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livingrich

Table of Contents

Living Rich #1 How to Live as Well as a Billionaire - On the Income You're Earning Now

When you think about the rich-the really rich-you may find yourself marveling at their… well, their money.

Take Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men.

If you think $10 million is a fortune, consider this: He has 5,000 of them. If he put his money in $1,000 bills, he'd have 50 million of them!

How great could you live if you were as rich as he? You could have the perfect home, drive luxury cars, enjoy all of your favorite toys, eat the most delicious meals, and take the most amazing vacations… And you'd never worry about money!

Sounds good, right?

But do you really need $50 billion to enjoy that kind of lifestyle? Wouldn't $50 million do just as well?

Of course it would. So would $25 million.

Hmmm. Something is going on here that we need to think about. On the one hand, there is no doubt that you need a significant amount of money to live like a billionaire. On the other hand, it may be much less than you would expect.

My Aha! Moment It so happens that I've been thinking about this for 12 years. It began on a vacation in Rome. I was 50 years old. I was following my wife through the city. I was running business and financial plans through my head but also wondering, “Why am I still caught up in this quest for more money? How much do I really need to have everything I could possibly want?”

I didn't need a computer to arrive at the answer: I already had enough money. More than enough. Yet I was still chasing wealth. And I wasn't really enjoying it. I realized that I couldn't enjoy it precisely because I was chasing it. It was an obvious irony that had, until that moment, eluded me.

So as we were passing over a bridge that crossed the Tiber, I decided that increasing my wealth would no longer be a goal of mine. From then on, I would focus on enjoying the wealth I had.

And that is exactly what I did. But it wasn't easy. I had to figure out what gave me the greatest pleasure in my life.

Look at Life Like a Billionaire Don't worry. This isn't going to be about loving your family and friends. That's a given. What I'm talking about here are material things. And the questions I asked myself were: Which of my possessions do I most enjoy? And why do I find them so enjoyable?

As I said, I have spent 12 years thinking about this. And I have come to some conclusions. My main conclusion is this: You can live as well as a billionaire on a yearly income of as little as Rs. 30 to 40 lacs. And if you are really clever, you can do it for less.

That's the purpose of this essay. I want to prove to you that this isn't a crazy idea. I want to convince you that -if you are willing to do some careful thinking and make wise decisions-you can live just as happily and luxuriously as Bill Gates on a tiny fraction of his income.

Let's begin with this: With respect to acquiring material things, what advantage does great wealth provide?

Let's see. It allows you to buy whatever you want. And that would include the most expensive things in the world.

But does that make your life any better?

Of course not! Just because you can afford something doesn't mean it will give you more pleasure.

Likewise, just because something costs the most doesn't mean it is the best.

Let me give you an example.

Driving Like a Billionaire The most expensive sedan in the world is a Maybach Landaulet. It has a 12-cylinder turbocharged engine that reaches a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Its price tag is $1.4 million.

I could afford to buy a Landaulet. But I don't own one. Why? Because it isn't even remotely the best sedan in the world. The best sedan in the world-in my view-is a BMW 760Li. Like the Landaulet, it is has a 12- cylinder turbocharged engine that reaches a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Plus, it is better looking, better designed, much more reliable-and it drives like… well, you'd have to come over and try out my car to understand.

You can buy a new BMW 760Li for $140,000 or a used one with 40,000 miles on it (barely broken in) for less than $50,000. The BMW will run like a top for 20 years and look elegant throughout its lifetime. The Landaulet will start to look foolish the moment you drive it out of the showroom. (Car experts will know you don't know squat about cars.) And it will look sillier every year thereafter as you plow tens of thousands of dollars into it to keep it going. Amortizing a $50,000 BMW over 20 years means you are paying something like $200 per month to own it. That's the same price you'd pay for a new Hyundai. The prices are maybe a little different in India but it's more or less the same idea.

This is the sort of dialog I want to have with you in the series of essays that I'll be sending you in the coming year under the title Living Rich.

It is just one of more than many advisory services you will be getting free as a member of the Wealth Builders Club India.

Sleeping Like a Billionaire What is the one thing, besides working, that you spend the most time doing?

If you are like most people, the answer is sleeping. We all know how important a good night's sleep is. People who sleep well are happier, healthier, and even wealthier. (I can-and will-show you the studies.)

So what does a billionaire want out of his sleep time? I'd say the same thing you do: blissful, uninterrupted unconsciousness. And what will give you that (besides peace of mind, which you can't buy)?

Answer: a great mattress!

If you were a billionaire, you could buy the most expensive mattress in the world. But is the most expensive mattress necessarily the best? You already know the answer to that question.

In the next installment of Living Rich, I'm going to explore the wonderful world of Sleeping Like a Billionaire. I'll tell you everything I know about how to wake up feeling like a billion dollars. In particular, I'll give you details on the best mattresses in the world, several of which you can definitely afford-even as a not-yet- wealthy Wealth Builders Club member.

Eating Like a Billionaire Let's talk about steak. (If you don't eat it, bear with me.) Ask someone who knows about beef, and he'll tell you that the quality of a steak is entirely a matter of the quality of the meat you buy. But how much you pay for a steak at a restaurant may have nothing to do with the quality of that meat.

The wise steak eater understands what to look for when he orders a filet mignon or a New York strip. In the installment on Eating Like a Billionaire, I'll tell you everything I know about eating well, at home or at a restaurant.

Dressing Like a Billionaire What does it cost to dress like the world's richest people? Not much-if you can forget about buying brand names at expensive stores. But to do that, you have to think about what clothes mean to you and what you want from them.

In Dressing Like a Billionaire, I'll explain how to do it. I'll introduce you to some of the most knowledgeable dressers in the world-people who dress the rich and famous. They will share with you secrets about dressing well that will have you looking rich and feeling great regardless of the clothes you are wearing.

You'll get big ideas that will make all of your clothes-buying decisions simple. Your closet will be full of nothing but clothes that make you feel rich and comfortable. It won't be crowded, as it is now, with clothes that make you look and feel… well… less than rich and comfortable.

You'll also get lots of little ideas. Here's one. What is the single most important article of clothing in terms of comfort? Shoes? No. 2. The most important one is socks!

Socks make a huge difference in how your feet feel. Not only when you are walking around, but also at the end of the day. And you can buy the best socks in the world for as little as a few hundred rupees per pair… if you know what to look for and where to get them.

Drinking Like a Billionaire Champagne, anyone? Consumer Reports had some wine experts test a variety of champagnes. Of their five best, four were less than $40. Dom Perignon, listed fifth, will set you back $115. A better champagne can be had for only $28.

And Much More… Next, as I said, I will be talking about Sleeping Like a Billionaire. Then, in the following installments of this series, I will be covering such things as your wardrobe (including jewelry and watches), the car you drive, the home you live in, the office you work in, the food and wine you eat and drink… and, of course, the “toys” you buy.

The point is this: The best material things in life are affordable. They are not always cheap-quality never is- but they are almost always affordable. For every important area of life, we will be determining what quality means and discovering the best products and where and how to acquire them.

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.

Best, Mark Morgan Ford

* Editor's Note:

Our daily needs are not so different from a billionaire's after all. I'm sure the richest man in India doesn't eat that many more chapattis than you do for lunch every day.

Mark's point is that it's important to focus on the things that really matter and make your life better every day. A billionaire may not eat more chapattis but I'm sure his chapattis are made with the best wheat, freshly ground, and fleshly made instead of using whatever the cheapest brand at the baniya store is. He knows how to enjoy comforts and does it, we need to do the same.

So if you're sleeping on the same ancient mattress you inherited from your purvajo, and are wondering why you constantly have back aches, and neck aches - then put away the can of Relispray and pay close attention when you get the report on Sleeping Like a Billionaire.

Mark's essays give great guidance on how to focus your money to get the greatest pleasure. But it's eventually up to each person to figure out what gives you, personally, the greatest pleasure in life.

To richer lives,

Anisa Virji Managing Editor, Wealth Builders Club

Living Rich #2 Sleeping Like a Billionaire

So you want to live like the rich do?

You've come to the right place. I've spent years thinking about this topic, and I'm sure that it is entirely possible to live as well as a billionaire without spending loads of money.

I'm going to begin our investigation with an activity that is not normally associated with wealth. I am talking about the six to eight hours you spend every night in bed.

It may seem crazy to begin this series by talking about sleeping - but, other than working, it is probably the most important thing you do in terms of your invested time.

Getting a blissful night's sleep is something we all want. And for good reason: Studies show that people who sleep well are healthier, happier, and even wealthier than those who toss and turn at night.

So the question is: “If money were no object, how would you get the best possible sleep?”

One thing you would surely do is purchase a great mattress to sleep on. With a billion dollars in net worth, you'd buy yourself the best mattress in the world.

Another thing you'd do is buy great pillows and sheets - again, the best that money could buy.

And, of course, there are many other things you could do… such as staying away from stimulants before bedtime and practicing meditation and so on. But we are not going to talk about that in this essay. Living Rich is about having the best things money can buy.

So that's what we are going to talk about today: how to discover the best mattress, sheets, and pillows that money can buy.

The Discovery of Quality

Poor Sleep Risks:

In the spring of 2012, the American Journal of Human Biology showed that sleeping poorly increases your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes. It also increases your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. The latest studies are making a connection between lack of sleep and memory loss later in life. And one study even says that people who sleep less are more likely to die of all causes. Unless you have slept on a really good mattress, you may not realize what a difference it makes. I spent the first 40-something years of my life sleeping on ordinary mattresses. I thought that tossing and turning all night was normal. How wrong I was.

Almost 20 years ago, K and I spent a few nights in The Benjamin, an expensive midtown Manhattan hotel. Our bedroom was beautifully decorated but a bit small. The size of the room made it difficult to spend too much time there during the day. But the mattress we slept on was distinctly better than any I had ever experienced. We slept like babies and did so again the following night.

We were so impressed with the mattress (and the linens, too) that we asked the concierge if he happened to know what kind they were. Not only did he know, he handed me a brochure about them. Apparently, we weren't the only guests who'd asked about them.

This was actually the beginning of a trend in “super beds” that luxury hotels were getting into at the time. Today, you can buy the mattresses and linens you sleep on from many hotels all over the world.

For me, it was a revelation. I had never before given a second thought to bedding. I had never imagined that I was sleeping like a pauper because of ignorance. I hadn't realized how much better sleeping could be when you are sleeping on a high-quality mattress tucked into high-quality sheets.

By the way, we bought that mattress from The Benjamin and slept comfortably on it until about a year or two ago. It started to feel like it was losing support at the sides. It was still relatively comfortable, but I was tossing and turning more than I had been. I assumed it was me, but I talked to a friend in the mattress business, and he told me that it was time to buy a new one.

This is a happy coincidence for as I write this, K and I are busy trying out all sorts of beds (mattresses, box springs, and these cover pads that are popular today).

Buy for Quality not Price!

It's Not Just the Mattress…

As I just mentioned, I have discovered that a great sleeping experience depends on more than just the mattress. It depends on the quality of the inner spring (if you use one) and the top pad, which are being used on better-quality mattresses today. As you will see when you read the report we've been working on, sleep experts still consider box springs to be the ultimate in comfort and durability. We will cover all of this in the report. Quality matters. And when it comes to mattresses, quality means comfort, support, and durability.

The mattress has to be comfortable. It has to make you feel like you died and went to heaven the moment you stretch out on it. It also has to be engineered to give you proper spinal support so that you wake up feeling like a million dollars. And, finally, it has to be durable. It must be made to last - without losing the support it's giving you - for at least 10 years.

I'll explain more about this in a minute. Right now, I want to make a more general point. When it comes to living rich, many wannabe-rich people have all the wrong ideas. When they imagine winning the jackpot, they see waterfront mansions, Rolls-Royce limousines, and Rolex watches.

They picture these objects because they are well-established and widespread symbols of wealth. Owning such symbols, they believe, will give them the feeling of being rich. In fact, there is no relationship at all between owning prestigious objects and enjoying wealth.

Having great wealth will give you the option to buy the most costly things. But the most costly things do not necessarily have the most quality. In fact, they rarely do.

This is true with mattresses. You may find this hard to believe (I did when I first researched the subject), but it is possible to spend as much as $30,000-60,000 on a mattress! (Members of Sweden's royal family refuse to sleep on anything but a Hastens mattress. With its handcrafted frame secured with wooden pegs and hand-tied springs, the Hastens retails for $59,000.

But if you survey the entire field of what is available, you will discover that you can buy the best mattresses in the world for just a fraction of those prices.

In other words, the discriminating person - the person with the rich mind - always shops for quality. The indiscriminating person - the person with the poor mind - shops for price.

We Have Done the Research for You

Don't Be Fooled

Overspending is acting rich, not living rich. It turns you into a person who doesn't sleep well on any mattress because you're under pressure to support a masquerade - a lifestyle that's all show and no substance. As a result, you keep getting fooled into buying goods marketed as “luxury items” - each one designed to make you “feel rich” while taking excess money out of your pocket. Our goal for this lesson in living rich is to discover the best - quality bedding in the world. I've asked our research professionals to survey the bedding market and discover the best ones in terms of comfort, support, and durability.

What we have found is that the world of bedding has - in some respects - changed a great deal in the past 20 years. Although the most expensive beds in the world are still made very much the way they were made 100 years ago, there are new kinds of beds (latex, hybrid, etc.) that must be considered today.

So it is a bit complicated to define quality in bedding. Support and durability can be measured scientifically. But comfort is relative to the individual sleeping on the bed.

In addition, there are three distinct types of quality mattresses - inner spring, “memory” foam, and organic latex.

The accompanying report explains the differences and gives you useful suggestions for determining which kind of mattress you are likely to prefer. In each area, she rates the mattresses that give the best comfort and support. She also reveals their record for durability. And finally, by factoring the comfort and support ratings against the years of expected durability, she provides you with a handful of recommendations.

One Final Secret

Before you check out the mattress report, let me give you one critical tip about buying the perfect bed/mattress: Never pay retail!

Markups on mattresses are enormous. Some of the best-known brands mark up their most popular products by as much as 500%! Obviously, this is ridiculous. In fact, only a complete fool would pay that much.

Typically, mattresses are sold “on sale” for discounts of 20-50%. So when you decide on a bed, be sure to demand a discount. We give you tips on how much to ask for in the report.

Buying mattresses is a matter of going to the right kind of store and negotiating the right price. Follow our directions, and you'll be sleeping like a billionaire for very little more than you probably paid for the mattress you're sleeping on now.

Best, Mark

*

Editor's Note:

My family recently moved to a new house, after about 30 years of living in the same place. And I realized then that most of the mattresses in the house had been as old as the house, those purana style ones with not much substance. For the first time in a very long time, we set out mattress shopping as a family, and were completely overwhelmed by the staggering array of options out there. Who knew? I wish I had had the mattress report to help me figure out what to get then.

Although it was a headache, it turned out I ended up with a good spring mattress, even though I probably paid too much for it. But for the first time in years, I am not suffering from insomnia. I used to struggle to fall asleep, always wake up in the middle of the night, and struggle again to wake up in the morning. How different life is now. I sleep through the night and actually look forward to going to bed because it doesn't mean tossing and turning anymore - now it means blissful oblivion, and waking up energized ready for morning yoga.

This report will greatly simplify the mattress-picking options for you. We are lucky here because we actually have more options. We not only have brands from around the world available here, and our own Indian brands, but we also have the option of mattresswalas who can create customized mattresses for us in all shapes, sizes, and quality for reasonable prices. The report will answer the question, what kind of mattress should you look for/order.

So when you receive the report next week, refer to it for all your mattress needs. And hopefully, you will soon be sleeping, snug as a billionaire.

To sleeping well,

Anisa Virji

Mattress Education Report

Dear Reader,

When I sent you Sleeping Like a Billionaire last week I told you about a research report on mattresses and sleeping well that we have compiled to give you information on the best mattress for you.

A good mattress is almost as important as peace of mind for a good night's sleep. If you are waking up with aches and pains, or without the renewed vigour you should have in the morning, maybe it is time to examine the mattress you spend about a third of your life on.

This report will deal head-on with some of the generally known and little known concepts about sleep. For example, if you thought (as I did) that a hard mattress is best for your back, then this report will tell you why it's not.

If you're interested in a better sleeping experience without changing your mattress - other sleep accessories can help you with that, and these are tackled in the report as well.

Click here to access the Mattress Education report.

To a great night's sleep,

Anisa Virji Managing Editor, Wealth Builders Club.

Living Rich #3: Eating As Well As (or Better Than) a Billionaire

Let's start with the food you eat. Very, very important. It determines your health.

It affects your mood. It can add to or subtract from your happiness. And there is even evidence that it can affect your wealth.

In terms of living rich, eating well-by almost any measure - is at the top of the list.

Wealthy people, as a group, tend to eat better than their less - wealthy counterparts. Studies show that they know more about food, are more discriminating in their purchases, and spend more time enjoying their meals. And the richest of the rich-billionaires-have a life expectancy that's three- and- a- half years longer than that of the average person, according to Forbes magazine.

Rich people tend to eat healthier because they realize that food is fuel. It fires their bodies' engines so they can accomplish the work they want to do. But they also spend more time eating. They eat a greater variety of foods at a more leisurely pace. They are more likely to drink wine with their meals. And they are more likely to link meals with conversation.

Food is undoubtedly one of the great pleasures in life. But it can also be a significant danger. If you aren't careful about what you eat, you can very easily become overweight, fatigued, and sick.

In this essay, I am going to explore the world of eating well. My premise, as with the other topics we are covering in this series, is that you can eat as well as a billionaire on a surprisingly limited budget.

Eating well, in this sense, means eating the best foods, in the best combinations, in the most enjoyable ways. It means developing eating habits that nourish your body and mind. It means looking forward to all of your meals-whether at or outside of your home.

What are the best foods? There are many ways to answer that question. First and foremost, the best foods are those that are not only delicious but also nutritious.

Nutrition is a developing science. At one time, most of the information we received about the quality of food came from the government, and the food industry funded and influenced its research. We were given a food pyramid that was extremely heavy with starches and other low-value carbohydrates.

Nowadays, thanks to independent research, we know that the most nutritious foods are real foods-foods that Mother Nature intended for us to eat. These include farm-raised animals and organic fruits and vegetables. Such foods are somewhat more expensive. But as you will see as you read on, you can still include a generous portion of them in your diet without overspending.

It Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

Want to enjoy a billion-dollar meal?

Pick up a bottle of chilled lassi, some well-grilled tikkas, just-baked tandoori roti and fresh mint chutney. Then go to a park, sit yourself down beneath a tree, and have a leisurely hour - long lunch.

Or invite a few close friends over for an impromptu chaat party - tangy paani puri and ragda pattice. Serve it with healthy sandesh mithai and a steaming cup of masala chai.

Or take a loved one to the best restaurant in town before the crowd gets there. Order several of your favorite appetizers, accompany them with a glass of beer, and enjoy the ambience.

Dining rich is not about fancy. And it's not about cost. It's about high-quality food and drink in a relaxing atmosphere with people you enjoy.

The Carbohydrate Myth

With the recent surge in the popularity of low-carb diets, carbohydrates have been getting a bad reputation. But research suggests that complex carbohydrates are actually not fattening. On the contrary, our bodies need carbs - they are a primary source of energy for us.

What's important is to choose healthy complex carbs which bring nutrients and fibre with them, versus simple starchy ones that break down directly into glucose. A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything 'white' - white bread, white rice, or refined white sugar are all bad for you. Better alternatives include whole wheat bread, brown or wild rice, and natural sugars, such as those occurring in fruits.

Healthy carbs you can include in your diet include: Curds, beans, lentils and several fresh fruits and vegetables, like apples, bananas, carrots, and green leafy vegetables, which contain carbohydrates in lower amounts.

Fibre is an especially important form of carbohydrate; the body cannot break it down and it simply passes through, aiding digestion and restoring the body's sugar levels. So it's important to increase the amount of fibre in your diet. Consider meal options that include whole grains like brown rice, ragi, oats, split peas and lentils, almonds, pistachios, greens and potatoes.

You can also indulge in snacks like steamed idlis and dhoklas, as well as popcorn, which are good options to keep you light and give you the required carb content. Chef Jeff Pirtle, founder of The Billionaire Diet, discovered this while cooking for celebrities and some of the richest people in the world.

Whether they were at home in their multimillion-dollar mansions, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, or at a restaurant, Pirtle observed that wealthy people who understood eating well ate simply. They ate natural foods, freshly purchased and intelligently (but not necessarily elaborately) prepared.

And for these folks, less is more. As Pirtle points out, “Billionaires and celebrities like to eat amazing food and look great (even while on vacation). How could they go swimming off the back deck of the yacht if they ate a full and rich lunch? And how could they enjoy themselves at those ultra - chic nightclubs if they were weighed down from dinner?”

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” - Henry Ford

There is no food police watching you shop for groceries. No one cares if you buy frozen chicken nuggets instead of a farm - raised roaster. No one cares if you fill your cart with canned and packaged foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The reason to buy quality food is that the quality of your life depends on it. Cheap fuel gunks up cars. Junk food has the same effect on your body. It may provide some momentary comfort (as all bad habits do). But it forces your digestive system to work overtime to try to process it. That makes you tired and grumpy. And it makes you want to eat more junk.

Yesterday, I stopped at the market to pick up a few things. While I was checking over the organic avocados, a young couple walked up to the display. The girl picked up one of the avocados and said, “Oh, these look so good. Let's get some!”

The fellow, noticing the price, said, “Two for $5 (about Rs 300)! No way!” The girl put the avocado back, and they walked away.

I have no doubt that they spent at least $5 in the market that day. But it was probably on dead food that tastes like the box it came in. Food full of unhealthy fats and carbohydrates, rather than the healthy fats and vitamins in a live avocado.

If you stay away from high-quality food because you think it's too expensive, this is a mindset that you need to lose. In the long run, it is actually cost-effective. For one thing, you eat less of it. More importantly, the hidden cost of eating poorly is reflected in the higher cost of health care. And when I say “health care,” I include treatment for depression and anxiety.

Healthy Eating Is Easier Than It Sounds

So where do you start? The first thing is to get real. Literally.

Real Protein

For vegetarians, don't waste your hard-earned cash on the packaged paneer that you get in your local grocery store. Home - made, or straight from a dairy, paneer from toned milk tastes better and has high levels of protein and calcium. For non-vegetarians, chicken from the local market is a healthier choice than packaged ones in retail supermarkets. I encourage you to taste- test them yourself. You won't believe the difference. For seafood, look for wild-caught, fresh-water fish.

Real Fruits and Vegetables

Nutritionally speaking, green and yellow vegetables are unbeatable-high in fiber and antioxidants. Go easy on potatoes, and eat a minimum amount of corn. From a metabolic perspective, corn is pretty much the same as candy. It gives you a rush, and it's addictive. Low-glycemic vegetables, on the other hand, keep insulin levels steady.

Organic produce is available in just about every grocery store. And, in season, you'll find a wide variety of fruits and vegetables at your local market, including tomatoes that really taste like tomatoes.

When you buy organic, it's not just about taste. Conventionally grown produce can be loaded with pesticides. And the risk of cross-contamination is so great that many grocers do not even store organics and conventional produce near each other.

