Where Did All the Superyachts Go?

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY THE DAILY BEAST

French tax regulations mean yachting money is draining away from Monaco and the South of France, and washing up in other European countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

That is the question that locals and business owners in the south of France are asking this summer.

And the answer appears to be: ItalyGreeceTurkey, and Spain.

Casting an eye across the limpid surface of the Mediterranean this August from the beaches of Monaco, St. Tropez, or Antibes in the south of France, there is a noticeable dearth of the massive, multimillion-dollar yachts which are usually such a feature of high summer in le Midi, as natives call the south of France.

As Nancy Heslin, a Canadian-born reporter who covers the region, told The Daily Beast, “I was in Monaco the other day going to a meeting, and I was half-looking for a great yacht to snap for Instagram. But it is really noticeable that they are not as plentiful as previous years. Nice Matin and Monaco Matin always used to have front page photos saying which big yacht was here, but they haven’t been able to do that so much this year.”

While the ongoing presence of €10 cups of coffee and €1000 bottles of Champagne might serve to reassure the casual observer that the region is still as attractive to the sun-loving super-rich as it ever was, appearances can be deceptive.

Talk to locals involved in the multibillion-euro yachting sector—and in the south of France that’s nearly everyone, in some trickle-down shape or form, as yachting is by some measures the biggest earner in the region after hotels and wine—and you detect a sinking feeling.

Their discomfort is due to the fact that, despite the opulent optics, beneath the azure waters, trouble is brewing.

More and more yachting money is draining away from Monaco and the south of France—and washing up in other European countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

The core reason for the superyacht exodus is financial; France has tightened up on previously lax tax regulations for the captains and crew members of yachts who officially reside in France, and often have families on the mainland, but traditionally have evaded all tax by claiming they were earning their salary offshore.

The country has also taken a hard line on imposing 20 percent VAT on yacht fuel sales, which often used to be dodged. Given that a typical fill can be around €100,000, it is understandable that many captains are simply sailing around the corner to less pernickety jurisdictions.

Revenue at the iconic marina in Saint-Tropez has, according to a worried letter sent to President Emmanuel Macron by three of the Riviera’s most prominent politicians (Renaud Muselier, the president of the Riviera region, Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, and Hubert Falco, the mayor of Toulon) fallen by 30 percent since the beginning of the year, while Toulon, a less glamorous destination, has suffered a 40 percent decline.

“The gravity of the economic situation of the yachting sector in the Provence-Alps-Riviera region makes it necessary for us to appeal for your direct intervention,” they said in the open letter to Macron released to the media.

They stated that refueling a 42-meter yacht in Italy (instead of France) “gives a saving of nearly €21,000 a week because of the difference in tax.”

Sales by the four largest marine fuel vendors has fallen by 50 percent this summer, the letter said, adding that French “yachties”—an inexperienced 19-year-old deckhand makes around €2,000 per month and a good Captain can command €300,000—were being laid off in droves, as, due to the new tax rules, national insurance, health and other compulsory contributions which boat owners pay for crew members have increased from 15 to 55 percent of their wages.

The letter stated that “the additional cost of maintaining a seven-person crew in France is €300,000 (£268,000) a year.”

Nicholas Edmiston, the founder of the eponymous luxury yacht brokerage Edmiston, told The Daily Beast, “Just a week ago we had a yacht on charter that had to refuel in France instead of Italy because of a delay, and it cost an extra €40,000 in VAT

“Of course the people who own these yachts can probably afford to pay more, but they prefer not to.

“But the real issue now is that the French want to collect tax from crew. A lot of crew living on boats all over the world have wives and family living ashore, in France, benefiting from the largesse of the French state in terms of education and welfare and even benefits…

more…

http://www.thedailybeast.com/where-did-all-the-superyachts-go

WIKK WEB GURU

Going Undercover With Africa’s Premier Anti-Poaching Unit

Images from the raid, where the Zambian, despite having one hand already cuffed, resists arrest.

Busting open the black-market ivory trade in Malawi and Zambia

by Joseph Haldeman

In a pink motel room just a few miles from the ZambiaMalawi border in landlocked Southeastern Africa, two European men count stacks of local currency across a floral bedspread: 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 Zambian kwacha, which comes out to roughly $5,000.

