Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Mag dahling, you're being a BORE"

Ten bucks to anyone who can guess which movie that's from? If you guessed Breakfast at Tiffany's, you're right (sorry, I was kidding about that 10-dollar bit). Ok, so you may feel your life is a tad boring lately, unlike Holly's, what with all this saving and frugality weighing you down, but don't fret. Even if when you end up rich, you might still be a YAWN in all your bright-eyed, bushy-tailed glory.

That's because YAWNs (Young And Wealthy but Normals) are the new Gen Xers and Yers, according to an April 2008 Associated Press article.

When you imagine what the CEO of Facebook, or co-CEOs of Google do on a daily basis, what comes to mind? You probably envision them jetting around the world in their private planes, sipping on the finest Dom Perignon '53, a la James Bond, traveling to exotic locales with exotic women in tow and piddling the days away on golf courses, yachts, and in Bentleys, right? Well, Odd Job, meet Rik Wehbring.

Thirty-seven-year-old Rik -- who worked for multiple startups -- lives on $50,000 a year in San Francisco, where his rent costs about 40% of his budgeted money. He doesn't own a TV, drives a Toyota Prius, shops for food at the local farmers' market and owns a $20 mp3 player that "works just fine." Oh, and I forgot to mention, he's also a dot-com millionaire.

Rik is what's come to be coined as a YAWN by the London Sunday Telegraph, and he's one of many who've proven that it's so yesterday to live a life of excess. In fact, it's a downright bore.

YAWNs live small, but it's because they already have everything they want. They live on just enough to be comfortable and despise being pretentious or brag-worthy. For us budgeters and savers, it might come as a surprise to learn one day, if we ever attain YAWN status, that being rich is just a state of mind, and all those sports cars and sail boats are better left to other people that crave them in one form or another.

Rik isn't one of them. "I don't need a lot of material possessions," he said in the article. "I haven't had to buy anything in a while."

It comes as no surprise to learn, then, that YAWNs loathe ostentation.

When Ray Sidney, a software engineer at Google, cashed in his stock options in 2003, they yielded him more money than he could ever spend in one lifetime. (Quite possibly billions, but he wouldn't say.) What would you do with billions of dollars? Ray decided he wanted to retire in a four-bedroom house in Stateline, Nevada, and give most of his money away to charity.

His donations have ranged from giving $1 million to a bus company to help launch a route to provide public transportation to casino workers, giving $400,000 to help build an arts center, and giving $1.7 million to a local high school to build a football field and track. This is all on top of his millions of dollars of donations he's given to charities to try to cure diseases or save the world.

So how does he get his kicks? He did buy a single-engine plane he flies about once a week to visit his girlfriend in San Francisco. But that's basically the extent of it. I did find it odd that he chose to move to Nevada of all places and not bring his girlfriend along. Or just buy her diamond ring for that matter and call it a day. But perhaps Nevada wasn't her bag, or....well, this isn't really the point of the whole story.

The point is is that for some people (especially YAWNs), $50 for the powder room might be all that's needed, which is a both pleasant and humbling surprise. Holly would be proud.


Secret Asian Man said...

I like the idea of being a YAWN actually. To be honest I'm a poor man's YAWN right now due to the fact that I may not be making much but I got enough to pay rent, pay for gas, have a netflix account, go out 2 or 3 times a week, and travel a few times in the year. The only real difference I can see with more money is eating steak and lobster more and living without roommates.

Crystal said...

I like the idea of being a YAWN too! I really do think that living a life of excess isn't for everyone, especially when you take into account how the rest of the world lives in general. It would make me feel guilty.

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