsche Cayman stolen.

            A few months ago I rented a Jag F-Type from an owner who was paranoid about my identity because his last two renters both stole his cars (I returned his car without incident, although I did comment on cookies that a previous renter left in the glovebox).

            From that anecdotal evidence, it seems like Turo does pay out well on insurance claims. Which is great, because there is so much more variety than the big-box rental companies.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Were they tasty McDonald’s lemon cookies?

            Some of the prices seemed reasonable ($80 Durango), and the interesting stuff is worth it ($200 Panamera), but other people have the big eye on their junk (’11 Passat with stick-on chrome $69).

            And dealing with the hyper-paranoid dude, though he had good reason, is a compelling argument to go with a corporate rental instead.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Another good read ! .

    Life’s far too short not to enjoy it now .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “Life’s far too short not to enjoy it now.”

      Oh, life can seem plenty long if you follow that advice when you’re young.

      Half the Boomers can attest to that.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I agree, I love living dangerously. That’s why I’m invested in a couple of micro cap funds in my Roth 401k.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Kenmore – very true.
        Vegas and these rent an exotic (car or women et al) cater to those who feel their lives are mundane. “Health, wealth, youth, and beauty” are what the media and Vegas are selling as the key to happiness. if you don’t have it long term you can fool yourself in the short term.

        It is all about making choices based on where you are in life and what matters most at that time. 23 odd years ago I bought a house but was more interested in the detached 2 car garage. I always had several bikes in the garage.
        I am for the most part happy with my current life and feel zero need to rent a supercar or party my azz of in Vegas or any other centre of human debauchery. I’ll take a day bobbing around in my little boat with my two sons trying to catch a fish than any of that crap any day.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          No matter which stranger one attempts to impress or even successfully impresses in whatever way, that impressee is going to end up in Depends and smelling of (at least) 2-nonenal.

          Why bother?

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          The difference is, you own what Player gotta rent with his next paycheck–a nice room, a nice car.

          Player gotta play once in a while, but Spendy plays too deep and too often, thus not saving up anything to attain ownership of the nicer things in life.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Life is far too short to not take calculated risks to pursue the things that YOU want.

      Life is too long to spend money you don’t have, to borrow things you don’t own, to impress people you don’t like.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        We both said the same thing, I just used less (edit) words .

        I can’t imagine wasting $1,500 on a rental vehicle either and I don’t gamble when SWMBO and I go to Las Vegas ~ there’s plenty else to do there and I always have fun and bring things home .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    garuda

    Whenever I go to vegas, I carry a “go big or go home” attitude, because I went to vegas precisely to take a break from my anty life. of course by going big, you can’t do it very often, which is precisely the point, it has to be memorable in a fuzzy memory manner, it has to be a special weekend. if you don’t come home feeling a little guilty, you’re not doing vegas right

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Vegas doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t gamble; I’ve taken multiple courses in probability & statistics, and since I know how bad the odds are stacked against me even in truly random games of chance, I can’t find any way to enjoy it. Plus, the strip is nothing but noise and crowds and flashing lights and anger.

      • 0 avatar
        garuda

        I don’t gamble either. If I am trying to keep/make money, then I probably should have stayed home, instead of thinking really hard about counting cards to get 0.5% advantage in a 6 deck game of blackjack, and that just doesn’t sound like fun to me. When I do, it’s just so that I can get served drink while I am waiting for something while I am on the casino floor.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Sometime in my mid-30s I stopped enjoying things that happened “in a fuzzy memory manner” and started remembering only the pain. I have pretty much no interest in doing that stuff anymore. After about five drinks, I’m out.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’m mostly with Jack on this one. I live pretty carefully now, but that’s because I’m running a business and, well, that’s my deferment and my retirement plan. But if that goes well, and I end up with cash, I’m sure as hell going to spend it.

    I see people all the time saying, “Oh my god! Anyone who spends more than 10% of his gross income on a car is PROFLIGATE!” – as if you need to be earning a quarter of a million a year to justify a Focus. To hell with that! I’m not working hard so I can spend my whole life waiting. If there’s one thing that living frugally has taught me, it’s that when I have the means, I’m not going to live frugally anymore.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This reminds me of that line from the story about the chick in the Saab and the depressingly cautious dude. I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like,

    “He approaches the green light. It looks like it was about to change. He slows down.”