Real Nuts and Seeds

Nuts-raw or toasted-are the ideal between-meals snack, full of protein, vitamins, and healthy fats. With only about 100 calories, 10 almonds will tide you over-a cheaper, healthier choice than a candy bar. Nuts also add delicious crunch to a salad.

Note: You might want to steer clear of peanuts (which are actually legumes, not nuts). They are very high in calories. They are also susceptible to a mold that produces a carcinogen (aflatoxin) that has been linked to liver cancer.

Real Fat

As I mentioned, fat is a vital part of a healthy diet. Real fat-from animals, eggs, avocados, and good oils like olive oil. Ghee is another form of healthy fat, which in addition to India, is now gaining poularity around the world. What you want to avoid is man - made trans fats, which are produced by hydrogenating liquid vegetable oils to make them solid. The result is a product with a very long shelf life. Good for your grocer, not so good for you.

Rule of thumb: Stay away from anything with the word “hydrogenated” on the label. That includes most margarines and processed foods.

Make the Most of Every Trip to the Market

Here are some tips:

Every grocery store runs weekly specials. So make sure you look up the deals in the store before you make your purchase. And when something you use is on sale, stock up.

Always shop with a list.

Look for seasonal produce. You can get the basics (onions, carrots) year-round. But cherries will be expensive in June. And they won't taste nearly as good as they do in September, October and November.

For the freshest produce, frequent local markets close to your home.

Keep the makings of a healthy meal on hand at all times. Non-perishable items like tomato puree, pasta, and canned baked beans are true convenience foods.

Forget packaged and frozen convenience foods. Use the money you save by not buying these items to buy real food. The highest-quality food you can afford is always a bargain.

Hone Your Cooking Skills

Salmon: Always Delicious

Salmon is good food, no matter how you prepare it. If you don't want to fire up the grill, try baking it in the oven with this recipe.

You can even roast some broccoli at the same time. Try this recipe, and you'll have a delicious meal on the table in a half-hour or less.

Enjoy a glass of wine while the food cooks, and you'll be eating and drinking as well as any billionaire.

You don't have to be a professional chef to prepare good, healthy meals. It doesn't take hours and hours and dozens of ingredients. And it doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment. One good, sharp knife is essential. A set of heavy-gauge aluminium pots and pans is an investment that will last a lifetime.

Roasting or grilling a piece of chicken or fish couldn't be easier. While it cooks, put together a salad or stir-fry some colourful veggies to go with it. A chunk of fresh, crusty bread rounds out the menu. For dessert? Maybe a perfectly ripe pear.

That said, here are a few things that can make a big difference in the taste and quality of your cooking:

✓ Fresh herbs. You can buy a nice bunch of parsley or cilantro or basil that will add incomparable flavour and colour to your food. Even better, grow a few pots of your favourite herbs in a sunny window.

✓ Dried herbs and spices. Dried herbs and spices not only add flavour to meals, but they also have health benefits. Keep in mind that they lose their punch over time. Ground spices like paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg keep for two to three years. And whole spices (peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks) are good for three to five years.

✓ Spice mixes and rubs. Great to have on hand. But don't buy them. Make your own. [These could include garam masalas, pav bhaji mixes and sambhar powders.]

✓ Homemade stock. Making stock from scratch is nearly a lost art. But that's what makes the soups and stews and sauces of professional chefs so extraordinary. The thing is-it isn't hard to do! And the payoff is tremendous. Click here for a good basic recipe.

✓ Top-quality condiments. Good mustard, great olive oil, capers, olives, chutneys, and anchovy paste add depths of flavour to food that you can't get any other way.

Eating Well for Generations

If you still have kids at home, get them involved in your efforts. Helping you with meal planning and preparation can be part of the quality time every family needs to spend together. At the very least, the entire family-no matter how busy everyone is-should sit down at the table three or four nights a week for good food and conversation. When our boys were still at home, this was a priority that we all honoured and appreciated.

Eating well is much more than food for the body. It brings people together. It nourishes the soul. It works that way whether the meal is a picnic or a holiday spread. It works that way whether the scotch costs Rs 2,000 or Rs 10,000.

Make it the best and most rewarding part of your day.

Making a Meal Memorable

Recently, my friend told me how much his daughter Anaya enjoyed a weekend trip to their friend's farm just outside Mumbai. I was surprised. I didn't think anything could top Anaya's obsession with her iPad and Chhota Bheem. What had made the biggest impression on her, he said, was sitting around the breakfast table in the big farm kitchen.

“In fact,” he said, “She hasn't stopped talking about it.” Part of it was the plentiful food-the fresh eggs, and picking fruit. But what she really loved was all the adult conversation. The first morning, she just soaked it up. But by the second morning, he was participating, jumping in to ask questions, engaged and happy.

“We rarely eat together at home,” my friend said, “I see now what a mistake that is. We've got to take the time to relax and enjoy being with each other at meal times. We're not going to be able to do it with every meal. But I'm going to make sure we do it regularly!”

As the French say, serving a memorable meal is about more than the food. It's about creating an experience-an ambience that encourages your guests to savour their time at your table, as well as the delicious food you've prepared. And you don't have to be a billionaire to do it.

Here are a few suggestions:

Purchase a new set of dishes. If your dishes are old, mismatched, or chipped, consider gifting yourself with a new set. Inexpensive options are available everywhere - from local markets to home stores like Shoppers' Stop and Westside that stock the famous Correlle brand, you can get a 21-piece set for less than Rs 8,000. You're worth that… and you'll feel “richer” right away when you are using it.

Add some glassware. Watch for sales-there are plenty of them!-and avail of discounts at stores like Westside, Contemporary Arts and Crafts and Good Earth.) Billionaires may have dozens of glasses and goblets in every conceivable size and shape. If you have one for wine and one for water, that'll do you.

Feed your senses. Background music, candles, and fragrant flowers are a few inexpensive ways to enhance any meal.

Dress up the table. A tablecloth and napkins (real ones, not paper) make even leftover night feel like a special occasion.

Dine out on a Real Billionaire's Favourite Foods

Want to enjoy one of Mukesh Ambani's favourite meals? Head over to Mysore Café at Matunga or the chaatwala off Chandni Chowk in Delhi.

Yes, the richest man in India can eat off the road as easily as he can eat in a five-star hotel… as long as it's vegetarian. He enjoys home-cooked vegetarian food and follows his late father's philiosophy of “keeping the cooking simple”.

Ambani loves idli-sambhar at Mysore Café in Matunga. A lavish meal for two here is approx Rs 250 (Doesn't cost much, right?)

Seven Tips for Restaurant Meals

I'm a big fan of “eating in.” But I also enjoy the occasional restaurant meal. And when I do, I do my best to spend my money wisely.

Here's what I mean…

When you want to try a very pricey restaurant, order just a drink and an appetizer. You'll get all of the ambience and service for a fraction of the money. An appetizer at a great restaurant is much more enjoyable than a big meal at some ordinary eatery. It's better for your soul-and your health.

For business lunches, identify the very best place in town and become a regular customer. Learn the owner's name and get friendly with the staff. They'll always treat you like a VIP, even if all you ever order is the salad.

Take advantage of happy hours. Meet a friend or business colleague for a quick drink and snack. You can catch up or close a deal and be on your way home for dinner.

Skip the soft drinks. These are just fillers for kids and adults alike. Why spend a couple of bucks on them when water is the best thirst quencher?

Try new places. It's easy to get stuck in a restaurant rut. If you notice a new place going in, even if it's a bit nondescript, stop in and check it out. Many ethnic places don't have the financial backing of a corporate franchise, and the food might be very authentic. You won't know if you don't give it a try.

Watch for deals. Restaurants try to generate business with special offers. I've seen mailers, coupons, emails, mobile marketing specials, and radio shopping show specials talk about some very good offers like combo meals, happy hours discounts and soup-salad lunch deals. In fact, during Restaurant Week India http://restaurantweekindia.com/ the best restaurants offer three-course meals at a fraction of the price, and is the perfect time to try them out.

Tip well. You might not spend a fortune in the restaurant, but you never want to appear cheap! Tip your server at least 15-20% before any coupons or discounts. Take care of the servers, and they will take care of you.

Now go enjoy your food! Next week, I'll send you a special report we've prepared on how to eat like a billionaire in the comfort of your own home.

Best, Mark

How to Eat Like a Billionaire in the Comfort of Your Own Home

Mark Ford Editor's Note: We have access to cuisines from around the world - and with varying levels of authenticity and trepidation we've ventured beyond our comfort palate to try world food. But it's not always easy to get a taste of real Italy, or even high-end Indian fusion cuisines. But you know what … you don't need to go out looking for interesting food… you can have these right at home. With the easy availability of international ingredients in our gourmet food stores and online, and equipped with this report, you can give your taste buds an exciting new experience…

And don't forget to check out the new Caveman diet Mark discusses at the end.

If you were a billionaire, one of the perks you might indulge in would be to hire a personal chef. Think about it. You could “order” whatever kind of food you're in the mood for… host any number of unexpected guests at the drop of a hat… treat yourself, your family, and your friends to a superior dining experience every day of the week.

Nice, yes ✓

Living rich is all about having that kind of freedom. And it doesn't take a lot of money. What it does take is an interest in the food you eat to fuel your body, a willingness to experiment, and a little planning ahead.

That said, this report outlines four cuisines that are popular with those who can afford to eat anything they want: French, Italian, Chinese, and Indian Fusion. And for “everyday” eating, the diet that Mark personally recommends.

French Cuisine: Small Portions of High-Quality Foods

The French have embraced moderation and équilibre (balance) in their diets. They set aside time for three good meals, respecting the importance of putting quality fuel in their bodies. And instead of dashing through those meals, they savor every bite.

While we snack on sweets and refined carbohydrates between meals, the French skip those empty calories and keep their weight and hearts in prime condition. They shop at local outdoor markets for fresh vegetables and fruit, locally made cheese, and fresh meat and dairy. They eat very little in the way of processed food.

Portion sizes are small-and though the French load their cuisine with butter, cream, and cheese, they eat more slowly than we do. As a result, they end up consuming fewer calories overall. Plus, they burn off a lot of calories with their lifestyle. The French designed their cities for walking, and they will almost always choose to take the stairs instead of an elevator.

An appreciation of the social aspects of dining is part of French culture. Street cafes, clubs, and mom-and-pop brasseries encourage camaraderie and conversation. The French mean a meal to be a shared experience, and it can last for hours.

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces-just good food from fresh ingredients. - Julia Child

Vadouvan - The Indian French Spice

We're keenly aware that the British took Indian curry and made it their own, while the Portuguese brought some of their own flavours to India, but the connection between Indian and French cuisine is lesser known. When the French went away they took with them a special blend of masalas made with onions, shallots, leeks and assorted roasted, toasted, ground Indian spices. They use this spice in their cooking, and it can easily be whipped up in our blenders to use for the unique French Indian flavor.

The Colours of Indian Cooking site does the best version of the Vadouvan spices I have seen, and a simply must-try modified recipe for French Watercress Soup you can make with the Vadouvan. Stocking Your Pantry for French Cooking

✓ Dairy Butter, unsalted - the foundation of all French cooking. There is no substitute and no compromise. It's as important as ghee (clarified butter) is important to Indian cooking. Cheeses - for cooking and to serve with fruit Cream - crème fraîche (thick, tangy, almost like hung curd) and crème fleurette (like heavy whipping cream). ✓ Seasonings Pepper - black and white Salt - sea salt for cooking; fleur de sel for finishing Herbs and spices - especially bay leaf, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, thyme, and cloves. A blend commonly used in southern France is herbes de Provence (dried basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory, and thyme) Vinegars - white wine, red wine, champagne, and sherry vinegars. For cooking and to season vegetables and salad dressings Oils - the French cook with butter, not oil. But they use olive oil in salad dressings, and they use nut oils, such as walnut and hazelnut (sparingly), for seasoning Chicken stock-as a base for most stews, soups, and sauces Anchovies - jarred and/or paste Mustard-Dijon, of course. ✓ Fruit and Vegetables Any fresh, seasonal fruit Any fresh, seasonal vegetables-especially artichokes, brinjal, and tomatoes Canned tomatoes Leeks Mushrooms Olives Potatoes Shallots - indispensable, and now widely available in India Lemons. ✓ Protein Fresh eggs, fish, and meat Nuts - walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds Beans and legumes - dried and/or canned Sardines and tuna packed in oil Cured meats (sausage, salami).

Italian Cuisine: A Diverse Culinary Experience From Northern, Central, and Southern Italy

There are 20 distinct regions in Italy, and each has its own cuisine. The one thing they all have in common: The food is made from the freshest local ingredients.

Northern Italy, for example, has a colder climate. So its cuisine - risottos, gnocchi, and polenta - tends to be heavier. Much of Central Italy is on the seacoast-so it specializes in seafood. In the south, the cooking is more rustic. (This is where you find the pasta and pizza.)

Italian Food at the Indian Table

Indians and Italian cultures converge gracefully at one point of common love - that for food. It brings families together, it is a display of love, and an integral part of festivals and celebrations. Perhaps that is why Italian food is such a big hit in India. Not only are there Italian restaurants of various levels of authenticity mushrooming in every city, pasta is now a staple in many households. Even the Indian favourite Maggi noodles has given in and created pasta options.

Replete with vegetarian options - and heavy on carbs - like Indian food - both cuisines spell comfort food. It's easy to cook and ingredients can be found everywhere. Several renowned Indian chefs have contributed to our Italian cooking skills, such as Tarla Dalal, Sanjeev Kapoor, and the energetic Vicky Ratnani

Stocking Your Pantry for Italian Cooking

The better the quality (notably the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and cheese), the tastier and more authentic the result.

✓ Olive Oil - for frying or sautéing, use an inexpensive, pure olive oil. For flavoring (drizzling on pasta, salads, or grilled vegetables), use the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford. ✓ Balsamic Vinegar - for marinades, vinaigrettes, seasoning vegetables, and reductions. ✓ Tomatoes - use fresh, ripe tomatoes whenever possible. For canned tomatoes, choose whole, peeled tomatoes instead of chopped or crushed. ✓ Cheese - in addition to fresh mozzarella, keep at least one grating cheese (such as Parmesan, or Romano) on hand.

A note about Parmigiano-Reggiano: Only cheese produced in a limited area around Parma may be sold as Parmigiano-Reggiano. Its richness and texture make it an excellent grating cheese, as well as a table cheese. ✓ Pasta - imported pasta from Italy made from semolina flour is your best choice. Barilla or De Cecco are two good brands. Long pastas (angel hair, fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti) for lighter sauces. Short pastas (bow ties, cavatelli, elbow, penne, rigatoni, shells, ziti) for chunky sauces. ✓ Rice - arborio is the type most commonly used for risotto. It has a translucent, starchy exterior that melts away in cooking to give the risotto its distinctive creamy consistency. ✓ Legumes - legumes are a good source of healthy protein. Great in soups and cold salads. Dried or canned, and with an unlimited shelf life, these are must-haves: Cannellini beans Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) Kidney beans Lentils. ✓ Dried Porcini Mushrooms - look for packages that have large slices of mushrooms and a strong smell. Porcinis can be expensive, but a little goes a long way. Store them in an airtight container, and they'll keep a long time. (Tip: Keep the water used to rehydrate them. Strained, it will add flavor to soups and sauces.) ✓ Garlic - buy firm, fat heads of garlic and store them in a cool, dry place. If you keep them in the refrigerator, use a paper bag. Jarred, minced garlic can be an okay substitute for fresh. ✓ Herbs - especially basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. ✓ Anchovies, Capers, and Olives ✓ Prosciutto - especially Prosciutto di Parma, a ham cured in the province of Parma. ✓ Fresh Produce - especially tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant.

Olive Oil Shopping Tips Heat, air, light, and age are enemies of olive oil. Buy it in a dark glass bottle with a long, narrow neck. Store it in a dark, cool place. Watch bottling and expiration dates. Extra virgin is the purest, most nutrient - rich type. The longer olives go between picking and processing, the higher their free fatty acid content. Extra virgin olive oils can have up to 0.8% and are of higher quality, as the olives used to make them are processed within 24 hours of picking. (Virgin oils have up to 2%.) Manufacturers crush olives into a mash to process extra virgin and virgin olive oils. They press the mash to extract the oil (called the “first press”) without the use of heat (called “cold pressing”). Olive oil labeled “pure” or simply “olive oil” is below extra virgin and virgin standards. It's heavily processed, which removes flavor, aroma, and healthful polyphenols. Beware of marketing terms like “light,” “lite,” and “extra - light.” They refer to the mild flavor and/or color of highly refined oils, not reduced calorie content. The color of the oil has nothing to do with its quality. The variety and ripeness of the olives used to make it determines its quality. “Product of Italy” means that the manufacturer processed the oil in Italy. It does not necessarily mean that the company grew the olives there.

Chinese Cuisine: A Menu of Harmony and Balance

Chinese is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, and by extension, in India. However, most people are not familiar with its spiritual foundation. Two great philosophies, Confucianism and Taoism, contributed to the way the Chinese people prepare and serve it. From these philosophies came the concepts of harmony and balance - the importance of combining complementary meats and vegetables… hot and cold dishes… sweet and sour flavors.

There are five distinct regional styles that you should be familiar with: Shandong, Szechuan, Huaiyang, Guangdong, and Beijing.

Shandong Cuisine

People know Shandong cuisine for its wide variety of ingredients: seafood, grains, poultry, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The food is an interesting mix of salty/savory flavor and tender/crispy texture. Two cooking methods dominate: bao (quick stir-frying over high heat) and ta (frying and simmering in soup or sauce).

Szechuan Cuisine

Szechuan cuisine is spicy - a balance of six basic flavors: bitter, hot spicy, salty, sweet, tangy, and tingly spicy. Five-spice powder, chilli paste, garlic, ginger, prickly ash-hot pepper, and vinegar-pepper give it its zing.

Huaiyang Cuisine

Huaiyang cuisine is fresh, light, and sweeter than the other major Chinese cuisines. Typical cooking methods include stewing, steaming, braising, and stir-frying. The appearance of the food is important. It is meticulously prepared, with elegant shapes, delicate carving, and exquisite workmanship.

Guangdong (Cantonese) Cuisine

Guangdong cuisine is probably the one you are most familiar with. The main seasonings are soy sauce and ginger, and the main “tastes” are sour, sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, and fresh.

Beijing Cuisine

Beijing is in the northern part of China, where wheat is grown. So dumplings and noodles made from flour are more common in this cuisine than rice. The flavors are light and subtle. The major condiments are oyster sauce, fermented soybean sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar.

A Typical Chinese Meal The Chinese serve several “main dishes,” as opposed to one. The meal includes a couple of meat dishes (chicken, beef, or pork), a vegetable, fish or seafood, and a soup. The chef places all of the food on the table at once, and everybody helps themselves.

A balanced Chinese meal has two elements:

the fan element - grains and starches. In the southern provinces, it's normally white rice; in the north, noodles or dumplings. the tsai element - meat and vegetables, cooked in a variety of ways to produce a range of flavors and textures.

Stocking Your Pantry for Chinese Cuisine

Chinese cuisine takes a fair amount of prep time, but the cooking itself is usually quick. If you get serious about it, you'll need a lot of ingredients, starting with these:

✓ Rice and Chinese Noodles ✓ Fresh Produce - especially garlic, ginger, scallions, snow peas, bean sprouts, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and Chinese eggplant ✓ Canned Veggies - starting with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts ✓ Dried Chinese Mushrooms and Chilies ✓ Vegetable Oil - Chinese cooking often requires high heat for a short period of time. Olive oil isn't suitable. Soybean, canola, corn, or peanut oils are. ✓ Seasonings Sesame oil-for flavor, not for cooking White pepper-Chinese cooking rarely uses black pepper Star anise - a stewing or braising spice Five-spice powder - a combination of peppercorns, star anise, cloves, fennel, cinnamon, and sometimes coriander seeds Whole cloves - used in stewing and braising Szechuan pepper - also known as flower pepper, but it is technically not a pepper. It is the dried fruit of a variety of prickly ash tree. It is used extensively in Szechuan cooking, hence the name Dried hot chilies-widely used in Southwestern Chinese cooking from Szechuan, Hunan, and Yunnan provinces Ginger - available candied, pickled, or powdered, as well as fresh. ✓ Cooking Sauces and Condiments Soy sauce-light soy sauce is the “table” soy sauce you find in a Chinese restaurant. It is the initial product of the soy sauce making process. Soy sauce producers create dark soy sauce by aging light soy sauce for two to three months. The aging produces a slightly sweet taste, a darker color, and a thicker consistency. Dark soy sauce is used for cooking. Oyster sauce - Boiling oysters down to a thick, pungent sauce originally created this sauce. Due to the exorbitant price of oysters, chefs combine oysters with other seafood to make this sauce. Hoisin sauce - useful as a marinade for barbecued meat, as a dipping sauce, or as an ingredient in stir-fry. Chili sauce - to add heat to just about anything, during cooking or at the table. Rice vinegar - very popular with the Chinese.

Fusion Indian Cuisine: Traditional Ingredients Meet Cosmopolitan Sensibilities

Fusion cuisine is a little homely and a little exotic. It's been described as fresh, traditional ingredients married to a cosmopolitan, upscale sensibility.

Chefs have the ability to toy with flavors and techniques from India's melting pot of cuisines. They can include everything from traditional comfort food to global culinary creativity.

A Sampling of Indian Fusion Innovation

As the Times of India puts it: “If you think hilsa should be dipped and eaten only with thick mustard sauce or kulfi should be had only with faluda, then think again! Here's a palate of contemporary fusion cuisine for the global Indian, who likes a bit of tartar sauce on his dum aloo or gulab jamuns dripping in chocolate fondue!”

Here are a few recipes that have been featured on fusion cuisine menus in India:

Rasmalai-Mascarpone Cheese Cake of Chef Devraj Halder, Crowne Plaza Delhi Lamb shanks with mashed potato of Chef Vicky Ratnani, Aurus, Mumbai Young Turmeric Bekti with Chenin Blanc of Chef Mayank Tiwari, Smoke House Grill, Delhi Exotic Mediterranean Veggies Bengali style of Chef Pitamber, Sartoria, Delhi Mushroom Salad with Parmesan, White Wine & Tamarind Chutney of Chef Abhijit Saha, Caperberry Restaurant and Tapas Lounge, Bangalore

Stocking Your Pantry for Fusion Indian Cuisine

Fresh, seasonal ingredients are the cornerstones of new cuisine. But keeping staples in stock gives you the ability to let your creativity run wild whenever a trip to your local market inspires you. These are your must - haves:

✓ Whole Grains - including brown rice, bulgur wheat, and quinoa ✓ Cheeses ✓ Canned and Dried Beans and Legumes ✓ High-Quality Canned Tomatoes ✓ Nuts - especially raw almonds and unsalted peanut butter or almond butter ✓ Fresh Lemons and Limes ✓ Fresh Garlic and Ginger ✓ Fresh Herbs - parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, dill, rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano ✓ Dried Herbs and Spices - including whole cloves and peppercorns, curry powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg ✓ Oils - including ordinary olive oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil for drizzling and dipping, canola or peanut oil for high-heat cooking ✓ Vinegars - including at least one bottle of aged balsamic.

