I recently had dinner with a financial advisor in Qatar. Over a delicious spinach salad, the advisor told me that one of his clients earns £450,000 a year. Over the previous decade, his total salary earnings had exceeded £3 million.
As a British expat in Qatar, the lawyer doesn't pay income tax. His employer pays for his housing costs and provides him with a car to use.
“Unfortunately,” said the advisor, “unless my client makes some drastic changes, he'll never be able to retire.” I almost choked on a crouton. “How is that possible?” I asked. But I already knew the answer. He spends almost every penny he makes. His investment portfolio was valued at just US$20,000.
It's tough to know who's wealthy and who's living a fantasy. Plenty of high‐salaried expats are metaphorically flying over the ocean in private jets with near‐empty fuel tanks. Their salaries might exceed a million dollars a year or more. They might drive Ferraris. They might own homes in Spain and France (with eye‐watering mortgages). They might travel first class. But many aren't much different than professional football players.
Sports Illustrated estimates that 80 percent of professional (NFL) football players go broke within three years of their retirement. Their average salaries exceed $2 million a year. But when their salaries dry up, they end up broke.1
Such boneheaded blunders aren't just reserved for professional athletes. Plenty of expats suffer too. Sam Instone says ...