    Which reminds me of another quote….

    “You live more riding 5 minutes on a motorcycle than most people do their whole lives” – some dude who died racing motorcycles

    Life is too short to slow down for green lights. But it’s too long to completely throw caution to the wind 24/7. Experiences matter and make people more interesting in my opinion. That said, Vegas seems like a complete waste of time and money to me…. but when my wife and I visit the West Coast I will definitely see what’s up with Hertz Dream Car collection….

    • 0 avatar
      PunksloveTrumpys

      “You live more riding 5 minutes on a motorcycle than most people do their whole lives”

      I believe that was Kiwi motorcycle legend, and holder of several land speed records, Burt Munroe.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’m one of those “ants” with a seven-figure nest-egg and is inexpensive on transport, and certainly lives below his means similarly elsewhere. (Both cars were purchased new, but one is 13 years old (’04 Passat Wagon (M/T, but not diesel or brown), and the other 11 (an ’06 Solara Conv. for which you will have to kill my wife to pry the keys away from her.)

    Maybe my life doesn’t look very exciting to somebody like you, but it suits me well enough. I don’t live below my means out of terror for the future, I do so because I’ve bought the things and experiences I want, and simply have money left over. It’s not always (or even usually) “cowardly” to have money and simply not feel like spending it right now. (And certainly the early retirement my savings will afford is a nice bonus; the current plan is for my wife to retire when she’s 55 and for me to retire when I’m 50.)

    You might find yourself with more friends if you don’t have such sneering contempt for those who have made different life choices than you. I don’t know if that’s important to you (certainly not really having a desire to be well-liked is a valid choice to make), but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “You might find yourself with more friends if you don’t have such sneering contempt for those who have made different life choices than you. ”

      Good advice, but it too often needs to be heeded by the ants more than the grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are usually too busy having fun to care what the ants are doing. The ants are the ones sitting on their pile in the corner smugly glaring at everyone else “making poor choices.”

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        most of the ants I know do not sit back count their gold coins and judge others. They usually are people with varied interests that are either not expensive and showy, or, are profitable. The difference between most of these ants and most of the grasshoppers is that the ants are doing things to please themselves and the grasshopppers are doing things to impress others.

        • 0 avatar
          baconator

          My experience is exactly the opposite – the most anty I know are constantly looking for approbation for it, whereas my most grasshoppery friends cluster together and do it in secret so as not to been seen as too bohemian by their work colleagues / investors / clients.

          I guess my most grasshoppery habit is a penchant for hoarding and racing Porsche 944s. Believe me, *nobody* is impressed by it except my mechanic.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I dont have friends.
      I got family.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      It’s not about having ‘more’ friends, it’s about having ‘better’ friends. And I certainly don’t get sneering contempt from Jack’s article (though, I would certainly buy him a large number of drinks should I ever actually encounter him in the flesh, so I may be biased.)

      Poverty Fetishism is the hipster response to traditional conspicuous consumption. It’s the drive behind the dozens of comments below any article about financing cars that extols the virtues of paying in cash without any consideration to the premise. It’s the reason we have reality television shows about people spending on 2$ a week on groceries (and a million coupons.) It’s indicative of an underlying mental deficiency that fails to account for the mental effort involved in that sort of shit. And it burns with a self-righteous flame among it’s adherents. Perhaps it doesn’t apply to you, but to be frank, Me Thinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much…

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      I am an ant, and I dont get sneering contempt from his piece.

      If you want sneering contempt, go on a forum like Bogelheads.com or MrMoneyMustache and write that you are thinking of leasing a car!

      Actually, quite a few posters on this from treat leasees as one step above the poor bastard who spends 1/2 his check on Lotto tickets.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        When I’m told a life like mine consists of “drab colorlessness”, “cowardly life decisions”, and apparently consists of pretending I’m a proto-Buffet, that kinda reads like contempt to me.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          @sirwired – the way I read that statement is a bit different. If you do indeed have a seven figure nest egg, you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want within reason. Owning an ’06 Solara is indeed your own choice.

