We Ain't Here for the Dental Plan

Eddie Braverman's picture
Rank: The Pro | 21,180

I figured I'd get this one out the way early in the week, because it's likely going to piss a few people off and they'll give me a bunch of crap and then we can all move on. This post is written with the people already working on the Street in mind, but it applies to prospective monkeys as well. This is a post about recognizing your unique position and the opportunity you have in life.

You are working on Wall Street. I'm using the term not as a specific location, but as an industry. In other words, you make your living in high finance. You could have done any number of other things, but you chose this. And, more importantly, this chose you. You made the cut where hundreds, perhaps thousands, failed in their own attempts. By virtue of what you do for a living, you are probably in the top 1% of earners in your age bracket. And I used to be one of you.

I visited Hell last week.

I'm 42 years old, married, and I've got two kids. And last week I found myself (with my wife and two kids, and two friends of ours) waking up at the crack of Christ to drive an hour outside of town to some ghetto airport so we could be herded like cattle among the lowest possible class of traveler to board a RyanAir flight to Dublin.

As I stood in the crush of humanity jostling for position to board an aircraft with no assigned seating, seats that don't recline, and flight attendants whose only purpose in life is to sell you shit, I wondered where my life took a hard left.

If you take your career seriously (I did not) and you maximize the opportunity you have in front of you (I did not), then there's no way you'd be able to bring yourself to travel among the unwashed peasantry in your early 40's. And you damn sure wouldn't subject your family to it.

You can charter a private jet anywhere in the world for $4,680 an hour. Think about that. Dublin is just over an hour from Paris. So that breaks down to about $800 per person ($1,600 round trip, obviously). None of the aggravation of waking up early and driving an hour, because I'd have left whenever I wanted to and had a limo take us to the private airport just outside the city. No security bullshit - you pull right up to the plane. No rubbing elbows with the poor.

By virtue of the fact that you are in this business, you have the opportunity to live like no one else can. Why should you have to deal with the aggravation of commercial flight when you can fly private? Why should you deal with your kids' incessant complaining when you can pay a nanny to do it for you? Why would you spend your valuable downtime doing house or yard work when you can pay any number of servants to do it for you?

We are not in this for the dental plan. You can tell yourself anything you want about why you do what you do, but the bottom line is that you do it for the money. Why not charge at that and just make piles of it?

I left the Street when I thought I had enough. And I was right, for the most part. But now it's harder for me to justify $116,000 for a 25-hour Marquis Jet card. And that's just wrong.

Don't be that guy.

And that guy, in this particular case, is me.

Comments (35)

Sep 6, 2011

I personally have a lot more respect for people who can afford private jets but aren't above flying economy...

Sep 6, 2011

Not sure if your post is serious...

Sep 6, 2011

Eddie, why would you charter a $6K jet when you can just spend $600 on a bunch of Ryanair tickets and perhaps $8 on bathroom money? Make sure the kids go to the bathroom ahead of time and you can get it down to $4.

More importantly, why are you vacationing in Ireland? Why not vacation in Switzerland? It's cheaper, closer, and I can rent you a rusty Honda that gets 35 mpg if you want to drive there.

    • 1
Sep 6, 2011
IlliniProgrammer:

Eddie, why would you charter a $6K jet when you can just spend $600 on a bunch of Ryanair tickets and perhaps $8 on bathroom money? Make sure the kids go to the bathroom ahead of time and you can get it down to $4.

More importantly, why are you vacationing in Ireland? Why not vacation in Switzerland? It's cheaper, closer, and I can rent you a rusty Honda that gets 35 mpg if you want to drive there.

Dude a short cab ride costs about $100 in switzerland. Dont even try to order a cocktail unless u've had a few before so you dont care about the bill.

Sep 6, 2011

But, I actually really like my dental plan.