A third man watches like a casino pit boss from a plastic armchair, his foot resting on a giant suitcase. He’s a wealthy Zambian with a body builder’s physique, gold jewelry and designer pink polo shirt. He keeps checking his phone and telling the other men to hurry up.

“I lost count again,” one of them, Matthieu, responds in a thick French accent.

All of a sudden, two plainclothes police officers storm through the doors pointing AK-47s in all directions.

Matthieu and his partner Mark, a tall lean Brit, take their cue and jump. Even with one of them on his back and a taser to his chest, the Zambian still lands several punches before slamming into the bathroom sink, knocking it off the wall with his hip. Matthieu’s shirt rips during the scuffle, exposing a giant tattoo of the French Airborne Paratroopers’ emblem over his heart.

“Give up! There’s a whole team outside!” Mark yells.

A policeman fires a warning shot outside, and the Zambian quits resisting.

Police discover two more accomplices in the motel parking lot as they attempt to flee in a silver Corolla. One of them is merely a driver, but the other is Bridget Banda, a well-connected figure in Zambia’s judicial system. The police instantly recognize her from a print-out of her WhatsApp profile photo, taken from the personal account she used to arrange the entire deal with Matthieu over months of correspondence.

Unlike the Zambian, Bridget and her driver don’t resist. In handcuffs, they’re led into the motel room.

Bridget Banda, who is the architect of the ivory deal, pictured with her two accomplices and the 80 pounds of ivory they intended to sell.

Matthieu finally sorts through the giant tarpaulin. One by one, he pulls out the long, tapering objects contained inside — each of which is cream-colored and caked with the rust brown of African soil, blood or both.

“Nine tusks.”

That adds up to about 80 pounds of illegal ivory, which in Hong Kong, the world’s largest ivory market, will fetch nearly $40,000. There, the tusks are polished white and carved into necklaces, combs, alligators, Buddhas, and of course, elephants, before being sold in one of the hundreds of retailers across the city.

“Four and a half pairs. That’s at least five dead elephants,” Mark says.

One of the tusks is smaller than the others.

“A female?”

A police officer shakes his head.

“A younger one.”

Last September, The Great Elephant Census—a research organization funded by Paul G. Allen, the internationally renowned philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, published the most extensive study of the African elephant to date. The report (a result of 9,700 hours of flight surveys over 18 counties) estimated a loss of 144,000 Savanna elephants in just seven years. Almost a third of the entire population had vaporized due to poaching. One of the nations hit hardest was Malawi, where Matthieu and Mark currently work.

According to the World Bank’s GDP per capita ratings, Malawi is the fifth-poorest nation on the planet. Making matters worse, last year, a global El Niñobrought a significant drought to Southern Africa that devastated Malawi’s small agrarian economy, crippled the production of its key export (tobacco) and drove up the price of the staple of its diet (corn). It also meant fewer watering holes in the county’s expansive national parks, condensing the migration of its wildlife.

So not only is poaching a tempting way to make money, it’s far easier than usual, too. In Kasungu National Park, for instance, only one vast watering hole remains in the entire 900-square-mile reserve. Two large elephant families visit it around 11 a.m. every single day.

They’re beyond low-hanging fruit.

It’s alongside this watering hole — in a humble brick and plywood house — where Matthieu lives. When he first moved there in 2012, he could hear gunshots almost every night. The park had been left virtually unguarded for years, and the elephant population — at around 3,000 in 1970 — was down to a mere 42 animals.

