““Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”” – Exodus 20:17

When you think about the rich – the really rich – you may find yourself marveling at their . . . well, their money. Take Bill Gates, the world’s richest man. If you think $10 million is a fortune, then consider this: he has 8,000 of them. If he put his money in $1,000 bills, he’d have 80 million of them! His wealth is so great that the interest on it makes him $60 million richer every month. Bill Gates makes more money every time he takes a nap than most Americans make in 10 years.

But how much better does he live? Sure, he’s got a huge house. And a yacht. He’s probably got a jet too. But who needs that crap? Really!

If you make at least $100,000 a year ($150,000 if you are attached to a family) you can live as well as Bill Gates does, and I’ll prove it to you in this message. If you aren’t yet making that much, you’ll have to put aside today’s message until you are. If you’re following ETR, it shouldn’t take you very long.

Let’s start by identifying some of life’s basic experiences:

* sleeping

* working

* dressing

* eating/drinking

* leisure

Now the purpose of becoming rich – you would think – would be to make each of these experiences as rewarding as possible. The more money you have, the more choices you have in terms of these experiences.

Take sleeping. What does a billionaire want out of his sleep time? I’d say the same thing you would: blissful, uninterrupted unconsciousness. And what will give you that? (Besides peace of mind which you can’t buy?)

Answer: a great mattress.

And how much does the world’s best mattress cost? Maybe $1,500. That means you can buy yourself a million-dollar sleep on a billion-dollar mattress for no more than $1,500. If you are making $100,000 a year, you can afford it.

See get rid of that lumpy thing you are sleeping on and find yourself the absolute best mattress you have ever sat on. Buy it and go to sleep content that Bill Gates can have it no better.

Buying Yourself the Best: How to Live Like a Billionaire When You’re Not Even a Measly Millionaire

You can pay almost any price for any thing, but after a certain price point you are no longer paying for quality, you are paying for prestige.

Take steak. Ask someone who knows about beef and you will be told that the quality of steak is entirely a matter of the meat you buy. (Let’s face it – there’s no great skill in cooking a flank of beef.)

Buy a New York Sirloin at Ruth’s Chris and for around $30, you are eating the best steak money can buy. Eat the same piece of meat at Le Cirque and you’ll pay $75. What’s the difference?

Yes – just prestige.

The same thing is true when it comes to your clothing. Beautiful, comfortable clothes are not cheap, but they don’t have to cost a fortune. You can buy the world’s best pair of slacks for $150 or you can spend ten times that amount. The difference will be the label on the waistband.

Champagne, anyone? Consumer Reports had some wine experts test a variety of champagnes and found that out of the five best, four were less than forty dollars. Dom Perignon, listed fifth, will set you back $115. A better champagne can be had for only $28.

And so it goes on. The point is this: the best material things in life are affordable. They are not cheap – quality never is – but if you buy them selectively and use them with care, you can enjoy a life as materially rich as Bill Gates on an income that wouldn’t get him through lunch.

Here’s how you can live rich, starting today:

Your Dream House

I have lived in a three-room mud house in Africa and a 5,000-square-foot mansion – and I can tell you this: the quality of a home has very little or nothing to do with how much it costs or how big it is.

Think about the houses you most admire. They are probably NOT huge and flashy. One of my current favorites is a modest, three-bedroom house in Cleveland, which has been transformed by the lady who owns it into a lush, luxurious museum of her love of travel, dance and learning. Every room is a gem. I am completely comfortable and endlessly amused in this rich and interesting house.

It’s value? As great as Bill Gates’ 40,000-square-foot monstrosity in Seattle – yet this one has a market value of about $150,000.

Your Car

I have a friend, a wealthy friend, who loves cars, especially sports cars. He drives a Camaro. Why would he? Because he says it is as good as a Corvette, a Porsche or even a Ferrari. Instead of forking out $150,000 plus…he gets his thrills in a car that costs one-sixth that price.

What about prestige? Well that’s what you have to pay more for. But if you are willing to go the classic route…and buy a car whose design doesn’t change every year or so… you can buy yourself prestige at affordable rates. For example, I drive a mint-condition NSX that you couldn’t tell from a brand new one. My car is worth about $30,000. You’d have to pay almost three times that amount for a new one. The same holds true for older Mercedes and BMWs.

In fact, in terms of “living rich,” you should never buy a new car. You’ll save a bundle by purchasing a late model vehicle with low mileage. If you shop around, you can find a five- or ten-year-old car that will cost 25% or 30% of the new car price, but will be just as good.

Your Wardrobe

What does it cost to dress like the world’s richest? Much less than you think.

If you can forget about brand names and learn about quality, you will save thousands and look better. As with cars, you’ll do better by going after a classic look in clothing. That’s because you won’t have to discard perfectly good items simply because the lapel has changed.

The other big secret of dressing rich is this: less is more.

Ralph Lauren – a guy who has the money and the access to dress as rich as can be – wears the same thing almost every day – classic cut jeans and a tee shirt. Pat Riley, one of the best-dressed men in America, wears nothing but Armani suits. He has a number of them…but nothing near the number you’d think to look at him.