With this cuisine the chef steps in the kitchen with reinvention on his mind. “Without a doubt, people eat with their eyes long before they lift a bite to their mouths, so I continue to look for a playful yet respectful way to create excitement on the plate.”

WBC's Recommendation: Mark's Version of the So-Called “Mediterranean Diet”

The Mediterranean diet is more a lifestyle choice than a diet. Experts base it on the traditional food and mindset of the sunny, warm countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Spain, France, and Crete.

Extensive studies have shown that lifelong good health strongly correlates to this eating pattern. It protects against certain cancers and Alzheimer's disease, helps with weight loss, and improves brain function.

Here it is…

✓ Plant Sources Eat lots of whole grains (whole grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta) Eat lots of beans, legumes, and seeds Choose seasonal and locally grown fruits and vegetables (for maximum micronutrient and antioxidant content) Try for 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day Snack on nuts-almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. Choose natural peanut butter, rather than peanut butter with hydrogenated fat added. Nuts are high in fat (approximately 80% of their calories come from fat), but most of the fat is not saturated. Still, they should be eaten in small quantities- generally no more than a handful per day. For the best nutrition, avoid honey-roasted, heavily salted, chocolate-covered, or candied nuts. ✓ Protein Eat fish and seafood at least twice per week. Fatty fish, such as albacore tuna (fresh or water-packed), herring, lake trout, mackerel, salmon, and sardines are rich sources of highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids Eat moderate amounts of chicken and turkey Reduce your consumption of red meat to a few times per month. Keep the portion size down too. Bacon, sausage, and other high-fat meats should be avoided. ✓ Miscellaneous Use olive oil or canola oil instead of butter. Strongly discouraged are saturated fats and hydrogenated fats (trans fats) Eat low-fat dairy products in moderation. That includes yogurt, cheese, milk, and ice cream Enjoy a glass of red wine at dinner (if it's okay with your doctor), and take the time to truly enjoy the meal with friends and family.

“A lot of this diet is good,” says Mark. “The problem is that it is heavy on carbs. And it is carbs, not fat, that are destroying the health of people in this country. The diet also perpetuates the myth that eating foods high in dietary cholesterol leads to high blood cholesterol. In fact, red meat, eggs, and dairy products are excellent sources of protein.

“I used to avoid red meat, eggs, butter, and ice cream. I used to eat whole grains with every meal. That seemed to work when I was young. But when I hit my 40s, my weight ballooned up to 100 kgs.

“Years later, I began a working relationship with Dr. Al Sears. When I started to follow his recommendations, I noticed an improvement in the way I felt right away.”

He provides a complete plan of action in his book The Doctor's Heart Cure. Basically, he tells us to eat the way our cavemen ancestors ate, because that's our natural diet. Here's the way he puts it in the book:

You don't have to count calories or record fat grams to achieve your ideal weight and maintain optimal cardiovascular health. All you have to do is to eat the same ratio and quality of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that we have for ages. How are you going to do that? Get started by remembering these three easy principles:

Principle #1: Eat protein at every meal.

Principle #2: Limit carbohydrate intake.

Principle #3: Eat natural fats.

So How Does Mark Eat - and How Should You Eat for Optimal Health and Energy?

Mark follows Dr. Sears' “caveman” diet. In simplest terms, this is what it means:

Make quality protein the centerpiece of every meal. This should include non- contaminated fish such as wild salmon, sardines, or young tuna, as well as grass- fed meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, and beans.

Eat a wide variety of herbs, leafy greens, and vegetables every day, as well as a moderate amount of fruit.

Eat plenty of healthy fats. The best fats are in cold-water fish and fish oil. Nuts, eggs, and grass - fed beef also have good fats. Use olive oil and coconut oil.

Avoid processed carbohydrates. Don't eat anything made from grains or potatoes.

What you eat is a matter of personal choice. But to stay productive and energetic, we recommend that you try for a similar balance of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber.

When you're full of energy, your goals will be easier to tackle. And you'll enjoy their achievement even more when you're feeling healthy and strong.

Living Rich #4: Drinking As Well As (or Better Than) a Billionaire

The phrase “drinking like a billionaire” conjures up dusty, 100-year-old French wine and thousand-dollar bottles of champagne. But there is more to it-at least, in my mind.

Wine is certainly at the top of my list, but I've learned to appreciate certain other beverages. Single-malt scotch is one of them. And nowadays, you can add vodka and bourbon and even tequila to that list. Coffee must be included. Like wine and other alcoholic beverages, coffee has become a very sophisticated drink.

And although I don't often drink tea, I recognize that, for many people, especially in India, tea is as rich and varied a beverage as coffee. So I will add tea to our list. And, finally, there is beer-good old beer. For most of my life, beer occupied a lower station in my imagination. But today, with all of the fine imported and domestic beers that micro-breweries produce with care and distinction, it deserves our attention.

As with every other material good that we are exploring in this series, there are lots of mundane beverages available to the average consumer. But there are also many world-class nectars that can immeasurably enhance the experience of life.

Our mission here is the same as always: to examine how rich-minded people enjoy beverages and to identify world-class beverages you can buy on a modest (i.e., intelligent) budget.

We will begin with a short introduction to wine (soon to be accompanied by a longer report I'm writing on the subject), followed by liquor, beer, coffee, and tea.

Wine

There is a reason that champagne is associated with wealth: For most of the 20th century in America, champagne was very expensive.

The same is true of the great red wines. How often in books and movies does the hero demonstrate his sophistication by ordering a vintage bordeaux?

When I was a child, Americans drank very little wine and produced even less. Then, sometime in my early teens (the 1960s), I began to see wine commercials on TV. Not too many, but a few. By the time I was 18 (and old enough to drink wine legally back then), Americans were drinking more wine. But it was nothing, compared with the French or the Italians. Even the English drank more than we did.

Wine's popularity in America soared in the 1980s and 1990s and today, the U.S. produces about 2.5 billion liters of wine every year, and Americans consume nearly 3 billion liters-this deemed the largest consumer and fourth-largest producer in the world.

Around the same time India saw a revival of the wine industry as well. Although viticulture is said to have been introduced in India around 4th century BC, wine production ceased after independence during prohibition. Now, with vineyards making a reappearance in India over the last couple of decades, and several competing brands producing good wine, there is an increasing consumption of wine by the growing Indian middle class.

Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, too-aided by sunny climates-became major producers, consumers, and exporters. Then Argentina and Chile got into the game. The world production of wine is now 26 billion liters per year. And I can't think of a country I've visited in the past 10 years (including India and Thailand) that doesn't produce at least some local wine.

As the wine industry grew, so did a subset of the wine-drinking population who appreciated good wine. In my college years, there were few books in English about wine and almost no magazines. Today, there are dozens.

The same is true of the choices wine drinkers have. Back then, the “big” producers and distributors promoted to an unsophisticated palate.

Most people were drinking white wines and roses. Today, any decent-sized wine store has dozens of good choices in every category -from American cabernets to Italian barolos, to Australian merlots, to Indian rieslings.

[Rose wine is a light pink wine made from purple grapes. The winemaker removes the skins from the juice during fermentation as soon as the wine reaches the desired rose color.]

This means you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a full and rich enjoyment of wine.

Mythology and the Enjoyment of Good Wine

The secret to drinking wine like a billionaire is to have a basic knowledge of wine and to know what you like.

Knowing what you like is not as easy as it might sound. As with other areas of enjoyment (such as art and literature), your palate will continue to change and mature.

My recommendation is to commit to spending 10-20 hours on learning about wines-the varieties, the production methods, and the protocols for storage and drinking. Then begin drinking many different kinds, making conscious (even written) notations about what you like and/or don't like.

The goal is not to become a wine connoisseur, but to get to the point at which you can truly enjoy what you are drinking. That means knowing enough to make good choices and having the confidence to be comfortable with your taste.

To help you along the way, here are a few common myths about wine that you should be aware of.

Good wine is expensive. Countless “blind” taste tests have proven the fallacy of this idea. (A blind taste test is one in which the experts do not know the variety or brand or vintage of the wines they are tasting.) Every blind test I've read about includes, among the favourites, several bottles of inexpensive (less than Rs 1000 per bottle) wine.

Red wine is better than white wine, and white wine is better than rose. I don't know where this idea came from, but it is silly. When I hear someone say, “I drink only red wine,” I think, “This guy knows nothing about wine.” I have the same thought when someone talks about rose as if it were somehow illegitimate. The fact is that there are plenty of great white and rose wines. And sometimes they are better suited to a meal than reds.

Ignore rules about matching wine with food. Drink what you like. This is a myth that cropped up among American wine advocates. It sounds smart and egalitarian. But I can assure you that after you have tasted many bottles of wine, you will come to the conclusion that the old rules about pairing wine with food make a lot of sense.

It doesn't matter what sort of glass you drink from. Another example of pseudo-sophistication. Yes, I admit that there have been a few impressive studies that demonstrated that ordinary wine drinkers are insensitive to the glasses they drink from.

It is also true that the French and Italians-people who have always drunk wine as an essential part of their lives-sometimes use simple glassware. But there is a difference in the enjoyment of wine if you pay attention to the type of glass you use. And that new fad-stemless wine glasses-is just too dumb to talk about.

Cork corks are superior. The traditional wine cork is made from cork. And some traditionalists argue that cork corks are better. In fact, synthetic corks are better at preserving wine than cork corks. And bottle caps-the most undignified of all-are better still.

Good wine is aged wine. The fact is, only a small percentage of wine varieties get better with age. French bordeaux and non-French cabernet sauvignons certainly do. So do French burgundies and non-French pinot noirs. Most roses and white wines don't need aging. The same is true of many red wines. How to Enjoy Wine

You don't need to put on a big act to enjoy wine. You don't need to sniff the cork. And you don't need to decant young (less than, say, seven or eight years old) wine. But there are some traditional wine tasting protocols that are helpful.

First, do look at the bottle when the waiter offers it to you in a restaurant-and check to make sure he/she gave you the wine and the year that you asked for. How often the wrong bottle can appear at your table will astound you. Since the specific type and vintage very much determine the cost of the wine, you don't want to be the victim of a bait-and-switch routine.

Second, do hold the glass up to the light to see the colour of the wine. Colour can tell a sophisticated wine drinker a lot. As a beginner, you simply want to notice whether the wine you're about to drink is light or dark… whether the colour is uniform or lighter/darker at the edges.

Third, do put your nose to the glass and sniff the wine before tasting it. At first, this may feel sort of snobby. But, in fact, much of the pleasure of wine comes from its “bouquet” (aroma).

Fourth, after that initial sniff, put the wine glass on the table and, holding it by the base, move it in a circular manner. This will cause the wine to move within the glass and “oxidate.” Oxidation happens when the wine is exposed to air. It helps bring the wine to its best quality. It tends to reduce the sharpness that comes from tannins.

Tannins are a wine's pucker power. They are generally more dominant in younger red wines that have had the time to soften up with age. Tannins come from the skins, stems, and seeds of the grapes used to produce the wine.

Tannins are often described as the component that “dries out the mouth” in red wines. Tannins are largely responsible for giving red wines a defined structure- somewhat like how a skeleton provides for body support and movement.

Fifth, raise the glass to your nose and take another sniff. See if the bouquet has changed at all. Is it more mellow? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is to be conscious of the change if a change has occurred.

You guys (and gals) are great! I rarely respond to surveys or feedback requests, but your article pushed me over the edge. It was obviously well researched and is thorough and complete. Club member N C. Sixth, sip the wine, but don't swallow it immediately. Allow the wine to settle against your tongue and the back of your mouth.

You are doing this to give yourself the fullest experience of its taste. Then swallow it, noting how it tastes immediately and in the seconds that follow.

If you have selected a good wine and tasted it according to this process, you will have a good feeling for what's to come. Since the wine continues to oxidize in the glass, older wines and wines with more tannins will only get better as you continue to drink.

On rare occasions, the wine will taste like vinegar. When this happens, you should reject it. The vinegar taste means the wine is bad. At a restaurant, you should return such wine. You have no obligation to drink it.

But you should never return a wine simply because you don't love the taste. That is the ultimate sign of an amateur. The only exception is when the sommelier has recommended the wine to you and you ask him, before he opens the bottle, if you can return it if you don't like it.

Start Your Own Wine Collection

Several years ago, one of my favourite wine-drinking companions, Eddie, asked me to help him stock his new wine cellar. I reminded him that when it comes to wine, I'm proud to be an enthusiastic dabbler, not a connoisseur.

“I didn't build my cellar to impress people,” he said. “I did it so that I could fill it with good bottles of wine.”

“There are lots of books I could recommend,” I told him.

“I'm not going to read books about wine,” he replied. “Just tell me what to buy.”

So began my first effort to figure out what a good amateur wine collection should consist of. Since then, as I've learned more about wine and my preferences, I've revised my thinking a bit.

The report I'm writing for you-“Wine Appreciation Made Easy”-includes my recommendations for a small but solid collection. I'm still putting on the finishing touches, but I will send it as soon as it's ready.

And just to add, we are now customising it especially for the Indian reader! It'll be a list of all that is easily available in your neighbourhood wine store or in a mall closest to your home.

Liquor

As with wine, there are many choices in terms of kinds and brands of liquor to choose from. And many of them are good.

Rich but unsophisticated liquor drinkers tend to buy the most expensive bottles on the shelves, because they assume there is a direct correlation between quality and price. By now, you know that is not true.

To enjoy liquor, you must do pretty much what I recommended for wine. Spend 10-20 hours learning about it. Then find out what you like by doing a lot of tasting.

During the tasting process, have only one or two drinks at a time. Never more than that. Taste scotch and whiskey and bourbon and the white liquors. See how you like the taste, and then see how you feel later.

I've never understood why (although I'm sure there is an explanation), but liquor tends to affect people in different ways. I have found that dark liquors make me feel cloudy. Rum makes me angry. The light liquors are sometimes good and sometimes bad. The best liquor for me, personally, is tequila. And there are dozens of very good tequilas to choose from.

So begin by finding what kind of liquor gives you the best overall experience. That experience includes the taste, the initial feeling, and how you feel afterward. Don't assume that the liquor you prefer now is the one that is best suited to you. It may be. But you won't know till you've tested others.

Now we get to how you drink it. And here I must admit I'm going to give you a prejudiced view. My preference is to drink my liquor sparingly and on the rocks. I don't like the idea of mixers-except for a splash of water or soda. Putting soda or juice in liquor defeats the purpose of enjoying the liquor. A billionaire drinks his liquor on the rocks or “neat.”

The exception to this rule is the great American cocktail. Prohibition (from 1920-1933) gave rise to cocktails, because most of the liquor people had access to back then was very bad.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the cocktail industry invented some appealing creations. Most of them were primarily a single liquor with a small amount of something, such as bitters or natural lemon juice, to give it a twist.

During the 1970s and 1980s, bars began serving lots of sweet and creamy cocktails, especially to younger drinkers. These were often so loaded with extras that the taste of the liquor was lost. (If you want to drink like a billionaire, avoid these concoctions. If you like sweet and creamy drinks, have a milkshake.) Today, the old culture of cocktails that taste primarily of liquor are back in popularity. Some of the new ones are very good.

Stocking Your Liquor Cabinet

When money is no object, it doesn't take a whole lot of thought to stock your liquor cabinet. It's likely to include the following brands:

* Vodka - Grey Goose, Rs 6000/- for 750mL * Gin - Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin, Rs 2499/- for 750mL * Rum - Old Monk Supreme Rs 380/- for 750mL * Tequila - Tequila Camino Real Gold, Rs 3100/- for 750mL * Blended Scotch - Ballantine's 12 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky, Rs 4,800/- for 750mL * Single-Malt Scotch - Glenfiddich Solera Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky 15-Year, Rs 7110/- for 750mL

Prices and names may wary - these are sourced from: www.madhuloka.com & www.boozzr.com

Too expensive for you? Maybe. But not if you consider that you're going to get 16 shots out of a bottle. That makes a shot poured from that bottle of Glenfiddich less expensive than what you'd pay for a beer in most bars. And if you're a single-malt lover, that's a luxury you can afford.

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Editor's Note:

If you don't drink alcohol, this report is still for you, if you are interested and want to learn. As social engagements often include some alcohol it's a good idea to stay informed, but there's another reason why this report can be useful. And that's applying the same principles to the other beverages that you drink.

Coffee is one example. When it comes to coffee most north Indian households will reach for instant - Nescafe or Bru. But south India has a rich tradition of coffee drinking and produces some of the most incredible coffee. So if you get a filter which costs a few hundred rupees and make your own cup of kaapi you can enjoy some of the best coffee the world has to offer.

Tea, actually is another example. India is the world's largest producer of tea and yet we often just stick to one kind or brand. The Assamese know how to drink tea - it's a an integral part of their lives. Their tea is so pure that all they do is boil it with water to get the most beautiful black tea concoction - they call it lalchai. Green tea is also another option available now, and it is proven to have enormous health benefits. In Kashmir they add saffron, roses and almonds in their tea and call it kahwa. So every once in a while switch your regular cup of apna good old chai to sip on a cup of something different.

Mark will send us his wine appreciation report next. It is a great plethora of information - a guide like no other I've seen. Again, even if you don't drink it, do give it a glance because there is much to learn!

Happy sipping, Anisa Virji, Managing Editor, Wealth Builders Club.

Wine Appreciation Made Easy

The most important thing to know about wine is this: The price of a bottle of wine does not determine its quality.

Blind taste tests have proven this over and over again. In 1976, for example, Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, organized a tasting of wines from France and California. Much to the surprise of the 11 experts on the tasting panel, four relatively inexpensive cabernets from Napa Valley beat out much costlier contenders from such illustrious vineyards as Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion.

When the same tasting was repeated a few years later, an inexpensive cabernet from Napa Valley topped the list once again. (It’s these two well-publicized events, by the way, that put Napa Valley on the map of the wine world.)

Recently, Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion were pitted against American upstarts. This time, the American wines were from New Jersey. And though the Jersey wines didn’t quite come out on top, they ran a close second. The cost of those Jersey wines? On average, about 5% of the costs of their French counterparts.

Most wine drinkers don't think much or even care much about quality. They find a table wine they enjoy and stick to it. That is how it is in France and Italy, two of the oldest and greatest wine-producing countries.

But some wine drinkers see wine as a source of gastronomic pleasure. And with good reason. A cultivated appreciation of wine can make your life richer.

Then there is a third class of wine drinkers: the pretenders. These are people who drink “fancy” wine to impress their friends and colleagues. It's easy to spot the pretenders by the wines they buy. When champagne is called for, they order Dom Perignon or Cristal. When red wine is required, they order a Mouton Rothschild.

“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” - Ben Franklin I wouldn't normally turn to Donald Trump for advice on living rich, but he is right when he says in his book Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, “It's nice that people think Dom Perignon is a good champagne, because it is. But it isn't the best… Always remember that the most famous doesn't always equal the best. The best is a quest.”

The purpose of this report is to identify the aspects of wine that make it the unique and delicious beverage it can be and to help you use this knowledge to be able to discriminate between bad, good, and great wines and then, by comparing cost and quality, drink like a billionaire without spending like one.

I'm not an oenologist (a specialist in making wine), and I'm not suggesting you need to be one, either. The information you will find in this short report will be enough to help you avoid the silly mistakes the pretenders make and enjoy a life of wine drinking without stressing your budget.

The World of Wine

Europe remains the major producer of fine wines, but thanks to a general warming of the climate and modern improvements in viticulture, many more countries have established great vineyards. The United States and Australia are important growers. Significant new plantings have also been made in Argentina, Chile, and South Africa.

There are three major factors that determine the flavour of wine. One is geography. Different areas have different climates and different soils. Another is the grape variety.

A cabernet sauvignon grape is different than a merlot grape, and a merlot grape is different than a pinot noir grape. The third is the manufacturing process. When and how the grapes are harvested and how they are fermented and aged are important factors that determine flavour and durability.

As you try different wines, you will find that you favour certain regions, grapes, and manufacturing processes over others. But even when you discover your own preferences of wine flavours and styles, those preferences will change as your taste evolves. Fortunately, you have a whole world of wine to choose from.

Let's Get Specific

Broadly speaking, there are four categories of wines:

Red (made from red grapes) White (usually made from white grapes but can be made from red grapes too) Pink (otherwise known as rose; made from red grapes) Fortified (meaning the alcohol content is artificially heightened, can be especially sweet). We will cover each of these four areas in broad strokes (emphasizing the things I believe you need to know and ignoring the things that are optional and can be learned later if you choose). At the end of this report, I will give you some recommendations for various categories of wines.

You might not be able to find the exact wines I'm recommending. But that's okay. We will be supplementing our recommendations in the coming months and year. Our attention will always be on wines that are high in quality and low in cost.

Of course, learning about wines is 20% reading and 80% tasting. So I encourage you to take your time reading this report (and read every word of it sipping wine) Tasting 101

Wine tasting is part ritual and part science. The “requirements” of tasting have been developed over hundreds of years. Some of them have proven useful. Some of them have no basis in fact. But they are all enjoyable.

Tasting actually begins with your eyes. You can learn a good deal about a wine - how strong and old it is, for example-simply by observing its colour. So to begin the ritual, you should pour a small amount of wine into a clear, tulip-shaped glass. Don't fill the glass more than one-fourth full.

Now tilt the glass away from you at a 45-degree angle and notice the intensity of the wine colour. You can see it best over a white tablecloth or in front of a white wall. What colour is it? I don't mean white, red, or pink; I mean how white, red, or pink. White wines range from water-like clarity to amber yellow. Red wines range from salmon pink to ruby red, to violet.

The colour of the wine will also tell you about its age. A young white can be clear to pale yellow-green or straw coloured. An older white will range from gold to a yellow brown.

The opposite is true of red wine. It actually loses colour as it ages. Young reds will be purplish blue or ruby red. Older reds will appear anywhere from brick red to brown. A rich, glossy colour with subtle gradations toward the rim is usually a better wine.

Why is this important? Because some wines taste better when they are new, and some wines taste better when they are old (assuming they've been “cellared” properly).

Deeply coloured wines are usually bolder in taste, while lighter ones are less so. Colour is a great clue for discovering the wine's age and the type of wine you like.

The next step is to swirl the wine in the glass to get oxygen into the liquid. This releases a “bouquet” or aroma. Now hold the glass to your nose and sniff. Take a moment to really take in the fragrance. You will find that you can almost taste the wine already. That's because we taste more through our noses than with our tongues.

The tongue's taste buds pick up only the core flavours of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The nose can detect far more nuances-literally thousands of odors. This is where the descriptions such as “earthy,” “citrus,” and “grassy” come in.

Tasting Notes

You aren't likely to remember all you would like to about the wines you taste, so it is nice to have a tasting notebook to record your wine appreciation journey. You can get a very nice one that even comes with a “cheat sheet” of tasting terms from De Long Wine.

Now you get to taste. After you've smelled the wine a couple of times, take a sip but don't gulp it down. Hold it in your mouth to warm it up and release even more aroma into the nasal passages. Let it linger on your taste buds for a few seconds. (At this point, some people actually discreetly “slurp” to send some oxygen over the wine inside the mouth to release flavour.)

Your tongue will detect sweetness, acidity, and bitterness. It will also react to the tannin, which gives an astringent or “drying” feeling. Tannin is not a smell; it is a sensation on the tongue.