Sep 6, 2011

IP,

RyanAir is an unmitigated disaster, bro. I married Bargain Betty, so it's awesome that she's good with money, but she also likes to travel all over Hell's half-acre. So she's always scanning these bottom-of-the-barrel travel websites to set up cheap trips. Trust me - RyanAir is a "never again".

We hit Dublin because we have friends there and we love it. Switzerland is wicked expensive, dude. As long as they insist on being the only country with sound money, it makes things crazy expensive for us fiat guys. Seriously. Like $13 USD for a Big Mac at McDonalds in Bern.

Sep 6, 2011

there's economy, then there's budget, then there's ryanair... former 2 i'm good with... i feel your pain EB

Sep 6, 2011

to avoid boarding hassle in ryanair/easyjet, simply book all the seats. Works out cheaper than a private jet still, and way more legroom. Plus you'll make the money back on the news story.

Sep 6, 2011

I could have told you RyanAir's a fucking joke. Almost all of those ultracheap budget airlines can be a horrible experience. I had my share a few years ago before starting work. I was traveling through Europe and went low budget on the airlines when I couldn't take a train, and of all of the airlines, Veuling was the only one that wasn't too horrific. The problem, as you rightfully pointed out, was that you were treated like cattle when flying Ryanair. Didn't either you or your wife look into the reputation they had? I mean, they are the model for "Fuck You" Customer Service and have that outright reputation of being horrible. This is the worst case of "You Get What you Pay For".

Sep 6, 2011

+100

i couldn't even last the full term of 2 years as an IBD analyst. just got back from a vacation last week mauled by bed bugs. no more stays at the ritz for me. i wonder what it would have been like if i had toughed it out. my old friends who have moved on to the buyside are making their $500,000 a year while i am still perplexing myself as to whether i should spend $300 for a dyson ball.

Sep 6, 2011
ivoteforthatguy:

+100

i couldn't even last the full term of 2 years as an IBD analyst. just got back from a vacation last week mauled by bed bugs. no more stays at the ritz for me. i wonder what it would have been like if i had toughed it out. my old friends who have moved on to the buyside are making their $500,000 a year while i am still perplexing myself as to whether i should spend $300 for a dyson ball.

Making a lot of money is a noble pursuit and gives life meaning. Aside from family and a few very good friends, nothing else in life is more important than money. Wealth gives you freedom and an ability to live out your fantasies.

Sep 6, 2011
Brady4MVP:
ivoteforthatguy:

+100

i couldn't even last the full term of 2 years as an IBD analyst. just got back from a vacation last week mauled by bed bugs. no more stays at the ritz for me. i wonder what it would have been like if i had toughed it out. my old friends who have moved on to the buyside are making their $500,000 a year while i am still perplexing myself as to whether i should spend $300 for a dyson ball.

Making a lot of money is a noble pursuit and gives life meaning. Aside from family and a few very good friends, nothing else in life is more important than money. Wealth gives you freedom and an ability to live out your fantasies.

I completely disagree. To say that making a lot of money gives life meaning is ridiculous to me. I'll admit that I probably won't ever be able to afford to live out whatever fantasies you speak of, but this is an awful outlook on life.

I'd encourage everyone to have ambition and try to maximize earnings potential, but realize there are tradeoffs. For instance, I'm sure you'll make more $ than me in your life, but I really enjoyed grilling and drinking with friends the past 3 days and I'll enjoy the 6pm happy hour I have planned tomorrow and the co-ed volleyball game I have at 7 on Thursday. To me, these ongoing activities are worth more than owning a house in the Hamptons when I'm 55.

Just out of curiosity, how old are you?

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Sep 6, 2011
Brady4MVP][quote=ivoteforthatguy:

+100

Making a lot of money is a noble pursuit and gives life meaning.

Lmfao, only on WSO...

Brady4MVP:

I completely disagree. To say that making a lot of money gives life meaning is ridiculous to me. I'll admit that I probably won't ever be able to afford to live out whatever fantasies you speak of, but this is an awful outlook on life.

