The millionaire lifestyles that don't add up

Woman in car for Juno story. Source is Getty
Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Photo credit: Getty

Ever looked at that rich family down the road and wished you were them?  Don't.  Their lives might not be as great as you think.

For while their house might big, their car flashy and their kids at private school, they could simply be living a lifestyle they can't afford.

JUNO investing magazine Editor, Brenda Ward, told Newshub that she talks to financial advisers every week who say too many people are overextended, but they can't stop buying more 'stuff'.

"Those Joneses we're all trying to keep up with could be deeply in debt. Their vehicles may be company cars, or leased and their home may be rented, or heavily mortgaged," she says.

Lynda Moore, a financial adviser known as the Money Mentalist, agrees.

"So many people are living beyond their means. I call them the $70,000 millionaires. They're living like they're earning $100,000 plus, while those earning that, live like they're earning $150,000."

For the rest of us, it's easy to get jealous when on the surface it all looks so sweet.

"I always see my neighbour with the latest designer gear on," says Aucklander Lucy Taylor.    "I look like such a scruff bag next to her It’s so embarrassing. I hide in the house when I see her coming."

Research shows that, in fact, millionaires usually don't have flashy lifestyles. It’s common for them to buy an older car after the first owners have lost lots of money on it. They often live in the same modest house for most of their lives.

Both Ms Moore and Ms Ward agree that if you think you may be spending more than you earn, you should book in to see a financial adviser. 

"I’m not a member of the frugality brigade," says Ms Moore.

"If you want to have avocado on toast, have it, but think about how many times you have it and do you always have to have it in a café? Can you have it at home?  It's all about making smarter choices and still enjoying life.

"Take stock now before it is too late because somewhere along the way you have to pay the piper. Right now, the cost of overspending is interest and if something happens, or you lose a job or a business or something changes,  then you've  got to come back hard and fast. Look at what you're doing and make better choices."

If you don’t act now, one day it will be too late.

Financial planners are seeing people every week who are going to have mortgages in retirement.

"It’s a real worry," says Ms Ward.

Owning a million-dollar home in Auckland may make you feel rich, but that doesn’t make you 'rich'.

Having money left over to invest after your spending is what will make you rich.

This story was created for JUNO investing magazine, a quarterly publication that makes investing simple.  Check out the latest issue now.