I once made mates with a guy who owned a boat because I wanted to go out on a boat. That dude turned out to be a total weirdo after a while, but I got a free ride before I had to sever those ties to preserve my own sanity.
Thus, if you have a penchant for princely luxury but you’re living on a pauper’s budget, here are my tips on how to make friends with money. The number one rule? Play where the rich play. It’s not always easy, but if you can pull it out it can pay off.
1. Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities at Work
Every place of employment is filled with all levels of income — somebody has to be the boss and make the big bucks, and somebody has to do the dirty work for little pay (or appreciation). Nonetheless, your work functions, conferences and banquets afford you the opportunity to rub elbows with lots of folks in a higher financial bracket than you. Identify these folks, slip into the conversation, and make an incredible first impression. If all goes well, this could work in your favour two-fold: 1) You could walk away with a new friend with lots of dough, and 2) they could sing your praises to the powers that be, which would result in a promotion down the road.
2. Get Dressed Up and Go to Fundraisers
Many fundraisers have an upfront ticket price (which is often steep) if the event includes dinner, an open bar and entertainment. There are other, more accessible fundraisers, however, that don’t charge a fee in advance but are still well attended by the wealthy. To get in good with this crowd, do your research on the organisation and/or theme of the fundraiser so you can mix and mingle with ease. If art is a theme for instance, brush up on your knowledge of the culture so you can pretend you know what you’re talking about when the hoity-toity come calling.
3. Relocate to Where the Rich Reside
This is easier said than done, but in some areas socioeconomic status is separated by only a couple of blocks. If you can score inexpensive housing near a celebrated neighbourhood known for it’s high-end residents, you’ll have the opportunity to drink, dine and shop where they do. All it takes is one chance meeting to hit it off somewhere on neutral ground.
4. Upgrade Your Flight When You Have the Chance
Nobody on a budget can afford to fly first class on the regular, but there are two ways you can upgrade without paying a dime. The first — and I’ve been lucky enough to experience this — is to volunteer to give up your seat when flights are overbooked. Last Christmas, my husband and I gave up our economy seats in exchange for a first-class flight plus $600 each in airline credit if we agreed to take a flight that departed eight hours later. The airline didn’t have to ask us twice. That trip was an excellent opportunity to chat up the folks who aren’t strangers to luxury like we are. Alas, we didn’t make any permanent friends on that trip — but there’s always next time. The second way is schmooze the flight attendants on your plane. They have the power to upgrade you to first class if there’s space. So put on your best smile, be nice, and cross your fingers that the flight attendant sees something special enough in you to gift you with more legroom and free champagne. When you get up there, act like you belong; rich people like poor folks with confidence.
5. Stay at Upscale Hotels When You’re on Vacation
Trust me on this: You’re not going to make any rich friends at the Holiday Inn. So when you’re planning a trip, try to score a lodging deal at a four- or five-star hotel for the duration of your stay. These are the places where the rich relax. You’ll have to be savings savvy — and patient — to find these deals, but they’re out there, especially if you’re traveling at off-peak times. In fact, there’s arguably no better place on earth to get in good with people that have pockets full of cash than at a vacation destination because people are happier. They actively want to make friends. Just don’t forget to exchange numbers. You never know when they might need a travel buddy in the future.
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