His job, like Mark’s, is to reverse this trend. They work as undercover agents in an elite anti-poaching unit under the leadership of former South African Special Forces Commander Mike Labuschagne, a man with a long history of military experience in African conflict zones and a reputation for toughness. In the late 1980s, he fought Cuban forces alongside guerrilla factions in Angola. (“The Cold War wasn’t so cold here,” he says.) Afterward, he contracted for a number of private military operations that targeted illegal gold mines, before a friend suggested he try anti-poaching in 1992…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/going-undercover-with-africas-premier-anti-poaching-unit-ab9e5c309c0c

WIKK WEB GURU

Cashless Society Alert: Visa Will Be Giving Up To $500,000 To Restaurants That Go ‘100% Cashless’

By Michael Snyder

The push toward a cashless society is becoming more of a shove.  Before today I had never heard of “The Visa Cashless Challenge”, but after reading about it I have to say that I am quite alarmed.  Visa is trying to “encourage” businesses to go cashless, and one of the ways that they will be doing this is by “awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest”.  The food industry is still one of the last bastions where cash is used very heavily, and so it makes sense that Visa would want to target that segment.  Of course the more people that use cards to pay for meals, the more money that Visa will make.

When I go to restaurants, I almost always use cash, and I know a lot of other people that very much prefer to use cash in those situations as well.  But if Visa has their way, soon all of us will be forced to use some form of digital payment instead.  The following is an excerpt from the press release that Visa issued about this new “challenge”…

Today Visa (NYSE:V) announced it is launching a major effort to encourage businesses to go cashless. Aiming to create a culture where cash is no longer king, the program will give merchants increased ability to accept all forms of global digital payments. Visa will be encouraging and helping merchants go cashless by using innovation to their advantage in order to stay competitively connected to their customers.

To encourage businesses to go cashless, Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, with a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest.

“At Visa, we believe you can be everywhere you want to be, and that it should be easy to pay and be paid in more ways than ever – whether it’s a phone, card, wearable or other device,” said Jack Forestell, head of global merchant solutions, Visa Inc. “With 70% of the world, or more than 5 billion people, connected via mobile device by 20201, we have an incredible opportunity to educate merchants and consumers alike on the effectiveness of going cashless.”

Visa would love to eliminate the use of cash entirely because it would mean much bigger profits for them.

And of course cashless systems hold a lot of appeal for governments as well because such systems would allow them to monitor and track the behavior of their citizens much more closely.

As our society transitions in that direction, we will be told that it is all about fighting money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism, but there are other ways to combat those issues.

 

In the end, many people like to use cash because of the privacy that it offers, and there are very powerful forces that would like to eliminate that privacy.

For now, however, advocates of a cashless society are pushing the economic benefits of such a system.  Here is more from Visa’s press release

Visa has recognized the net benefits for merchants when they reduce dependency on cash transaction. Visa recently conducted a study that found that if businesses in 100 cities transitioned from cash to digital, their cities stand to experience net benefits of $312 billion per year. According to this study, in New York City alone, businesses could generate an additional $6.8 billion in revenue and save more than 186 million hours in labor, by making greater use of digital payments. This amounts to more than $5 billion annual costs savings for businesses in New York. The complete results with the benefits of going cashless for businesses will be included in the “Cashless Cities: Realizing the Benefits of Digital Payments” report that will be released by Visa later this year.

And of course the push toward a cashless system is not just happening in the United States.

Over in Sweden, many banks will no longer take or give out cash, and about 95 percent of all retail transactions in the entire country are now cashless.

Of course the EU as a whole is rapidly moving in the direction of phasing out cash.  Not too long ago, the European Commission released an “Action Plan” which instructed member states to explore the possibility of “potential upper limits to cash payments”.

Some of the member states have already adopted such “upper limits” on cash transactions, and by slowly lowering those limits over time those countries could eventually phase out cash completely.

And down in Australia, a “Black Economy Taskforce” has been established to go after tax evaders

http://investmentwatchblog.com/cashless-society-alert-visa-will-be-giving-up-to-500000-to-restaurants-that-go-100-cashless/

WIKK WEB GURU

How to Get Rid of a Mistress

Why betrayed Chinese wives pay big bucks to make their ‘other woman’ disappear

by Tracy Moore

Hell hath no fury like a woman who would like her husband to stop screwing around. Rising divorce rates, combined with continued financial inequality and stigma for divorced women, has led to a booming “mistress dispeller” business in China, where betrayed women allegedly pay up to $150,000 to make their dude walk the straight and narrow again, and the tactics used to dispel the mistress read more like covert ops from a lurid novel than a real-life practice. Best part? The wife uses her husband’s money to foot the bill.