I'd encourage everyone to have ambition and try to maximize earnings potential, but realize there are tradeoffs. For instance, I'm sure you'll make more $ than me in your life, but I really enjoyed grilling and drinking with friends the past 3 days and I'll enjoy the 6pm happy hour I have planned tomorrow and the co-ed volleyball game I have at 7 on Thursday. To me, these ongoing activities are worth more than owning a house in the Hamptons when I'm 55.

This^

Sep 6, 2011
Brady4MVP:

Making a lot of money is a noble pursuit and gives life meaning. Aside from family and a few very good friends, nothing else in life is more important than money. Wealth gives you freedom and an ability to live out your fantasies.

"Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped."
-Calvin Coolidge, 1927

My view is that I have a very nice life on a little more than the income than the average American has. I can live very comfortably on the average American's income and for $5K/year more, I get to enjoy sports like hang gliding and diving.

Once you get into six figures of income, free time is much more important than money. And then the question is what do you want to with your life? That all comes down to where you believe meaning and value come from. My religious views don't constitute a monopoly on why we're here/what we're doing, but I think most healthy people can agree that whatever we're here for, it's probably not to accumulate wealth.

Sep 6, 2011

Eddie,

I totally understand where you're coming from. I actually came on here intending to post asking about people getting a pilot's license and/or buying a plane, but my internet controls at work no longer let me post topics (Patrick???).

On one hand, you were able to retire very young and spend time with your family, including taking them on trips all over Europe. On the other, the Marquis Jet card isn't in your budget. The obvious tradeoff for you could've been working longer to afford the Jet card. I have no clue what your earning potential was (although I assume it was pretty high), but let's say it would've taken you 6-8 more years of working to afford flying private jets for your family the rest of your life. Is that worth it to you?

I'm starting to think about some of these same things (which is why I may get a pilots license). My wife and I make good, but not great money and I'm getting closer to 30. The one thing I know is that I don't want to be doing this at 60. I am seriously thinking about saving some money and getting a pilot license and maybe even a small (cheap) plane, but not sure if I want to commit that kind of money to what will essentially be a depreciating asset.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Sep 6, 2011

@accountingbyday Get your pilot's license if that's something you're passionate about, but don't do it to save money on travel. A good buddy of mine has a really nice plane and he uses it regularly, but the costs are pretty staggering.

Hence the age-old adage: If it flies, floats, or fucks you're better off renting it.

And I don't think it would have been worth another 6-8 years of work to have a wet lease on a jet in my case, but I go back and forth on that a bit.

Sep 6, 2011

I think it would be cool to get a pilot license, but I'm not sure that I'm extremely passionate about it.

I definitely meant I'd have to save my money to buy something, not that buying it would save me money on travel. There is no doubt that a plane would cost a lot, what I'm trying to understand is how much is "a lot".

I've heard the adage before, but I've already bought 1 of the 3 we've already thought about a small vacation home with a boat (decided against it for now), so at this point - why not go for broke?

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

Sep 6, 2011
accountingbyday:

I think it would be cool to get a pilot license, but I'm not sure that I'm extremely passionate about it.

I definitely meant I'd have to save my money to buy something, not that buying it would save me money on travel. There is no doubt that a plane would cost a lot, what I'm trying to understand is how much is "a lot".

I've heard the adage before, but I've already bought 1 of the 3 we've already thought about a small vacation home with a boat (decided against it for now), so at this point - why not go for broke?

Keep in mind:

1.) Cessnas have a range of 800-1000 miles.
2.) Single prop planes aren't anywhere near as safe as commercial jets.
3.) Yes, you don't have to spend two hours with someone's seatback nine inches from your nose, but you can't drink, read, or do anything else if you are piloting the plane.
4.) Landings aren't easy- in fact, they are very stressful. Especially in the gusty Midwest/Northeast.
5.) There's a number of regulations involved in flying in some of the more heavily trafficked airspace. Don't plan on flying your Cessna out of Newark let alone Teterboro anytime soon.
6.) You have to do a 10-15 minute preflight every time you take off- this is stuff that can save or cost your life.
7.) Storage fees and maintenance are huge.
8.) Cessnas go 120-150 mph cruising, Boeing 767s go 450 mph.

