The No. 1 Secret to Wealthy Living

Doc’s note: I travel the world with a backpack. In recent months, I’ve visited Vancouver, California, and Italy… all with my 10-year old Targus backpack.

It holds all my essentials you’d probably travel with… laptop, iPod, headphones, passport, money, and a few other odds and ends. (I also carry some magic tricks around, to the delight of my friends’ kids.)

I’ve learned that what I carry around with me isn’t as important as the people I meet or the experiences I have when I travel.

And that’s exactly what my friend and colleague Steve Sjuggerud told readers of his DailyWealth newsletter. In today’s essay, Steve explains his essentials for wealthy living.

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Greetings from the Oregon coast where I (Steve) am living my dream.

I’m living well. The great thing is, “living well” by my definition doesn’t cost much money at all. That’s because my definition of living well isn’t about, well, “stuff.” Let me explain…

Yesterday, I windsurfed perfect head-high waves alongside 2004 World Champion Scott McKercher. The day before, I went surfing with champion paddle surfer Ekolu Kalama and his wife. No crowd, just us. For comparison, if you’re a golfer, it’s like hanging out with Tiger Woods for the day, just the two of you.

I feel fortunate to be here with these guys… And it reminds me of what’s important in life:

It’s about EXPERIENCE, not STUFF.

My wife and I try to live this idea – that “experience” is more important than “stuff.”

For example, our kids (ages 7 and 5) are probably the only kids they know that don’t have a PlayStation or an Xbox or a Nintendo Wii. They don’t have a ton of stuff. But they’ve got tons of life experience…

Our kids have seen the world… They’ve been as far north as Iceland. And they’ve been as far south as New Zealand. Yet we don’t have big flat-screen TVs in our living room or den. (Are we the last Americans to actually have regular TVs?)

The great thing is, life experiences don’t have to cost much at all. Waves are free. Wind is free. Spending time with your friends and family is free.

Before I came out to Oregon, we spent time with my family in Orlando. Over the weekend, the kids shot water guns at their granddad in the pool, and my mom fixed unbeatable home-cooked breakfasts. Everyone had a great time. It was a great family experience. And it sure didn’t cost much. It’s not what it costs that makes it valuable.

It wasn’t about buying “stuff.” And this trip to the Oregon coast isn’t about “stuff” either.

I define living well as 1) having time with friends and family, 2) pursuing my passions, and 3) well, not worrying about money. The nice thing is, you don’t need a fortune to live well by that definition.

Living well to me isn’t about monster flat-screen TVs, driving a BMW, or wearing diamond-encrusted watches. How about you?

You only have so much money… So what do you put a premium on?

It’s so easy in America to be sucked into “stuff” – from the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” to the constant barrage of advertising from every angle.

But you can’t take stuff with you. I’ve heard investor Doug Casey say, “I’ve never seen a hearse with luggage racks.” And if stuff is what you choose, just remember, you’ll be busy working for the rest of your life to pay for your stuff.

If you follow my definition of living well, then the goal becomes living life to the fullest instead of buying stuff… and saving instead of buying so you don’t have to worry about money.

People want to invest successfully so they don’t have to worry about money. If you change your definition of living well, then you can get to the point of not worrying about money a lot faster.

Again, my idea of living well is:

1) Having time with friends and family.

2) Pursuing my passions (which I’m doing on the Oregon coast now).

3) Not having to worry about money.

What’s your idea of living well? Is it about the experience, or the stuff?

All the best,

Steve