How to live the Millionaire Lifestyle without being one

  • Rule #1: Redefine success - it's not what you see on MTV Cribs
  • Rule #2: Detox your life of junk media and "stuff"
  • Rule #3: Redesign your life to get all the perceived benefits of being a millionaire without the gamble of winning the lottery or selling your business

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Graham D Brown - author of the guide

What are you going to learn in this section?

We all dream of the millionaire lifestyle as the “ultimate” life goal, but very few people every get there.

Most people end up resigned to gambling on the lottery or dreaming away of tropical islands for 2 weeks a year. I found that you can hack the system and live the millionaire lifestyle without actually being one. Imagine you could have the same kind of freedom and choice a millionaire enjoys without having to earn a million dollars.

Sounds crazy, but my experiments as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur confirm that if we want the experiences of being a millionaire more than the million dollars itself, freedom is a lot closer than you think. I want to share these experiments and lessons learned with you in this book…



You're reading one chapter from my new Guide:
How to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur


deconstructing the millionaire lifestyle
  • We have this story of what being a millionaire is in our head
  • Media and other people reinforce this story
  • If we challenge that story, we can get all the benefits we’re really looking for from being a millionaire, without most of the costs

This is a good test of the Lifestyle Entrepreneur model:

How to live the millionaire lifestyle without being one.

It’s important to clarify the goals here before we take this test because, as you’re probably getting used to now, I like to challenge assumptions and focus on what we really want.

Now, I don’t have any issues with a million dollars. I like earning money. I like money a lot and I like having a lot of money. But, I don’t like the bullshit options that we’re regularly presented with to get there. Like retirement, it’s one of those stories we keep hearing but never question.

Here’s what I mean…

When asked what they would do if they won the lottery by the newspaper The Daily Mail, the most popular answer (by 81% of people) was “go travel the world”. Other popular answers included “spend more time doing what I love” and “spend time with the family”.

  • Most people are resigned to the fact that their chances of getting the life they dream about are less than one in a million

These are the things we dream about if we became millionaires.

But, what if you didn’t need to be a millionaire after all?

I already proved that you don’t need to win the lottery to go travel the world.

Is that also true of some of the other perceived benefits of winning the lottery, like “spend more time doing what I love”, “spend time with the family” etc?

So, what gives?

When you see Mariah Carey show you round her Hollywood mansion with 23 Bentleys and a pool the size of a football field, what is it that really excites us about this lifestyle?

Let’s put this to the test:

If I could wave this magic wand and give you anything you want, what would you ask for?

Make a list of the things you want.

You’d probably start with the tangible stuff… like a million dollars in the bank, a bigger house, then throw in the shiny objects like a classic Porsche, a new bike.

Then as you go down this list, your answers will change into more “Lifestyle” things, like living by the coast so you can take your dog for walks, or health to enjoy with your partner, or time do work on your hobby, or just to be home every evening to have dinner with your children.

And then, as you run out of things, you get to the real thing you want at the bottom of the list… happiness.

  • We want to become millionaires because we want the perceived benefits of the lifestyle not the million dollars in our bank


the wealth happiness quadrant

Let’s say I was going to do a deal with you now…

Take all the things (the cars, money, houses etc) on your list. If you could have all of those but you were guaranteed to be unhappy, would you take them?

I bet you’d say NO.

You might think about the answer for a minute, but you know which side your bread is buttered on. You’re not stupid.

Now, if I said, what if you could have all those things AND be happy? You’d rip my arm off at the opportunity right?

  • Only fools would want to be successful and unhappy, but many end up like that

Stephanie Land spent 2 years cleaning the houses of millionaires.

Her story is a fascinating look into the lives of rich people because it provides us with 2 powerful insights both about their lives and also what we conclude about our own. What she found was that most of these families were pretty normal, if not unhappier than the average person. Money hadn’t resolved any of the burning tensions or personal crises they were trying to hold together, especially when it came to relationships and kids. What was equally interesting was how the author concluded that being rich led to being unhappy, evidenced in the title “I spent 2 years cleaning houses. What I saw makes me never want to be rich”.