Single-engine 6-seat aircraft are cheaper than business class if you fly a lot- and often more convenient, but the trade-off is that you get all the stress of Pilot-in-Command. The risk numbers per mile flown also get a little more dangerous than driving.

Have you considered hang gliding or paragliding? There's a great hang gliding site 90 miles outside of NYC. You get about 50% of what flying airplanes is about but it only costs $6K all-in instead of $30K.

A 30' boat is expensive, but a 420 sailboat only costs a few hundred a year to store and a quick once-over every spring to maintain. Same deal with a hang glider, paraglider, or sailplane.

Sep 7, 2011
IlliniProgrammer:
accountingbyday:

I think it would be cool to get a pilot license, but I'm not sure that I'm extremely passionate about it.

I definitely meant I'd have to save my money to buy something, not that buying it would save me money on travel. There is no doubt that a plane would cost a lot, what I'm trying to understand is how much is "a lot".

I've heard the adage before, but I've already bought 1 of the 3 we've already thought about a small vacation home with a boat (decided against it for now), so at this point - why not go for broke?

Keep in mind:

1.) Cessnas have a range of 800-1000 miles.
2.) Single prop planes aren't anywhere near as safe as commercial jets.
3.) Yes, you don't have to spend two hours with someone's seatback nine inches from your nose, but you can't drink, read, or do anything else if you are piloting the plane.
4.) Landings aren't easy- in fact, they are very stressful. Especially in the gusty Midwest/Northeast.
5.) There's a number of regulations involved in flying in some of the more heavily trafficked airspace. Don't plan on flying your Cessna out of Newark let alone Teterboro anytime soon.
6.) You have to do a 10-15 minute preflight every time you take off- this is stuff that can save or cost your life.
7.) Storage fees and maintenance are huge.
8.) Cessnas go 120-150 mph cruising, Boeing 767s go 450 mph.

Single-engine 6-seat aircraft are cheaper than business class if you fly a lot- and often more convenient, but the trade-off is that you get all the stress of Pilot-in-Command. The risk numbers per mile flown also get a little more dangerous than driving.

Have you considered hang gliding or paragliding? There's a great hang gliding site 90 miles outside of NYC. You get about 50% of what flying airplanes is about but it only costs $6K all-in instead of $30K.

A 30' boat is expensive, but a 420 sailboat only costs a few hundred a year to store and a quick once-over every spring to maintain. Same deal with a hang glider, paraglider, or sailplane.

I have my private pilot's license and I agree with everything illini is saying (btw how are you so knowledgeable on this subject?), a private pilot is relatively useless for any sort of practical travel - purely for pleasure. I fly out of San Diego, but if it were any where else, weather would limit my experience to the ground most of the time.

If you really get serious and get your instrument rating then you are actually rated to fly through most weather (a terrible idea in anything affordable.) The whole process is expensive (about 10K depending) and will take the equivalent of a full time college course for a year.

The only point I disagree with illini - airspace is negotiable across the US regardless of aircraft, you just have to know how to work it.

Let me know if you have any questions about the process, more than happy to answer.

Sep 6, 2011

Hit your number and get the hell out. That's the game plan.

Sep 6, 2011
Gekko_KKR:

Hit your number and get the hell out. That's the game plan.

Truth.

Just make sure your number's high enough to afford jets and slaves.

Sep 6, 2011

I'm also a big fan of living within my means (though I'm sure Illini has me beaten in that regard). Always been more of a saver than a spender (though I have my moments), and to me flying economy is fine--heck, it means a couple hundred more to spend on concert tickets!