Author Jiayang Fan interviewed one such mistress dispeller, Yu Ruojian, for a recent New Yorker profile on the trend, to shed light on the practice. In China, the mistresses are called “Little Thirds,” an identifier that can mean a fling or a long-term mistress, and the methods used to get them out of the picture are absolutely sinister. Fan writes:

Mistress dispellers use a variety of methods. Some Little Thirds can be paid off or discouraged by hearing unwelcome details of their lovers’ lives — debts, say, or responsibility for an elderly parent — or shamed with notes sent to friends and family. If the dispeller or the client is well connected, a Little Third may suddenly find that her job requires her to move to another city. A female dispeller sometimes seeks to become a confidante, in order to advise the targeted woman that the liaison will inevitably crumble. In certain cases, a male mistress dispeller may even seduce the woman. Like all the mistress dispellers I spoke to, Yu said that he never resorts to this tactic, but he acknowledged that there are those who do.

One of Ruojian’s anecdotes involved being hired by a woman whose husband had been cheating for years with a woman who ran a sex toy shop. When the wife discovered her husband had dropped some $30,000 on the mistress — and not their retirement — she’d had enough. She paid Ruojian to get rid of her. So he befriended the mistress, and he soon became chummy enough with her to convince her to take a trip to Shangai for sightseeing. While there, he managed to snap a few pictures of the two of them in friendly poses. Though he says nothing romantic had happened between them, the photos were incriminating-looking enough to spark a jealousy so intense in the husband she was cheating with, that he immediately dumped her returned to his grateful, loyal wife. It took about four months of work.

The company Ruojiang works for — the Weiqing Group — calls itself a “love hospital,” which has been around for 16 years and claims to save marriages at any cost. Its existence and success undermines the notion that such affairs are always tolerated and expected, which Fan attributes to a kind of perfect storm of social change. China’s divorce rate has now doubled, and adultery is the main reason (this is also the top reason for divorce in France, another country where an assumption of common infidelity is not entirely accurate.)

Since women in China still don’t fare as well in divorce as men, they’re more committed to staying in marriages than leaving them. Using a cheating husband’s money to get him back signals that even wives have their limits, and that no one here is above playing dirty to get what they want. (It is ironic that the only person in this story of infidelity who comes out looking innocent is the mistress.)

Weiqing Group’s tactics offer a satisfying resolution to our appetite for justice, underscoring our most deeply held notions about marriages, infidelity and revenge—and how they should play out in the court of public opinion. We hold the institution of marriage in the highest regard no matter the quality of that marriage. We view betrayed husbands as bad dogs simply in need of rehab. Betrayed wives are innocent saints; the other woman, a scourge who deserves every last karmic comeuppance headed her way.

The wives who pay to orchestrate these conclusions are effectively paying for the sort of outcome that would normally happen in a very public, high-profile affair—only in private. Bill and Hillary Clinton are still respectably together, for instance, but Monica Lewinsky’s life was satisfyingly destroyed, as she was ultimately forced to leave her work and home and move to England to escape the public wrath…

more…

https://melmagazine.com/how-to-get-rid-of-a-mistress-8a3e28c4d4

WIKK WEB GURU

Of money and morals

 

Resultado de imagem para ‘Scenes from the Life of St Matthew’ 1390-1399, by Niccolo' di Pietro Gerini, Church of San Francesco, Prato, Italy. St Matthew is the patron saint of bankers. Photo by Getty Images

‘Scenes from the Life of St Matthew’ 1390-1399, by Niccolo’ di Pietro Gerini, Church of San Francesco, Prato, Italy. St Matthew is the patron saint of bankers. Photo by Getty Images

Moneylending has been taboo for most of human history. So how did usury stop being a sin and become respectable finance?

by Alex Mayyasi is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Atlantic and Priceonomics, among others. He co-authored the book You Are Under Arrest For Masterminding the Egyptian Revolution: A Memoir (2016) with Ahmed Salah. He lives in San Francisco.

