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. In other words, due to hedonic adaptation, it’s impossible to ever feel rich!
But I’ve noticed on my path to financial freedom there were several times when I felt incredibly rich. Perhaps you can share when you finally felt rich as well.
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. It was overgrown with weeds. All the rich memories came rushing back of me skating boarding in my driveway and inviting friends over for fun.
It also felt good to realize I didn’t fall through the cracks. Back in middle school, 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.
It took 17 years to achieve my passive income target, but when I finally got there, I felt rich. 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 makes me a little paranoid about losing everything.
Passive income feels like free money because you’re not doing much to earn it. In a way, you almost feel guilty, even though you spend a tremendous amount of time building your passive income portfolio.
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. If it can, you will feel rich.
You will also feel rich for having enough passive income because you can freely speak your mind. You don’t have to suppress your true opinions about anything. You’re less concerned about displeasing something. You’re also not afraid to lose your job any longer.
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 all cancer already.
One of my issues for years was not caring about revenue maximization on ONIG Financial Blog. I already had enough passive income. Therefore, I wasn’t constantly hustling to find new business deals. When some of my peers would hire a team of writers to write affiliate posts, I was busy focusing on writing about topics that made no money.
But in 2021, I decided to become more entrepreneurial because I received some poor feedback on a post I spent a lot of time on. I figured, I might as well start being selfish for myself. I had a baby boy to take care of and we planned to have another child.
Now, I feel rich whenever any new income stream appears on ONIG Financial Blog. It feels great that what I enjoy doing produces income.
Back in 2012, I listed my San Francisco single family house for $1,700,000. I didn’t get any official offers, only whispers from a couple real estate agents saying their clients were willing to pay closer to $1.5 – $1.6M. I refused and took it off the market until I had an opportunity to re-list the home again in mid- 2021.
My tenants had given me their 30-day notice. I figured I might as well test the market for both rent and sale again. My hope was to get at least $2,300,000 or $8,800/month, the same rent as my previous tenant.
Instead of getting $8,800/month, the best I could get was $7,500/month, a big 15% decline. At the same time, my realtor found a prospective buyer off-market who offered $2,600,000! After much back and forth, I was able to get them up a $1,040,000 more than I would have sold it for just five years earlier.
I feel rich because I avoided selling the house at an inopportune time. The same goes for not selling stocks during any of the previous downturns.
Finally, I also feel rich for not selling ONIG Financial Blog back in 2021. The site is still a joy to operate. Further, I’ve collected two years more of revenue and valuations are still the same. In a low interest rate environment, you want to hang onto your income-producing assets for dear life.
The longer you spend working on something, the richer you will feel once you succeed.
This rich feeling is why you don’t want to just give your children everything. It’s better to make them earn their success. Please don’t envy the person who inherits everything. Feel bad for them instead.
Here are some good examples I can think of:
Related: The Secret To Your Success: 10 Years Of Unwavering Commitment
Friends and family are everything. Having friends to joke around with brings so much joy. Having family that supports you in your endeavors feels priceless.
As a father of two young children, I feel incredibly rich. It took years to conceive our son. Then to have a daughter a couple years later felt like a miracle as 39 and 42-year-old parents.
I wish someone told me in my 20s and early 30s that having children would provide so much love. If I had been told, I would have tried to have children at least five years sooner and not been so focused on trying to achieve financial independence.
If we could not have children, then we would do more to work on our relationship and nurture our friendships. Great relationships mean so much more than having a lot of money.
The common theme to feeling rich is when you feel like you’re getting something for nothing. As a result, you feel blessed to be so lucky.
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. Not remembering all the pain of hard work is exactly why you should work hard while you’re younger.
At the same time, you feel rich when all your hard work comes true. Driving by a rental property I bought in 2003 makes me feel much richer than seeing an old stock position that has appreciated by a greater amount. The rental property reminds me of how lucky I was to land a job in San Francisco after flaming out in NYC.
It’s true that if you focus only on an absolute dollar amount, you’ll never truly feel rich. In conclusion, I say that you will finally feel rich when you feel luck, joy, and satisfaction.
One of the best ways to feel rich is to track your net worth. I’ve been using Personal Capital’s free financial tools and app to optimize my wealth since 2012. It’s the best free money management tool on the web. Just link up all your financial accounts to measure your cash flow, x-ray your portfolio for excessive fees, calculate your retirement income, and more.
Once you have a tool that helps track your finances, you’ll be free to do more of what you really want to do. There’s no rewind button in life. Therefore, you need to do your best to optimize the wealth you have now.