If you detect any fruitiness, this is a smell. But it is still part of “taste.” And that is why the tasting process is not just for show. Ninety percent of taste is actually smell.

Finally, you need to sit back and savour what you just tasted. This is when your brain registers the balance of the wine. Was it overly sweet or acidic or tannic? Or was it a nice balance of each of those things? How long did the taste linger? One sign of a quality wine is a long, pleasing aftertaste for up to several minutes.

Learning to really taste wine will increase the enjoyment you get from it. It will also educate you on what you like and don't like so you can buy or order wines with confidence.

Now let's move on to specific types of wine.

The Remarkable Reds

There are literally hundreds of varieties of red grapes, but winemakers use only a handful in producing great red wines.

Each of these grapes has its own flavour and personality. The cabernet sauvignon grape, for example, will almost always produce a wine with currant and black cherry flavours. It will also typically have firm tannins. A zinfandel grape, by contrast, will produce a wine that will exhibit peppery and wild berry flavours.

Here is a list of the most popular red grapes. It goes from lightest and least tannic red wines to bolder and heavier-bodied ones:

Gamay - this is the grape of Beaujolais, France. It is bright and fruity, tasting of strawberry and cherry. It is made to be drunk soon after bottling.

Pinot Noir - this is the classic grape of Burgundy, France, but also does well in California and Oregon. It is a notoriously hard grape to grow. Its thin skins damage easily, and the plant reacts wildly to changing weather. However, winemakers love to hate it, because when it's good, it's very, very good.

Tempranillo - the dominant grape of Spain. It yields a medium-bodied wine that is more acidic than tannic. The wine can be produced in different ways. The traditional style is garnet coloured and tastes of tea, vanilla, and brown sugar. The modern style has an even darker colour that tastes of plums and tobacco.

Sangiovese - the primary grape of Tuscany, Italy, and the backbone of chianti. It tastes of cherry, anise, and spice. When mixed with cabernet sauvignon, it lightens up the tannin and makes a smoother blend.

Merlot - this grape is grown in Bordeaux, France, and also does well in Washington State. It tastes of watermelon, cherry, and plum. Depending on its harvest time, it can yield wines ranging from light and fruity to a medium-bodied, to a full-bodied style that is rich and smooth.

Zinfandel - this grape makes a zesty, peppery wine with notes of black cherry, prune, and black raspberry that is pure California. It is challenging to grow, because grapes ripen unevenly. This often leads to a late harvest to get as many ripe berries as possible and results in a wine with a high alcohol content of 15 - 16%.

Cabernet Sauvignon - this grape has been grown in Bordeaux, France, since the 18th century. It is also the star of Napa Valley, Calif. The Napa style is very dense and purple-black, tasting of currant and black cherry. It is often aged in oak barrels for 15-30 months to add a toasty, vanilla flavour that softens the tannins.

Syrah - this grape thrives in California and Washington, as well as the Rhone Valley in France. In Australia, it is known as “shiraz.” Its wine is very spicy and peppery with smooth tannins that age well.

World-Class Whites

Winemakers use three major grape varieties in the production of nine out of 10 bottles of white wines. From the lightest to fullest-bodied, they are:

Riesling- one of the world's greatest white wine grapes is from Germany. It is also grown in Alsace, France; New York state; and Washington state. The Germans and French often make it into a wine with very high sugar levels that can age forever, but these are rare and expensive. More often, it is used for a dry to medium-dry wine with a lot of acidity that tastes floral and citrusy.

Sauvignon Blanc- the wine from this grape is a chameleon. It is grown in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley in France, as well as New Zealand. In California, it is grown as “fume blanc.” The wine's major aroma is “grassy,” and it is crisp and light. It is cheaper to produce than chardonnay and is best drunk young. The New Zealand style emphasizes the green citrus flavour, while the California style is often barrel-fermented to taste tropical and peachy.

Chardonnay- winemakers love the grape that yields this “king of white wines,” because it is easy to manipulate. Major producers are the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France, as well as California and Australia. The grape itself is rather neutral because it is not fermented with the skin on like a red grape. This means the quality is dependent on the producer. In Burgundy, it is made to be very crisp and stony, highlighting the mineral flavours. In California and Australia, it is either like fresh green apple and citrus or aged in oak to become buttery flavoured like toasted vanilla.

Sources for above section: Red Wine Basics, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, available at: http://www.winemag.com/Wine­ Enthusiast­Magazine/red­wine­basics/ Laube J., Molesworth J., Varietal Characteristics, Wine Spectator, April 13, 1996, available at: http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/Varietal­Characteristics_1001 Zraly K., Complete Wine Course, pp 24, 25, Sterling Publishing, 2012

About Chablis

Many people falsely believe that “chablis” is a generic name for white wine or a grape variety, like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. In fact, it designates wines that are grown in the Chablis region, which is the northernmost area of Burgundy, France. Unlike many great French wine types, the French did not protect the name. Thus, winemakers used it to identify much more generic white wines from around the world.

A true chablis is made from 100% chardonnay grapes and has four quality levels: Petit Chablis - very ordinary Chablis, almost never seen in countries other than France Chablis - also known as “village wine,” since it comes from grapes grown anywhere in the Chablis district Chablis Premier Cru - high-quality chablis from specific vineyards Chablis Grand Cru - a very limited production of wine, because only seven vineyards in Chablis are qualified to produce it. Winegrower Julien Brocard says that real chablis is unique because it is the only chardonnay that does not need to be aged in an oak barrel to show its true personality. Because of the soil of the Chablis region, this wine tastes of oak when it's never been near a stave of wood.

Sources: http://www.wine101tx.com/WineBasics.htm Zraly K., Complete Wine Course, page 45, Sterling Publishing, 2011 http://zesterdaily.com/drinking/chablis­chardonnay­in­its­purest­form/

A Few Words About Sparkling Wine

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown exclusively in the Champagne region of France. And we have somehow become convinced that no celebration is complete without it. So you should probably keep a few bottles on hand for unexpected “occasions.”

Technically, to be labeled “champagne,” a wine must meet the strict rules and regulations set by the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). And you can spend a huge amount of money on the real stuff.

But if all you want is fizz in your glass to toast the New Year or a newly-engaged couple, there are some very good-very reasonably priced-sparkling wines produced in Spain (cava), Italy (prosecco and asti), California and now even India.

That said, these are the top names in champagne:

Bollinger - the “James Bond champagne.” It's been featured in 11 of the Bond films to date. Bollinger is one of the few remaining independent, family-owned vineyards. A “moderately priced” Bollinger goes for $80. Available in India for approx Rs 5,500.

Krug - with the distinction of making the list of Forbes Most Expensive Champagnes ( $750 for a bottle of 1975 Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs). A Krug NV Grande Cuvee costs about $200. Available in India for approx Rs 11,000.

Laurent­Perrier - Prices range from $35-125 for its Grand Siècle, Demi-Sec, and Grand Siècle Alexandra.

Louis Roederer - best known for its premium vintage champagne, Cristal (about $200 per bottle). The company's brut rose is available for around $65.

Moët & Chandon - the famous maker of Dom Perignon (at $160 per bottle). Available in India for approx Rs 4,500.

Mumm - one of the world's largest champagne producers. $34 per bottle.

Nicolas Feuillatte - a newcomer to the market (launched in 1976). $50 for a bottle of rose.

Veuve Clicquot - A bottle of its Cave Privee Brut Rose is priced at $269 (available in India for approx Rs 4600). An unopened bottle, vintage circa 1893, was discovered in mint condition in a castle in Scotland in 2008. Considered priceless, it's on display at the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin visitor center in Reims, France.

Remember, even among the brands of champagne, styles differ. For one thing, three grape varieties can be used to make champagne: pinot noir, pinot meunier, or chardonnay. The general rule is that the more white grapes in the blend, the lighter the champagne will be. More red grapes make the blend full-bodied.

Also, fermenting in wood imparts a fuller body and bouquet than fermentation in stainless steel. Bollinger uses wood for some of its production, and Krug ferments everything in wood.

Other Sparkling Whites

Would-be wine snobs insist that champagne is the only sparkling white wine worth drinking. That is nonsense. There are many wonderful sparkling white wines that are, in some occasions and with some foods, as good or better than champagne.

Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, is one example. It is a delightful dry or extra dry wine made from the glera grape and usually grown in the hills north of Treviso.

Prosecco became known as the main ingredient of the Bellini cocktail, but it is rapidly becoming a preferred substitute for champagne because of its dryness and inexpensive pricing.

Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen (DO) status, is a second example. Most cava is produced in the Penedes area of Catalonia. It may be white or rose and incorporates the macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo grapes.

Cava is an important part of Catalan and Spanish family tradition, and people often consume it at celebrations like baptisms, marriages, banquets, dinners, and parties.

Fortified Wines

Fortified wine is made by adding neutral grape brandy to wine to raise the alcohol content. (Wines with high alcohol and high sugar age well.) There are two famous types of fortified wines: port and sherry.

To make port, the brandy is added during fermentation. Adding the brandy at this point kills the yeast and stops the fermentation, leaving more residual sugar behind. This results in a sweet liquid.

Port comes in two types: cask aged, which is ready to drink and will not improve with age; or bottle aged, which matures wonderfully in the bottle. It is traditional in Britain to buy a newborn a bottle of port to put away for his or her 21st birthday-the age of maturity… and a fine port. Once the bottle is opened, however, it is best to drink it within a week.

Adding the brandy after fermentation makes sherry. Depending on the producer, sherry can be dry, medium-dry, or sweet. Once you open a bottle of sherry, it should be refrigerated and drunk within two weeks.

Reading the Label

People have written whole books on the subject of reading wine labels. All you really need are a few tips to understand what's on there…

Mandatory info:

Producer's Name - choose one you like and that has a good reputation. You can always read more to find out which the up-and-comers you would like to try.

Vintage - if you're buying wine for dinner, not to cellar, the vintage isn't all that important. Except that your regular wines are meant for consumption right away. If you stumble on wines that are already past their prime (more than a few years old) because they have been sitting on the shelf too long, steer clear. (And maybe that shop doesn't have enough turnover to keep you coming back.)

Alcohol Content - a lot of wines are now being bottled with alcohol levels higher than 15%. If your goal is to enjoy some wine with dinner without a hangover for work the next day, keep the alcohol content at 14% or below. The wine will be better balanced and so will you. (Many quality European wines limit alcohol content to 13.5%.)

Location - when the producer provides specific information, it is probably a better wine. A label that declares Napa Valley, instead of just California, may be a better choice.

Variety or Appellation - there are two schools of labeling wine. American wines tend to be labeled according the grape used: chardonnay, merlot, or a blend. European wines are often labeled to highlight the area where they are grown: Champagne or Monte Carlo, for instance.

Estate Bottled - this indicates that the growers of the grapes had a hand in bottling the wine. Their reputations are at stake, so this is a good sign.

What you can ignore:

Reserve - this term has no legal meaning in the U.S. and is meaningless on American wines.

Old Vines - there is no real classification for what constitutes an old vine, so take it with a grain of salt.

Sources: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154196043169491.html http://winefolly.com/tutorial/how­to­read­a­wine­label/

How Wines Are Classified

There are two general ways for wine to be classified and labeled: by appellation or by variety.

Wines from the “Old World” - France, Italy, and Spain - are categorized according to the regions they come from. This is known as “appellation.” Bordeaux, for example, indicates wines that are made in Bordeaux. Most bordeaux are made from three varieties of grapes: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc.

In the “New World” - the United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Chile-winemakers list the wines by the types of grape they are, or “varietal.” So if you see a label that says “cabernet sauvignon,” it could be from any number of countries.

This sounds confusing, but it goes back to the fact that wines in Europe were identified by region because the climate and topography of the soil is so distinctive in producing the wine.

The vineyards have been there for many generations and consider their locations part of the character of the wine. New World vintners, however, are still figuring out what grows best in which soil in their areas and have chosen to identify the wine by the type of grape they are growing.

This is true in India as well where wine companies are largely using the name of the grape rather than the region to label their bottles.

A brief rundown of wines known for their region include:

France - burgundy, bordeaux, beaujolais, chablis, champagne, côtes du rhône, and pouilly-fumé Italy - whites include asti, frascati, pinot grigio, and soave. Reds include barbaresco, barolo, brunello di montalcino, chianti, lambrusco, valpolicella, and vino nobile di montepulciano Spain - rioja, sherry, muscatel, madeira, cava, and sangria. Wines labeled by their type or varietal include:

Napa Valley, Calif. - the whites are chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pino grigio, and viogner. The reds are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, and zinfandel. Sonoma County, Calif. - pinot noir, zinfandel, and chardonnay Oregon - pinot noir Washington State - cabernet sauvignon, riesling, merlot, chardonnay, and syrah New York State - riesling, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay Australia - syrah (shiraz), cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, semillon, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and riesling Argentina - malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon Germany - riesling, pinot gris, pinot noir New Zealand - sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, chardonnay, merlot, riesling, and pinot gris. India - zinfandel, merlot, sauvignon, chardonnay, syrah, cabernet, pinot noir Sources: McCarthy W., Ewing­Mulligan M., from Wine for Dummies, 4th Edition http://www.wine­information­online.com/spanish­wine­information.html

Serving Guidelines

In general, white wine should be served between refrigerator temperature (40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.5 degrees Celsius) and storage temperature (55 degrees or 13 degrees celsius), and red wine should be served between storage and room temperatures. Older reds should be opened about an hour before service and allowed to “breathe.”

Serving wine in the right glass will add to your enjoyment. A “big” red wine, for example, is best in a goblet with a wide bowl shape that exposes the wine to as much air as possible. And a lighter, fruitier red is best in a narrower goblet that directs the aroma to the nose.

Eventually, you'll want to have different glasses for reds, whites, dessert wines, and sparkling wines. But until then, you can make do with one set of everyday stemware that has:

A slight inward curve at the top to focus on the wine's aroma A long, sturdy stem so you can comfortably hold the glass without having your hand heat up the wine Clear glass so you can see the colour of the wine A bowl large enough to allow for swishing and swirling, plus room for the wine to breathe.

Talking the Talk

Talking with someone who is knowledgeable about wine is much easier if you know the lingo. Terms like “aroma,” “bouquet,” and “body” are fairly well known. Here are some that may be less familiar. Chewy - for a wine with a rather dense, viscous texture from a high glycerin content. Earthy- an aroma or flavour reminiscent of damp soil Flabby - to describe a wine that is too fat or obese. “Fat” is a good thing in wine. But flabby wines lack structure and are heavy to taste Foxy - an undesirable musty odor and flavour Herbaceous - referring to the odors and flavours of fresh herbs (e.g., basil, oregano, rosemary) in a wine Oak/oaky - an aroma or flavour reminiscent of vanilla and toast Rough - the tactile, “coarse” sensation you experience with very astringent wines Smoky - the distinctive “roasted” quality of some wines, either because of the soil the grapes were grown in or because of the barrels used to age the wine Spicy - an aroma or flavour reminiscent of various aromatic spices Vegetal - aromas or flavours reminiscent of fresh or cooked vegetables. “Bell peppers,” “grass,” and “asparagus” are common “vegetal” descriptors.

Starting Your Own Wine Collection

I love walking into my cellar and picking out the perfect bottle of wine to accompany the delicious meal K has made. If you don't feel the same way, forget wine and take up a collection of something else that gives you great pleasure.

Assuming you are open to exploring all four general wine categories - plus keeping some sparkling wines on hand for special occasions - a beginning collection of, say, 100 bottles might have the following components:

Red Wines: 45 bottles White Wines: 35 bottles Pink Wines: 5 bottles Sparkling Wines: 10 bottles Fortified Wines: 5 bottles. Breaking this down further, you could divide the whites and reds into three categories each: light, medium, and full-bodied.

Light Reds: 10 bottles Medium Reds: 15 bottles Heavy Reds: 20 bottles Light Whites: 10 bottles Aromatic Whites: 15 bottles Heavy Whites: 10 bottles.

Now, where are you going to put all that wine?

Wine Storage Options

The important thing is to keep the wine away from light and as close to 15 degrees Celsius as possible. Heat will turn the wine bad. Humidity is another factor to consider. A higher humidity level (ideally 65-75%) helps to keep oxygen from seeping in through a shrinking cork. Storing the wine on its side will also help prevent the cork from shrinking and drying up.

Most wines that cost under Rs 1500 per bottle are meant to be drunk within two years. A simple storage rack or countertop wine cooler will let you keep these types of wines on hand while you find out if you are interested in a more serious investment.

These can be found easily on www.pepperfry.com, www.fabfurnish.com and www.amazon.in.

But as your investment in your collection grows, you'll have to start considering the following factors:

How many bottles will you want to store? Keep in mind that your collection will continue to grow. Also keep in mind that wider bottles or bottles with long necks will cut down the capacity size of the unit.

What kind of wine will you be storing? Dual-zone units give you the flexibility to store red and white wines at different temperatures.

Door construction. A glass door makes it easier to see the wine, but a solid door is usually better insulated (and more expensive). Sunlight can damage wine, so if the unit has a glass door, it should have a UV-protective tinted finish.

Interior construction. An aluminum interior is best for maintaining temperature.

Shelving. Shelves that roll out and tilt are convenient for reading labels and removing bottles. Some units have adjustable shelves to accommodate unusual bottle sizes and shapes.

Security. A unit with an integrated lock will help protect your investment. Some models will sound an alarm when the door is left open.

Vibration. Compressors, even those labeled “silent,” tend to vibrate slightly and make noise-and vibration can wreck a wine. So you'll want a unit with coated racks that grip the bottles and a compressor that's mounted on rubber blocks.

Ventilation. Some units need 5 inches or more of space for ventilation. Make sure you have enough room for this.

Cellaring Wine

The fact is that 90% of all wines should be consumed within a year of bottling. So if you're saving a bottle for a special occasion, make sure it is the right type to age. Only 1% of wines are investment grade, and most of those are from Bordeaux. This particular wine has a history of aging well and increasing in value. A few others that you might put away for a while include:

French White Burgundy - 2-10+ years French Red Burgundy - 3-8+ years German Riesling - 3-30+ years Bordeaux, Red - 5-20 years Bordeaux, White - 4-10 years Champagne, Vintage - 5-10 years Shiraz - 5-12 years Zinfandel, Red - 5-10 years Vintage Ports - 10-40+ years

Sources: Zraly K., Complete Wine Course, page 293, Sterling Publishing, 2012 “The Best Types of Wine to Cellar,” Modern Wine Cellar, available at: http://www.mowinecellar.com/the­best­types­of­wine­to­cellar

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant

My first rule when ordering wine in a restaurant is this: If the wine list is good, I order the cheapest bottle of the variety I want that's on the menu. It will be of fine quality.

If the wine list is not so good… I order a known brand at the price point I know it should be.

Here are my other rules:

Don't order the second-cheapest wine on the list. The restaurant knows you don't want to look cheap by ordering the least expensive wine, so it boosts the price of the next one up on the list. Go ahead and get the cheapest one. It's probably the best deal.

Check the vintage of the bottle you receive. If the restaurant inventory isn't turning over very quickly, you could end up with a vintage that hasn't been stored well… or is just past its prime, period. If you notice a switch on the vintage you ordered, just tell the waiter you'd prefer the other year.

Don't ignore house wines offered by the bottle or carafe. This is common practice in Europe, and some Indian hotels like Four Seasons are getting onboard. Try it out if it's an option.

Beware of the price if you opt to do a wine pairing with your meal. The cost of the glasses you receive could surprise you.

If you're hosting a business dinner, I'd suggest you take a few precautionary steps to look more informed and in control at the restaurant. Check out the wine list in advance, either online or ask the restaurant to send you a copy to review. You can research options at your convenience. Or arrive at the restaurant 15-20 minutes ahead of your guests and talk to the sommelier privately.

One more piece of advice: Sommeliers can be great allies. Treat them with professional courtesy. Asking for advice when faced with a varied and lengthy wine list is not a sign of weakness. However, give your sommelier some specific guidelines on approximately how much money you want to spend and any preferences that will help you end up with a wine you truly like.

Five Wine Apps to Check Out

Wine Ratings Guide: The Wine Ratings Guide is the biggest wine rating database in the world. Designers created it for use in restaurants and stores. It catalogs 1 million wines and provides flavour profiles, pairing suggestions, room to add your own ratings, and the ability to view customized lists from other users. iPhone, Android. $3.99 (approx Rs 200)

Vivino Wine Scanner: As with Snooth Wine Pro, you take a photo of the label and Vivino matches it against its online wine database of more than 500,000 wines. iPhone. Free.

Memorable Wines: Memorable Wines allows you to record, remember, and share your favorite wines. Ideal for journaling and for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and via email. iPhone. $1.99 approx Rs 120)

Indian Wine List: The Indian Wine List, India's first wine and food pairing application for smartphones, was launched this May. The IWL wine catalogue features eight Indian wineries; Sula, Vallonné, York, Reveilo, Fratteli, Four Seasons, Good Earth and Zampa, and lists 78 wines from across these vineyards. The app also offers tasting notes; food pairing recommendations; wine recommendations for occasions such as brunches, dates, and dinners; serving and storing temperatures; prices per bottle; and monthly updates on food and wine pairings at select restaurants. The IWL app is available for free download from the iTunes Store.

Hipcask: Developed by Appvintage Solutions Pvt Ltd, this app has a wine & food pairing guide. Find the best wine match for any kind of food you're having, from Pastas to Biryani, This app can be downloaded iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5. This app can downloaded for free from the iTunes Store.

Know Your Wines

Ultimately, taste is a matter of personal preference. You have to do your homework and find out what types and styles of wine please your palate. But here's a brief description of the varieties of wine available and how to know them better. Once you know this, you can choose the best values in the market. The list of Indian wines given below each category are based on two factors: Price -This list is capped at under Rs 2,000 because you can find plenty of enjoyable wines in this price range.

Production and Availability - Every wine on the list is available or has a close equivalent. Actual production and import figures are not always available, but at the time of this report, the wines listed are available from a number of sources online. If they are not currently in your local wine shop or mall in the neighbourhood, ask the proprietor to order them for you or suggest an alternative. Duty Free sections at airports also stock good options at competitive prices. These are wines worth trying to see if they are enjoyable to you. When you find one you like, buy a few more bottles for your collection. If you really love it, buy a case. You'll be amazed how fast your collection grows!

The one exception is champagne. You simply cannot buy real champagne in the Rs 2,000 price range, but I have listed a of couple brands that are classic, affordable choices. Opt for sparkling wine for better value.