          Jack is apparently referring to half my family who made crappy life choices and are now clinging to some billionaire douchebag who lives in a tract home in Nebraska as justification for their inability to afford anything but frugality.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Having a 7 figure net worth and owning a 10y/o Solara is a choice, and a perfectly acceptable one, but its not some sort of badge of honor or sign of superiority or anything else, it’s just a choice. I will agree not to point out how drab and dull it is if you promise not to parade it around as if you’re better than everyone else for making the choice.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    That’s fine, but remember it can be addictive.
    Had a friend whose father was a Polish national serving on a ship when his country was invaded by the Nazis. The ship was in an Allied port (England, I think) and was immediately seized as a spoil of war. The captain opened up the safe, divvied up the money among the crew and sent them on their way with his blessing. Lots of interesting experiences in between, but my friend’s dad ended up in Los Angeles after the war, with a new wife and a baby, hauling sacks of flour and sugar, etc. at a bakery. Eventually, he and his wife (who also worked) were able to buy a house. My friend’s dad vacationed in Vegas, because he liked to gamble (and, by his life story, he was a lucky guy, as was my friend). So, what he did is drew out the money, in cash, he was prepared to spend, emptied his wallet of all credit cards, checkbooks, etc. and drove to Vegas. He would stay until either his time or his money ran out. Sometimes he would come home empty and sometimes he would come home with money — once enough to buy his son a pretty nice SLR camera, which he did.
    Discipline.
    He loved his son and his daughter and his wife . . . and he loved his trips to Vegas and died a happy man.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    You aren’t paying the call girl for sex, you are paying for her to leave.

  • avatar
    baggins

    Jack, nice piece. Great observations, and definitely thought provoking.

    I am an ant type, and you really have the mentality nailed

    5-7 years ago, I told a friend of mine that if I ever made a nice bolus of money – maybe 250K, I;d splurge on a German car. Well a couple of years ago, I did come into a sum of money via sale of my employer. Made quite a bit more than my threshold to splurge.

    But here I am, still driving my 6 yr old Accord.

    As to the positives of ant life, I recently negotiated my exit from my big company benefactor/employer, with a decent severance package. Job had some major pluses: Great boss, great pay, vacation, easy hours, good team working for me. But it had become boring. Working because you want to, and having “F-U” money is pretty nice too.

    As for Brayden,It would probably be more efficient to spend the 1500 on high end hotel and clubs, but your point remains.Sounds like a hell of weekend.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Count me with the crowd that can think of ways to rent a good time but vehicular surely isn’t the route I would take.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Renting an exotic car is way smarter then owning one. Sign a form, put down $1500, and drive the whee out of it without material concern for long term maintenance or your hometown ex gf keying the thing.

    Source: real life.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      In other words, renting a car is great for people who like renting cars.

      Sort of like everything else in life. If you want free access to it, you usually have to own it.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I paid a few hundred dollars to rent an Elise for a day in Vegas. I didn’t hang out on the Strip, but instead went on a long drive through the desert and hit Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon and other scenic things.

    I think it was definitely worth it, and to me ripping around the near empty Nevada countryside was way more fun than crawling up and down the strip “to be seen”.

    Responsible ant vs fun grasshopper is a false dichotomy.

    A smart ant who knows what they enjoy and budgets for it can have a *lot* of fun.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    So let’s see. On one hand, we have Veblein’s conspicuous consumption. On the other, Weber’s protestant ethic. The more things change in America..

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    Interesting comments about Vegas.

    I love Vegas, but for different reasons:

    1) I lived there last year. It was also the first time that I had ever been there (I’m 39 now).

    2) I love to gamble. I always stayed away from Vegas because all I ever heard was how it’ll suck the money out of you. That’s true to an extent, but I left Vegas with double the amount of money that I had to start with (my bankroll, excluding my job).

    3) My son was born on Father’s Day in Vegas.

    Not only is Vegas home to me, it’s the only place where I truly feel like I belong.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “That’s the kind of thing you can’t buy when you’re older.”

    can’t always buy it when you’re younger either. a car can only do so much.

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    Great piece. I say if you aren’t married and want to do it, go for it! You don’t have to answer to anybody. Once you’re married, it could be grounds for divorce. My wife is cool and has suggested the track experience as a gift. However, I could never blow 1500 on an exotic car rental when I own a 120 year old Victorian home. Forget about retirement. I need to worry about heat and hot water. You never know what expense is going to pop up when you own a home.

    Jack is dead on. Sow your wild oats when you’re young. It is almost impossible to do when you grow older.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’ll go along with this article except for the last part. I was in Las Vegas in my 20s, and saw a friend who had arrived in his uncle’s 450SL. He saw a pretty girl and said “I’m in love!” She looked at him and his car, and said “You can’t afford me.”

