Think about what you would do if you were rich. Not what you would buy, but how you would live.
Would you travel more? Spend more time with friends and family? Start a ‘passion’ career doing what you love, working because you want to and not because you have to? Would you look for opportunities to give money towards the causes you care about or the people you love? Would you volunteer more to make a difference in society? Or maybe treat yourself to things you enjoy? Or better yet, how about all of the above??
The good news is, you don’t have to win the lottery to live like the rich. These dreams are not just possibilities for one day, but can be your present reality, starting today.
To be completely honest, even if I had a billion dollars, my lifestyle would hardly look different than it does right now. The reason is, I’m already living richly. I’m genuinely living the ‘good life’ - doing what I love with the people that I love, traveling the world, making a difference, being generous to others, and treating myself daily - with more money left over than I know what to do with! There’s really not much that more money could offer me.
And what’s cool is, I’m not some weird exception to the rule. I’m no trust-fund baby (or, if I am, no one has told me about it). I’m a normal twenty-something who got married in college with a tab for over $113,000 in schooling costs. On top of that, I work at a church (not the biggest income considering my degree in finance). The point is: if I can live like the rich, you can certainly live like the rich.
Here are a few ways how:
Embrace Wealth As Your Reality
I’m not talking about playing a weird mind trick to convince yourself you’re richer than you actually are - I’m talking about acknowledging the plain truth that if you live in a developed nation, you really are rich. We have more at our fingertips right now than the very wealthiest people in the world had even just 50 years ago. The Rockefellers, Carnegies, and King Solomons of old experienced nothing compared to the luxury we have today through technological, economic, and societal development. I honestly feel bad for them. Being rich is our reality, not our dream.
If we can believe this, we’ll start to live like it - and that’s a good thing. The reason is, to whom much is given, much is expected. To say it differently, being rich comes with a lot of responsibility - responsibility to help those in need, to live within your means, to contribute positively to society, to counsel young organizations and upcoming leaders, to be content - not greedy, to be humble - not flashy, and to be generous - not a penny-pincher. Rich people are called to look beyond themselves.
When we believe we are rich (which, again, is totally accurate), we will live like we’re rich. And when we live like we’re rich, we become far more valuable and enjoyable people, making us far more likely to succeed. We attract more good fortune when we demonstrate that we have the maturity to meet the unspoken responsibilities that come with it.
Conversely, if we think we are poor or lacking, always craving our next dollar, we essentially bring that poverty into existence by inviting people to view us in the same light. Most people will treat you how you treat yourself; they’ll engage with the person that you are presenting to them. So, if we act broke, we may get a handout every now and then, but we won’t be getting a promotion. No one wants the irresponsible, self-focused, money-lover to succeed.
If you are avoiding failure, people may feel the need to help you, and they’ll give a little. But if you are pursuing greatness, people will want to help you, and they’ll give a lot.
Reduce Fixed Expenses
Are you ‘house-rich, but money poor?’ Do you have recurring bills like insurances, gym memberships, and subscriptions that are under-utilized?
Practically, the lower your fixed expenses are in proportion to your income, the richer you’re going to feel. This is because fixed expenses suck your money, and typically do not add value to your life nearly to the extent that they promise. They leave you feeling broke, even if your net worth is high, because you are scraping by on the day-to-day. Despite the fact that you’re the one that chose them, fixed expenses feel like they happen to you, whereas discretionary expenses are, well, at your discretion. You’re the shot caller; you make the decisions.
Discretionary expenses are fun. One-time purchases. Flexibility. Spontaneity. This is the luxury of being rich - having way more cash than you need on the day to day. You can give more, save more, spend more; you can do whatever you want. By reducing fixed costs and living below our means, we can immediately create a significant monthly surplus and begin tasting what life is like as the rich. Instead of our money telling us what to do, we get to tell our money what to do. And when we say ‘no’ to a spending opportunity, it’s because we choose not to, not because we can’t. That’s an awesome feeling.
When it comes to living richly, discretionary expenses > fixed expenses.