There’s a lot going here and it’s worth stepping back a minute. Being rich does not make you happy. It’s also important to state that being rich also does not make you unhappy. What we don’t want to do is reconfirm that limiting story that happiness and money are a tradeoff, the old “I’d rather be poor and unhappy” saw. No, we need to look at this story from a different angle.

Being rich or poor is nothing to do with it.

What matters is happiness, whether you’re rich or poor.

You see, I think we don’t really want to be millionaires. What we really want is to experience all the perceived benefits of the millionaire lifestyle.

Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert explains it like this: “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”

  • Much of our happiness comes from having time and choice to be with people we care about
  • Our real goal isn’t money, but the choice to do what we like when we like with who we like
  • Money is one way to get that goal, but not the only one

What we think this dream lifestyle will do for us is bring happiness, brought about by our ability to have family or friends. That yacht… party with friends. That fat bank account… find a trophy wife etc.

Whether this happens or not is different, the point is that what we’re really seeking is happiness not a million dollars. We’re quite clear on that, and given the choice we’ll reject any choice that offers the trappings of success but makes us unhappy.

So, what’s our goal in life?

To chase the “stuff” that will have no impact on what we really want? Or chase what we really want?

This book is about doing Epic Shit and choosing the Adventure that will take you there.

Maybe the path to “there” isn’t as long and as improbable as what we think.

Maybe freedom is closer than you think.


  • The salary paradox: the more you earn, the more you spend
  • It’s impossible to escape the Rat Race through salary alone
  • Most people are deluded thinking they will be better off and more free in future

Hopefully, you can see where this is going, and the answer isn’t going to be “a million dollars”.

Now, the average American spends most of their money on three things: housing, transportation, and food. And these three items are dictated largely by their work: you need a house near the office (like everybody else), you need a car to drive to work and you need to feed yourself while you’re there.

So, what if your work situation changed? Would your expenses change too?

Let’s take the most innocuous of your expenditures. That $5 you spend every day at Starbucks. That’s not going to change anything is it? Well, cutting out a daily latte isn’t just $5 saved in the moment, it’s $1,825 per year. Over 10 years, add an 8% rate of return, and you have more than $33,000.

$5 over 10 years = $33,000!

  • Small increases in lifestyle expenses can have massive impacts long term
  • The salary paradox: as we earn more money we believe we become entitled to be more lavish in our spending
  • We end up lavishing on the everyday stuff that doesn’t matter, rather than people who do

You don’t have to give up your cup of joe. One ad hoc study found switching to home-brewed coffee (rather than the Starbucks default) will save you an average of $64.48 per month (or $2 per day) or $773.80 per year.

Now, start doing the Math. We haven’t even got to your car or your house yet!

Rather than do that, throw in a curve ball here. Let’s say to live a millionaire lifestyle in the US you need an income of at least $20,000 a month. To live a normal lifestyle, you’re starting at around $4,000. But, what if you moved to Chiang Mai Thailand.

Total monthly budget for a normal lifestyle: $1,000 per person (36,380 Thai baht)

Rent: 25,000 Thai baht
Transportation: 400 Thai baht
Gas: 300 Thai baht
Electricity: 2,000 Thai baht
Water: 200 Thai baht
Telephone: 600 Thai baht
Internet: 1,000 Thai baht
Cable TV: 1,100 Thai baht
Entertainment: 1,280 Thai baht
Groceries: 4,500 Thai baht

For 100,000 Thai baht you could live in a millionaire’s villa of Epic proportions.

  • Geo-arbitrage is one way to escape the Rat Race fast
  • You don’t need to move country, but you can move within your country
  • When you don’t need to work in a fixed place, you free up a lot of bandwidth to ask “what if?” about your (expensive and unnecessary) life choices

What would cost you $20,000 a month in the US, would cost you around $5,000 in Thailand. Of course, your challenge is to work out how to go live there and still make money but that’s not the goal right now, the goal is to understand that what appears to be a “millionaire’s lifestyle” is a lot easier to achieve if you change the context.

OK, you might not want to go live in Thailand and that’s cool, but imagine a switch between living in New York to going to live in an area down by the coast where the lifestyle is better and the living cheaper.


different approaches to happiness
  • Happiness isn’t a state of being, but a verb
  • You don’t be happy, you do happy
  • When you work out what makes you happy, focus on building a business that gives you more time to do that

Let’s throw another “what if?” into this discussion.

