Cost of Living Extremely Well Index: The Price of Living Large Is Up

Luxury Goods Up In Price

The goods and services tracked in this article are not life’s essentials–even for the ultra-wealthy. Home, family, health and one’s occupation are far more important. Yet our tracking of the price fluctuations of items that are affordable only to those with very substantial means provides a useful barometer of economic forces at the top end of the market.

 The rich are spending more on luxury goods these days.  According to the research service MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, the luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier. In July, the luxury segment had an 11.6 percent increase, the biggest monthly gain in more than a year.  Luxury good prices are on the rise as the Forbes Cost of Living Extremely Well Index (CLEWI) is up 4.5%, while the Consumer Price Index is up 3.6% over the same time period. The % increase in the price of our basket of goods is the highest since 2008.

In 1976, we created the index, which is based on a selection of 40 goods and services reserved to very rich customers. This index is set to 100 in 1976 and had been continuously increasing since then.


This year, 20 of the 40 good and services are more expensive.  What went up? A Russian Sable fur coat, a Louis Vitton travel bag and a pair of custom made John Lobb shoes.

A total of 12 CLEWI items didn’t change in price and three items are cheaper this year. The Golden Door Spa in Escondido, Calif., is listing a week-long “journey of total well being” at $6,750, down 13% from a year ago. The personalized program allows you to design the spa experience of your dreams.  An Olympic size swimming pool, sold by Mission Pools, also in Escondido, Calif., is currently listed at $1.4 million, down 5% from last year in an extremely competitive market. Among the items costing the same as last year; a Hatteras motor yacht, a Bombardier Learjet, a pair of Gucci loafers and a box of Davidoff cigars.

Over the past 12 months, the aggregate net worth of the  Forbes 400 Richest People in America rose 12%, from $1.37 trillion to $1.53 trillion. You can find many of the billionaires on our Forbes 400 that have a passion for these luxury goods–cars, horses, planes, wine and yachts.

Readers, please comment and add some luxury goods or services that you would like to see us track in future surveys. It can be in any category: Arts and Entertainment, Dining, Fashion, Leisure, Sports, Travel and Vehicles.

Our full basket of luxury goods and services is listed below.

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