The Reds

* BAROLO: A light red wine produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. Made from the nebbiolo grape. * BEAUJOLAIS: From the Beaujolais province in Burgundy, France. Made from 100% gamay grapes. Very light and fruity and meant to be consumed young. Can be chilled. * RED BORDEAUX: Made from a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc grapes. Ranges from medium­ to full­bodied. From the Bordeaux region in southwest France. * RED BURGUNDY: From the Burgundy region of eastern France, just south of Paris. Made from pinot noir grapes. A light­ to medium­bodied wine light in tannins. Dark pink to ruby pink in colour. * CHIANTI: A medium­bodied wine from the Tuscany region of Italy. Primarily sangiovese grapes. Is red to deep red in colour. * CHIANTI CLASSICO: Grown only in the inner historic Chianti region. Must be 80% sangiovese grapes. Dark ruby in colour. * CABERNET SAUVIGNON: Known as the “king of red wines,” grown all over the world. Can have high tannin when young. Suitable for aging. Dark red to dark purple in colour. * MALBEC Medium­ to full­bodied dry, red wine. Tends to have higher tannin and alcohol content. Dark, inky purple colour. * MERLOT: A dry red wine with firm tannins but softer texture than cabernet. Medium­bodied and dark ruby red. * PINOT NOIR: Light to medium­bodied red wine, far less tannic than other reds. Dark pink to dark ruby pink. * RIOJA: A wine blend based on the tempranillo grape. Medium­bodied, moderate alcohol content, bright and fruity. * SHIRAZ/SYRAH: A hearty, spicy red with smooth tannins. Full­bodied and ruby red to inky purple in color. * ZINFANDEL: A full­bodied red with a lot of tannin. Can be aged. Deep ruby red or purple. * VALPOLICELLA: A red blend made from grapes grown in the Veneto region of Italy. Medium­bodied with a tangy cherry aroma.

The Whites

* CHARDONNAY: The “king of white wines,” grown all over the world. Medium­ to full­ bodied. American and Australian varieties contain a lot of oak. Yellow to gold in colour. * GEWURTZTRAMINER: An aromatic, fruity grape. Can range from dry to sweet. Medium­ to full­ bodied. Yellow to gold in colour. * POUILLY­FUMÉ: A dry white wine with a strong, smoky element. Made from the sauvignon grape in the Loire region of France. * RIESLING: A light­bodied white that can range from slightly sweet to sweet. High acidity, low alcohol content. Pale yellow­green. * SAUVIGNON BLANC: A medium­bodied white that ranges from fruity to grassy, to more mineral. Straw yellow in colour. * SAUTERNES: A sweet white blend of semillon, sauvignon blanc, and muscadelle grapes. Full­bodied and tasting of honey. Golden yellow. * SOAVE: A white made primarily from garganega grapes from northeast Italy. Can range from fruity to nutty to herbacious. * VOIGNIER: A medium­bodied white with a strong floral aroma. Low acidity and meant to be consumed young. * WHITE BORDEAUX: A white blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes. Light­bodied, dry, and citrusy due to high acidity. * WHITE BURGUNDY: A dry white wine made from the chardonnay grape grown in Burgundy, France. Higher acidity, less sugar and alcohol than California chardonnays. Ranges from crisp with no oak to fuller­bodied with oak nuances.

Sparkling Wines

* CHAMPAGNE: Fermented to be sparkling. Can range from very dry to sweet. * PROSECCO: Made from the white prosecco grape grown in Vento, Italy. A dry wine with a lot of citrus flavour. * CAVA: The sparkling wine produced in Spain. Can be white or rosé. Ranges from dry to sweet.

A List of Great Wines Available in India Reds Whites Roses Champagnes Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Shiraz Four Seasons Chenin Blanc Four Seasons Blush J C Le Roux Le Domaine Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc Big Banyan Rosa Rossa Grover Zampa Soiree Brut Four Seasons Shiraz Four Seasons Viognier Fratelli Shiraz Rose Grover Zampa Soiree Rose Four Seasons Cabernet Sauvignon Fratelli Classic Chenin Grover Art Collection Shiraz Rose Prosecco Luna Argenta Brut Four Seasons Merlot Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco Jacob's Creek Shiraz Rose Cruse Blanc De Blancs sparkling wine demi sec Grover La Reserve Fratelli Sauvignon Blanc Sante Rose Wine Danzante Prosecco Grover Art Collection Cabernet Shiraz Grover Art Collection Chenin Blanc Seagram Nine Hills Shiraz Rose Wine Duc De Breux Big Banyan Limited Spring 2008 Shiraz Grover Art Collection Viognier Sula Zinfandel Rose Carlo Rosi Fratelli Cabernet Sauvignon Indus Chenin Blanc Sula Mosaic Grenache Syrah Rose Carpene Malvolti Prosecco Cuvee Brut Fratelli Sette Kinwah Sauvignon Blanc Surya Devine Zinfandel Rose Fratelli Gran Cuvee Brut Fratelli Classic Shiraz Heritage Cabernet Nesara Sauvignon Blanc Bouvet Brut Rosé Sula Brut Methode Traditionelle Fratelli Cabernet Franc Shiraz Nilaya Chenin Blanc Tiger Hill Brut Rosé The Beach House Sparkling Wine Reveilo Cabernet Sauvignon Saumur Blanc Zonin Prosecco Special Cuvee Brut Bouvet Rubis Demi Sec Chinon Rouge Bouvet Brut Luca Sparkling White Wine Bouvet Tresor Blanc

Fortified Wines

* MADIERA: A fortified white produced on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Can range from dry to sweet. Amber coloured with caramel, nutty flavour. * PORT: A blend of various red grapes fortified with brandy. Very full­bodied and sweet. Can be purple, brick red, tawny, or orange. * SHERRY: A white wine fortified with brandy. Can range from dry to very sweet and pale to very dark. Does not improve with age. Meant to be drunk when bottled.

Sources for table: www.Cellartracker.com http://www.decanter.com www.NatalieMaclean.com Smith H., Smith M., Winning Wines, Smithwrights, 2012 www.wine.com www.Winegems.net www.Wine­searcher.com http://www.madhuloka.com, www.thewineclub.in

Wine Clubs

One way to expand your wine horizons for very little time and trouble is to join a wine club. There are lots of them out there, but here's what you should consider when choosing one to join: Make sure that wine can be shipped to your state. Liquor laws vary from state to state and have various rules for shippers, so make sure the club you are interested in can ship to where you live. Do a price check. See what the last few offerings have been from the club you are looking at. Then compare the prices at your local retailer or online . That will tell you if the prices are in line with what you would pay elsewhere. Set your budget. Do you want two bottles per month? Or four? Or a case every quarter? There are numerous options available. Keep in mind that those who buy more often get a volume discount and priority on reordering favourite wines.

Here's a list of some of the wine clubs in India The Wine Society of India: This Society provides information and education about the wine world through a variety of specialized programmes, including home-study and classroom wine courses, vineyard visits, distribution of informative publications and wine tastings. Through their Four Seasons Wine Discoveries programme, they arrange for the supply of exceptional quality wines that are sourced from vineyards around the world and India. They have a distinguished team of foreign advisers and can lay claim to being India's largest wine club.

Delhi Wine Club: Founded in 2002, this Club creates awareness on issues like the health benefits of wine and wine appreciation in general. Wine tasting, interesting concepts like ‘wine-maker dinners' and interactive sessions with wine experts form some of their events. Additionally, they lobby with government authorities for special status to wines for health in terms of taxing, storage and vending. Last year they celebrated their 200th event.

Nagpur Wine Lovers Club: The Orange City of Nagpur started the first wine club in central India called the Nagpur Wine Lovers Club (NWLC) in Janury 2011. They have organised events like lectures and tastings from prominent Indian wineries including Sula, Nine Hills, Four Seasons, Turning Point, Chateau D'ori, Ambrosia and Pause.

Anada Wine Club: This is an exclusive wine club in Mumbai that provides the opportunity to appreciate and promote both Indian and International wines, wine producers and wine lovers. Anada in Spanish means the first harvest of grapes. The Club organises events like demonstrations by sommeliers and gourmet chefs, wine festivals, informative wine sessions and grape crushing.

Wine clubs have also been established in other metro cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Nashik.

The Starter Collection

Earlier, I gave you some recommendations for a mix of 100 bottles from the four general wine categories: reds, whites, pinks, and fortified wines. But if you are truly starting out and still determining your taste, you might want to set up a starter collection of 50 wines. And you can use the table of wines in this report for specific wines to include.

Here's one breakdown based on some of Boston sommelier Eric Buxton's suggestions:

12 bottles of champagne and sparkling wine. Champagne is always expensive-the price never comes down. So get a couple of classic bottles suggested on the above list and fill in with prosecco and cava. You'll always have bubbly on hand for celebrations. 12 bottles of “aged” wines. These are the ones you want to lay down and keep for special occasions. Check the above list for wines like bordeaux, good cabernets, and burgundy. 20 bottles of everyday wines. These are the reds and whites and rosés that you love to drink with dinner. They should be the ones you are comfortable opening any weeknight. And if your family opens them when you aren't home, you won't despair over the cost. Six bottles of dessert and fortified wines. Check the above list for ports and sherries and sauternes that will round out your collection. The important thing is to make the starter collection fun. It should be exciting and give you pleasure anytime you reach for a bottle to drink. If you buy something more valuable, put it on a “do not touch” shelf. Keep track of what you have and what you enjoy, and your collection will grow.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #5: Dressing Like a Billionaire

The very idea of dressing like a billionaire is implausible to the point of being silly. Billionaires, after all, are not generally thought of as being particularly well dressed.

Take Warren Buffett, for example. He wears suits that seem to be bought off the rack at some Omaha discount store. His glasses say, “These babies work!” His most prominent stylistic feature is the incredible growth that is his eyebrows.

Still, he doesn't look all that bad. He looks like a rich guy who is comfortable dressing like a working-class slob. And that's the image he wants to project. So good for him.

Steve Jobs was even more challenged when it came to dressing. His sartorial choices left him looking confused. Was he a boy or a man? Was he a visionary or a geek?

Donald Trump clearly tries to dress like the billionaire that he is. But there is something about the sheen of his suits and the brilliance of his ties that says, “I'm trying too hard.”

So why should you want to dress like a billionaire? The answer is that you shouldn't. Your goal should be to dress well-really well… as well as you could if money were no object.

And (you will not be surprised to know) my thesis is that you can do that without spending a lot of money.

Why Bother?

If you have a billion dollars, you can dress like Warren Buffett and people will still respect and admire you. But if you have ordinary wealth (that is to say, not a lot of wealth), dressing well has its advantages.

First and foremost, dressing well makes you look better. If you are chubby, it makes you look slimmer. If you are short, it makes you look taller. If you are tall and thin-hell, if you are tall and thin (and young), you look good in anything- you can skip the rest of this.

Except that dressing well often makes you feel good. For me, what I put on in the morning has a lot to do with the way I feel about myself when I wake up. If I am full of energy and enthusiasm about the day, I take a bit of time to select clothes that please me. If I'm feeling down on myself for whatever reason, I select clothes that make me feel dumpy. (Why do I still have such clothes in my closet? Good question. I'm working on getting rid of them…)

Why Listen to Me?

As with many of the subjects I write about, I have no formal training in fashion. In fact, I don't have any particular talent for it. If it were not for my better half, there's no telling what I'd be wearing. (Thank goodness for Kathy!)

But don't worry. The particular advice you will be getting here isn't coming from me directly. It's coming from people who make a living by dressing wealthy and successful people.

Still, the general thesis I'm proposing is the same. You can dress rich by dressing classically and suitably and by avoiding extremes. That doesn't necessarily mean conservatively, as I'll explain. It just means that you don't want to dress like Govinda or Yash Birla.

The Fundamental Rules Apply

Many people equate dressing rich with designer clothing. But there is nothing more foolish, in my humble opinion, than spending tons of money on designer clothing when you are living on a budget.

Another bad idea is “fast fashion”-cheap but very trendy outfits that can be bought at stores that have cropped up to serve the cheap-but-trend-following consumer. Fast fashion is like fast food. It's inexpensive and it gives you a quick fix, but it is not necessarily good for you.

Another big problem is favouring quantity over quality. People tend to stock up on too many clothes and accessories without paying much attention to how much they really need. [i]

There is a better way.

You can dress well and feel very good in your clothes without spending a lot of money. All you have to do is learn a few basic principles that will improve your wardrobe and save you a fortune spent on the wrong clothes.

Two Simple Rules for Dressing Well

A first-rate wardrobe can be yours for very little money if you follow two simple rules:

Buy quality clothing but don't buy it at full cost. Buy when it is discounted by at least 50%.

Never buy anything-no matter whose name is on the label or how cheap it is -if it doesn't make you look and feel good when you put it on.

Where to Make It Happen…

Export Retail Stores - especially those that specialize in designer labels. You can get great buys on high-end, garments with defects that no one but the manufacturer can see.

Thrift Stores - not as easy to score here as with export retail shops but well worth the time it takes to check out the merchandise.

Outlet Stores - but keep in mind that most brands have secondary lines that they produce just for the outlets. They usually change the label slightly, so make sure you know what you're getting.

Discount Chains - stores like Pantaloons, Shoppers' Stop and Lifestyle have made a serious business out of selling designer overstock at significantly reduced prices.

The only time you should shop at luxury department stores and boutiques is when they are selling their clothes cheaply. And I mean really cheaply. Fifty percent of full price, as I said, is the maximum you should consider paying for designer clothes. And if you are smart about it, you can pay only half that much. Sometimes even less.

Whether you're buying brand-new or sale, the trick, of course, is to know what you're looking for:

clothing that will last-garments that are very well made and classically styled clothing that fits you perfectly (or can be easily tailored) clothing that makes you feel as good as you look when you put it on.

Put Your Wardrobe on a Diet

According to a poll conducted by Time magazine, men own an average of 12 pairs of shoes. Women own an average of 27 pairs of shoes and more than 10 handbags.

In this regard, I must confess, my feminine side prevails. I must have 40 pairs of shoes. To me, each one is different. But even Kathy can't tell the difference between one pair of black penny loafers and another. (“Can't you see how much wider that band is?”)

This addiction to shoes doesn't help me dress better. It is a hindrance. For one thing, I can't see all of my choices just by looking into my closet. The shoes that end up toward the back get ignored for months or even years at a time. And another thing-the selection process is stressful. Had I fewer choices, I could make quicker and more confident decisions.

To dress well, a man does not need more than six or seven types of shoes. A woman will need a few more-but certainly no more than a dozen. (Don't quote me on this. I'm generalizing. But you get the point.)

I used to have more than 60 dress shirts in my closet. A third of them didn't even fit me. Another third were in colors that made me look half-dead. I recently winnowed down my shirt stock to about 24. I like them all, and they all look good on me. Selecting shirts is now a simpler and more pleasing process.

Right now, I have way too many pairs of pants-both casual and dressy. Sometime this week, I intend to spend 90 minutes in front of a mirror (or with Kathy's help), getting rid of half of them. Same holds true for my T-shirts, my golf clothes, and my belts.

As James Dion, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Retail Store, suggests, we should all pay attention to the De Beers' slogan: “Fewer, Better Things.”

Choose Quality Over Quantity

If you have never worn a quality garment, you may doubt that there is much of a difference. From a distance, a cocktail dress from Pantaloons might look as good as one from Anita Dongre. But up close, the difference is obvious.

Seams and Hems. Stitches should be tight and close together, not loose or broken. Hems should be generous. If there's a pattern on the fabric, it should line up neatly at the seams.

Linings. Skirts, suits, jackets, and trousers that are lined tend to be higher- quality garments. They glide onto the body easily and hang better than unlined ones.

Reinforcements. Buttons, zippers, and pockets should be reinforced for wear. Pockets should be sewn to the lining. Zippers should be lined and invisibly set into the garment.

Fabrics. Wool, silk, cotton, and linen are always best. Sometimes newer garments will have a bit of a synthetic mixed in for durability.

Trim. Synthetic lace is a dead giveaway that the piece is not well made. If the trim is skimpy, so is the cut and fabric. Plastic belts and base-metal buckles look like what they are.

By stocking your closet with quality clothes, you enjoy several benefits. You will have the comfort of knowing that they are all well made. That, I've noticed, actually feels good. You will also have the economic benefit of endurance. Quality clothes last longer than inexpensive knockoffs. Often, they last five times as long.

The Cost of Possession

There's a difference between price and cost of use. Price is the initial expense of purchasing something. But cost of use is how much you actually pay over the lifetime of possessing it. The two are almost always radically different.

Here's the problem. When you shop all the time and buy cheap things, you spend a lot of money on a bunch of stuff that you're not going to want to own long term. Then, when you do run across a good buy on a quality item, you've already blown your budget. Basically, you've thrown your money away.

Changing your mindset is the first step. Instead of tossing Rs 1000 here and Rs 1000 there, save it up. When you put on a garment made of great fabric and it fits well -it just feels different. It will be a piece you will want to keep and wear again and again because you will feel good in it. And it will be cheaper in the long run.

Choose Natural Over Synthetic

Clothing manufacturers have done wonders with synthetic materials. They are easy and inexpensive to make and can sometimes resemble natural fabrics.

But natural fabrics have natural advantages. They tend to work better in terms of heat and cold. They have characteristics that make them distinctive and memorable. And they last longer without looking shabby.

“Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.” - Ralph Lauren Polyester is made of oil, just like plastic grocery bags. Elizabeth Cline, who wrote Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, says, “It's ironic that people take their plastic bags back to the grocery store to be recycled but they fill their closets with clothing made from the same thing.” [ii]

So start thinking of your wardrobe as an investment-not as a disposable part of your life.

Classics: The Foundation of Your Wardrobe

People known for their taste in clothing have learned what works for them. They have figured out what to include in their wardrobes-and, just as importantly, what to leave out.

They are suspicious of fashion trends. They understand that when you follow a trend, you tell the world that you are a sheep and not an individual. They favour classic pieces, but they are not afraid to experiment with bits and pieces that make their particular style of dressing unique.

“The difference between style and fashion is quality.” - Giorgio Armani My feeling is that 80% of your wardrobe should be classics… items that you can keep for 10 years without worrying about them going out of style. The other 20% should be items that define your personal “look.”

What makes the classics so valuable as the foundation of your wardrobe is their simplicity and elegance. They are timeless for a reason: You can wear them again and again, making them look different simply by changing your accessories. And the image that you present to the world will always be positive.

That's what clothes-the right clothes-can do for you.

Tips for Men

No matter your lifestyle, there are several things that every man should own. These are the basics:

1 suit 1 blazer or sport jacket 3 ties 2 pairs of jeans 4 dress shirts 4 sport shirts 2 silk kurtas and pyjamas 1 sherwani 1 waistcoat 1 shawl/scarf 1 pair of casual shoes 1 pair of dress shoes 1 pair of Indian mojris or sandals 12 pairs of socks

If you own only one suit, make it a dark color. Black, gray, or navy in 100% wool is the most versatile.

Your basic dress shirts should be solid white or blue in a cotton fabric that is easy to launder.

In a recent article in The Times of India, designer and fashion guru, Ragahavendra Rathore said his 5 essentials of a man's wardrobe are: A great cologne, a statement watch, a subtle belt, stylish shoes, and a custom-made bandhgala.As for jeans, go for a dark wash that will look good with either a dress shirt or cotton T-shirt. For your dress shoes, choose a pair of black lace-ups. For your casual shoes, choose a pair of loafers in brown or black.

Good socks are essential. They should cushion your foot, not ride down or bunch up. (I'm partial to the ones with gold stripes on the toes…)

Dark trousers are fairly formal and can be paired with a classic navy blazer or sport jacket.

A classic navy blazer will look sharp with the jeans as well.

Tips for Women

Women tend to have way too many clothes. In spite of that, they often stand in front of the closet in despair, thinking they have nothing to wear. The answer to this problem is to start with a core wardrobe of neutral-colored classics and build from there. Your core wardrobe might include:

4 saris - 2 light coloured ones, 2 darker ones for the night 3-4 salwar kameezes with dupattas 3-4 kurtis that can be teamed up with any churidar or leggings 1 “little black dress” 2 pairs of jeans 2 pairs of dress pants, dark and light 4 blouses 4 casual tops 3 sweaters 1 jacket 2 pairs of casual shoes 1 pair of dress shoes 1 pair of open-toe embellished heels for the Indian wear 1 pair of funky flats for daily wear.

The idea is to dress to emphasize your assets and cover up your figure flaws. For example, if you have a short neck, you'll want to choose V-neck tops to elongate your neckline. If you have great legs, you'll want to wear short skirts to show them off.

A sari works well for any figure and so do leggings with a kurti.

When shopping for jeans and casual pants, here are a few guidelines:

straight leg - looks good on everyone wide leg - good on women with big bottoms and fuller figures boot-cut - good on women with long legs, pear shapes narrow leg - good on women with slim legs, petite frames.

For your dress shoes, choose a pair of black high-heels or wedges. For your casual shoes, choose flats and less-embellished wedges.

For your jacket, choose one that can be paired with a skirt, the dress pants, and the jeans.

And be careful with the bling. Too much looks gaudy, no matter how expensive it is. Classic equals understated.

Finally, a few words on the subject of black. Black is figure-flattering. Black is elegant. Black is timeless… and always a good choice.

The classic Indian kurtas The Alarm Clock That Actually Works Source: imagedb.com/ Shutterstock How to Choose the Perfect Kurta

Since the kurta is such a popular Indian garment with men and women alike. We decided to give you a few pointers on choosing something that suits your style and size perfectly.

Decide on the look: First decide if you need a kurta for a formal occasion or a casual one. For a casual event, the lighter, flowing fabrics work better like cotton, cotton blends and chiffons while for formal dos, you can choose silks, silk blends and rayon. For casual occasions, choose simpler styles you can lounge in, while for a formal one, choose kurtas with embellishments, fancy buttons and embroidery. Dark colours work better for the night and lighter ones for the day.

Choose the length and style: Kurtas come in a variety of length and fits to suit different body types and occasions. The shortest ones commonly referred to as kurtis ones tend to fall mid-thigh. It's popular with men and women who team it up with jeans. The knee-length one has a nice snug fit and ends just at the knees. Additionally there are ankle-length ones that are more traditional and conservative. Today, a variant of that for women is the anarkali kurta which is quite flattering and gives an elegant look.

Keep the fit in mind: As for all clothes, the fit of a kurta is really the clinching factor. So when buying one keep in mind a few pointers. For men, you must check the chest size, arm length, shoulder width, and neck size. For women, pay attention to the bust, waist and hip size.

Look out for the accents: Kurtas can be designed and embellished in many ways. Some use interesting buttons in plastic, wood and metal. Men's kurtas can have buttons that are linked like cufflinks. Embroidery on the neck panel and slits and sashes or ties with tassels at the waist give more definition. And different collars like the Mandarin one or the simple V-neck add to the charm of a traditional kurta. For women, the new tunic cut or the handkerchief kurta can also make a unique style statement.

So simply go to your nearest tailor or retail store, keep these points in mind and up your kurta quotient.

Changing Yourself for the Better-From the Outside In

You say you're not happy with your body-that you don't want to buy any new clothes until you lose weight. Big mistake. Clinton Kelly, co-host of the television show What Not to Wear, says that dressing well for the body you have right now can jumpstart the process. He's seen it time and again.

“What Not to Wear is the greatest weight-loss secret,” says Kelly. “We show them how great they can look, and the kilos start melting off… they feel better about themselves, and they treat their body better. Sometimes you can affect change from the outside in.”

Make It Fit

A skilled tailor or darjee is the secret behind many people who consistently appear on “best-dressed” lists. He understands different body types and knows how to make yours look a little taller and slimmer by taking a tuck here and a tuck there. He knows exactly how long a skirt, a pair of trousers, and a sleeve should be. And a good tailor will tell you when something is not worth the money it would take for alterations.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” - Mark Twain In India, good tailors are a plenty. In fact, you can find one in every area in the city. So go to him when needed and get your outfit altered to perfection. Take in a sleeve, make the length a tad shorter for effect or simply take it up from the shoulder to give it better shape.

