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Billionaire for a day

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

If you could experience life as a billionaire for one day, what would you most look forward to: the VIP treatment, the opportunity to spend as much as you want on luxury, or would you seek opportunities to help others and make a difference?

From the Occupy Wall Street movement to reality TV to Bloomberg's daily ranking of billionaires, fascination with the uber-rich has only increased, even as the effects of the Great Recession are still being felt.

Warren Buffett

What would you do if you were as rich as Warren Buffett for one day?

So with a desire to "walk a mile in their Ferragamo loafers," New York Times reporter Kevin Roose wondered what it would be like to be a billionaire for a day. With the help of his employer and a few real billionaires, he got his wish.

What struck me about reading the article chronicling his experience was not necessarily the use of the chauffeured limo for the day, the fancy duds or the $45,000 Chopard watch he wore: It was the exclusive access you can only afford with big bucks. As one billionaire in the article says, "I think all (money) does is make things easier."

I have blogged in the past about studies purporting that the wealthier are generally no happier than the rest of the population because personal relationships and health matter more than money. Those who give back to society in a way that provides a sense of meaning and purpose are also generally happiest, whether they have lots of money or not.

That's not to say it wouldn't be great to be a billionaire. In the article, Roose describes wearing custom-made suits, being chauffeured in a Rolls Royce, dining in an exclusive members-only club and hitching a ride on a Gulfstream jet with a real billionaire.

Despite the billionaire's attempts to downplay the effects of money, insisting it doesn't change a person -- "If somebody's a jerk before, he's a jerk when he's got a million dollars," he says -- Roose ultimately finds having the responsibility of wealth exhausting. He observes that billionaires are surrounded constantly by personal assistants, trainers, staff and others, with little time to be alone. In the end, he's happy to go back to his previous life.

What is it about a billionaire's life that you would most want to experience for a day?

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