They couldn’t have done it better if they’d aimed for parody. “The surprisingly frugal habits of the super rich”, read the headline.
Perhaps we were supposed to be tantalised. For most people who clicked through to the article, however, it was likely more a case of, “No, they wouldn’t really, would they?”
They would. Hot off the heels of the ABC pulling down an article by economics correspondent Emma Alberici on why there’s no justification for another corporate tax cut (supposedly, we were told, because the piece “did not meet the ABC editorial standards”), the editors published a glowing piece on how Australia’s super rich are pinching their pennies in a way that should be an inspiration for us all.
The most “liked” comment under the article on the ABC’s Facebook page said it best: “Taxing them properly could save us all money too”. But the irony was lost on the higher-ups. Ruling class hagiography is, apparently, what the ABC’s editorial standards are all about.
But maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe the author of the piece, Emily Stewart, and the designer commissioned to create pretty illustrations to accompany it, were really onto something. Maybe Australia’s super rich would come through with some genuine, bona fide life hacks.
The article starts promisingly enough: “They are some of Australia’s wealthiest men and women, but they are still looking for ways to make their dollars stretch even further”. A genuinely tantalising lead-in – could it be that there’s a way of saving money that doesn’t involve forgoing our avocado on toast?
First off the bat was Gerry Harvey, the chairman of Harvey Norman with a fortune of $1-3 billion (according to the article, he has “stopped counting”). His tip: fly economy.
That’s right, millennials: next time you’re booking a quick trip to Los Angeles to attend the Golden Globes or whatever else you people do, consider slumming it in cattle class rather than shelling out the $15,000 that you’d no doubt usually spend to go in first.
I’ll give you another tip for free – instead of buying bottled water in the airport, bring one from home. You can empty it before you go through security, and then refill it again in a toilet on the other side.
Mr Harvey told the no doubt breathless author of the piece: “I don’t think there’d be anyone as wealthy as me in Australia that would live a more simple life than I do”. What an inspiration.
But wait, there’s more. Next is Red Balloon founder Naomi Simpson – worth a tidy $60 million. Her tip: catch public transport. That’s right, sheeple – stop driving to work or uni in your Beamer. You’ll save on petrol, and you won’t risk your car being set on fire by hungry peasants on the way.
Finally there’s Janine Allice, of Boost Juice, with a fortune of around $66 million. Her advice? Shop around for better deals: “I ring around to get the best deal with electricity and banking. If you’re not budgeting and making these phone calls – you may as well open the window and start throwing money out”.
Okay, enough. For those of you want some real life hacks, you could do worse than continue reading Red Flag. We’ve got no shortage of advice.
One old suggestion to start things off: educate, agitate, organise. Instead of trying to find “new and inventive” ways to live off crumbs, the rest of us should fight for a bigger slice of the pie.