Thinking about bad spending behaviour, I am reminded of Jennifer Aniston, former co-star of the TV show Friends, who not so long ago paid more than $88,000 for the privilege of having her hair attended to by Beverly Hills’ stylist Chris McMillan. He is otherwise known as Hollywood’s “Mane Man”, with a long list of A-crowd celebrity clients who favour his freewheeling, trend-setting touch.
Aniston invited McMillan and company to join her for a week-long trip to Europe, with all expenses paid and luxuries included. The week included her appearance at the Paris premiere of a new film in which she starred. She wanted her stylist by her side to be sure her hair was cut and primped to perfection for the big night when she emerged beneath the bright lights of the movie marquee. And, indeed, she reportedly looked like a goddess at the event. Still, one has to wonder, did she maybe overspend just a little here?
Perhaps it’s instructive to put the cost of her hairdo into the financial perspective of we mere mortal beings. At Toronto’s St. Clair College, the sum of $88,000 would cover full tuition fees for 22 women seeking to graduate from a year-long program in professional hairstyling. Meanwhile, based on the average starter cost of $40 for a woman’s cut and style at Toronto’s trendier salons, $88,000 would cover 2,200 reasonably well-coiffed customers.
But let’s look deeper beneath the follicles. According to Statistics Canada, the average annual income of a two-parent family with children in Toronto now hovers at around – lo and behold – $88,000. Imagine that, mom and dad for a full year taking care of the kids and covering mortgage payments, car payments, grocery bills – plus all other living expenses – with the same amount of coin required to keep Jennifer Aniston’s hair in order for an evening out in Paris.
Truth to tell, the mind boggles at the spending habits of some of today’s high-flying celebrities. But I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on Jennifer. As a star, she probably believes she’s only living up to her image. And as an advocate of democracy and a free marketplace, I certainly don’t begrudge the fact that she is entitled to spend the money she earns in any way she sees fit. By the same token, though, I am entitled to comment as I see fit about the wisdom – or lack of wisdom – demonstrated by her publicly disclosed finances.
It’s obvious she has lots to spend. Doubtless she is still collecting tons of money through residuals from the TV show Friends, which continues to air in markets around the world. And I know that her pay cheque for the film showing at the Paris premiere totalled $8 million (her hairdo amounting to one to two per cent of that take). Still, it would be wise for a woman in her position to consider that, as former Beatle George Harrison once told us through his song All Things Must Pass – “Sunlight doesn’t last all morning; a cloudburst doesn’t last all day.”
Aniston’s star is likely to fade, as almost all Hollywood stars do. Some pundits claim her popularity is already well on the wane. In recent years, box office returns for the movies in which she has starred have been uneven, and in some instances abysmal. She ought to consider, through the example set by some of her now impoverished Hollywood contemporaries, that millions of dollars can disappear as quickly as the season’s fly when you’re willing to spend $88,000 for a hairdo.
The question remains, what does she pay for a pedicure, among other fleeting luxuries?
Aniston is now 43 years old. That means another generation will pass before she reaches retirement age. Right now, if she were to set aside spending for just one special hairdo and put the money into a good investment product, she would end up with a very sizeable retirement nest egg thanks to compound interest. Granted, the return on the investment would hardly match an $8 million paycheque, but it would certainly cover the rent, the car, the groceries, hairdos, and then some.
Perhaps there’s a cautionary lesson here for all who spend recklessly at any income level. Allow me to put it in the simplest possible terms.
Hair today, gone tomorrow.