There’s a saying that goes something like this: To feel rich, take whatever you earn and triple it. Once you get there, triple it again, and again, and again. In other words, due to hedonic adaptation, it’s impossible to ever feel rich!
But I’ve noticed on my path to financial freedom that there were several times when I felt incredibly rich. The Dow reaching 20,000 wasn’t one of them by the way. Perhaps you can share when you finally felt rich as well.
When I Finally Felt Rich
1) When I went back to Malaysia. I used to live in Malaysia from 5th grade to 8th grade in the early 1990s. At the time, the exchange rate was ~2.3 Ringgit to 1 USD. When I finally paid a visit more than 20 years later, the Ringgit had depreciated to 3.7:1. One Ringgit bought the equivalent of $1 worth of stuff in the States. Therefore, I suddenly had almost 4X the amount of purchasing power during my week-long stay. So perhaps making 3X more doesn’t really make you feel rich, but making 4X more does!
In addition to the increased purchasing power aspect, it felt particularly moving to visit my old house and to realize I didn’t fall through the cracks. I was an undisciplined kid who got into way too much trouble. If I was my own father, I’d have considered sending myself to military school.
2) When I finally hit my passive income target. It took 17 years to achieve my passive income target, but when I finally got there, I felt rich because there was no more fear of running out of money anymore. Growing up in developing countries and experiencing many boom bust cycles working in finance always keeps me a little paranoid about losing everything.
Passive income feels like free money because you’re not doing much to earn it. You almost feel guilty collecting a rent check or dividend payment, which is why I have no problems paying a management fee or going to a rental property to fix a problem.
The amount of passive income generated is less important than whether or not it can cover all of your living expenses plus a nice cushion. In my case, that cushion allows me to save at least 30% of my passive income because I’m a savings addict. Every dollar you after achieving your passive income target feels like you’re playing with the houses money.
3) When a new income stream comes out of nowhere. I firmly believe none of us are maximizing our income potential. I’m going to guess that if we could make a maximum of $100 a month, most of us are really making only between $10 – $30. It’s kind of like how none of us utilize more than 20% of our brains. If we did, perhaps we’d find a cure for cancer.
During one business offsite in 2Q2016, my team worked on how we could optimize our existing platform. We discovered that roughly 30% of our posts had zero advertising partnerships. They were just making money through these generic click and banner ads that don’t pay much. As a result, we decided to reach out to a couple new companies we liked to see if we could strike a deal. We did, and a new revenue stream was created from existing inventory.
One of my biggest problems running a website is not caring 100% about maximum revenue generation because I already have my passive income. I’m not constantly hustling to find new business deals or writing about lucrative credit card offers. If something doesn’t interest me, I just don’t write about it no matter how much money is involved because everything already feels like gravy. The best entrepreneur or financial independence seeker is someone who has everything to prove and nothing to lose. Therefore, if you’re in the early stages of your journey, cherish your motivation!
Common Underlying Theme To Feeling Rich
Why do some billionaires cheat and steal? If you’re worth $1.5 billion, like Galleon hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam was before he went to jail for insider trading, it’s illogical to risk going to jail and losing everything for a mere couple million dollars in illicit profits.
Why is it that even if you’re financially independent, it’s still so hard to resist a free lunch? It doesn’t make sense to stuff your face at the buffet line when you know overeating will cause you to die early. Further, you can easily afford the rubber chicken sandwich any time.
The common theme to feeling rich is when you feel like you’re GETTING SOMETHING FOR NOTHING – that feeling like you’re winning.
In Malaysia, I was getting something for nothing due to a strong USD. All I did was fly to Kuala Lumpur to see my childhood friends. I didn’t work hard to be able to afford 4X as much as a local Malaysian. Being American made me rich by global standards.
When I achieved my passive income target after 17 years, it finally felt like I was living for free because my passive income covered all my living expenses by 160%+. I don’t actively recall all the sacrifice required to amass such a financial nut. All I experience is the present. Not remembering the pain of hard work is exactly why you should work hard now.
When a new business opportunity arose in 2016 after some thinking on a floaty in the ocean, it felt amazing because I couldn’t forecast its rise. Brainstorming in Hawaii about how to optimize my existing platform and having lunch with management from a new corporate partnership for a couple hours doesn’t feel like enough sacrifice to suddenly generate an extra five figures a month. If I wrote another 200 posts, then I’d feel worthy. But I haven’t.
It’s true that if you focus on an absolute dollar amount, you’ll never truly feel rich. What’s also interesting is that even after leaving Corporate America in 2012 to experience absolute freedom, I didn’t feel rich. I felt more nervous excitement about the future than feeling like I had finally made it.
The key to constantly feeling rich is to constantly feel like you’re winning. If you can combine being content with what you already have with the occassional good deal, I dare say you’ll feel rich for the rest of your life!
Some Other Examples Of When You Might Feel Rich
* If you walked away from a car accident unscathed.
* If you find a $100 bill on the ground with nobody else in sight.
* If both of your parents live to hold their grand children.
* If you were diagnosed with a terminal disease and are still living past your due date.
* If you found the love of your life before all your friends.
* If your job is something you’d happily do for free.
* If you’re making a difference in other people’s lives and also getting paid.
* If you were a C student and now live an A lifestyle.
* When your investments make more for you than all your income combined.
Readers, do you agree with my thesis that you only feel rich if you’re getting a good deal or if you’re getting something for nothing? At what moments in your life did you finally start to feel rich? Happy Lunar New Year of the rooster!