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Sep 6, 2011

Eddie, I have been reading, with great interest, your posts for the last 3-4 years and I like them (true).

Few things I still can't figure out:
- Why a guy like you, with your set of mind (republican, loud mouth, ex-army, ex-prop trader) is living in France in Paris which is clearly not the best fit for you?
- You mentioned one time you left your trading job and a $17M was at stake, assuming it is a true story - $17M in the hands of an average trader should be suffcient enough to live very comfortably (at least in Paris)

Your post is good reminder, although I don't think I would NEED a Jet when i hit 40.

Next time just book your flight witrh Air France and avoid this crap

"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

'The Great Gatsby' - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sep 6, 2011
Heavy Bag:

Eddie, I have been reading, with great interest, your posts for the last 3-4 years and I like them (true).

Few things I still can't figure out:
- Why a guy like you, with your set of mind (republican, loud mouth, ex-army, ex-prop trader) is living in France in Paris which is clearly not the best fit for you?
- You mentioned one time you left your trading job and a $17M was at stake, assuming it is a true story - $17M in the hands of an average trader should be suffcient enough to live very comfortably (at least in Paris)

Your post is good reminder, although I don't think I would NEED a Jet when i hit 40.

Next time just book your flight witrh Air France and avoid this crap

A couple of quick corrections: I'm libertarian, not Republican, definitely a loud mouth, former Marine, and I traded for clients (with a little firm money thrown in once in a while). I don't recall the $17m story you're referring to. Was that a particular trade of mine, or what was I referring to?

You're right, Paris is not the greatest fit for a guy like me but I've always loved this town. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of the U.S., and it was either here or on a boat somewhere in the Caribbean - an idea the wife was less than enthusiastic about. I'm starting to get happy feet though, so we'll probably start looking for somewhere else to move in the next year or so.

And you're absolutely right about Air France.

Sep 6, 2011

The fact is that charter jets are not much more expensive than first-class and the difference is between being a passenger in say a limo or a bus. It's not the fact that you are with other people- hell I've met celebrities and just generally cool people on planes, but its the lack of freedom and the fact that you're more likely to sit next to gassy Fred than Michael Jordan. If you have $500m, buy the damn plane, less than that its not that expensive to get a charter or private. So many people underestimate the cost of a plane- since a G4 only costs $40mm, but the upkeep costs are ridiculous.

As for a Cessna....all I think about is JFK Jr. (even though his plane was a Piper Saratoga)

Reality hits you hard, bro...

Sep 6, 2011

I am not aiming for a certain amount of money, but I am aiming for a certain lifestyle that coincidentally do require a lot of money. Not a big fan of private jets as their safety records are very poor when compared to commercial flights.

Quite frankly, I have to agree with one of the members here saying that time becomes a bigger issue than money. I couldn't remember the last time I was able to take a real vacation without having to carry my BB and respond to clients.

Sep 6, 2011

I agree Eddie. The one luxury I really aspire to is to be able to afford private air travel easily....I just have had so many airline debacles its insane. And its only getting worse.

Sep 6, 2011

The only time I've ever kissed the ground after a flight was when I flew from "Frankfurt" to Dublin on RyanAir. That was six years ago. I will never, ever fly RyanAir again in my life.

Sep 9, 2011

I believe you guys all miss the point; this post ain't about flying.

The poster is trying to remind you young guys out there to NOT SQUANDER THE OPPORTUNITIES you have.

My experience has been similar to Edmundo's. I moved to NYC at 22 and really had all the opportunities in the world working for one of the BBs. I feel like I am nowhere near where I could have been and that feeling sucks.

Here are some of the key mistakes I made:

  • not focused enough - spent way too much time chasing girls and partying
  • made some bad career moves and switched into some slow areas of the bank
  • got married too soon (at 29)
Sep 9, 2011

The RyanAir theme song:

Sep 10, 2011
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