You can dress beautifully in second-hand clothes. What could be more impressive than a vintage suit, properly tailored, impeccably clean?

There are books on this subject. They all say pretty much the same thing. A few, really nice items are much better – more enjoyable for you, more impressive to others – than a huge wardrobe of trendy, ordinary stuff.

Want specifics? Get yourself two or three pairs of slacks (or skirts). One or two suits (or dresses). Two or three pairs of shoes. Buy only what you love.

Make sure your socks are cashmere ($19.50 at Banana Republic) and that your t-tee shirts and underwear are the finest cotton (or silk). Use only one cologne or perfume, but love it. Do the same with hair products and cosmetics. The rule is to have much less, but love everything you have.

Buy classic. Insist on quality. Few are better than many. Simple is better than complex. Understated is better than flashy. Do this and you will have what Bill Gates can afford to have: a very pleasant feeling each time you pull on your shirt or buckle your belt.

Food and Drink

Want to have a billion-dollar meal? Take a good bottle of wine, a baguette of freshly baked bread, some cheese, ham, butter and go to the nearest park with a friend or loved one. You need only a knife and a corkscrew – what you have in your kitchen is fine – to prepare and serve a truly memorable meal.

Le Cirque? Well, I told you my opinion about that. But if there’s an expensive restaurant you are dying to try, go ahead and treat yourself. But not too often. As someone who has eaten countless expensive meals, I know how tiring rich food can be. More important, I can remember few expensive meals that surpassed the simple wine and cheese lunches my wife and I have enjoyed when we were lucky enough to have them.

Music, Books, Movies, Etc.

With today’s audio technology, even a $300 boom box sounds great. Spend a grand. Don’t even try to tell me you need to spend more than that. The secret is in the music you select. There is music that can make you feel like a billionaire.

The great thing about books: the best ones cost no more than the worst ones. Treat yourself richly – read only that which makes you feel richer afterwards. The same is true for movies, theater and just about any form of entertainment.

There is only one extravagance you can’t buy reasonably: front-row tickets to professional basketball games. I have made the mistake of becoming a Miami Heat fan. If you are smart, you will learn to love college ball.

Your Office

Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest (and smartest) men, keeps his office in a simple building. His walls are paneled plywood. His desk is a table top. He doesn’t need the prestige of a cathedral-sized room and an altar-sized desk. He is not God. And he knows it.

But what he does have is a room that is uniquely his, with a comfortable chair and a place for everything he needs. On the surfaces and hanging from the walls are souvenirs to inspire him. Warren Buffet’s office is his own. It looks like no one else’s office and it works for him.

That’s what you want in your office. The right amount of space. Good lighting. A very good chair. And toys that stimulate and inspire you.

Everything else is a distraction. And anything that is there simply to make you seem “important” will only turn off your guests and visitors.

I’m not saying your office should not be luxurious. I am saying it should be luxurious in a personal way. You will be spending most of your waking life in your office, so put as much thought and care into it as you do your home.

Silverware

Shopping for a Christmas present for my wife, I wandered into an antique shop in town that specialized in silver. The proprietor, a genteel, 86-year-old lady from Georgia, showed me this and that – and then, when she sensed I was looking for something very special, took me to the back room and showed me an absolutely beautiful collection of silverware by the Baltimore-based silversmith Reed & Barton. It was the Francis I design – the finest they ever made. “If you were a millionaire,” she said in her seductive southern drawl, “You could not buy a finer set of silverware than this.”

It cost me $4,500. Nothing to be sneezed at, but that was for a set of 14 place settings and a lot of serving utensils. A regular full service set might cost $2,500. Now think of that. You can own the finest silverware that money can buy – and an antique at that – for $2,500. Such a set of silverware could last you all your life, could give you pleasure and prestige, and make even your ordinary meals elegant. The Queen Mother herself couldn’t do better.

I’m thinking about throwing away the rest of my silverware – and using only this. That’s how much I like it.

If You Fill Your Life With All The Best Luxuries . . . A Great Home, Great Clothes, Delicious Food . . . But You Are Too Busy Running Around To Enjoy Them, You’ve Missed The Boat

Of all the things money can buy (it can’t buy happiness . . . I’ve admitted that), time and freedom are the most important.

Here’s my prescription for buying time. Think about your schedule and pick yourself a half-hour a day to do nothing but luxuriate. (For some people, this is easy. For others, it’s tough.) Tell yourself you’ll work smarter this way. Take this half-hour and do something that a billionaire might do. Sip a cup of espresso. Smoke a cigar. Have a cognac. Contemplate how good life is. Thank the gods for your good fortune. Breathe deeply. Smile.

Now get back to work.

It’s All Entirely Within Your Reach.

The way you dress, the way you eat and drink . . . even the home you live in . . . can be as good as any billionaire’s. Spend time shopping. Buy very selectively. Limit your possessions. And take a half-hour a day to really appreciate the good things you have. That’s all there is to it. (Oh, yes. And don’t scrimp on the mattress.)