The Rich Life Part I: What does it mean to be rich? And are you?

Nilus Mattive here. I’m the editor of The Rich Life Roadmap.

The Rich Life Roadmap e-letter has one mission: to steer you towards greater health, wealth and happiness.

After all, it’s not enough to have wealth alone if your health or personal life suffer.

But right now you might be wondering who I am, and what qualifies me to give you advice on anything, much less how to lead the Rich Life.

It’s a perfectly legitimate question, and you’re right to ask it.

So I’d like to introduce myself to you, and explain how I can help you achieve your income and retirement goals…

My journey to the Rich Life started with three words:

Surfing. Sushi. Stocks.

Most kids in my elementary school didn’t care about any of these things.

Who could blame them?

We lived in a drab, worn-out coal-mining town under the shadow of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

The ocean was 150 miles away. Japan was on the other side of the world. Wall Street might as well have been on the moon!

But for whatever reason – and it certainly wasn’t due to any type of family interest or background – those were the kind of ideas that grabbed my attention.

By sixth grade, I was investing on my own.

Straight-A report cards were celebrated at the sushi joint 20 miles away from our house.

Later, when I could drive, I went to the beach and bought an old board to paddle out on.

Looking back, I always had my own definition of what it meant to be “rich” – it was as much about unique experiences and a quality life as it was about money.

That worldview is what originally took me to New York City to work on Wall Street. It’s also what eventually compelled me to move back out of there.

Today, I live in Santa Barbara, California.

I still follow the investment markets each and every day. I still eat lots of sushi. And I spend my weekends surfing up and down the California coast with my 10-year-old daughter.

It’s safe to say I have a very rich life.

Of course, your journey has begun at its own unique coordinates. Your hopes and dreams are almost certainly different than mine.

That doesn’t really matter.

My goal with this new e-letter is to help you get closer to your own “rich life” wherever (or whatever) it is.

So take a second to think about what that looks like.

It doesn’t have to be anything exotic.

Maybe it’s simply getting out of debt …

Generating another $10,000 a year in retirement income …

Or finding five extra hours a week to spend with family.

Whatever it is, the first step is defining it.

From there, things will actually get much easier!

But let’s agree that living a rich life does not necessarily require obscene amounts of money.

Don’t get me wrong. I like money.

In fact, one of my goals was becoming a millionaire by age 40. I’m proud to say I accomplished that ahead of schedule. 

My primary job here is going to be helping you make more money, too.

However, the way I see it, money can only be a means to some other end. It’s stored time. The ability to provide for yourself or others. The freedom to pursue another passion. The backdrop of confidence that makes it easier to live more authentically.

When I worked on Wall Street in my early 20s, I used to marvel at the 50-year-old bankers still clocking late hours inside the Goldman Sachs building.

Many of them had already made boatloads of cash. Wouldn’t they rather be home with their kids a bit more?

Maybe not. For some people, making the most money possible IS the end game. That’s perfectly valid.

For me, it’s always been a much finer line.

I want to maintain the balance between having too little and pursuing too much.

And it’s always good to keep things in context.

Here’s a quick look at the latest wealth and ownership numbers from the U.S. Census. The data, which was released in June, cites 2013 responses.

In terms of assets and savings among all American households:

⇒ The median net worth was $80,039
⇒ The median net worth excluding the value of a primary home was $25,116
⇒ The median value of regular checking accounts was $1,000
⇒ And the median value of all retirement accounts was $58,500

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau says the median American household income was $59,039 in 2016. That’s after adjusting for inflation, and the first time the figure was higher than the previous peak of $58,665 back in 1999.

In terms of more specific brackets, here are some Adjusted Gross Income numbers from the IRS:

⇒ Roughly a quarter of U.S. households reported less than $15,000 a year in AGI
⇒ About 45% reported less than $30,000
⇒ More than 80% earned less than $100,000
⇒ And reporting more than $200,000 in AGI put a household in the top 5%

We could certainly dig way deeper here – slicing and dicing numbers and looking at all the various sub-categories regarding education levels, age brackets, and other factors.

But no matter how you currently stack up, it’s important to remember that there are two parts to the wealth equation:

  1. The amount you have and earn
  1. The amount you actually need to live your personal definition of the good life

You’re free to alter EITHER side of that ledger on an ongoing basis. 

Starting next week, I’ll begin giving you some of my favorite ways to do that. Ways to save more money. To generate more income. To invest more wisely. To cut fees, taxes, and other wealth leeches. And a whole lot more.

But first, in Part II tomorrow, I’ll tell you how I went from a prepubescent investor to a bona fide Wall Streeter to a self-employed business owner … plus some of the lessons I learned along the way.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive   

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