How To Scrape By On $1 Million a Month

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Image credit: Gulfstream Corporation

It will likely not have escaped the attention of people with (i) an Internet connection, and (ii) more than zero functioning neurons in their frontal cortex, that the US Republican Party is desperate to increase the national debt yet again in order to ease the plight of the super-rich. Yes, sweet Uncle Donald’s $1.5 trillion give-away has already been spent and the deserving rich are once again wondering how on earth they will afford to finance the purchase of their next private islands now that their current islands are being threatened by rising sea levels due to non-existent climate change.

Horrifying as it may seem, there are times (not often in the USA, admittedly…) when simply asking Uncle Sam for more is not an option. And so, in order to ease the plight of the ultra-rich, we present here a few suggestions for temporarily cutting back until the good times return in 2020 when the Trump Administration will issue Executive Order 101: The Ultra-Rich Suffering Relief Act that will mercifully deliver yet another $2 trillion in tax breaks for those struggling to get by on incomes of under $10 million per month and less than $50 billion in tangible assets.

Suggestion One: Ride Sharing. Apparently there’s a scheme for people who don’t have chauffeurs to drive their Maybachs, Bentley Brooklands, or Rolls Royce Phantoms whereby they can pay someone else to transport them. Adapting this novel concept suitably, we can suggest the temporary expedient of (please don’t be alarmed): sharing one’s private jet.

You want to fly from your West Coast hideaway to New York because you’ve heard about a new restaurant absolutely everybody is talking about. Meanwhile on the next island over, Chipper has had the same idea. Normally you’d each individually fly there in your own jets, but here’s the novel concept: you can have your Activities Consultant call Chipper’s Activities Consultant so they can make arrangements for you both to travel together in the same jet. Not only will you be saving the cost of one jet, but you’ll have the astonishing novelty of flying cross-country in the presence of another person.

Obviously this isn’t the sort of thing one would wish to do more than once or twice in a lifetime, but for a one-time event it can represent a meaningful saving to be chalked up on the board of frugality.

Suggestion Two: Furloughing the Bodyguards. As a member of the deserving rich it’s perfectly understandable that you do not wish to come into contact with members of lesser orders (for example, squalid little people only earning $100,000 per month) and so a Close Protection Team is not a luxury but a basic necessity. Unfortunately these people, for reasons that are not entirely clear, often insist on being paid. When one has even the smallest Team of a couple of dozen former Navy SEALs and Delta operators, the bills can sadly mount up. Some Team members may even expect contributions to their health plans. Our fiscal experts here at Scraping By Incorporated have estimated that even the most modest Close Protection Team can cost well over $3 million per year, even when they have to pay for their own suits and ammunition.

While it’s true that for the most part you’re unlikely ever to be in a situation where an ordinary person could come within a few hundred yards of you without being shot by a suitably-induced police officer, you certainly don’t want your wealthy friends to think for one moment that you’re having to economize. Nothing screams CHEAPSKATE louder than the absence of half-a-dozen burly men dressed in ill-fitting black suits and with obvious microphones jammed into their left ears.

There is fortunately a solution: you can dispense with the obvious muscle if you simply go everywhere projecting an air of absolute confidence.

Lest any uninformed friend should happen to remark on the absence of your usual Biceps In Black, you can look scornfully at them and whisper, “Ex-SAS.” Even if your obtuse friend should have no clue about the information thus imparted, later that day someone will inform them that having a Close Protection Team entirely comprising former British Special Forces is the ne plus ultra of the executive safety world. Former SAS and SBS don’t stomp around presenting obvious targets; they blend invisibly into the background, watching everything and being seen by no one. There is nothing so deliciously satisfying as the envy of others who believe you are being protected by the best of the best. It is twice as satisfying when you alone know that in reality there’s no one there, enabling you to chalk up another splendid victory on the board of frugality.

Suggestion Three: Manage Your Cash Flow. Too often the ultra-rich are deceived by accountants into thinking that eventually purchases must be paid for. This kind of dangerous nonsense is precisely what can lead you into fiscal distress. In reality it is often far better to defer payment indefinitely. Remember: lesser people are accustomed to living eternally within unpleasant fiscal constraints. They are used to the travails resulting from their failure to be born into wealth and the dire economic consequences of being no good at inventing clever financial instruments that transfer money from others into your own deserving pockets. Far from causing this strange sub-class of people additional problems, you will actually be doing them a favor by refusing to pay for your purchases. You will enable them to exercise their creativity as they attempt to placate their own creditors and they will thus feel that they are playing their tiny but important role in sustaining your eternal greatness.