‘A banker and a theologian’ sounds like the start of a bad joke. But for David Miller it’s merely a job description. After working in finance and business for 16 years, Miller turned to theology, and received his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2003. Now he’s a professor of business ethics and the director of Princeton University’s Faith and Work Initiative, where his research focuses on Christianity, Judaism and Islam. ‘How to Succeed without Selling Your Soul’ is the students’ popular nickname for his signature course.

In 2014, Citigroup called. The bank had been battered by successive scandals and a wave of public mistrust after the financial crisis, so they wanted to hire Miller as an on-call ethicist. He agreed. Rather than admonish bankers to follow the law – an approach that Miller thinks is inadequate – he talks to them about philosophy. Surprisingly, he hasn’t found bankers and business leaders to be a tough crowd. Many confess a desire to do good. ‘Often I have lunch with an executive, and they say: “You do this God stuff?”’ Miller told me. ‘And then we spend next hour talking about ethics, purpose, meaning. So I know there’s interest.’ Miller wants people in finance to talk about ‘wisdom, whatever its source’. To ignore these traditions and thinkers, as the bulk of the industry tends to do, is equivalent to ‘putting on intellectual blinders’, he says.

Today, a banker listening to a theologian seems like a curiosity, a category error. But for most of history, this kind of dialogue was the norm. Hundreds of years ago, when modern finance arose in Europe, moneylenders moderated their behaviour in response to debates among the clergy about how to apply the Bible’s teachings to an increasingly complex economy. Lending money has long been regarded as a moral matter. So just when and how did most bankers stop seeing their work in moral terms?

In the early 1200s, the French cardinal Jacques de Vitry wrote a collection of exempla, morality tales that priests used in their sermons. In one story, a dying moneylender makes his wife and children swear to hang a third of their inheritance around his neck, and to bury him with it. His family does as instructed. However, later they decide to open the man’s grave to recover the money  – only to flee ‘in terror at seeing demons filling the dead man’s mouth with red hot coins’, de Vitry wrote.

In de Vitry’s world, the moneylender deserved to be defiled by demons, because he’d committed the sin of usury – charging interest on a loan. De Vitry didn’t care whether the rate was high or low, because the Church’s position was that extracting a single cent of interest was evil. The roots of this revulsion run deep, and across cultures. Vedic law in Ancient India condemned usury, and rulers routinely capped interest rates from Ancient Mesopotamia to Ancient Greece. In Politics, Aristotle described usury as ‘the birth of money from money’, and claimed it was unnatural because money was sterile and should not ‘breed’.

Judeo-Christian religions cemented the usury taboo. The Old Testament reads: ‘Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest,’ and the Book of Luke advises: ‘[L]ove ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby.’ In the 4th century CE, Christian councils denounced the practice, and by 800, the emperor Charlemagne made the prohibition into law. Accounts of merchants and bankers in the Middle Ages frequently include expressions of anguish over their profits. In his Divine Comedy of the 14th century, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri put the usurers in the seventh circle of Hell; in the case of Reginaldo Scrovegni, one Paduan banker singled out by Dante, his son ended up commissioning a chapel painted with frescoes by Giotto to expiate the family’s sin. Over the ensuing centuries, the philanthropy and patronage of other Italian Renaissance families such as the Medicis was partly inspired by guilt about how they’d profited from charging interest…

more…

https://aeon.co/essays/how-did-usury-stop-being-a-sin-and-become-respectable-finance

WIKK WEB GURU

 

How the Diamond Industry Scammed Us Into Spending Two Months’ Salary on an Engagement Ring

by John McDermott

I was recently shocked to learn one of my friends spent two months’ salary (“three months, post-tax”) on a diamond engagement ring for his fiancée. Not that the practice is unusual. It’s the cultural norm, especially among our immediate group of friends, all of whom threw down (at least) two months’ salary on a rock for their fiancées/wives.

But I was surprised about this friend in particular. I’ve always known him to be a defiant anti-conformist. He spent the better part of our college years railing about “The Man” and consumer culture, and openly wondering whether our perceived reality was really just a computer simulation. Not the type of guy who worries about keeping up with the Joneses.

Yet even he succumbed to convention and engaged in our culture’s most fraudulent “tradition.”