    • 0 avatar
      Click REPLY to reload page

      Rule no. 27: Never tell her “I love you!”.

      She was kind to tell him that he couldn’t afford her. Many women will do everything they can to bankrupt a man.
      Or maybe she was trying to tell him that she had something communicable that would require a fortune in medical treatment to make go away.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    On a related note, I always found it funny when economics homework problems reference a savings account with 8% or 9% interest rates. If those existed anywhere in the world, more people would have savings accounts. Most “savings accounts” with today’s banks have a 0.00012% annual interest rate or something like that.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Remember Paul’s clarification: The /love/ of money is the root of all evil, not money itself.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    The first time my wife and I went to Vegas, we were wandering through a casino and saw people at the baccarat table betting in one bet more than we were spending on the entire trip. She was bummed out about that, but I told her that now matter how much money you’ve got, in Vegas you will see people who have a hell of a lot more.

    There are so many cool driving roads out in the country around Vegas, the Hoover Dam traffic jam sure isn’t the place I’d take a rented exotic car. The back road up to Valley of Fire State Park would be a lot more fun, I’d think.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      One night at Cosmo a fat dorky looking man accompanied by older “me love you long time” skanks sitting beside me dropped 3 dimes in twenty minutes at the $25 Pai Gow table (where I was playing minimums). Yeah you can keep your gambling high rollers, I was happy to walk away up 60% on my $100 after three free drinks (well, excluding tips).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I had a petty gambling strategy in Korea, at the foreigners-only casino there in the Lotte Hotel. I’d go once or twice a month on a Friday or Saturday night.

        Play the $1/2 minimum roulette table, as when you were sitting at any table you drank for free.

        Enjoy drinks and conversation all night long while slowly making enough money to pay for cab fare home.

        Stop at 3:00 AM which was when they brought out the free “American breakfast” buffet, to have some sweet bacon and pancakes and such.

        Go home using said funds, for a night out at a casino for total cost of $0.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I mean, I get the “can’t take it with you” thing, but I’m not sure I’d get 15 times more enjoyment out of a $1500/day Lambo than a $100/day Mustang, especially when the exotic rentals tend to come with mileage restrictions. Although i don’t know if the Mustang would be special enough to someone who already owns two M3s, or the women he wanted to meet.

  • avatar

    This is brilliant.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I would rather travel somewhere besides Vegas… I like to snorkel, lounge on a beach, eat good food… I try to do all that for the least coin possible, but still try to do it. Then again, I got all the no strings attached memories any one would ever need on the cheap too (as long as time in the gym isn’t accounted for as money lost).

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Money definitely makes it easier to have fun, but fun people don’t need a huge amount of it in order to get the job done.

    $1,500 (CAD, no less) was enough for me to spend two weeks in Peru and Bolivia, and on a separate trip, a similar amount netted me two weeks travelling around Thailand. Didn’t have to sleep alone during either of those trips, either.

    Then there was the time I spent 10 days in Australia for considerably less than that. Want people to take interest in you? Tell them you flew halfway around the world for a 10 day stay with nothing but the school bag on your back. Even the customs officers were interested. A storm on a secluded island airport resulted in a free night in a 5 star hotel, which was a bonus.

    I think the time I left my job on a Friday afternoon to go downhill mountain biking in the Rockies for the weekend cost me about $500 or so. Buddy I was riding with came about 10 feet from plowing into a baby bear that ran across the trail. That was a fun story on Monday morning.

    Or the time I arrived to my university class directly from the airport, whereupon the kid next to me asked me something about the course, to which I answered, “Dude, 9 hours ago I was drinking Guinness in a pub in Dublin. I don’t know.” I think that was about $300-$400, but I saved money by splitting the cost of the room with a recently-dumped stewardess friend of mine.

    $1,300 spent on an old Ninja 600 when I was 20 bought me a fair number of thrills, too.

    I don’t regret spending any of that money for a second, but $1,500 to sit in traffic in a penis-mobile and occasionally goose the throttle with the hopes that some vapid bimbo would notice me wouldn’t meet my criteria for ROI. I guess I’m an ant that way.