Focus On Your Ratios
If I asked you, ‘How rich are you?’ - you would probably think first about your net worth, and perhaps second about your income. Third, maybe, you would consider your lifestyle choices, like what kind of car you drive and how big your house is. However, in my opinion, these measures fail to do the question - or yourself - justice.
See, the specific amount of dollars in your portfolio will change over time. Not to mention the actual value of your money will always be relative to things like inflation and your city of residence, and the perception of how wealthy you are will always be relative to others’ standards. Instead of thinking of wealth in this way, consider instead your ratios. What portion of your income do you save? What percentage do you give? How about spending? And how do each of those break down? Ratios are figures you can live by, regardless of how the dollars fluctuate over time, and they speak much more clearly to how wealthy you really are.
For instance, if you give just 1% or 2% of your income, you’re not rich in my eyes. Even if you are rich by net worth’s standards, you are living like the poor - clinging on to what’s yours because you don’t think you have enough. The rich have more than enough by definition, and their generosity reflects it. Ours can too!
Or take savings for example. If you aren’t saving anything, I don’t care if you make $1 million every month, you’re not rich. You’re indulging in the moment at the expense of opportunities that lie ahead, just like the poor. On the other hand, the rich are always improving and investing in our tomorrow. We can too!
Finally, there's spending. For most of us, spending money isn't a problem. But for some, we can get so caught up in chasing wealth that we fail to live in the moment. We never stop to smell the roses or enjoy the fruit of our labor, and we ultimately miss the point as a result. Money itself is a meaningless number; it's what money can do that is powerful. If we never put our money to use, we rob ourselves from money's very purpose! The rich know how to spend money and enjoy it - with self-control. And yes, we can too :)
Don’t be impressed by anyone’s dollar amounts. If we focus on our ratios, we can live richer than even the wealthiest people on the planet.
Choose Financial Independence
There’s a trend these days towards what people call ‘financial independence’ - in other words, having enough in savings & investments that you can sustain your monthly expenses for the rest of your life even if you never made another dime. Financial people promote this as a dream worth pursuing, and we hear of more and more people that are making it reality and ‘retiring’ by 40 years old or earlier.
What’s funny, though, is no one who is healthy, capable, and in their right minds actually wants to sit around and do nothing for 50 years. Anyone who is a generally productive and proactive person will always be earning some money. They couldn’t avoid it if they tried!
Thus, what people really mean by ‘retire’ has nothing to do with whether they intend on making more money or not - it’s all about they game of ‘have to’ and ‘want to.’ By achieving financial independence, people are able to do what they love and pursue their passions without having to worry about the money.
But here’s the thing: we can do that right now! That statement is just as true without the phrase ‘by achieving financial independence’ in it. We don’t need a stockpile of millions of dollars to give us permission to quit the job that we don’t enjoy, aren’t good at, and have no inspiration for. And if we’re stressed out about our money now, I don’t think getting more of it is the solution we’re looking for! A wise man once said, “Mo money, mo problems,” and yet another wise man said “Don’t worry about anything.” Google it. If their wisdom’s correct, that means we are more than able to live free from money anxiety, regardless of our income or savings levels.
Remember: this is about ‘have to’ versus ‘want to.’ And I don’t know about you, but I don’t work because I have to. Nobody makes me show up in the morning, and I could quit whenever I wanted to with full peace of mind. But I don’t, because I want to work. I like it, I’m good at it, and others are better off because of my contribution. I do what I love, and I never have to worry about money. You don't have to work either - millions of people beg their way through life without ever holding down a job. You work because you want to.
Let me put it this way. Would you rather:
If you take nothing else from this, let’s end where we began. Take a minute to ask yourself, “What would I do differently if money weren’t an object? What would change about how I live if I had all the money in the world?”
If you have an answer to that question, now seriously consider if it’s actually money - or just you - that’s getting in the way of this lifestyle change. If my life is any indication, I’m willing to bet that it actually has nothing to do with money! In all likelihood, the rich life is available for you right now.
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