I don’t use fraudulent ironically here. I mean the engagement ring ritual is literally fabricated. It was invented in the 1940s as part of a marketing campaign by De Beers to sell diamonds to America’s emerging middle class, and it’s rooted in some of the most shameful elements of human history, including colonialism, misogyny and crass consumerism.

But the engagement ring not only persists today, it thrives. There it is, staring at us in the face every time we open Instagram or Facebook:

 

Even today—with fewer young people getting married, and their economic futures never more uncertain—the engagement ring and its corresponding two-months’ salary rule remain among the most cherished and steadfast of cultural practices.

“There have been customs of ring-giving in Western cultures for centuries,” says Moira Weigel, author of Labor of Love, a book about the history of dating and courtship. Shakespeare makes frequent reference to rings as a symbol for love and marriage in his plays. In As You Like It, he writes, “Springtime, the only pretty ring time,” an apparent reference to spring fever, and the romance that fills the air as the world thaws from winter.

“But the specific custom of giving a diamond ring is more recent,” Weigel continues. Specifically, it dates back to colonial Britain and first entered the public consciousness in 1840, when Queen Victoria received an emerald engagement ring in the shape of a serpent.

Queen Victoria made diamond rings fashionable, Weigel says, but the trend didn’t gain traction until the latter half of the 19th century, during Britain’s colonization of South Africa and the discovery of massive diamond mines in the region. That led to the creation of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1888, which more or less operated as a cartel over the next few decades, controlling every aspect of the diamond trade.

When De Beers wasn’t busy controlling supply and giving the false impression its diamonds were scarce, it manipulated demand, convincing the American public that a diamond ring was a necessary part of the marriage process.

In 1938, De Beers hired N.W. Ayer & Son, a New York-based ad agency, “to persuade young men that diamonds (and only diamonds) were synonymous with romance, and that the measure of a man’s love (and even his personal and professional success) was directly proportional to the size and quality of the diamond he purchased,” Uri Friedman writes in The Atlantic.

Ayer’s plan included putting diamond engagement rings on famous actresses and socialites (and then tipping the press about it), and having lecturers visit high schools and indoctrinate American children about the significance of the engagement ring. It was also an Ayer copywriter who thought up the tagline, “Diamonds Are Forever,” which endures today….

more…

https://melmagazine.com/how-the-diamond-industry-scammed-us-into-spending-two-months-salary-on-an-engagement-ring-209138aac5f8

WIKK WEB GURU

Trying to Figure Out How Much I’ve Spent on Booze in My Life Is the Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god

by Nick Leftley

My name is Nick, and I am not an alcoholic.

But I do like alcohol quite a bit. And I’ve always been aware, on some level, that I’ve probably spent a fair bit of my disposable income on it over the years. Pretty much all of it, in fact. Still, the anxiety that came with adding it all up — and the sick horror at the final tally — wasn’t something I was prepared for. Consider this a warning: If at least three of your top five hobbies involve drinking alcohol, you may not like what you’re about to find out.

Some disclaimers before we begin. First: I’m bad at math and my memory — as we will soon discover — has been pickled by years of drinking. I haven’t taken into account inflation over the 20-year span of my investigation, nor have I accounted for the differences in the U.K.-U.S. exchange rate over time. (I’m a Brit who’s lived in the U.S. since 2009.) I’m prone to both wild overestimation and underestimation. This entire piece may be bullshit. But with that out of the way, here’s my very rough estimate of the obscene amount of money I have sunk into murdering my liver.

Late Teens

The pubs in England rarely card you, so let’s assume I was out drinking once or twice a week by the age of 16. The two weekend jobs I had probably let me spend about 20 quid ($25) a week, but over the course of two years, that’s already… £2,080? Really? That’s $2,685! Before I turned 18! Throw in another $250 or so on all the plastic bottles of vodka that were taken to house parties, and we’re up to roughly $3,000. Ugh.
Total: $3,000
Shame Level: Surprisingly high this early in the game.

College

Student bars are dirt-cheap, but if you’re out every other night and spending 10 pounds each time, that’s $50-ish a week — which is pretty much what I did in my first year, so that’s $2,685 just for those 12 months. This went down drastically in my remaining time there, though (largely thanks to a recurring, non-booze-related illness), so let’s say the same amount in total for those years.
Total: $5,370
Shame Level: Holding steady.

