News & Politics

Top Money Advisers 2014: Where Washingtonians Waste Their Money

Illustration by Mark Wagner.

Some Washingtonians are driving themselves into debt. Literally.

We asked hundreds of local financial advisers: Is there anything area residents often waste money on? Pricey autos were the most frequent answer (cited by 17 percent of respondents), with palatial houses (16 percent) right behind.

“We are consistently ranked the worst city in the country for traffic,” says one insurance adviser, “but Washingtonians love to go nowhere fast in nice cars.”

Of our penchant for McMansions: “I have clients spending thousands on wallpaper and faucets,” said a financial adviser. “It looks good at cocktail parties but is largely money down the drain, regardless of what realtors and designers tell you.”

After cars and homes, other expenses that raised some advisers’ eyebrows include expensive restaurants, second homes, and daily Starbucks coffee.

It’s a financial adviser’s job to make sure clients save enough for the future. The irony? “We think that the people with flashy cars, country-club memberships, and vacation homes are wealthy,” says a top estate attorney. “Sometimes those are the ones who never saved for retirement.”

Then again, one financial planner says, “I believe that if you have enough money and you are saving for your future, then whatever you spend money on is not a ‘waste.’ It is a personal preference.”

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