    Then again, on Thursday I leave for a week at an all-inclusive on the Mayan Riviera to celebrate my birthday with my 25 year-old girlfriend (She’s finishing up a full-time bank gig while simultaneously finishing her masters, and I’m working full-time while working on my bachelors, so we wanted something relaxing). The per-person cost of that is also less than 2 days of tooling around in a McLaren.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “Or the time I arrived to my university class directly from the airport, whereupon the kid next to me asked me something about the course, to which I answered, “Dude, 9 hours ago I was drinking Guinness in a pub in Dublin. I don’t know.”

      You were that guy in college huh.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        If by “that guy” you mean the 30-something who works full-time, studies year-round, and as a consequence needs to get creative about when and how he has his fun, yes, that’s me. I’ve also discovered that when you have 10 years on most of your fellow students, you stop really caring what anyone thinks.

        Last year I wrote a 3 hour midterm online while in the lobby/hut of a resort in Barbados. Every once in a while girlfriend would come in from the beach to bring me another rum and Coke. Ironically, I’m making far better progress towards my B.Comm degree now than when I was trying to study Engineering full-time with no distractions (3.0 GPA vs. 0.0).

        My life may be a bit of a joke sometimes, but it’s really not that bad being me.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I spent $1850 on my Ninja 600, back in 1993. Money well spent.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    No Fixed Ending!

    Gads man, take a breath now and then.

    Get a editor!

    Another novel by Jackass Baruth!

    Yes Jackie, it’s me again. I’m going to comment on every freak’n novel you pen!

  • avatar

    I paid my own way out to California to drive the McLaren 675LT that I reviewed for TTAC. Even counting the $250 Budget dinged me for smoking in my rental Jeep Patriot (talk about automotive contrasts), the trip cost me less than it would have cost to rent an exotic for a day. As I said in the review, I would have been a schmuck not to do it.

    McLaren let me have it over the space of three days. When people ask me if I used it to pick up girls in LA I tell them that for me, even with my pitiful social life, driving a car like that is a lot rarer than quality time with female companions so I spent my time with it driving.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’d rather spend that $1500 on making a monster computer. Sure it doesn’t go fast or attract women, but at least I get to keep the damned thing.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Life is about making choices. Think about what matters to you most, then make those choices.

    Instead of splurging on everything you perceive to be impressive to your peers, go simple on things you don’t really care so much for, and spend smartly on the things that are of personal value.

    Instead of a 4-digit exotic, ask for cheap upgrades on leftover premium cars at the counter. You want to impress people? Forget the Strip–bring them down to Exotics Racing and get a $350 quickie instruction in a 430 Scud.

    Instead of spending $250/night on a tiny room at XYZ on the Strip so that you can check in on Instagram, get a “baller suite” for $120 at the nearby all-suites joint. Then split it.

    Instead of bleeding out at the casinos, focus on fixed costs. All of the most gluttonous restaurants, risque shows and debaucherous clubs suck nowhere near as much money as gambling.

    Skip the 3rd consecutive night of buffets. Head out to Hoover Dam and all sorts of national parks for practically $0. Skip the second round of casino crawling, and be rested for a glorious morning hike that costs $gasmoney. Enjoy a quiet dinner after you’ve already had a rowdy night. Use the last remaining evening for another show.

    And guess what? Without needing to wait until retirement nor count pennies, some of the hardworking ants save up enough to buy a nice car or even a used exotic. No need to rent, no mileage restrictions and always free to view at home.

    Disclaimer: The one Vegas thing I cannot reconcile with is drinking. I don’t enjoy being intoxicated or pouring what feels like gasoline down my throat. So I can’t really say anything on that front.

  • avatar
    86er

    “Nobody ever brings anything home from that city.”

    What about chlamydia?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “My life may be a bit of a joke sometimes, but it’s really not that bad being me”

    DING ! we have a winner .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    DirtRoads

    $1500 would get me and my lady halfway to Ireland.

    Now if we could just get the other part of it because I have to come back and work.

    Baby boomers like me have to work till the push us out of our chair onto a gurney and pull a sheet over our face.

  • avatar
    mustang462002

    Thanks for the great article and comments!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    YOLO! Amirite?

    It’s great to do fun things with your money, if you’re a fun person. To me, the reason to accumulate money is to be able to do the things you want to do.

    So if I have to skip a few supercar rentals on the way to the eventual goal of aircraft carrier drag strip cruise ship, so be it.

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