Mr Porter UK
Swagger to the Bank: What Does Rich Mean?

Since we’ve never put an actual number to that word, it’s always open for some
sort of debate and always depends hugely on perspective. A football fan thinks the
quarterback is rich, the quarterback thinks the owner is rich and the owner thinks
some monk fishing on a river is rich (but I don’t want to extrapolate this to the ends
of the earth so let’s just keep it in a monetary perspective).

According to the President and his Tax plan, any household raking in more than
$200 G’s has a place at the table, but that sort of scratch wouldn’t even cover the
stereo-repair bill for a rap mogul, let alone let you build an indoor rollercoaster.
So for those of us scrambling for a free efile before it’s too late, the concept of “rich” probably doesn’t apply.
Sowhat “rich” amounts to in the eyes of the government is able to put kids through
college, drive two nice cars, pay a decent mortgage and save for retirement.
Effectively what everybody willing to work was able to get a generation ago.

That’s the other thing; the same way MC Hammer could go bankrupt after making
ten times more than you’re uncle Bob, who’s high on the hog with his successful
furniture store, it all depends on your lifestyle. The smartest people I know have
taken the big bumps in their salary in stride, didn’t deprive themselves but didn’t
jump ahead of their upward mobility either. Easing into it seems to be the trick. Still,
ask any self-respecting yuppie and they’ll tell you there’s no way they’re “rich”.

I think rich is relative, and I think that’s been the driving force in our economy for
so long, and that’s why it hurts us the most, because success and wealth for most
people means doing better than your parents, and the boomers are a tough act to


Another measure of rich is being financially able to stop doing things you don’t want
to do. On Wall Street they call it the “Fuck You Number”, it’s the amount of bank
you’ve got to have to be able to tell each and every person above and below you
what you think and not have to worry about getting sacked. Sounds like a lot of fun,
that Wall Street.

But let’s just assume you aren’t a sociopathic banker, if you had enough money
to just call it a day, would you? Is “rich” the ability to maintain your comfortable
lifestyle without working? Is it relative to work? Plenty of people (but almost always
the ones who aren’t earning their money) think rich is being able to go on a 24/7
spending spree. There’s less than 100 people that rich, Michael Jackson wasn’t that
rich. Holidays yes, but the life of leisure for leisure’s sake has got to count as one of
the worst wastes of time anywhere.

So here’s what Swagger is going to call rich, how you can measure it reasonably
without driving yourself crazy keeping up with the Joneses. The first point is living

within your means, because creeping up a credit card debt is not rich, it’s stupid. Of
course that means you can still take care of yourself and ideally a partner, you don’t
have to skimp out on garbage food, garbage clothes or a garbage car. The second
measure is being able to save, something, anything, but trajectory, especially for
men of our age, is everything, and if you’re making enough to grow your net worth,
that counts for a lot. Thirdly, and most importantly we think, is having the resources
to chase down the next big project. You’ve obtained the flexibility to pursue your
interests, and it doesn’t matter what they are, only that they’re yours, that you want
them, and that you can see a logical progression by which you will achieve them.
That’s what it’s all about, because happiness lies in the pursuit.

You can never be the kind of rich we’re talking about if you haven’t got any
mountains you want to climb, you’re just fat.


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