The best part of India is that tailoring is comparatively cheaper than the rest of the world. In less than Rs 100, you can alter jeans, get buttons stitched on or zips changed. Look at these options closely while making a style statement.

Because even an expensive garment can look cheap if it doesn't fit well. And a moderately priced garment can look expensive when it is tailored to your body.

Taking Care of Your Investment

In 1997, Sotheby's sold some of the belongings of the duke and duchess of Windsor. The collection included clothing that had been made for the duke in the '20s… that he still wore well into the '70s. This speaks not only to the quality of the garments but also to how well they were taken care of.

Here are a few tips to keep your clothing looking as good as it did the day you bought it:

Brush suit coats, dresses, skirts, and trousers after each wearing. This takes about 30 seconds and will really make a difference in how long the garment lasts. A clean brush with stiff bristles will remove dust and dirt before it can settle into the fabric. Give it a good brushing and let it air out overnight before putting it back in the closet.

Make repairs as needed. If you notice a loose button, fix it before you lose it. If you notice a small tear in a seam, mend it before it gets any bigger.

Ditch the wire hangers. About the only use for a wire hanger that I can think of is to open a car door if you lock your keys inside. It certainly isn't something you want to hang a Rs 15,000 jacket on. Invest in wooden hangers that are least one inch thick at the shoulders. It's a small price to pay.

Have wool garments professionally cleaned. Moths love wool. And they can eat it to shreds. Never pack wool clothing away without having it treated for storage. If the chemicals are objectionable to you, find a cleaner who uses a natural process.

Dry clean natural fabrics: Natural fabrics stay for longer when dry cleaned. Silk kurtas and churidars, khadi shirts, embroidered sherwanis can be maintained better when cleaned at a good dry cleaner. It may cost you more, but the end result will be superlative, without damaging it.

Cheat Sheet for Suits From GQ:

The classic style that always looks modern is a two-button suit with a narrow lapel. Flat-front trousers should be trim and have very little break at the ankle. Change fabrics with the season: cotton in summer; wool flannel or corduroy in winter. When you are standing, you should be able to cup your hands under the hem of the jacket. If you can't, it is too long.

Spend Time, Not Money

As I said, the foundation of your wardrobe should be classics-timeless garments that you can wear for years.

Think about it. Even if you spend Rs 10, 000 on a beautiful suit at an export retail store-and another Rs 1,000-2,000 having it tailored perfectly to your body-that suit is a bargain. You'll be able to wear it for at least 10 years. And every time you do, you'll look and feel like a million bucks. Compare that to Rs 5,000 for crap that you might wear a handful of times… or not at all.

“Dressing well is not about labels-it's about developing personal style. And that's something you learn, not buy.” - GQ magazine Pay attention to quality and fit. Make sure that you love everything in your closet. If you put something on that makes you feel less than great, get rid of it. If you try on something in a store that can't be tailored to your body, don't buy it.

Personalize your look with accessories-high-quality shoes, scarves, bags, and jewellery that define your personal style. (There's a lot to say on this subject. A full report will reach you shortly.)

Every time you get dressed, you should feel like you couldn't look any better, even if money were no object. Making that happen is a big part of “living rich.”

Best, Mark

Accessories: Your Key to Personal Style

As Mark discusses in his essay on how to dress well-as well as any billionaire could afford to dress-it's all about wearing high-quality, classically styled clothes that are perfectly tailored to fit and flatter your body. He gives you guidelines for putting together such a wardrobe… and he explains how to do it on a very limited budget.

The idea is to have a wardrobe comprised almost entirely of timeless pieces that will look good and last for years.

There's only one problem with clothes like that. They're ultra-conservative and fairly bland.

So how do you make them interesting? How do you express your individuality? The same way that style icons like many of the nawabs and maharajas of India did or like the current Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi does…… by personalizing your classic wardrobe.

One Little Black Dress… 365 Ways

Sheena Matheiken, a young woman in the advertising business, launched something she called The Uniform Project in May 2009. She challenged herself to wear one little black dress for an entire year. She “reinvented” the dress every day by using accessories that were either vintage, handmade, reused, or donated. She then posted a photo of the “new” look on her website.

(By the way, Sheena's purpose in doing this was to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation, a non-profit focused on educating children in India's slums. And she was wildly successful. The Uniform Project brought in more than $100,000 in donations.)

Go to TheUniformProject.com to see the photos. You will be amazed-and inspired-by the many different looks Sheena achieved simply by changing her accessories.

As you will see, the same outfit can look professional and polished for work or dressed-up for evening. You can tell the world that you're whimsical, bohemian, creative, or sophisticated. It's all in the accessories. And you keep it affordable by following our No. 1 rule for dressing well: Buy quality… but never pay full price.

Let's start with…

Jewellery and Watches-Especially Watches

These days, both men and women wear rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.

Maybe you do. Maybe you don't. The important thing is that you:

Choose quality over quantity. (By the way, this applies whether you're buying relatively inexpensive costume jewellery, antique jewellery, or the “real” stuff. And at this point in your wealth-building career, most of the real stuff is probably not going to be a realistic option for you). Golden Necklace Chain

Source: epsos.de / CC BY 2.0 Buy only what you love. And never pay full price. Buy from a reputed jeweller and one you trust. Ask for certification. See that they have a buyback policy. Distinguish between jewellery pieces for the day, night and weddings. Start building a collection of diverse jewellery styles. India particularly specialises in many regional jewellery-making techniques. The traditional stuff will go on to become your heirlooms.

Aside from those guidelines, there's not much to say about jewellery. As for watches, that's another story.

Quality watches go way beyond telling time. They are statement pieces. And, generally speaking, you need at least two: a dress watch and a casual/sport watch.

We're talking high-ticket items, here. But keep in mind that luxury watches are a lot like luxury cars. If you buy them new, you're going to take a hit with depreciation. Most models depreciate by about 50% in the first year after they are released. That means you can easily get an Rs 4 lac watch for Rs 1.5-2 lac. Sometimes less.

Where do you get a pre-owned luxury watch? Online sources that specialize in these watches include Chrono 24, Luxury Bazaar, QuickR and GlobalWatchBrokers.com.

A stylish & classy watch for work A stylish & classy watch for work Source: sharshonm / Shutterstock According to watch blogger Ariel Adams, depending on your budget, this is what you should look for:

Entry Level:

A nice “entry level” quality watch will cost you between Rs 15,000 and Rs 50,000. The transparent crystal covering the face of the watch should be sapphire crystal. It is scratch-resistant and more durable than mineral crystal.

Make sure the watch has a solid metal construction. Look at the side of the watch and reject one that looks like the links are hollow or contain synthetic or plastic materials.

At this price point, the watch's movement will probably be quartz (battery-operated), rather than mechanical. Look for one that is Swiss or Japanese made. Stay away from those manufactured in China.

Pay attention to the clasp on the bracelet (band). It should be double- or triple-locking. A bracelet with a single-locking mechanism will not hold up or stay secure if you hit your wrist on something.

Look for the maker's mark. The watch should be “signed” on the back of the case or somewhere on the band with some type of laser engraving. Cheaper watches do not have this mark, because their parts are mass-produced.

Medium Range:

A watch that costs more than Rs 50,000 will most likely have a mechanical (as opposed to battery-operated) movement.

The crystal will have an anti-reflective coating that makes the watch face easier to read.

The links of the bracelet will be held together with screw bars. Screw bars are higher quality, look better, and last longer than plain pins.

Look for a good polish on all metal surfaces. A cheap polish will wear off on the inside of the metal bracelet. A good polish will maintain its look for a long time.

Many watches in this price range attempt to replicate the style of a luxury watch-e.g., a Rolex. Instead of one of those knockoffs, choose one that has a unique style of its own.

Luxury:

In the Rs 3.5 lac - Rs 6.5 lac (and up) range, you can expect to see a lot of gold or platinum.

You can also expect to see a custom movement. Top manufacturers, such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and A. Lange & Sohne, all make their movements in-house. Master watchmakers often spend months-or as long as a year-handcrafting a single luxury watch.

The quality of a high-end watch is reflected in the timelessness of its design. You will never get tired of looking at it, and it will never go out of style.

Instead of being mass-produced, luxury watches are produced in limited quantities. They almost always hold their values.

For Your Feet

According to a poll…

The average woman owns 17 pairs of shoes but wears only three pairs regularly

She buys three new pairs of shoes per year at an average of per pair

31% of the poll respondents reported paying more than Rs 2,000 for a pair of shoes

59% have gotten blisters from their shoes

19% consider shopping for shoes to be “retail therapy”

No doubt about it, most women have far too many shoes. So do most men. The majority of those shoes end up at the back of their shoe drawers, rarely (or never) worn. A huge waste of money.

You have to pay as much attention to your shoe wardrobe as you do to your clothing. That means buying less but buying the best. (Never, of course, at full price.) Every pair of shoes that you own should (1) look good on your feet, (2) work with your clothes, and (3) fit you perfectly.

Other than that, we wouldn't presume to tell a woman what to look for in a pair of shoes. But we do have some additional information for men…

There are two types of lace-up shoes: those with closed lacing and those with open lacing. The ones with closed lacing (on which the eyelet tabs are stitched under the vamp) are called “oxfords.” They are formal shoes. You wear them only with a suit.

A shoe with open lacing (where the eyelet tabs are stitched on top of the vamp) is more casual. This style is often called “blucher” or “derby”. In a dark colour, it can be worn with a suit but still look fine with khakis and a blazer.

When the shoe has decorative perforations (broguing) along the edges and toe cap, it is called a “brogue.” The most common brogue has a full or “wingtip” toe cap, as opposed to a half-, quarter-, or long-wing toe cap. Brogues come in both casual and dressy styles.

Slip-on shoes include loafers (casual-a little dressier if they have tassels) and boat shoes (very casual).

Athletic shoes are not meant to be worn for anything other than sports. Even for the most casual occasions, there are better choices.

The Military-Style Shoe Shine

Not only does keeping your shoes shined keep them looking good, it treats the leather so your shoes will last a lot longer. Here's how to do a proper military shine:

Spread out an old towel or some newspaper Use a horsehair brush or damp rag to remove loose dust and dirt Coat the entire shoe, including the seams, with polish. Let it dry for 15 minutes Use the horsehair brush to remove excess polish.

Now, here's the extra step that most people skip…

Dampen a cotton ball or pad and rub it into the polish. Apply the polish in small circular motions to the toe and heel of the shoe for extra shine. Brush off the excess polish with the horsehair brush. Keep doing this until you are satisfied with the look, brushing off the excess polish between each coat. Every time you shine your shoes, this step will take less time.

Source: http://artofmanliness.com/2008/07/29/how­to­get­the­best­shoe­shine/

Addicted to High Heels: It's All About Sex

Why do women continue to wear high heels, even though study after study has shown that they can do serious damage to the feet, knees, and back?

Women like the fact that heels make them taller. They also like knowing that even if their weight fluctuates a bit, their shoe size doesn't. They can always feel good about buying a new pair of heels.

But researchers have found that there's more to it than that. Something more primal.

In one study, both men and women watched the outlines of 12 women as they walked for two minutes in heels and then another two minutes in flats. Without seeing their faces, every study participant rated the women in heels as more attractive than the (same) women in flats. (And 28% of the women in flats were mistaken for men!)

According to the researchers, when a woman wears heels, her posture changes. The femininity of her walk is greatly exaggerated. A woman in heels takes shorter steps. This emphasizes the rotation and tilt of her hips. Men watching her become sexually stimulated. Women watching her recognize her as a competitor for male attention.

The researchers compared this to the addictive effect of junk food on the body. Junk food stimulates the natural craving for salt, sugar, and fat. In the same way, high heels stimulate the desire for hooking up with the opposite sex. An addiction that is hard to break.

Source: http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news­blog/how­evolution­explains­high­heel­shoes­51081/

Around the Waist

In general, thinner belts are more formal than wide belts. For a classic look, keep the belt the same color as your shoes and the metal on the belt the same color as your jewellery.

Specific Guidelines for Women:

Wide belts draw attention to your waist. If you don't have a slim waist, stick with belts that are neutral or dark in colour and closely matched to your clothing. A “statement” belt can do wonders for a plain, basic dress.

Specific Guidelines for Men:

Never wear a belt with pants that don't have belt loops. Never wear a belt and suspenders at the same time. If you have to suck in your gut to use the last hole in the belt, it's too small and will make you look fatter than you are.

How to Wear a Scarf

Adding a scarf to an outfit can completely change your look. And this is one accessory you can collect by the dozens without breaking the bank.

For Women:

There are many ways to tie a scarf-and it's a lot harder to explain than it is to show. So for a short video that shows 25 ways to tie a scarf in less than five minutes, click here.

An unbelievable video on 25 ways to wear a scarf

For women in India, where the dupatta is such an integral part of an Indian outfit, click here for a video to help you drape it in different styles and spice up your salwar kameez:

The many ways to drape a dupatta

For Men:

We're not big fans of “decorative” scarves on men. In our opinion, the only time a man should wear a scarf-a really good cashmere or Shetland wool scarf-is when he has to protect his neck from frigid weather.

How to Wear a Necktie

One of the few ways for a man to go a little wild in expressing his individuality is with his necktie. And, as with scarves for women, you can give yourself plenty of choices without spending a whole lot of money.

A few things to keep in mind…

standard tie is about 3-and-a-half inches wide, give or take. Wider than that looks dated.

No matter your height, the tie should hit right at your beltline.

Go with natural materials only: wool, cashmere, or silk with a heavy, tight weave.

When you hold up a tie by the narrow end, it should hang straight. If it twists and turns, it hasn't been cut right and it won't lay right.

No clip-ons. You know how to tie a “real” tie, right? If not, get yourself to the Internet and find out how to do it. And while you're at it, learn how to tie a bow tie too.

If you wear a tie bar, wear it in the right place. According to GQ, it goes between the third and fourth buttons of your shirt. Make sure the bar clips both the front and back of the tie.

Pocket Squares Add Pizzazz

A pocket square is an accessory that a lot of men ignore because they don't know how to wear it. But it really can add pizzazz to a suit.

Here's what you need to know:

It has to be silk. If it comes with a tie (and matches the tie exactly)-don't buy it! Do not wear one of those pocket squares attached to a piece of cardboard that slips in your pocket. It's the equivalent of a clip-on tie. Not sure how to fold it? Again… check the Internet.

Eyeglasses and Sunglasses

Glasses can be a signature look. Think Buddy Holly's horn-rims… John Lennon's “granny” specs… and Cary Grant's heavy black frames in some of his “brainier” roles.

How do you know which style (or styles) will work for you? You have to try them on, of course.

These are the classics:

Tortoiseshell - Timeless. Makes you look scholarly. Browline - With a dark frame that runs across the top of the lenses but not the bottom. Very Mad Men. Aviators - A retro look from the late 1930s. Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise brought them back. Round - An old-fashioned but intellectual look. Worked well on Gandhi. Rimless - Contemporary and clean.

Round tortoise shell glasses Round tortoise shell glasses Source: cosma / Shutterstock

A few considerations when you're shopping for sunglasses…

Read the label. You want sunglasses that block 98% of UVA and UVB rays. If the label just says “UV absorbing,” that's not happening. The darkness of the lens has nothing to do with UV protection. Sunglasses that are tinted green, amber, red, or gray can be just as effective as dark brown. If you play a lot of sports, you should pay a little more to get impact- resistant polycarbonate lenses. They are 10 times more durable than plastic or glass.

Unlike your clothes and shoes and other accessories, you're not going to be able to get prescription glasses on sale or secondhand. But if you shop carefully, you can still get them at reasonable prices. Good sources are GKB Optical.com, Lenskart.com, Titan Company and Jabong.com

GKB Optical and Titan:

Have showrooms in major cities where you can try on its glasses. Offer “virtual” try-ons on their websites. Let you order five pairs of glasses to try at home. Conduct eye check-ups in their stores.

Lenskart also organises eye check-ups at home.

Why Are Glasses So Damned Expensive? One Word: Monopoly

The Italian-based company Luxottica controls the eyeglass industry. It owns Ray-Ban, Sunglass Hut, Oakley, Pearl Vision, and LensCrafters. It also licenses at least 50 designer brands, including Armani, Chanel, Versace, and Ralph Lauren. The result? Eyeglasses can (and do) cost more than a new computer or a flat-screen TV. That's right… the 50-inch plasma TV that sold for more than $4,000 a few years ago can be bought in today's market for $650. But a pair of designer eyeglasses can run you upward of $1,000. In an interview with CBS News, a representative of Luxottica had this to say… Luxottica's dominance, it's what's called a “price maker,” which means that, essentially, it can set prices and other people will follow in its wake… The whole point of a luxury brand is to persuade people to pay $200 for a product that cost $30 to make.

Yes, even Luxottica admits that the name of the game is to make an obscene amount money-at your expense.

But here's the thing… The manufacturers that license those designer names also make a lot of inexpensive styles that resemble the designer goods without the fancy logos. Which means that-if you shop around-you can get the look, and the same quality, at a much lower price.

Getting Your Swagger On

So that's the rundown on accessories. Carefully chosen, not only do they keep your wardrobe fresh, current, and interesting, but they also help you define your personal style.

As Jack Nicholson says, “With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them, I'm fat and 60.”

Living Rich #6: How to Drive Like a Billionaire

You decide it's time for a new car. The thought begins tentatively and then sprouts roots. You do some research. You talk to some friends. The more you think about it, the better you like the idea. Pretty soon, you are itching to move… and you find yourself in a showroom.

A dealer approaches. A friendly guy, he asks what you are looking for. If you don't know, he asks about your driving needs. He may ask where you live, the size of your family, etc.

As you narrow your thinking, he becomes more animated. If he sees that you have a special fondness for a particular car, he'll be excited for you. But if you change your mind, he won't push you. He's ready to sell you the car you want to buy.

There is one car on the floor that neither of you will look at. It is the most expensive sedan there. It retails for more than Rs 60 lac. That's a car for billionaires, you think. It's not for me. So you avoid looking at it, since you don't want to endure the pain of envy. Instead, you look at the sedans selling in the Rs 12-18 lac range.

You settle for the sensible Rs 15 lac car - one very much like the sensible sedan you've been driving all your life. You let the salesman know this is the car you want, but you can't pay any more than Rs X per month for EMIs. You tell him you want an EMI scheme for three years. He says, “I don't know if I can do that, but I'll try.”

He disappears into the back office. Five minutes later, he returns with the monthly lease cost. It is higher than you said. You object, and he tells you he might be able to hit your number with a four-year lease. You reluctantly agree.

He leaves for the back office and comes back again. It is still a couple of thousand rupees than you wanted. You haggle some more. He makes more trips to the back office “on your behalf.” Finally, you agree on a number that is Rs 2,000 more than you wanted.

Still, it's okay. You can afford it. Next, he introduces you to a nicely dressed woman who is the dealer's finance manager. She asks you many questions and has you fill out just as many forms. At the end of the process, you realize you are paying an additional Rs 2,000 more per month because of extra warranties, treatments, etc., that she makes you feel you should have known about.

You are already committed emotionally to having the car. So you sign the papers, feeling a little bit had.

The salesman shows you the ropes with your new car - how to adjust the side reflectors and jack up the radio. It's pretty exciting. You leave an hour later, happy, with that new car aroma in your nose.

All is good. A few weeks later, that new car smell is gone. After a month or two, there is a little scratch on the passenger door. It is still a nice car, and you still like it. But it is no longer a new car. It's a used car.

Three or four years later, you repeat the process. You never stop to realize that for the same money you have been spending on your so-so Rs 18 lac sedan, you could have been driving that amazing Rs 60 lac machine.

Are Car Dealers Really Snake Oil Salesmen?

Car dealers have bad reputations, some deservedly so. But generally speaking, most dealerships today sell good cars at fair prices. The advance of automotive technology - spurred by the amazing Japanese car industry in the 1980s - has given us a world of choices in cars that are simply much better than we had in earlier years.

And the free market you enjoy in India has kept the cost of most cars way down. Dealerships make only a very small profit on the cars they sell you. It is more than they'd like you to think (there are plenty of clever ways they make their markup seem smaller), but it is usually much less than 20%.

This is much less than you are paying to buy most things that you purchase. Negotiate, but don't fret too much about grinding down the salesman. It doesn't make sense. He isn't going to sell the car for 1 rupee less than his boss has already decided. And the guy needs to make a living.

A Much Wiser Approach

I own two cars: a BMW 760 IL and an Acura NSX. The BMW is a sedan. The NSX, a high-performance sports car. Both are exceptional vehicles. They look great. They drive great. And people perceive them as world-class automobiles.

To buy these two cars today, you'd have to fork over more than $250,000. But that would be foolish. In this essay, I will tell you how you can drive super luxury cars like these for a tiny fraction of what you'd expect.

Most people, when considering the cost of an automobile, think only in terms of the EMI (equated monthly installments) payment. “I don't care about the price of the car or anything else,” they say. “All I care about is how much I have to pay every month.”

This, they think, is smart, bottom-line thinking. But it is exactly the worst kind of thinking when it comes to buying cars.

When you tell a car salesman that you want to lease a new car for X years and you “can't pay more than Rs X per month,” you are pretty much saying, “I am a financial dummy. Do unto me as you wish.”

Why?

It all comes down to cost of use.

When it comes to a car, we can define the cost of use as the total cost of driving it (including repairs, maintenance, and the cost of finance) divided by the number of months that you have it.

The EMI cost is just a part of the equation - and, as I'll explain, it's often a nebulous one at that.

To figure out the cost of leasing a car, you need to know four things, none of which has anything to do with the monthly lease price:

The price you will be paying for the car How long you will keep the car How many miles per year the lease allows for The assessed value of the car when you trade it in.

Actually, this is just a part of what you need to look at. You should also estimate the approximate cost of out-of-pocket repairs and maintenance during the time you have the car. And you should have an idea about how much fuel will cost you.

Most car buyers have no idea that they need to make these calculations to understand how much the car will cost them. And that is how they end up paying too much. Because they are interested only in monthly EMIs, they often agree to contracts in which they pay too much and too low mileage allotments, or they get a biased trade-in value or face exorbitant financing.

If you want to smartly lease a car, you must consider these things. But don't worry. I am not going to give you that lesson right now. (You'll find it in the report on cars we're giving you after this essay.) None of these calculations is nearly as important as is deciding what kind of car to buy and how long to keep it.

The Big Secret

Let's go back to my NSX.

I bought it when it first came out, in 1991. At the time, it was the state-of-the-art high-performance sports car. Acura had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its design. There was not another sports car in the world that could equal it in terms of performance, quality, and reliability.

I paid $70,000 for it. That's a lot of money - more money than most Club members believe they can afford. But the fact is my NSX is the cheapest car I've ever owned.

Here are the numbers:

I paid $70,000 (approx. Rs 42 lac) for it new. If I were to sell it today, I could easily get $35,000. Because it's an Acura (and not a Ferrari or a Porsche), the cost of repairs and maintenance has been very low. Compared with other sports cars, the NSX has the lowest repair and maintenance costs. I have spent no more than $5,000 (approx. Rs 3 lac) on it since I bought it.

The gas consumption is very low for a high-performance sports car. On the highway, I get more than 20 miles per gallon. Excluding gas consumption (since that would only reduce the use cost), my total cost for owning the car has been less than $300 (approx. Rs 18,000) per month.