Early 20s

The combination of illness and shit-paying temp jobs and bar work means my first two years after graduation weren’t flush with cash. Call it an overall average of one night out a week at about $30 a pop.
Total: $3,355
Shame Level: Manageable.

London

I moved to London at 24 after landing a steady writing gig. And so, I went out. A lot. In fact, the odd bottle of wine aside, I can barely remember ever buying booze to drink at home until many years later. Now, granted, on many of those nights out, someone else was picking up the tab (thank you, every PR firm in England), but London is still an expensive city to drink in. Here’s my estimate for the following five years:

  • Couple of $4 or $5 beers with lunch two or three times a week: $6,038.
  • Out somewhere I had to buy my own drinks, at least twice a week, probably around 50 bucks a pop: $26,834.
  • $12 bottle of wine or a few beers with dinner a couple nights a week, call it $25 a week: $6,709.

Total: $39,586
Shame Level: This can’t be accurate. It can’t be. It’s more than twice my pre-tax salary for the first year I was there, which makes it basically impossible. Doesn’t it? Oh God, I feel sick.

New York

I left London for New York at 29 and spent the first year floundering financially: A generous overestimate for that year would be $50 a week on booze, so $2,600 overall, maybe. Consistent work followed, though, as did pissing money down the drain once more (although, thankfully, lunchtime drinking was almost nonexistent there). The breakdown for the next five years:

  • Out somewhere I had to buy my own drinks, at least twice a week, probably around $70 on average (sometimes $30, sometimes $100+): $36,400.
  • Wine or beer with dinner a couple nights a week, call it $30 a week: $7,800.

Total: $44,200
Shame Level: Somewhere between throwing up in the middle of making out and pissing myself on public transport. I am praying, praying, that this is off by at least 50 percent.

Fatherhood

In 2015, I relocated to New Jersey to have a baby and never went out again. A year later, I relocated yet again — this time to Los Angeles, just to make a trifecta of three of the world’s most expensive cities — to have a second baby and to somehow go out even less. If you combined all the times I’ve gone out for drinks — or had drinks with dinner — since my first child was born, I doubt it’s more than $1,300. We do still buy booze to drink at home, though, so between all the wine, beer and spirits loaded into that Costco cart, that’s about $150 a month, or $3,600 altogether.
Total: $4,900
Shame Level: Honestly, still in shock from London and New York totals. I am a monster.

And that brings us up to the present day. Which means it’s time to add all this up…

GRAND TOTAL: $103,011.

$103,011. Enough to put one of my daughters through a good chunk of college. Enough to purchase a four-bedroom house in Texas outright. Enough to buy five-and-a-half locks of David Bowie’s hair.

Guh.

Guhh.

GUUUHHHHHHHH.

Okay, calm down. Calm down. Let the dry heaves pass. I’m 37 now: We’re talking about $100,000 over the course of, pretty much, 20 years. Which breaks down to an average of five grand a year. Which further breaks down to $416 a month, or about $100 a week. Which… sounds pretty normal, right? This random article I found on the internet says it’s almost sort of normal, so it must be true!

What freaks me out is that all of this is just alcohol. It’s not post-drink munchies; it’s not cabs and cigarettes; it’s not, well, y’know, other stuff. So even assuming that I’ve overestimated by 50 percent, which is entirely possible — did I mention I’m bad at math? — throw all that in and you’re still looking at six figures. Add in what my wife has spent on going out in her life, and between us, you get a figure that only wouldn’t keep me up at night because my children already have that covered.

There are two possible takeaways here. One: Use this knowledge as a long-overdue wake-up call and start accounting for alcohol when budgeting to save yourself from financial ruin. Two: Assume I’ve got the numbers completely wrong and laugh about what an idiot I am as you’re buying the next round.

For the record, I’ll be doing the latter.

https://melmagazine.com/trying-to-figure-out-how-much-ive-spent-on-booze-in-my-life-is-the-stupidest-thing-i-ve-ever-done-3130bb82955d

WIKK WEB GURU
%d bloggers like this: