“Besides the obvious luxuries what do you fantasize about when you imagine being super rich?”

This question was posed on Reddit recently and the responses are … interesting.

I wanted to go through the popular comments (those with 1,000+ upvotes) and offer up why or how some of these luxuries are obtainable without being rich.

But first, my answer.

I don’t fantasize about “obvious” luxuries anymore. Maybe that’s because there was a time when I did and when I finally got those luxuries it wasn’t luxurious. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t “rich.” I just had more money than I knew what to do with (the year I was 24 I earned ~$300k USD) and I didn’t have good examples of people doing smart things with money. That’s a lie since my Parents were a great example, but they were/are also more traditional than I am and I didn’t want to follow their lead. Although some of their advice was to buy a house, which was bad advice for me, and I listened to it. Basically, I was kind of your typical “young and dumb” guy who wanted to be rich and own stuff I didn’t really want. It wasn’t until I made friends with people who didn’t have a lot of money, but did a lot of traveling and other fun things, that I began learning how to live a better life. Luxurious in a different way. And not expensive by any stretch.

Also, for the record, I wasted nearly all the money I made in my 20s. Although I was smart enough to seed a 401k and other retirement accounts which will suit me well in 30 years.

OK, so that’s a bit of a cop out answer, isn’t it? So here’s my direct answer: if money was of absolutely no concern I wouldn’t spend any time figuring out how to pay for my sometimes wacky ideas (Roller Coaster Tour, for example). I would also buy a large piece of land and build a camp for friends/family to use. I’m actively trying to make this happen right now, and there are many hurdles. Mostly the cost of nice land and getting other people on board since I can’t bankroll it all myself. (Also, I’m currently not in the US which throws another kink in the situation.) This is still kind of a non-answer because I still do the things I want to do: travel, read, think, build things when I can, take lots of time for myself. All being rich does is solve the money problem. But solving the money problem is part of the journey of doing fun things and I don’t know that I’d appreciate life if that problem wasn’t there. (I readily admit this may just be a rationalization.)

So, onto Reddit. There were lots of answers to this question as it was quite a popular thread. Let’s get to it.

The luxury of time

This one is pretty simple. Not easy, but simple.

  • Get out of debt.
  • Stop spending time and money on wants.
  • Save more.
  • Earn more.

These can be done concurrently.

Why does this give you the luxury of time?

Because when you’re not in debt you’re not forced to work more than you want to. When you stop spending time and money on wants (as opposed to needs) you have more time and money for yourself. And when you save money you can pay people to take care of the needs (cleaning your home and cooking, for example) that you don’t enjoy doing or you feel are a waste of your time.

Earning more is actually optional at this point. Though if you earn more it can obviously expedite your buying of time.

Traveling where I want when I want. Being able to just jump on a plane go somewhere without plans and just get a hotel without reservations.

I get this. This is almost my idea of absolute freedom. Except that I’ve travelled like this and wouldn’t like it full time. I suspect you wouldn’t either. I do like this style of travel every once in a while because it’s incredibly fun. So, again, I get this. (Actually, our honeymoon was, “Let’s go to the train station and take the next train leaving to somewhere we’ve never been.” I live in Poland right now and we have an extensive rail network.)

Here is how you can make this happen, although it has limits and I admit that. By doing it this way you will be able to test it out and see if you even enjoy traveling in this manner. Maybe you’re more of a planner than you thought.

Sign up for airline and hotel credit cards that have signup bonuses.

Gather enough bonus points from them to take you anywhere you want for a week. I think 100k (OneWorld or Star Alliance) airline miles should do it. Likely less, but I’ve never booked with points on a whim and am unsure if there are extra costs involved. I’m not sure exactly how many hotel points you’ll need, but it’s easy to figure out on the relevant hotel’s website.

That’s it. Only one real step and a bit of time.

To sustain this lifestyle will take a bit more work, but you could still do it with credit card points if you work hard at it. There are people who devote a lot more time to airline miles than me so just use Google and find them.

Not having a job.

OK, this one’s a bit more difficult. I could just say “quit, go on welfare” but I don’t think that’s practical.

That said, maybe it is. See, all you said was you didn’t want a job. So what do you have to take care of? Food, clothing, and shelter.

Shelter is possibly most difficult. While you still have a job, buy a bicycle and a tent. My friend Darren travels the world living like this, but you could do it by staying closer to home.

Next, food, clothing, and other things. Dumpster dive.

Yes, I’m serious.

Check out how much free food Rob Greenfield eats. It’s incredible.

Then check out Matt Malone who dumpster dives for electronics and sells what he finds, earning tens of thousands of dollars. That takes care of your clothing and other expenses. Possibly even enough for an apartment.

You could argue that this is a job. I would argue that I’m solving your problem and since you won’t be earning a paycheck it’s not a job. You could argue you don’t want to dumpster dive. I could argue, OK, that’s fine, me neither. But I don’t mind working.

Elaborate practical jokes. I’d hire 5,000 people, give them each $1000 to spend in a Walmart store and just buy everything on the shelves. A week later, after the store has replaced all their inventory with new merchandise, send all 5,000 people back to return everything they bought.

This isn’t nice. But let’s get my morality out of here!

If you really want to do this you only temporarily need $5,000,000 (5,000 x $1,000) since you’re returning all the merchandise. So the real problem is not that you’re not rich. The problem is you need to borrow $5MM.

To be honest, all my ideas for borrowing $5MM are only speculative and I don’t have a good answer. I just wanted to reframe your problem. This is a creativity problem, not a wealth problem.

Conducting large scale very expensive science and social experiments. Is it possible to cause rain by boiling massive amounts of water? What happens if every resident in the most crime ridden communities receives $1000 a week for 5 years?

You’re misunderstanding how and why it rains although I wouldn’t mind seeing you attempt to boil the water out of a lake (or even a pool) just for laughs. As for the other, fair enough you’ll need to be quite wealthy for that one. That’s $260,000 ($52k x 5) per resident. For a fairly small crime ridden community such as Flint, MI you will need $25,938,380,000 (99,763 residents x $260,000). There are only a few humans with that kind of wealth so you’ll have to consult with them as to how to make that much money.

Extensive travel and super high end dining.

See previous answer about travel and credit card points. The super high end dining isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but I can understand why you’d want to try it. If you can save $2,000 (5 meals x $400) for your next trip and use credit card points to pay for the trip you can use the $2k to experience the high end dining instead of what you’d normally spend on flights/hotels. Massage the number as you see fit. Not every high end dining experience is $400. Some are more, some are less. Do it how you want.

I don’t feel like doing (whatever). I’ll pay some chump to do it.

Not the best attitude, but let’s ignore that.

See previous answer about the luxury of time. It’s simpler than you think to “pay some chump to do it.”

Handmade clothes. All clothes I own are tailored especially to fit me out of my preferred fabrics. I can grab anything out of my drawers and it all looks good together.

Let’s tackle the latter part of this first. If you want all your clothes to mix and match it has nothing to do with if they’re handmade and tailored to your body. But let’s ignore that and get to the handmade tailored clothes situation.

Let’s go with 1 suit ($2k), a pair of dress shoes ($300-500), and 7 tailored shirts ($100-500 each). This can all be had for a few thousand dollars, depending on your preferences. So, save up $5,000 and you’re likely good. Especially if you fly to Thailand on your credit card points to do it.

I’m ignoring casual clothing, but it’s easier to find well fitting casual clothing than it is nice work/dress attire.

So from the time I was a wee lad I always wanted a blimp. My family has joked about this enough that being super rich in our house is referred to as “blimp money.”

Hehe. You can lease one for $2,000 – $10,000 per month, which includes 8-64 hours of flight time per month. So now your new problem is coming up with an extra $2k/month. This is doable in myriad ways. I don’t know what that looks like for you specifically but it can be done. And you don’t need to be wealthy, just willing to throw away $24k+ per year. At which point you’ll probably get bored of having a blimp because it’s not going to impress anybody as much as you seem to think so. (I didn’t include the commenter’s whole message about impressing a girl because it was too long so read it on Reddit.)

A home theater. Screw mansions, cars or any of that stuff. All I want is a really nice home theater to watch movies. If I was rich I wouldn’t even buy a house. I’d buy an old theater and convert an upstairs floor into living space.

This took a turn from “home theater” to “non-home theater.” Being rich won’t help you figure out what you want, but it will allow you to have both.

Home theater: this is open ended, but it can be nicely done for a few thousand dollars. I’m not going to break it all down because it is so open ended. But you can likely already afford this.

As for buying an old theater, this is more difficult. Because first you have to find an old theater for sale. You can find them for about a million dollars right here. That won’t be easy, but it is doable. Especially since you can take a business loan out for one of these if you’re going to run it as a working theater. Maybe don’t tell anybody you’re living there though.

Paying for my parents’ retirement

This is a simple math problem. Your parents are going to get social security benefits which will cover something. The rest depends on lifestyle (and whether your parents already own a home), but you won’t need to be rich to take care of this if you want to. The biggest expense will likely be medical, but it’s too variable to determine without any more information.

Not working. I couldn’t care less about the luxury shit, I just want to not work.

Answered above. You could get by without working if you really wanted to.

If I was SUPER rich I always loved the idea of just going to random houses/families and giving them X amount of money. Nothing huge but enough to make their year somewhat easier. $20,000? Would be worth it to see their reactions.

This is one of those things where, yes, if you want to give $20k to random people on a regular basis then you’re going to need to be rich. But! If you want to know how this might feel you can start with $100. I never mentioned this story before, but just before christmas some time ago (I was 25 or 26 at the time) I got a handful of $100 bills ($500 total), went to a Goodwill thrift store, and handed them out to people who were buying toys. My rationale was if someone is doing their holiday toy shopping at a thrift store then they’ll probably appreciate an extra hundred bucks. It was interesting. The smiles and thank yous were great, but it didn’t actually personally feel as good as I had imagined. It actually felt awkward for me, but that may be due to my social anxiety at the time.

Conclusion

I’m now down to Reddit comments with less than 1,000 upvotes so I’m going to stop here. A lot of these “I wish I was rich” fantasies are far more obtainable than you might’ve imagined. Hopefully this got you thinking about how to create the life you want to lead instead of continually fantasizing about the life you don’t have.

The Biggest Problem With Alternative Medicine

If you’ve known me for any length of time you know I have no tolerance for quackery and lies. But my biggest problem with homeopathy, astrology, reiki, psychics, “healers,” et al. is not the lies and thievery. My problem isn’t even that a lot of these beliefs can actively cause you and your loved ones harm.

My problem is that smart people waste their time debunking the quackery, thereby taking time away from doing work that could further society. We know data doesn’t often work to convince people of something they don’t already agree with — and may even make people dig their heels in further on false beliefs — so it’s mostly all for naught.

If, for example, you have the patently wrong belief that vaccines cause autism or other medical issues then the data isn’t going to change your mind. You already know the data. But you listen to Jenny McCarthy. Sadly, my pointing this out is likely causing you to stick to your beliefs more strongly.

And so it goes as more people waste time trying to save you from yourself.

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If you’re interested in inoculating yourself against irrational thinking I give my strongest recommendation to Your Deceptive Mind by Dr. Steven Novella: http://amzn.to/1EG5m7i

I have listened to this 24-part lecture nearly 5 times since late 2014. I thought I was a decent critical thinker, but I had and still have a lot to learn. Your Deceptive Mind has helped me become more empathetic towards, as well as more vigilant against, quacks of all types.

3 new countries, 4 new cities, 5 flights, $173.39, thanks RyanAir

There was a time I was afraid of flying RyanAir. I’d heard so many bad stories about being charged ridiculous fees for extra weight or having to check a bag for some reason that I’d been turned off by them.

Then last year, after I’d been in Europe for over 2 years, I actually tried them out myself. 1) Because they were over 50% cheaper than the nearest competitor for the flight I needed. and 2) Because I started reading about their CEO, Michael O’Leary. He is a marketing mastermind and has made the airline immensely profitable.

You know what I learned when I finally gave them a shot?

If you hate RyanAir it’s probably your fault.

Like all airlines, RyanAir has rules. Being that they’re a no frills very low cost airline they have some more rules than normal. Like if you don’t check in online and print your boarding pass yourself you’re going to have a bad time at the airport.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling the past few months. Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, the US. After a few weeks in the US I came back to Poland in January. But a short while later my girlfriend was going away to Zurich on business and I didn’t want to sit around not traveling. So I started looking at cheap flights out of Wrocław under the guise of, “how many new countries can I visit?”

I’m not usually one to collect countries. Before I started traveling a little over 5 years ago, at age 28, I’d only been to 5. Poland, US, Canada, Mexico, and Germany.

I haven’t been to all that many since then, considering. Twenty six total (I revisited all the countries I’d already been to), twenty one new countries since September 1, 2009. I don’t have a goal to visit every country in the world, and there are dozens that I definitely don’t want to visit. So the number isn’t important. My only real lifelong travel goal is to spend at least 2 weeks in a new country every year. Last year that was Japan for 2 weeks and Hungary for 6 weeks. This year I’m not sure what it’ll be.

That all said, even if the number isn’t the goal it’s still lots of fun to visit new countries.

And since I’m not independently wealthy RyanAir is the best way to do that while already in Europe. The only transport that’s cheaper is hitchhiking.

There are actually two low cost carriers that fly out of Wrocław. WizzAir and RyanAir. I’ve flown WizzAir before and they’re fine, but RyanAir is a lot better because

a) RyanAir is cheaper.

b) RyanAir allows one normal carryon and one small bag (purse, shopping bag, or computer bag). WizzAir only allows one small carryon. Have a normal sized carryon (like my 36L backpack)? WizzAir charges extra. Have a carryon plus a small bag? You gotta check one with WizzAir. I usually travel with a backpack and a computer bag although I only took the backpack on this trip.

c) RyanAir’s seats don’t recline so the short entitled person in front of me won’t break my knees 20 minutes into a flight. I wish every airline did this. Being too tall is usually great, but almost never when traveling. (Actually, I don’t think WizzAir seats recline either, but now I don’t remember.)

Note to you: When you fly don’t recline your seat. It makes you an asshole, putting your negligible extra comfort over the certain discomfort of the person behind you. My knees quite literally touch the back of the chair in front of me and I don’t recline. Suck it up. Even if the person in front of you has reclined their seat.

The cheapest first flight to a new country I could find was a RyanAir flight to Bologna, Italy. To be completely honest with you, I’m not sure I’d ever heard of Bologna, Italy. But I’d never been to Italy. And the flight was exactly $20.02.

BolognaRyanAir

Twenty bucks to visit a new country?!

A veritable no brainer.

Now, of course there are other transportation costs involved when visiting a city. The shuttle bus from Bologna airport into the city centre was 6EUR. I took a taxi on the way back due to weather and that was 15EUR. So I paid more for airport transportation than the flight in.

Unfortunately, Bologna was disappointing. The 3 days I was there it was in the midst of snow, rain, and ice storms. They don’t have very good civic services and the walkways weren’t cleared. So to explore the city I’d have no choice but to slip and slide my way around ice and puddles while getting my (only pair of) shoes and socks soaked through. There’s only so much of that one can take before not wanting to take it anymore.

I don't remember agreeing to this. #winter #travel #rain #ice #snow #bologna #italy #wetsocks

A photo posted by Karol Gajda (@karolgajda) on

 

I did my best to not hate it, but I spent a lot of time in my hotel room letting my shoes dry and reading The Goldfinch (great book, deserving of all its accolades). That said, it’s a city I think I would like in the Summer. The people I met were nice, the Italian language sounds amazing even though I don’t understand it, and it looks like it could be a fun city.

Next up was Brussels, Belgium! I had high hopes for the de facto capital of the European Union. Mostly I had high hopes for clear streets to walk on.

BrusselsRyanAir

RyanAir flies into Charleroi airport, which is pretty far from Brussels and isn’t the main Brussels airport. The shuttle bus takes an hour and costs 17EUR. Roundtrip is 31EUR. So the shuttle bus cost more than the flight into town. That’s twice already that I spent more on airport transport than flights.

But hey, $65 to visit a new country? Yes, sign me up anytime.

I was only in Brussels for 2 nights, but I enjoyed it. The mim, Music Instrument Museum, was a highlight for me. And although I didn’t drink a Belgian beer in Belgium (actually, I didn’t drink alcohol for the whole trip) I did have Belgian fries. They tasted exactly like they do everywhere else in the world.

Componium from 1821. I want to touch all these old instruments but they won't let me. :(

A photo posted by Karol Gajda (@karolgajda) on

 

Next up, Athens, Greece!

AthensRyanAir

I like ancient ruins as much as the next guy so I was particularly excited to visit Athens.

Damn, these flights are getting expensive now. 40 bucks?! Just kidding.

And anyway, Athens makes up for it by being a relatively low cost city. Especially as far as touristy capital cities that are on the Euro are concerned.

A 72 hour metro pass which included one airport roundtrip was just 20EUR. Perfect for my 68 hours in the city.

And for 12 EUR I got a pass to visit 6 ancient ruin sites, including Akropoli.

You might be asking yourself why I didn’t take the time to get press passes and save some money on this trip. Well, there was no time to do that since this was all planned just days before leaving. It’s not difficult to get press passes, but it does take time to send e-mails and to communicate with tourist boards. More info about how to do that here.

More of this. And more. And more. Doesn't get old being a tourist.

A photo posted by Karol Gajda (@karolgajda) on

 

Athens was my favorite of the cities I visited on this trip. It can be a bit grungy, but it’s also modern. It’s the type of tourist city I like. Not too big, not too many people, good food, nice things to see, lots of history, and not expensive. And they have coconut crack sticks sold on the streets which I implore you to eat if you ever pass through or see them elsewhere.

 

Last up, Rome, Italy! I guess this technically messes up the “new country” premise since I had already visited Italy on this trip. But I needed to get back to Wrocław somehow and that somehow was through Rome.

RomeRyanAir

If I’m being honest, although I wanted to visit Rome, I wasn’t all that excited about it. I had a feeling it would be an overpopulated annoyingly-overrun-with-touts city and that was precisely the case. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not the type of place I need to visit again.

I would have rather spent 2 nights there, but I spent 3 nights in Rome because there were no earlier direct flights back to Wrocław. One “downfall” of RyanAir is that they don’t fly their routes every day. (Meaning: Don’t miss your flight or you’re screwed!)

Note: Don’t stay at the Hotel Central Lodge. It has very good ratings (8.5) on Booking.com for some reason. Good location, but it’s gross. I had to change rooms because my first room smelled like raw sewage. And my second room did too. Yuck. The staff were nice, but it’s not a pleasant place.

The first thing I did after arriving was visit the Column of Marcus Aurelius! (I asked the hotel’s receptionist where that was located, and she’d never heard of him/it.)

This is why I came to Rome. #meditations #marcus #aurelius

A photo posted by Karol Gajda (@karolgajda) on

 

I didn’t do all that much else in Rome. It’s obviously got quite a few tourist attractions, but I enjoyed them from the outside. The Vatican City line looked like it was about a kilometer and many hours long, though I wouldn’t give money to the Roman Catholic Church to enter anyway. I did want to see what kind of spectacle they had going though. The line for the Colosseum looked to be at least an hour long and I didn’t feel a need to go inside there either. Though if it was Summer and warmer I would have. Mostly I walked for hours and hours every day, explored, ate food, and drank coffee.

An interesting thing about Rome Ciampino airport transport. There are buses that cost 4-6EUR and the taxi’s have a set fare of 30EUR. I heard that most taxi drivers don’t abide by this and overcharge tourists. I was ill, wanted to sleep in Sunday morning, and I didn’t want to bother with those taxis. The Uber fare estimate was 34EUR so I figured that was worth an hour of extra sleep (saved by not having to go to the bus station for an 8:30am bus). It ended up only costing 26EUR. I thought I had some free credit (I do), but it only works in the US. Anyway, I’m quickly becoming an Uber convert. (If you’ve never used them and want $20 to try them out, click here.)

UberRome

My flight back to Wrocław concluded my whirlwind 3-new-countries adventure.

WroclawRyanAir

All told, my 5 RyanAir flights cost just $173.39. Oh, and since I’m exceptionally tall (1.96m) the flight attendants on every flight put me in the Emergency Exit row, which costs extra if you book in advance. I really can’t say enough nice things about them. You’d think I was being paid for this, but no. Though I’m open to it. Hello, RyanAir?

The total trip cost including accommodation, food, and everything else was $1,100.18. About $100 per day. Not cheap, but I would’ve only saved about $200 staying in hostel dorms and I prefer solitude. Sometimes the hostel dorm prices were barely cheaper than the hotel prices. I would’ve also saved about $40 if I didn’t take the taxi in Bologna and the Uber in Rome. And then I would’ve saved maybe another $100 if I’d eaten cheaper meals. Most of my meals weren’t more than $10, but some were more expensive. Vegan restaurants aren’t known for being cost friendly, but I’m cool with supporting them. So, the bare bottom base cost of this trip could be about $700 and I added some luxuries.

Interestingly, I’m not actually a big fan of traveling like this. I much prefer to pick a place and hang out there for an extended period of time. Not only is that cheaper, but running around nonstop wears me out physically and mentally.

 

And that said, I think I’m leaving Wrocław tomorrow to explore a bit more of Poland. ;)

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More photos from the trip on Instagram: http://instagram.com/karolgajda/

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