Here's the math: initial purchase price ($70,000 - approx. Rs 42 lac) plus $5,000 (Rs 3 lac) in repairs and maintenance minus its current resale value ($35,000 or approx. Rs 21 lac - it's in mint shape) gives me $40,000 (approx. 24 lac) divided by 264 months (22 years) for a monthly use cost of about $150 (approx. Rs 9,000).

Now I ask you - what kind of sports car can you get for $150 (approx. Rs 9,000) per month? A 1975 Chevy Nova, that's what!

Now, don't go out and buy a 1991 NSX. The car was and is a classic, but it's 22 years old. It can't compare to the sports cars that are coming out today.

Meanwhile, let's talk about how you can drive my BMW - one of the world's finest sedans - for less than it would cost you to lease a Honda Civic.

As I mentioned above, I drive a 12-cylinder 2007 BMW 760 IL. When it was new in 2007, it would have cost about $140,000 (84 lac, with the added features I have). But as a person who knows how to live rich, you could have done this instead.

You could have shopped around for a slightly used one - say, approx 35,000 or 45,000 kms - and bought it four years later, in 2011, for half the price.

That number may surprise you. Is it possible to buy a slightly used, four-year-old world-class car for 50% of its new price?

The answer is yes, for two important reasons:

Secret #1: The more expensive the car, the greater the depreciation rate in its early years.

Secret #2: Added features depreciate almost 100% almost as soon as the car leaves the dealer's lot.

This translates to step No. 1: Shop around and find a car like mine and buy it for $70,000, half its original price. Step No. 2: is even simpler: Enjoy that car-as I will-for 20 years.

The Rich Mind Versus the Poor Mind

Let's stop for a moment and think about what I've been saying. I'm suggesting that only a financial fool would lease a new car every three years when he could drive a much better car - in fact, one of the world's greatest cars - for the same or less money.

But you won't be able to do this if you think with a poor mind. A poor mind thinks that he should drive a new car every three or four years and worries only about the monthly cost of the lease. The rich mind understands that truly wealthy people buy great cars and enjoy them for many, many years. Those are the most important distinctions.

You may think that it's not cool to buy and drive a used car. Yet as I pointed out earlier, after a few weeks, we are all driving used cars. The difference is that people with rich minds drive the best cars and keep them longer, while people with poor minds drive mediocre cars and keep replacing them.

The mentality is usually about one's perception of prestige. People with poor minds equate prestige with newness, whereas people with rich minds equate prestige with quality.

When I see someone driving a mint-condition 1962 Mercedes (as I did recently in Managua, Nicaragua, of all places!), I think, “That's a cool dude.” When I see someone driving a brand-new midlevel sedan, I don't think anything at all.

What kind of mind do you have? Are you excited about the idea of driving one of the world's greatest cars for many years, even as it ages gracefully? Or are you thinking, “No way. I need that new-car smell fix every three years.”

Prestige: It's How You Think of It

One of the most important things you are buying when you buy a luxury car is prestige. We don't like to admit that we like “feeling rich.” But unless you are going to become a Buddhist monk in a monastery (in which case, you probably won't be driving a car), prestige matters.

There are all sorts of ways to feel rich.

The easiest way is to buy cars that are famously associated with luxury such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Rolls-Royces. But some of these cars simply don't measure up in terms of performance characteristics and durability.

The person with the rich mind will eschew cars like these in favour of other luxury cars that merit their good reputations. (We do some of that work for you in the report that follows this essay.)

The other idea that some people have about being rich is to always have new things. I've explained why this is a poor mind's mentality above.

I feel rich driving my BMW and NSX because they are beautiful, classic cars and because each of them is relatively rare. You see lots of 750 BMWs out there but very few 12-cylinder 760s. You rarely see an NSX on the road since Acura made so few of them over the years, and when you do see one, it's often much younger than mine.

To me, the ultimate compliment you can get on your car will come from valet parkers. These guys know cars better than anyone in the world. When I pull my BMW or NSX into a valet stand, I always get compliments. And when I tell the valet that the NSX is 22 years old, they are impressed.

Driving Like a Billionaire

The most important factors in driving like a billionaire (without spending like one) are these:

The car you buy The price you pay for it The price you can sell it for How long you keep it The Car You Buy

To drive like a billionaire, you must drive an exceptional car. By exceptional I mean a car that is beautiful, comfortable, functional, and durable. It should also be a car that makes you feel rich.

The good news is that there are many mid-priced cars today that fit these criteria. Often, this means buying an expensive car. But that, as we've learned, is not the most important factor in the equation.

The Price You Pay for It

The most important way to reduce the price you pay for a luxury car is to buy it used. As I said above, expensive cars depreciate a great deal in the first several years. But then their values tend to hold because they are luxury cars and still look and drive luxuriously for hundreds of thousands of miles.

A typical luxury car will depreciate about 10% in the first year and another 10% in years two, three, and four and then level off to only minor drops in value after that. Your best option is to buy a three- or four-year-old car in near-mint condition with low mileage. This will give you your best price.

The Price You Can Sell It For

Some cars depreciate less than other cars. My NSX, for example, lost about half of its value after four years but then did not depreciate at all after that. Twenty-two years later, I can still sell it for half of what I paid for it. That's because there were not many of them produced, and the one I have is in near-perfect shape.

When you are deciding what particular luxury car to buy, consider its resale value in the future when you plan to sell it. In the report that follows this essay, we will tell you how to do that.

How Long You Keep It

The most important of the four factors that determine your cost of use is the number of years you intend to keep the car. This is true of virtually every purchase you make. If you want to enjoy the best car at the least cost of use, you should plan to keep the car for 10-20 years.

“I was thinking about this “Living Rich” information you've been communicating to us as members of the Wealth Builders Club. Personally, my goal is not to live rich, but to “live free.”

I don't want more or fancier stuff, or live or drink like the rich with less money, but I do want the freedom to pursue things other than work and managing my finances, or having to worry about them. Thanks for all the great information you're providing. ” - Club member S J. You may be thinking, “Oh, I would never want to own a car that long. It would soon be out of date and costing me big money on repairs.”

That's not true, in my experience. The NSX that I bought in 1991 is cooler now than it was then. The new sports cars may be a bit faster. And they may contain some options that my car doesn't. But you can't drive a car faster than the NSX legally, except on a racetrack. And those extra options? The “cool factor” of having a vintage NSX outranks them by a mile.

The same will be true of my BMW. I chose it because it has a very classic styling. There is nothing over-the-top about it - the kind of styling elements you'd find in a Rolls-Royce sedan. So it will look great in 10 and 20 years. Just as a vintage 1980 or 1990 BMW looks great today.

As to maintenance and repair costs, the cars that we are recommending in the following report have very low maintenance costs. That was a key factor in recommending them. As you will see after studying the report, the total cost of use has been factored into our thinking.

Buy any one of our recommended cars and you'll enjoy it more with each passing year.

To read “How to Drive a Luxury Car for an Economy Price,” the special report we've prepared about cost of car ownership, stay tuned for the next email.

Best, Mark

How to Drive a Luxury Car for an Economy Price

What if someone said you could drive a Jaguar or Porsche 911? Most of us believe that luxury vehicles of that caliber are so far out of our price range that we don't even entertain the idea.

However, Mark challenges the idea that only the wealthy can drive vehicles with a Rs 60 lac price tag. He illustrates how, if a few conditions are met, almost anyone can afford to drive a luxury vehicle.

You might be thinking, “There is no way I could ever afford a Rs 60 lac car. That's almost a down payment on a house.” But believe it or not, Mark's strategy works. In this report, we're going to expand on Mark's ideas with real cars and real numbers. We've done the math for you. We'll show you how you can drive an amazing luxury vehicle for the same-or significantly less-than leasing a new, run-of-the-mill car every few years.

The Strategy

In How to Drive Like a Billionaire Mark says certain conditions must be met in order for his strategy to work. These conditions will not only save you a ton of money but will ensure you get the most use and enjoyment out of the vehicle.

Here are those conditions:

Buy the car with cash-no financing. When you finance a vehicle or enter into an EMI agreement, there are steep financing charges. For example, if you financed Rs 15 lac for a new car with a 12% annual percentage rate, you would pay an additional Rs 2.5 lac in interest at the end of 5 years. In India EMIs typically have an annual interest rate between 9-13% and the tenure for the same is between 3-7 years (source: MyCarHelpline.com).

Buy a model that is three to four years old. After three to four years, a car has already depreciated about 40-50% from its retail price. Buying a car in this “sweet spot” allows you to purchase a used vehicle for much less than a new car-while it's still in great condition.

Plan to drive the car for 15-20 years. This is the most important factor to consider. The longer you drive the vehicle, the more bang you get for your buck.

In addition to understanding these three important concepts, you must understand depreciation and cost of use to make Mark's strategy effective.

Depreciation

Simply put, depreciation is the decrease in value of the vehicle over time. Cars depreciate quickly due to wear and tear and the release of newer models. According to Edmunds.com, a new car loses 11% of its value the minute it drives off the lot. Then, during the first five years, the car depreciates 15-25% each year.

The chart below shows the average depreciation rate of a $20,000 car:

The instant you drive a new car out of the showroom, it loses value. For example, the market value of a brand-new Rs 12 lac car instantly drops to only Rs 10.5 lac when you drive it home from the dealer. By years three or four, that same car will have lost 50% of its value.

And after five years, it's worth about only 37% of its original cost, or about Rs 4.5 lac. That's not good news for your investment.

Luxury cars are different. They depreciate quickly in their early years before leveling off. This is because the luxury vehicles have premium features that better retain value. In Mark's essay, he says that his 1991 Acura NSX is still worth 50% of its original value-22 years later.

If he wanted to sell it, he would get a significant portion of his investment back, contributing to the value of the car.

Although average and luxury cars depreciate at different rates, what's common to them both is the concept of the “sweet spot.” The typical “sweet spot” of all vehicles is between two and five years old, when depreciation slows, but it still retains its quality. This is the best time to buy.

Cost of Use

We define “cost of use” as the total cost of driving a car divided by the number of years you own it. Let's refer back to Mark's NSX. He paid $70,000 for it in 1991. And he has spent no more than $5,000 on repairs and maintenance since then, for a total investment of $75,000.

However, if you subtract the money the car is still worth-$35,000-Mark's net cost is only $40,000. Divided by the number of months he's owned it (264), his per-month cost of use is only about $291. Quite a bargain for a luxury sports car.

In this report, we're going to compare the cost of use of brand-new luxury cars to the cost of use of three- to four-year old luxury cars. By doing this, we're going to illustrate how you can get the same kind of return on your vehicle investment as Mark has.

To do this, we've provided the estimated monthly cost of use of owning a new car over five years and, in accordance with Mark's formula, the cost of use of owning a used car for 15 years. We've also provided details about how we calculated cost of use.

In this report, we refer to figures from the experts at Edmunds, Motor Trend, Consumer Reports, Carwale.com, Gaadi.com, CarDekho.com, Overdrive.in and other trusted sources to determine cost of use for brand-new cars.

These consumer guides calculate the estimated cost of use based on maintenance and repairs, fuel, financing costs, insurance, depreciation, and state or tax fees.

Estimating cost of use for used cars required a bit more research and brainpower. We combed through data from the same trusted sources to get the averages for cost of use. We then created a formula for each cost category.

We purposely didn't include finance costs and depreciation when calculating cost of use for used vehicles. We are operating under the assumption that you will buy your car with cash, so finance costs are not a factor.

In addition, because depreciation for luxury vehicles levels out after five years (which is about the point at which we're hypothetically buying these cars), it's less of a factor.

This is how you total up the annual costs of the car:

Maintenance and Repair + Insurance + Taxes = Total Cost

Now assuming you will use the car for 15 years, here is how you can calculate the cost-of-use expenses according to our formula:

Total Cost X 15 (Total Cost per year for 15 years) + purchase price ÷ 180 (months of ownership) = cost of use.

Calculating cost of use for any vehicle is not an exact science. It's important to note three very important things to consider while reading this report and making any car-buying decisions.

*Please note that sometimes parts and repairs for luxury vehicles are more expensive than average vehicles. This may result in increased maintenance costs. In addition, if your car requires something other than regular petrol, your fuel costs will be higher than this estimate.

First, every car and car buyer are different. Two different people could buy a vehicle of the same make and model for significantly different prices.

In addition, some cost factors are simply too difficult to standardize because different car owners will make personal decisions about their cars and car use.

For example, warranties affect the price of a car. Most new cars come with a warranty that provides coverage for two years, or up to 40,000 kms. (Depending on the brand, in India, the car warranties range between 2/3 years or 40,000-100,000 kms whichever is earlier). After that warranty expires, a car owner has the option to purchase an extended warranty through either a car dealership or the car manufacturer.

There are hundreds of warranty options - too many to identify only one we would apply to all our cars. Because of that, the cost factors we've included in the cost of use formula for used cars are only the necessary out-of-pocket costs almost every car owner will have.

Second, it's difficult to predict the future cost of use for a car. For example, we don't know what fuel, insurance, or maintenance and repair costs will be five, 10, or 15 years from now.

We've done our best to gather the most thorough and reliable information available to estimate the cost of use. When possible, we used actual numbers, but in most cases, we used estimates based on national data from trusted car-expert sources.

As we mentioned before, cost of use isn't an exact science. The numbers we've provided won't likely be applicable 10 or 15 years from now. Still, the formula is a great starting point for determining expected cost of use for a used luxury vehicle.

Finally, our formula doesn't account for the car's current value if you were to sell it. The equity you have in the vehicle, when factored into the formula, will significantly decrease the monthly cost of use. If you would like to include this number in your calculations, simply use the modified formula below:

Costs + purchase price - estimated value at time of resale ÷ 180 = cost of use.

Understanding the Report

To illustrate Mark's strategy, we researched thousands of new and used luxury vehicles in three categories: sports cars, luxury sedans, and luxury SUVs. We poured through model after model and evaluated each vehicle based on the criteria experts identified as most important to luxury car owners. For instance, these included cost of use, speed, premium features, and more.

Based on consumer reports and expert reviews, we narrowed our list down to four cars in each category: one brand-new 2013-14 model and the corresponding used cars of the same category.

The 2013-14 model in each category is the “it” car of this year - the vehicle car enthusiasts are most excited about and many of us would buy if money wasn't an issue.

When choosing used vehicles to compare to the new model, we researched the must-have vehicles of the past five years to ensure that these used cars have held their quality, value, and allure.

This report will provide a detailed account of various factors to consider when purchasing a new luxury vehicle. This report will:

Show how each car stacks up against the criteria Compare each used car to the brand-new car Detail the cost of the new vehicle and the used cars' current values

The results will show you how spending a sensible amount of money on a quality used vehicle is far more logical than dropping loads of cash on a brand-new model. All the cars listed below have been evaluated based on the following criteria:

Performance/speed Engine specs Fuel economy Cost of use

Now that all the logistics are out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff - the luxury vehicles.

Sports Cars

From James Bond's Aston Martin to Sachin Tendulkar's famous Ferrari, sports cars have long been the epitome of luxury, wealth, and status. Designed with speed, style, and fun in mind, the luxury sports car is every car enthusiast's dream.

2013 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe

The 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo raised the bar in terms of performance, comfort, and handling. Its 3.8-liter, flat-six petrol engine with two turbochargers is more fuel-efficient and powerful than previous models.

Porsche has always been the ultimate in luxury sports cars, and the 2013 911 Turbo delivers.

Approx Price Rs 1.62 crore (ex-showroom Mumbai) Source: Overdrive.in

Specs: Engine: 3.8 L turbocharged Horsepower: 530 hp @ 6,250 rpm 0-60 mph: 3.1 seconds Fuel Economy: 17 MPG city, 25 MPG highway

2012 Porsche Cayman S

The 2012 Porsche Cayman S is a great alternative to its counterpart. It retains the quality, performance, and sleek look for a much better price. And the monthly cost of use for the Cayman S is less than the monthly cost of use for a 911 Turbo.

Approx Price of Used Car: Rs 75 lac (Chandigarh) Source: Gaadi.com

2010 Audi R8 4.2 FSI Quattro R Trinic

The Audi R8 is a premier luxury vehicle. Its speed, horsepower, and engine put it in an elite category. With its smooth ride, roomy seating, and gorgeous exterior, this is a car you can drive every day. While its horsepower isn't as great as the 2013 Porsche 911's, its engine is bigger and its cost of use is cheaper.

Approx Price of Used Car: Rs 95 lac (Faridabad) Source: Carwale.com

Sedans

Combining roomy interiors with the handling and smooth look of sports cars, sedans are designed for quality and comfort. If you have a family or just want more room than a coupe, you don't have to sacrifice speed, performance, or style.

2013 Porsche Panamera Turbo S

The 2013 Porsche Panamera Turbo S looks like a sports car - while boasting four doors, a spacious interior, and a comfortable ride. The 2013 model introduces a turbocharged V8 engine, 19-inch wheels, adaptive air suspension, and more. It has roomy seating for four and a hatchback that allows for plenty of cargo space. It delivers the best of both sports cars and sedans.

Approx Price: Rs 1.2 - 2 cr (ex-showroom Mumbai) Source: Cardekho.com

Specs: Engine: 4.8 L V8 Horsepower: 500 hp @ 6,000 rpm 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds Fuel Economy: 15 MPG city, 23 MPG highway

2009 Mercedes Benz S Class 320 CDI

Mercedes-Benz is iconic in luxury vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz S Class offers all the amenities of luxury sedans, plus superior speed and horsepower. Its monthly cost of use is cheaper and it still provides all the amenities and status of a newer luxury sedan.

Approx Price of Used Car: Rs 65 lac (Cochin) Source: Gaadi.com

2009 Audi A8 3.0 TDI Quattro

The Audi A8 Quattro is a modest luxury sedan. It's not trying to be flashy, yet it still boasts superior performance and power. With a bigger engine, comparable horsepower, and monthly cost of use that is cheaper than the 2013 Porsche Panamera, you can't go wrong with the Audi A8.

Approx Price of Used Car: Rs 41 lac (Chennai) Source: Gaadi.com

SUVs

Luxury SUVs are designed to retain the comfort and luxury of a sports car or sedan while also providing the functionality of a larger vehicle for towing and off-road driving. They offer more seating and cargo space, along with the power and prestige of smaller luxury vehicles.

2013 Land Rover Range Rover

The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is the ultimate in luxury SUVs. Introducing a new body style, weight that is 180-270 kgs lighter than previous models, and better fuel economy, it is the leader in luxury on- and off-road driving. This is a true sports utility vehicle that pulls its weight in both luxury and function.

Approx Price: Rs 2 - 2.6 cr (ex-showroom New Delhi) Source: Carwale.com

Specs: Engine: 5.0 L V8 Horsepower: 375 hp @ 6,500 rpm Tow Capacity: 7,716 lbs Fuel Economy: 14 MPG city, 20 MPG highway

2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The Porsche Cayenne Turbo is a great luxury family vehicle. It offers improved Porsche Communication navigation systems. The Cayenne is performance oriented, combining comfort and handling that are perfect for on- and off-road.

The Porsche Cayenne offers the best in quality and performance. It has 175 more horsepower and equal tow capacity to the 2013 Range Rover, with a cost of use that is cheaper.

Approx Price of Used Car: Rs 90-95 lac (New Delhi) Source: Carwale.com

2011 Lexus LX 470 SUV

The Lexus LX was designed to perform both in the city and in more rugged conditions. While no major improvements or changes were made to the previous model, it still delivers top-of-the-line performance and luxury.

Approx Price of Used Car: Rs 18 lac (New Delhi) Source: Gaadi.com

The Lexus LX is both functional and luxurious. It has more tow capacity and horsepower than the 2013 Range Rover, in addition to a monthly cost of use that is cheaper. The Lexus LX will provide an exceptional ownership experience for a much cheaper price.

*All the above prices mentioned are representative and subject to change.

Vroom, vroom, vroom…

Many people consider owning a brand-new luxury vehicle the ultimate status symbol. However, many car aficionados realize that purchasing a luxury used car with comparable premium features - yet for only a fraction of the price - conveys what's truly important. Wisdom. Driving a used car doesn't mean you have to sacrifice luxury, speed, performance, or features.

The strategies we've provided can work with any luxury vehicle. If you're a car enthusiast, there's probably one car you've always lusted after - the car you tell yourself you'll buy the moment you're financially able. We hope that our report has illustrated that you can own your dream car - and save money as you do.

Editor's Note: Dear Reader, this was merely an example of how you needn't wait a lifetime to drive luxury cars that can enhance your driving experience and prestige. This formula devised by Mark can be used for the purchase of any car in the future. So go ahead and be prudent and look rich with your fancy wheels.

Living Rich #7: Living Like a Billionaire: Your Rich House

Bob, my next-door neighbour, lives in a 15,000-square-foot house built in 1992. It has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a two-bedroom guesthouse, and a garage that can accommodate six cars and a stretch limousine.

On the south lawn stands an immense gazebo - such as you might expect to find in a town plaza. Beside the tennis court in the rear, manmade grottos and streams feed an Olympic-sized swimming pool surrounded by limestone goddesses.

The façade of the house has two-story Ionic columns supporting a porch that looks onto the beach. Everything - from the perimeter walls to the roof tiles to the statues - is white.

Bob's house is huge. It is imposing. And it is a monument to bad taste.

Sheila, a friend who lives a few blocks away, has a 1,500-square-foot clapboard-sided bungalow built in 1940. It has two bedrooms, a vintage kitchen, and a screened - in porch on the side looking onto an English garden.

It is small. It is friendly. It is classy.

From the outside, Bob's house says, “I spent millions on this house. More than you will probably earn in your lifetime. Aren't you impressed?”

From the outside, Sheila's house says, “I've spent years making this house my own. Would you like to know me?”

What Is a House?

The house you live in has an enormous effect on your quality of life. (I'm referring to it as 'house' but it includes anything from an apartment to a bungalow to a farmhouse or any other style of house you have.) It is where you spend most of your time, where you raise your family, and where you entertain friends.

Your house is the haven you return to after working, where you enjoy family meals, exchange gossip, make plans, make love. It is also a place where you keep your favourite books and display art and family photographs and travel souvenirs.

Your house is a shelter, a headquarters, a museum, and a retreat. It is where you can or should spend most of your best time.

Your house may well be the most expensive possession you have. In terms of “cost of possession,” it usually ranks at the top of the list.

[The cost of possession is the full cost of using any non-consumable good, from a house to a car, to a fountain pen, over a given period of time. In the context of a house, you shouldn't consider just the EMI payments. You need to factor in taxes, insurance, legal fees, society maintenance, and other home improvement costs each year to come up with your total cost of possession.]

For these reasons, it may be the most important “thing” we will be discussing in the Living Rich series.

What Makes a House “Rich”?

Many people who are very interested in living rich have no idea what makes for a rich home.

Bob is a good example. He has invested more than $8 million in his house, and it is an embarrassing monstrosity. Sheila has invested less than $200,000 over the years, and her house is amazing.

Thank you for all of the valuable information you continue to share with us in the Wealth Builders Club. Club member BB. Bob made his fortune selling franchises back in the 1960s. When he retired, he moved to Delray Beach, Fla., and built his McMansion next to my house. (My house is actually two houses - one built in 1929 and another in 1941 - that have been connected and restored.)