Best of all, if you and other members of the deserving rich all refuse to pay, these vendors will go bankrupt and you will never have to think about the vulgar concept of payment again. Chalk up another well-earned victory on the board of frugality.

Suggestion Four: Make Things Last Longer. In order to stretch one’s slender means from now until the next Trump tax break, one compromise that can substantially help is the notion of holding on to certain things after the time you’d normally have replaced them.

We can begin with wives. As every wealthy man knows, a wife has a definite shelf-life. Radiant and eager to please as a bride of twenty, she has a meager residual value a mere half-decade later. For wealthy women the same is true of handsome young companions. Yet before you rush to upgrade to a newer and more pleasing model, a momentary pause may be worthwhile. By holding on to an admittedly depreciated asset for a few more months or even a year or two, a substantial immediate saving can be achieved. Furthermore, holding on to the current asset provides additional time to test out potential replacements instead of having to make an impulse purchase merely in order to ensure there is someone present to listen to your rich and hilarious anecdotes at all hours of the day and night.

In a similar vein we recommend holding onto your private jet. Yes, of course no one wants to be seen in last year’s plane. Nothing screams IRS or SEC investigation louder than landing at Aspen or Davos after dark in an attempt to hide the shame of arriving in a shabby-chic year-old G650ER when everyone else has their brand-new G700s proudly displayed by the executive aviation building. While there’s no perfect solution to disguising this necessary economy measure we recommend you try telling your ultra-rich friends that you know it’s embarrassing to still be using last year’s jet but it’s only due to the fact the stateroom in your new Airbus 380 flying mansion hasn’t been completed because the Perlato marble is being installed by master craftsmen and as everyone knows, they do take their time. The results, however, are absolutely worth it. Really, darling…

Thus the scoreboard can record another fiscal victory.

Suggestion Five: Cut Back On Food. We recommend you take a long hard look at your monthly food & drinks expenditure. The first thing you are likely to notice is how much is consumed by your staff. While you are subsisting on a Spartan diet of caviar and vintage Krug, they are gorging themselves on pizzas and beer and burgers and fried chicken all at your expense.

Ask yourself: do they really need to eat three meals per day? Surely one would be more than sufficient. Do they really need expensive fripperies like sparkling water and fruit juices?

A firm but fair approach is called for here: you can inform them that they can still have their morning coffee but the cost of the machines, the water, the electricity, the sundries, and the wonderful landfill-busting little plastic capsules of ground coffee will henceforth be deducted from their salaries. As will the cost of the seats they perch upon during their working hours, and the cost of the electricity required to light the parts of the building in which they work. After all, electricity doesn’t grow on trees. Or pilons.

Indeed, you may want to consider going further. For a modest investment, your staff can be shifted from unproductive ordinary office seating to productive exercise bicycles to which small dynamos can be attached. By encouraging your staff to pedal appropriately during working hours (perhaps by administering small electric shocks by means of training collars when the revolutions per minute drop below a specified threshold) they can make a valuable contribution to reducing your monthly electricity bill. As this will also make them fitter and healthier you can cancel their health insurance as they will no longer need it, which will of course produce additional savings for you.

Chalk up a double whammy victory for frugality with this one!

We have here only scratched the surface of creative options by means of which you can temporarily cut back on monthly expenditures. As these examples show, you may have to make others make difficult sacrifices so that you can survive through the lean months between now and the next government handout.

We cannot stress how essential it is for you to find ways to ensure that as much as possible others are called upon to make these sacrifices, so that when the good times return and taxpayers’ dollars are flowing once again in your deserving direction, you are ready and able to take the fullest possible advantage. By arranging matters so that others play their part in ensuring you remain as unscathed as possible, you can rest easy in the knowledge that as a member of the ultra-rich you are continuing to be a much-loved role model for the millions less fortunate than your deserving self. You are an icon to which they raise their eyes as they go about their meaningless troglodyte lives, an inspiration for those who can’t tell the difference between a Patek Philippe 1518 Steel and a Constantine Vacheron Tour de I’Ile.

No one said it’s easy, being a member of the ultra-rich. But someone has to do it.

And aren’t you delighted that it’s you?

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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