What if the real challenge wasn’t “how to live the millionaire lifestyle without being one” but “How to experience all the benefits of the millionaire lifestyle without the gamble”?

By “gamble”, I mean staking your happiness on a distant event that may or may not happen. We’re not just talking about winning the lottery or marrying a Prince here, but other life gambles like retirement, selling your business, an inheritance or things magically getting better.

All of these options are a gamble because you accept being unhappy now on the bet you will be happy in future. There are no guarantees of course, and you might not make it there alive.

So, why not have all the benefits of that lifestyle now?

  • Happiness will never come from having or owning or being something

Well, we need to first know what makes us happy before we can answer that question. This is a lifelong quest most of us have been seeking answers to.

In my search for answers, I tried everything: yoga, meditation, veganism, having a lot of money, drugs, cars, fame. I found that being happy isn’t a mind state but a verb. We have to do happy rather than be happy.

What I mean by that is, being happy isn’t something that happens as a result of how you are thinking or feeling or what you are, but the result of what you are doing. So, being a millionaire doesn’t make you happy. Having a million dollars in the bank doesn’t make you happy. It’s the freedom and choice we associate with the money that allows us to do what makes us happy.

For example, instead of having to commute to the office and grind out a day’s work, you get to…

  • work with an amazing bunch of young entrepreneurs who are starting their own businesses
  • or travel down the Vietnamese coastline in a classic train recording the journey for your Youtube series
  • or help young moms struggling with body image find exercise and self-confidence

That would make you happy, right?

  • What if you were truly passionate about what you did between the time you woke up and went to bed?
  • If that was the case, you wouldn’t want to either retire or sell that business

Sure, these are just random examples of what’s possible. So, let’s sketch this out a little…

List all the the things you do in life that make you happy.

Here’s my Happy List:

  • Doing something or going somewhere with my family
  • Travel, adventure
  • New experiences, especially if they involve eating and with my family
  • Sitting in a cafe drinking coffee with friends
  • Pushing myself to the limits in triathlon or any kind of tough challenge
  • Living near the sea
  • Making or creating something

And for the hell of it, how about an Unhappy List too?

  • Commuting
  • Working for someone else
  • Wasting time
  • Worrying about anything I can’t control
  • People complaining
  • Living in the city
  • Watching TV, celebrity lives, magazines

What did you write down? There are no right and wrong answers for all of us. What makes you happy is the right answer.

  • Sometimes if you can’t work out what makes you happy, start with what makes you unhappy

This is the simple and often overlooked secret of happiness: do more of what makes you happy.

(and of course, less of what makes you happy.)

If the Happy List / Unhappy list didn’t work for you, try this….Script out and Review Your Ideal Day (link to Ben Greenfield Fitness). Sometimes actually seeing our activities in the context of the confines of a single day helps us focus on what we want and what we don’t want out of life.

happy unhappy list

So, let’s bring this round to the where we started… How to live the millionaire lifestyle without being one.

  • I started out explaining that the “millionaire lifestyle” is a media myth. If we have the courage to listen to our hearts, we’ll realise that it’s not the money we really want but the benefits of having the money.
  • When you deconstruct the lifestyle you find that what we really want is happiness. Few people would choose a lifestyle of being unhappy, even if they had enough money.
  • Happiness isn’t a state of being but the result of doing. So, if X makes you happy, doing more of X will make you happier. The opposite is also true. If Y makes you unhappy, doing less of Y will make you happier too.

Fear has us chasing improbable future events – from retirement to selling our businesses – rather than stopping and thinking about what we really want and how we can get it right now.

  • We need to stop gambling on our lives
  • If we are clear about our happiness, our lifestyle goals and how to get there, achieving happiness doesn’t have to be a one-in-a-million shot

Living the millionaire lifestyle without being one means designing a life that gives you all the perceived benefits of being a millionaire without the bullshit, without the gamble.

So, now you have your Happy List, your goal is simple:

Get passionate about designing a life that allows you to do more of what makes you happy.

That’s truly Epic Shit, right?

Let’s get to work…



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