Friday, June 20, 2008

$ex and the $ity and me

My mom and I just got back from Sex and the City: the movie. I’ve always been a fan, and I enjoyed seeing the characters back on screen. It has been criticized as being a parade of couture items and events. However, this affluent lifestyle is a gorgeous backdrop for them to fumble through. Hedonic? Probably. Realistic? No.

As the ladies hit their 40’s (and beyond) it still makes fans feel like they’re earned their wildly wealthy lives. In NYC Sex and City makes it seem as if wealth is still characterized by Manolos, A list events and Fifth Avenue penthouses.

So what is wealth minus the cultural trappings?

The most mundane definition of wealth I could find is espoused by countless textbooks:
Wealth is the difference between your assets and your liabilities.

In other words, the amount of money you have minus any debts you have. Not a sexy definition, but one that is reasonably well agreed upon.

Using the last formula I was (unjustly) rich, but this one I thought would be grim. Grimmer than it was actually was, I was predicting it to be much worse. I knew my debt was there, but I’d been acting like I was an ostrich, throwing minimum payments at it, but otherwise keeping my head in the sand.

So here it is: I’ve got over $15,000 in assets, but almost $17,000 in liabilities (I financed my whole MA which is now growing at 7%). SO it was debt well spent. It got me first teaching job at the State U and I’m counting on it helping me get my next job at whatever community college will hire me. However, my wealth is still in the red.

If your wealth is a negative number, is it still really wealth?

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