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#79 - Black Credit Cards

#79 - Black Credit Cards

Black Credit Cards
Price: Compulsive Spending

Every month Americans buy a few thousand dollars worth of toys ranging from plasma TVs to designer handbags. These are important to the average person because they symbolize another step towards achieving their five year plan one luxury item at a time. Thanks to the magic of financing and low APRs, these same people pay only a small percentage of what they charged to their credit card, roll over the remainder and promise themselves that they will pay off the balance next month. That might be true if it weren’t for the semi-annual sale at Neiman Marcus or the twenty dollar Crate & Barrel gift card that morphed into a new couch, throw, cushions, coffee table and rug for 40% off, justified by the personal promise to take lunch to work and only drinking one latte a day for the next six months! As a result the average household carries about $8,000 in credit card debt. For the rich, things are a little different. A black, invite-only credit card is a subtle, yet effective, plastic symbol of status and success and like they say, “once you go black you’ll never go back.”

Depending on the card, the wealthy consumer elite are invited to apply for a black, sometimes carbon woven, card that offers numerous benefits that an average Visa, MasterCard or American Express just can’t provide. These include concierge services, personal assistants, financial solutions, airline and hotel upgrades, personal shopping services and while you won’t find it listed in the Benefits Booklet, using a Visa Black Card or American Express Centurion card in any retail establishment means rich people are greeted with “I want to know you” eyes by stunning men and women who would gladly accompany them to the Waldorf for lunch. Ultimately, this is why exclusive, invite-only cards were created. They are the 21st century equivalent of smoking cigars indoors and wearing jewel encrusted pinky rings and tie clips. For rich people, the concurrent introduction of anti-smoking legislation and the ability to flash exclusive credit cards meant not having to accessorize their outfits to showcase their outlandish wealth although ascots remain remarkably popular.

For the average person, there isn’t a hope in hell that they will ever meet the criteria for garnering such an exclusive piece of hologram embossed ABS plastic card. For starters, only 1% of Americans have a black card and the Centurion, as an example, requires spending in the range of $250,000 per year after the $5,000 one-time fee and $2,500 annual fee! Fortunately, there are numerous ways to creatively clear these hurdles; the simplest solution is the DIY method. Materials required; one can transparent black spray paint, one credit card, one roll transparent tape and one copy of the Wall Street Journal although any daily newspaper will suffice. Lay the card on top of the paper and spray one coat of paint every thirty minutes until your card appears invite-only black. Flip card, apply tape to the magnetic strip and signature area and repeat. In no time you will be using your homemade black card and well on your way to impressing your wealthy friends. As a warning, if you plan to use your new black card as a retail pick-up line, check the return policy before  impressing the well proportioned clerk at Saks by purchasing that Rolex and asking her to dinner. While membership does have its privileges, faking it will do in a pinch!

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#75 - Prenuptial Agreements

#75 - Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements
Price: Ask Tiger Woods

If you find yourself entering a state of eternal bliss with the man or woman you will forever love, life is rose petals and champagne kisses. Should you find yourself sitting across from that same person in a room full of divorce lawyers and bankers you know what marriage looks like after it has been beaten with the ugly stick. That is, unless you entered the union with a little insurance policy called a prenuptial agreement.  Rich people love prenuptial agreements even more than they love custom shoes and trophy wives because it kills two birds with one stone; first they can rest assured that their fortune is safe in the event that their union “goes south” and upon their untimely demise their remaining fotune will pass to the Swiss accounts of their heirs.

For many people, the thought of a prenuptial is despicable since love conquers all. Knowing that divorce is Latin for bludgeoning a man with his own wallet, there are a few problems with this train of thought. First, people who think this way likely don’t have any assets, think their Rock & Republic jeans are an asset and despite living their lives by the wise words of Deep Purple, have forgotten that all is fair in love, war and banking. For those that do know how far the smitten can fall when the heart grows absent, there is nothing wrong with asking the love of one’s life to sign on the X, initial here, initial here and sign there. With a few strokes of the pen, both man and wife have shown that their love transcends money and that they truly have fallen for each other’s hearts rather than their numbered accounts.

The most successful way to befriend the wealthy when it comes to prenuptials is to indicate that you asked your mate to sign one, have signed one yourself or share a story about calling off an engagement when your true love was incensed at the thought of drawing up such an agreement. This works on many levels, most important it shows that you have a fine head on your shoulders and have amassed enough wealth that a prenuptial is sensible. If possible, poke fun at the one person in the room without such an agreement in place by offering them half a cigar or half a drink. Expect chortles and mumbled guffaws as most rich people have forgotten how to laugh or their Botox treatment restricts smiling. From here you can engage in scintillating conversation around custom tailoring, an analysis of intertemporal tradeoffs in macroeconomic policy or which model of Maserati is most appropriate for the children leaving for boarding school.

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#73 - Cooking Classes

#73 - Cooking Classes

Cooking Classes
Price: Trip to the Lipo Clinic

Despite the trappings of fabulous wealth, life can become predictable and eventually dull for the rich. Fortunately there is a world of exhilarating hobbies available to the wealthy that aim to inspire before the doldrums of life consume them. For most people, hobbies like skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba and rock climbing add the joie de vivre missing from their mundane existence. Not to be outdone by middle class thrill-seekers, the wealthy also like to step it up when choosing hobbies by throwing caution to the wind and selecting activities that they never thought they would do. These include driving themselves, working eight hours a day and cooking. While your evening likely includes preparing dinner, the wealthy consider this an unfathomable task that the chef, butler or, as a worst case scenario, the nanny will take care of. As such, signing up for private cooking lessons can be a thrilling way to spend a summer and an excellent excuse to visit France, Italy or perhaps Switzerland if checking on the private bank account is required.

While cooking classes are not an impenetrable bastion of the wealthy, rich people tend to have a different set of expectations for these courses. For the rich, being surrounded by world renowned chefs, fresh ingredients from around the globe, the finest kitchen implements and closely guarded cooking secrets is occasion to uncork another bottle of red while the pros create their masterpieces. Spending a month drinking in the Tuscan sun while observing a veteran of the dutch oven fold egg whites, fabricate port reductions and spawn the perfect soufflé lends the credibility required to authoritatively critique a Michelin four star restaurant and is therefore an invaluable experience. Cooking classes are a little like the Dummy’s Guide to becoming a New York Times food critic without the need for a sophisticated palate, experience or a cynical writing style. Nonetheless, such an experience will promote Bunny McCooking-Class to head of choosing restaurants and ordering lunch for her country club ladies group. Like port with chocolate, this newly developed expertise is best served with tales of Fabrizio the pool boy and his prowess in sunscreen massage.

But how does this help you? The best way to leverage this champagne fountain of knowledge is to grease the baking sheet of inquiry. You must walk the fine line between asking questions about the cooking school without broaching the subject of cooking technique; a surefire approach is to ask about the region in which the class was held. This enables them to speak about the setting without being put on the spot about class content. Bonus points if you can steer the conversation to the Le Creuset and Emile Henry cookware they outfitted the estate kitchen with afterwards. After all, their staff deserves the best when cooking for a discriminating palate like their own!

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#72 - Scotch

#72 - Scotch

Scotch
Price: Years of practice

The first time that you tried scotch it may have tasted like the perfect blend of paint thinner and ass. As every frat boy knows, if it tastes like ass, turn it around. While this advice may work in some situations it is unlikely to alter this alcohol-based assault on your taste buds and olfactory senses. Despite this apparent flaw, rich people love scotch. To the uninitiated, rich people will insist that scotch is an acquired taste and break into a polished soliloquy on the finer points of this pricey malt beverage as an explanation of why you should love it. A scotch aficionado can block your exit with their knowledge of Scotland’s pride while a room of aficionados can ruin your evening by peppering you with unpronounceable distillery names and heated debates around chill-filtration. If being bombarded by terms like single malt, mash, Scotch Whisky Order of 1990, Glenlivet and Auchentoshan sounds like a nightmare, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As with all things alcoholic, the more that people ply you with booze as a means to convince you of its superior taste, the less likely you are to know what the hell you are drinking which makes the evening progressively more palatable. Such is the case with scotch thanks to exacting standards that mandate a minimum 40% alcohol content. Getting through the last glass makes the next all the easier. Is swallowing your first ounce of Oban getting in the way of making friends with your wealthy companions? Think about the difficulty that Cinderella must have had the first time that she got to the ball. The red headed stepchild worked through her gag reflex before she and Prince Charming lived happily ever after and so can you.

You may be thinking, why scotch? All spirits have a distinct personality and therefore appeal to specific subsets of the population. Thanks to the Russian Mafioso, vodka represents mystery and new money, tequila goes hand-in-hand with cougars looking to bag an unsuspecting twenty something, cognac with rappers and bourbon with interfamily marriages. Scotch, since 1495, has perpetually represented the sophisticated statesman with elegance, taste, class and ambition; it is like a Rolls Royce among Cadillacs. For this reason, the rich will learn to love this aged liquid and speak of pungent and potent malts, with richly peaty, deep, smoky flavor that has an intense, long ambrosial finish. Such knowledge is a means to highlight their station in life and knowing this can help advance yours. Who knows, drink enough scotch at the country mansion and the trophy wives may recruit you to help them with their case of Patron. Bottoms up!

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#71 - Professional Blow Drying

#71 - Professional Blow Drying

Professional Blow Drying
Price: A Keratin Intervention

A notable difference between upper class fabulous and soccer mom drab is perfect hair. While men are oblivious to their better half’s new hairstyle, all women know to the minute how long it has been since a member of the sisterhood has had her hair professionally washed and blow dried. For most, working or tending to the children gets in the way of paradisiacal hair; for the wealthy a trust fund or a sugar daddy, a nanny, a housekeeper, a chauffeur and a personal chef keep responsibilities to a minimum providing ample time to stay perfectly coiffed. The rich do face a conundrum of sorts; given that hair grows approximately 4mm per day it is hardly justifiable to dip into the salon for a daily trim. Fortunately, the geniuses at the Global Council for Beautiful Hair, a lesser division at the UN, deemed it appropriate to sanction salons that offer professional blow drying for roughly the same fee as leasing a BMW.

Daily “wash and blows” are a godsend for the rich and a potential addiction although they will claim that they really can stop anytime. Not to be confused with a rub and tug, these niche salons are a destination for sophisticated women and remarkably flamboyant men hell bent on flawless hair. The artists that operate these luxury in-and-outs are seasoned veterans that have delivered countless blow jobs and therefore have an aptitude for delivering style that far exceeds even the most accomplished trophy wife. It isn’t only experience that plays into the equation; these experts save the taxing, physical strain of blow drying one’s own hair. The wealthy know how tiring it is to point air straight down the shaft when operating a blow dryer. Thanks to the hair-dressing equivalent of clean-shaven or lightly bearded blond Jesus, the couture flock is provided for and such exertion is a distant memory.

By now, you should be asking how this can help you befriend the fabulously wealthy. An invitation to the blow-and-go is simplicity at its finest. If you face resistance, tell them you have always envied their style and would love their advice on your hair. In a hop, skip and a jump you’ll be racing to the salon district in their freshly waxed Bentley. There are of course other benefits that these salons provide. The sheer volume of the blow dryer will make it impossible to hear your wealthy companion wax on about their most recent “hardship” but the absence of scissors makes it safe to nod attentively as though you can understand every important word they are saying! The blow dryer will mask their hot air, they will appreciate your attentiveness and in thirty minutes you will look and feel fabulous with your new BFF. Cappuccino anyone?

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