In today’s world, more and more people prioritize the tangible content of their lives over the intangible content of their bank accounts. In short, how you use your money is now more important than how wealthy you are. The “live large with your wealth after retirement” doctrine is dead. Living on your own terms now, on the other hand, is the ultimate 21st-century aspiration. On this basis, here are four reasons why lifestyle design is the new rich.
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For generations, the idea that children will have a better life than their parents as a result of economic growth dominated people’s minds.
Young people should work hard for diplomas, find a suitable job, buy a house, and thanks to the economy, they will eventually be better off than their parents.
In the 21st century, this theory is no longer a truism.
Numerous factors – like an unrecognizable job market, urbanization, globalization, and technological advancement – changed millennials’ views on wealth and money.
As such, many people reject the traditional path to wealth in favor of lifestyle design.
Don’t get me wrong. Most people still want to become rich in monetary terms.
However, most people don’t want to be millionaires because they want to look at the numbers on their bank statements. Most people crave a millionaire lifestyle.
“Being financially rich and having the ability to live like a multimillionaire are fundamentally two very different things.” – Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek
In 2007, Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek revolutionized the notions of wealth, work, and lifestyle design. Some of the book’s lessons and tools are now outdated, but its core principles still hold their own.
One of these core principles is the concept of lifestyle design.
I would define it as the “ability to live the way you want with enough money, health, time, and the right environment.“
In this context, Tim explains that living your ideal lifestyle doesn’t solely rely on your monetary wealth. It relies on how, when, and where you utilize your resources.
Monetary wealth can solve a lot of problems and assure mental freedom.
If, however, that monetary wealth is tied to a lack of time, fulfillment, and purpose, it will not improve your life.
Consequently, trying to become rich on paper is not a worthwhile goal. A perfectly-designed lifestyle, in contrast, is.
4 reasons why lifestyle design is the new rich
Money should be a tool to improve the content of your life, but not an end goal. On this basis, here are four reasons why lifestyle design is the new rich.
Your money serves your lifestyle, not the other way around
Let’s take the example of Bob, a traditional Wall Street CEO. He makes millions of dollars, drives a Porsche, lives in a Manhattan penthouse, and enjoys a lot of status and prestige. That’s the surface.
Now, let’s go below the surface. He is 50 years old and got to his position by working 16 hours a day for 20 years straight.
To retain his wealth and status, he still works 12 hours a day and only sees his children on the weekend. He never leaves his phone out of sight, and his holidays are usually extended business trips.
This example might sound extreme, but it showcases how one person’s lifestyle serves their money, not the other way round.
Now, it’s time for a counter-example.
Maria is 30 years old and runs her social media marketing business remotely. She makes between 40-50k dollars a year and works eight hours a day. She doesn’t have a car and lives in a tiny rented apartment in Brooklyn.
Again, we’re looking at the surface.
Ask society who has a better lifestyle and most people would say, Bob. Bob is wealthy, successful, and enjoys all the fruits of his hard labor.
Let’s dive deeper into Maria’s lifestyle.
Maria travels 10 months a year and has visited over 50 countries. Her tiny Brooklyn apartment is a simple base for rare stays in NYC.
When she feels like it, she goes skydiving in Mexico. She doesn’t have to ask permission for holidays, and she can work from anywhere at any time.
Maria’s annual income allows her to live in sumptuous beach villas in Bali, ancient palaces in Rome, and safari camps in Tanzania.
Maria may have less money and lower status than Bob, but her money finances her lifestyle, and her lifestyle is always the priority.
Lifestyle design concerns the content of your life, not your bank account
We all need money to pay our bills, go out for dinner, and buy that new shiny pair of Sneakers.
However, it’s not the actual money we want, it’s the things we can buy with our money.
We want money to feel secure after paying our bills. We want money to dine out because we enjoy the experience. And finally, we want money to look good with our new sneakers.
In short, we want to better the quality of our lives.
Many people, however, falsely believe that the more money they have, the better they’ll live.
There is a fine line between money improving the content of your life and making you richer on paper.
Once you’re at the point where your bills are paid, your closet is full of sneakers, and you can afford to eat out thrice a week, you start to value other aspects of life.
As such, you’ll seek a better lifestyle, not a richer life in monetary terms.
How amazing would it be if you could spend more time wearing those sneakers and going out with your friends? More money will not buy that time, only a better lifestyle will.
Geoarbitrage means you need less money to live large
Diving deeper into the concept of lifestyle design, your money can go a lot further if you spend it in a cheaper location.
Working remotely is more popular than ever, and there are good reasons for it.
Entrepreneurs have long been taking advantage of geoarbitrage, but even employees now entertain the idea.
As most people got their first taste of remote work in 2020, lots of employees now have similar options when it comes to geoarbitrage.
There are more restrictions if you’re an employee, but many former cubicle workers now face an interesting choice: live in your company’s location with your locally-adjusted salary, or a cheaper location with the same salary.
You don’t have to become a fully-fledged digital nomad to perform geoarbitrage. Moving to a neighboring city can sometimes have a massive impact on your lifestyle.
Because of the choices we now have, mobility is worth more than a small pay-rise – another reason why lifestyle design is the new rich.
Lifestyle design gives you more access to the ultimate currency: time
Finally, lifestyle design is the only way to increase your access to time.
By living on your own terms, minimizing your commitments, and using your resources according to your self-defined priorities, you buy back your time – something you cannot do with money.
Yes, money can provide cleaning personnel, a faster car, and quicker deliveries. What money can’t provide, however, are the years you lost by chasing it.
Let’s say you work 20 years in a corporate job and save 5,000 dollars a year through frugality and investments. Your job and money are the focal points of your life, and you rarely spend money on travel and other memorable experiences.
In the end, you’ll have 100k in the bank. These 100k will look great, but they won’t change the two decades that went by.
If you, on the other hand, prioritize lifestyle design during these 20 years and spend more on experiences, traveling, and whatever else you enjoy, you’ll probably only save 20k in 20 years.
From a financial perspective, you’ll have lost 80k. But did you lose 20 years of your life? Definitely not.
Depending on your character and priorities, you’ll feel much richer than the person who has 100k in the bank. Living on your own terms guaranteed a wealthy life, even if your monetary wealth is lower than someone else’s.
Useful links on 5 Reasons Why Lifestyle Design is The New Rich
- more in the section “Life”
- more under the topic “Lifestyle Design”
- read 5 Powerful Lessons From Chris Guillebeau About Lifestyle Design
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Jack Krier is a writer, photographer, and full-time globetrotter. Thanks to minimalism, he built his ideal lifestyle around travel and online entrepreneurship, becoming a digital nomad in the process. On Minimalist Focus, he shares his ideas on minimalism and lifestyle design, helping thousands of readers improve their lives by focusing on the essentials.