I never told Bob that I didn't like his house, since there was nothing that could come from it but bad feelings. He has turned out to be a perfectly good neighbor. He minds his business. He lives quietly. He is friendly when we meet.

About a year after he moved in, he invited me over for a Cook's tour of his house. “Look at this elevator, Mark!” he announced proudly as we stepped into his foyer. “I imported it from a hotel in Florence. Guess how much it cost!”

“Gee, I don't know, Bob. Thirty grand?”

“No way! It cost me $150,000!” “Gee, well. Congratulations.”

The entire tour was like that. Everything was oversized and garish and stupidly expensive. Nothing was comfortable, clever, or personal. It was all designer-selected merchandise meant to impress.

And it did impress me. But not as Bob would have wished. On the one hand, I felt happy that Bob was able to enjoy the atrocious, eye-stabbing monstrosity he called home. On the other hand, I felt bad for him that he had wasted such a colossal sum of money. For a fifth of what he'd spent, he could have had a house that looked and felt 10 times richer.

I have also been in Sheila's house. The inside is just as tasteful as the exterior. Objects and carvings and prints from her world travels, as well as old books on subjects that have interested her over the years and an eclectic and charming collection of furniture fill the house.

I remember the first time I saw her house. She didn't say much as she led me from one room to the next, but I kept stopping her to ask questions.

“That's a very cool piano. How old is it?”

“I see you like Haitian art. Have you been to Haiti?”

“I'm surprised to see all those books on math. What's that about?”

During that one brief tour, I learned a great deal about her - things that made me realize what an interesting person she was. But my questions only scratched the surface. There were a dozen things in every room that I didn't have time to ask about.

Bob spent $8 million on a house that tells me he is living poor. Sheila spent a tiny fraction of that on a house that tells me she is living rich.

In this essay, I want to tell you everything I know about having a “rich home.”

I want to tell you why I think Bob's house is “poor” and Sheila's is “rich.” I want to tell you why so many people spend money foolishly on their homes. I want you to understand that, whatever your current income, there is a rich house out there waiting to become your home.

My First House

I have lived in a three-room mud house in Africa, an old townhouse bordering on the ghetto in Washington, D.C., a starter condo apartment, and then a nice ranch house in West Boca Raton, Florida, and a fancy house in a gated community in East Boca… all before moving to my current house in Delray Beach.

I enjoyed all of my homes. But I have never forgotten a thought I had while sitting on the porch of that three-room house in Chad. It was late afternoon. A sun-shower was pelting the trees and cascading over our tin roof. A monkey with a baby clinging to her back scampered out of the rain and sat beside me, unperturbed by my presence, waiting for the rain to stop.

The thought was: “You will probably live in a big, fancy house one day. But you will never live in a better home than this one.”

It wasn't just the view of our rain-soaked garden or the friendly intrusion of our primate cousins. It wasn't just knowing that I lived in a community of interesting people who cared for one another and that I could get to work in 15 minutes on my bike and that Kathy and I were safe and comfortable.

It was the fact that this little stucco-plastered mud house with an outdoor kitchen and bathroom met all of our needs. It met them perfectly because of who we were at that time.

In the 30 years that have passed since, I have thought a good deal about what makes for a good home. I have ideas, but I also have a conclusion: The richness of a home has little or nothing to do with how much it costs.

The richness of a home depends on a number of things that are not directly or necessarily related to money. I'm talking about things such as location, space, balance, and personality.

The Economics of Home Ownership and the Changing History of Homes

In the “old days”, people better understood what makes for a rich house. Homes were havens and personal headquarters and family museums that became better with age.

People kept their homes for lifetimes - sometimes for generations. They updated them as their circumstances changed and improved them in countless little ways. These houses appreciated in value - financial and personal - as each year passed.

Because of the exploding population and changing demographic,the idea of a house as home changed. Because of the need to house hundreds of thousands of people migrating to Indian cities, builders invented a new kind of house. They built structures that were meant to last only 20 or 30 years. They were bland and all pretty much the same, often referred to as cookie-cutter homes.

As the economy improved and families grew, the new idea of “moving up” replaced the old idea of gradually improving a home over time. A significant raise in salary was an opportunity to get out of the old house and into one that was newer and modern. Thus, “new” and “modern” became the unreflected signatures of a “rich” house.

But the new houses today, though more modern, are indistinguishable from one another. A typical building complex of 10 or 20-storey buildings might have four or five “model homes,” each with an identical floor plan and all with similar materials.

The point of this little history is to highlight the fact that most of the younger generation of Indians today don't think of their houses as intergenerational habitats. They think of them as representatives of their move up the socio-economic ladder, still very much the way people learned to think about homes in the 1980s: as temporary structures that would do until one could afford to buy something bigger and newer.

How It Should Be

Your house should be a place that gives you constant pleasure. You should love everything about it - from its exterior architecture to the landscaping on the balcony, to its interior spaces, its furnishings, and its decorations.

You should enjoy spending time in every part of your garden and in every room - in the kitchen and living areas, in every bedroom, and even in the bathrooms and closets!

And the maintenance and upkeep of your home should be a constant, happy project for you - a work of art that you are constantly refining and shaping. Your home should be flexible enough to accommodate all of the people who inhabit it.

Ideally, it should be big enough to contain and provide room for all of your favourite family activities. At the same time, it should be small enough to leave no significant space unused.

Rules for Having a Rich Home

Longevity Enhances Value

This brings me to the first and most important lesson in having a rich home: To optimize its value, you should keep it as long as you can. You shouldn't think of it as temporary. You can't have, as a strategy, the thought that you will keep buying more expensive homes as your income rises.

You can't do so for two reasons.

First, moving into a more expensive home is the single surest way to increase your lifestyle burn rate. And increasing your lifestyle burn rate is the surest way to stay poor.

[Your lifestyle burn rate (LBR) is how much you need to spend each year to enjoy the lifestyle you want. It's easy to determine this number. Simply calculate how much you are currently spending each year, and then increase that by the yearly cost of all the extra things you'd like to have that you don't have now.]

The second reason has to do with simple economics. Keeping a home for a long period of time gives you the best chance of seeing its value appreciate.

This raises the question: How long should you keep a home?

My answer? As long as you possibly can. As a minimum, I'd say 20 years. The house I'm living in now will be with me for the rest of my life. It may also serve in some way as a house for my children. The longer we can keep it, the more value it will have for us.

With all the moving around we do today, keeping a home for a long time might seem impractical. But the truth is that you don't have to “buy up” as your income increases. It is entirely possible to find a house you love and keep it, enhancing it as you go.

I have written about this elsewhere several times. I have said that the single best strategy for building wealth over a lifetime is to keep one house for many years. Here's why.

The costs of living in a particular house are greater than simply the cost of the house. There are the “usage costs” such as utilities, landscaping, taxes, etc., that typically increase in direct proportion to the value of the house.

Then there are other, less obvious, costs - call them social costs-such as what sort of car you drive, what sort of furniture you buy, whether you send your kids to private school and, if so, what schools you choose. These costs can be huge, yet most people do not consider them when thinking about “moving up.”

Most people take for granted that a more expensive home will provide for appreciation and therefore is a better investment. But when your social costs are tens or hundreds of thousands of extra rupees per year, that may not be so.

I am not saying that you should be happy with your starter house. But I am saying that once you are established in a home that you love, you should keep it as long as you possibly can. When you get the raise, don't run out and buy another house that is a crore rupees more expensive.

Consider This

Warren Buffett is one of the world's richest people and, arguably, the world's greatest investor. However, he still lives in the same 6,000-square-foot home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500 (approximately $250,000 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars). Instead, figure out what you can do to your present house to make it more enjoyable. Even though the Rs. 10 lac you may spend renovating the kitchen is not money you'd get back later if you sold it, the pleasure it will give you - in terms of a rich life - could be enormous.

Again, the overlooked key here is the cost of use. That extra crore you spend on a bigger house could easily cost you more than 3 crore rupees in utilitarian and social costs over 20 years.

I know this is a difficult concept to grasp. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But the fact is that you will spend less money in the long run by having the nicest house in your old neighbourhood than you will by buying up and expecting big gains in the value of your property.

I give myself as an example - both negative and positive. I have owned and lived in three houses in South Florida in the last 30 years. I lived in the first one for three years, the second for seven, and the current one for close to 20 years. I could have easily bought a more expensive home years ago. But I didn't. My house was both big enough and small enough (see above) to meet my needs.

I've put good money into redoing my house over that time. In fact, there is almost never a year when I don't make some improvement. But the money I spend is nothing, compared with the money I'd have wasted if I had foolishly bought up.

In my mind, I live in the nicest house in Palm Beach County. No, that's not true. In my mind, I live in the nicest house I've ever seen. I feel that way because (a) the house meets the needs of my family and (b) I've spent 20 years improving it.

Right now, it's just about perfect. I enjoy every part of it every day. What more could I want from a house than that?

Bigger Is Not Better

Resist the urge to buy the biggest house you can afford. Buy the right house for you and then gradually make it perfect.

Logan Carter, a North Carolina real estate agent, muses about a client whom he helped relocate out of a pricey, prestigious neighbourhood that he had bought into several years previously.

He had left a successful career in New York to “escape” with his family to the quiet college town of Chapel Hill, N.C. “He moved them to North Carolina,” says Carter, “and bought this pretty gigantic home. It was a big, contemporary thing.”

Then he got tired of it. “It's not me,” he told Carter, as they began the search for a different sort of home in a completely different location.

“The man moved his family again,” says Carter, “to a small piece of land with a modest house and a pond where he can fish.”

“It's almost half the size of their first house in Chapel Hill,” says Carter. “And they love it. Now they've got chickens.”

The man is happy with his land and his fishpond and his half-size house. He got the chance to start over, twice - and he got it right the second time.

I enjoy the writings by you guys and find them very readable and practical, compared with a lot of other financial newsletters I have read. Club member K.S. Such false starts in home ownership are usually costly, in terms of money, emotion, and energy. But with advance planning, you can avoid them.

In her very successful book, The Not So Big House, author Sarah Susanka says, “I do not advocate that everyone live in small houses. What I do suggest is that when building a I enjoy the writings by you guys and find them very readable and practical, compared with a lot of other financial newsletters I have read. Club member K.S. new home or remodeling an existing one, you evaluate what really makes you feel at home. In other words, concentrate on, and put more of your money toward, what you like, rather than spending for sheer size and volume.”

Don't Overspend

Your house as a home is not a monetary investment. It is an asset that has great value, but the value is mostly personal.

Since the home you live in is not a monetary investment, you should not consider it as part of your investment portfolio. The financial objective of the home you live in is to preserve its value against monetary threats, including theft, physical destruction, and inflation.

Therefore, you want to insure your house against the most likely physical destruction - but you shouldn't expect its value to increase more than inflation on a sustained, year - after - year basis.

When you look at your house this way, you can see why you should not overspend to acquire it. You should find the best house you possibly can to meet your needs. But you should never spend more than you can afford, justifying the overspending as an investment.

You can put the money you “save” by not overspending into other asset classes that are more likely to give you higher rates of return. These should include safe long-term stocks business ventures, and even real estate specifically for investing. Investing in rental real estate is very different from investing in a home.

This raises the question: What percent of my net worth should be allocated toward my home?

The answer: As much as needs be to put you in a home that meets your real needs (not your need to impress) but not a rupee more.

My home represents about 8% of my net worth. Most people reading this - and especially younger people - will not be able to achieve that low level. But you should have, as a goal, a 25% target.

This is a goal that you can achieve by following two simple rules:

Don't buy a bigger and newer house if the house you have meets your needs.

As you increase your wealth, put an increasingly larger share of it into your investment bucket and very little of it into your home.

Remember that this is a long-term goal. When the kids are older and living on their own, you can sell your house and move to a smaller and less expensive one. That will allow you to put the difference into your investment bucket.

[I am not contradicting my earlier statement that you should try to keep your house for as long as you can. If, at retirement, the value of your house is at or less than 25% of your net worth, you can certainly keep it and eventually leave it to your family. But if you have not reached that target by then, you will be smarter (and happier) to live in a smaller house and have a bigger bank account.]

Your Ever-More-Perfect House

By thinking of your home as a haven (“Someone interesting lives here!”) and not a status symbol (“It is so big and expensive!”) or an investment, you can spend a reasonable amount of money each year on it, making it increasingly “richer.”

Your goal is always to enhance your pleasure, utility, or comfort. And in my experience, even small things can make a big difference. Resist the urge to make everything bigger or newer. Bigger and newer, as you remember, are the values of the poor-minded person. You are thinking rich.

Also ignore the advice of the idiots who tell you to make only those improvements that will give you back, in sales value, a rupee for every rupee that you spend. Keep in mind that the financial purpose of your house is to maintain its value against inflation, not to give you an investment-like return.

[According to Remodeling magazine, no upgrade or remodeling project recoups 100% of its cost. In fact, the average cost-to-value ratio is about 57%. In other words, you can expect to get back Rs. 57 for every Rs. 100 you spend.]

So whether you're considering a new balcony, a storage room, a mini rock garden, or a children's playroom, make sure it is something you will enjoy - not something you want because it will make your home more marketable.

As author Sarah Susanka said about planning her own new home, “Rather than spend our budget on square footage we wouldn't use, we decided to put the money toward making the house an expression of our personalities.”

Not sure where to put your renovation rupees? Here are a few suggestions - improvements that are, in terms of quality of life, well worth the money:

Lighting

There is nothing that affects the feeling you get from your house more than lighting. If you have no specific goals for renovations or upgrades to your home, take a thoughtful and thorough inventory of both the natural and artificial light in your home. You may need to install a skylight in a dark space or spend money on high-quality light fixtures that can create a variety of moods.

Views

We all need a place to unwind, a place of refuge. If you have no windows with engaging views, consider creating a space that looks out onto your world in a way that interests you.

In Patterns of Home, authors Jacobson, Silverstein, and Winslow examine this idea: “One of the abiding pleasures that homes offer is being in and looking out - providing a solid, stable, and protected place from which you can look out toward and over a larger 'beyond.'”

Rooms With a Purpose

Every room in your perfect house should be both purposeful and pleasing. By that, I mean you should design, organize, and decorate each room to accommodate some family activity, and it should provide an atmosphere conducive to that activity.

Most homeowners understand this in regard to the kitchen. The kitchen typically has several important functions: the preparation and cooking of meals… the storage of food and dishes and cooking paraphernalia… and sometimes as a place for the family to gather. Thus, the kitchen is often one of the most important rooms in the house.

It is easy to identify a purposeful and pleasing kitchen. The ambience is friendly and casual. The arrangement of appliances and surfaces optimizes efficiency. Storage is logical. The eating space, if there is one, feels comfortable.

The rich kitchen achieves these goals of purposefulness and pleasure neatly. It is no larger or more elaborate than it needs to be. It contains no more fixtures or amenities than the family needs. The décor is inviting and relaxing.

The principle that applies to the kitchen applies to every room - in fact, to every significant space - in the house. They should all serve some family purpose, and they should all provide a pleasing environment for that purpose.

The dining room should be a pleasant place for dinner. The living room should be a cozy place to socialize. Study areas and libraries should be quiet retreats. Bathrooms should be mini-sanctuaries.

Seating Areas

Seating areas are important but often-overlooked household real estate. Homes often tend to have seating areas that never get used. Such areas may look good and give momentary pleasure to visitors. But for frequent guests and family members, they tend to disappear.

In my current house, there are perhaps 20 seating areas that I regularly enjoy - including the standard ones (kitchen, dining room, porches, etc.).

For example, I do the Sunday crossword puzzle on the front porch so my neighbours can stop by and chat if they wish. There is a reading nook in the foyer where I like to peruse my art books, and a chess table across the hall where my sons challenge me when they are home.

There is a pavilion by the garden in the back, a perfect spot for cognac, cigars, and conversation with friends. And then a smaller pavilion by the fishpond where I like to sit and spend time alone.

Look at the seating areas in your house. Are there any that are “empty” - any that you don't use? If so, redesign or repurpose them. Remember, every square foot of your house costs you money every day that you live there. If you cannot derive some use or enjoyment from that space, why have it at all?

What to Look for in Your Perfect New House

If you're planning a move, think first about location. Try to pinpoint the type of community that best matches your values and goals.

Is being near people in a similar income bracket important to your sense of living well? Will you get satisfaction simply by driving through the streets and seeing the well-maintained homes and nice cars of your neighbours? If so, that's perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the symbols of success or having them aesthetically please you.

But perhaps you don't care about affluence surrounding you. Maybe, for you, a home in a city or town with great theatre, abundant art, and excellent dining conveys a feeling of living rich. Or maybe the sound of a stream close to your bedroom window gives you an inner peace that any monarch would pay millions to replicate.

Buying a house is a huge financial decision. You have to get the money part right. But it's just as important to get the emotional and cultural part right. Do some emotional and cultural math and identify the elements of home and community that you and your family will best benefit from before you seal a real estate deal.

Balancing the needs and wishes of an entire family can be complicated. If you have young children, will they be able to walk to school with their friends? Will they have easy access to a swimming pool in the summer? Who will your close neighbours be - and will you have much in common with them?

If you yearn for a quieter locality away from the main city hub, be clear about the time your commute will take and the hours you'll spend driving to the grocery store, school, temple, office, and the like.

In addition to thinking about schools, municipality regulations, society rules, and property taxes, consider the intangibles that constitute so much of our quality of life.

What about your hobbies and recreational pursuits? How about a gym close by? A pool where your kids can learn how to swim? A gourmet kitchen? Room for some plants and a small vegetable garden?

Without overbuying, you could have any one, two, or possibly several such areas in your home. Be honest when compiling your “living rich” home list, and think about what you can realistically have immediately versus what you'll have to budget for in the future.

And while you're contemplating the cost of renovations, get an accurate baseline on expenses for upkeep and maintenance - especially if you're looking at an older home,as the infrastructure of older homes tends to need ongoing attention.

I ask you now to consider your own home. Do you love it? Are you living “rich”? Ask yourself these questions.

Am I 100% comfortable in my home? Does it meet my needs? Am I proud of it? Does it reflect who I am? Does it reflect my family?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” spend time thinking about what changes you could make right now to get you to “yes.”

It may help to reread the section above about where to put renovation money. Often, just a few inexpensive changes can make all the difference in turning your “house” into a “home” so that you live like a billionaire.

The Wealth Builders Club India team has prepared a special report, Home Improvement: A Guide for Would­be Renovators. In it, you'll find practical information about renovating various spaces in your home. Keep a look out for the next mail in your inbox to catch this report.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #7: Living Like a Billionaire: Your Rich House

Bob, my next-door neighbour, lives in a 15,000-square-foot house built in 1992. It has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a two-bedroom guesthouse, and a garage that can accommodate six cars and a stretch limousine.

On the south lawn stands an immense gazebo - such as you might expect to find in a town plaza. Beside the tennis court in the rear, manmade grottos and streams feed an Olympic-sized swimming pool surrounded by limestone goddesses.

The façade of the house has two-story Ionic columns supporting a porch that looks onto the beach. Everything - from the perimeter walls to the roof tiles to the statues - is white.

Bob's house is huge. It is imposing. And it is a monument to bad taste.

Sheila, a friend who lives a few blocks away, has a 1,500-square-foot clapboard-sided bungalow built in 1940. It has two bedrooms, a vintage kitchen, and a screened - in porch on the side looking onto an English garden.

It is small. It is friendly. It is classy.

From the outside, Bob's house says, “I spent millions on this house. More than you will probably earn in your lifetime. Aren't you impressed?”

From the outside, Sheila's house says, “I've spent years making this house my own. Would you like to know me?”

What Is a House?

The house you live in has an enormous effect on your quality of life. (I'm referring to it as 'house' but it includes anything from an apartment to a bungalow to a farmhouse or any other style of house you have.) It is where you spend most of your time, where you raise your family, and where you entertain friends.

Your house is the haven you return to after working, where you enjoy family meals, exchange gossip, make plans, make love. It is also a place where you keep your favourite books and display art and family photographs and travel souvenirs.

Your house is a shelter, a headquarters, a museum, and a retreat. It is where you can or should spend most of your best time.

Your house may well be the most expensive possession you have. In terms of “cost of possession,” it usually ranks at the top of the list.

[The cost of possession is the full cost of using any non-consumable good, from a house to a car, to a fountain pen, over a given period of time. In the context of a house, you shouldn't consider just the EMI payments. You need to factor in taxes, insurance, legal fees, society maintenance, and other home improvement costs each year to come up with your total cost of possession.]

For these reasons, it may be the most important “thing” we will be discussing in the Living Rich series.

What Makes a House “Rich”?

Many people who are very interested in living rich have no idea what makes for a rich home.

Bob is a good example. He has invested more than $8 million in his house, and it is an embarrassing monstrosity. Sheila has invested less than $200,000 over the years, and her house is amazing.

Thank you for all of the valuable information you continue to share with us in the Wealth Builders Club. Club member BB. Bob made his fortune selling franchises back in the 1960s. When he retired, he moved to Delray Beach, Fla., and built his McMansion next to my house. (My house is actually two houses - one built in 1929 and another in 1941 - that have been connected and restored.)

I never told Bob that I didn't like his house, since there was nothing that could come from it but bad feelings. He has turned out to be a perfectly good neighbor. He minds his business. He lives quietly. He is friendly when we meet.

About a year after he moved in, he invited me over for a Cook's tour of his house. “Look at this elevator, Mark!” he announced proudly as we stepped into his foyer. “I imported it from a hotel in Florence. Guess how much it cost!”

“Gee, I don't know, Bob. Thirty grand?”

“No way! It cost me $150,000!” “Gee, well. Congratulations.”

The entire tour was like that. Everything was oversized and garish and stupidly expensive. Nothing was comfortable, clever, or personal. It was all designer-selected merchandise meant to impress.

And it did impress me. But not as Bob would have wished. On the one hand, I felt happy that Bob was able to enjoy the atrocious, eye-stabbing monstrosity he called home. On the other hand, I felt bad for him that he had wasted such a colossal sum of money. For a fifth of what he'd spent, he could have had a house that looked and felt 10 times richer.

I have also been in Sheila's house. The inside is just as tasteful as the exterior. Objects and carvings and prints from her world travels, as well as old books on subjects that have interested her over the years and an eclectic and charming collection of furniture fill the house.

I remember the first time I saw her house. She didn't say much as she led me from one room to the next, but I kept stopping her to ask questions.

“That's a very cool piano. How old is it?”

“I see you like Haitian art. Have you been to Haiti?”

“I'm surprised to see all those books on math. What's that about?”

During that one brief tour, I learned a great deal about her - things that made me realize what an interesting person she was. But my questions only scratched the surface. There were a dozen things in every room that I didn't have time to ask about.

Bob spent $8 million on a house that tells me he is living poor. Sheila spent a tiny fraction of that on a house that tells me she is living rich.

In this essay, I want to tell you everything I know about having a “rich home.”

I want to tell you why I think Bob's house is “poor” and Sheila's is “rich.” I want to tell you why so many people spend money foolishly on their homes. I want you to understand that, whatever your current income, there is a rich house out there waiting to become your home.

My First House

I have lived in a three-room mud house in Africa, an old townhouse bordering on the ghetto in Washington, D.C., a starter condo apartment, and then a nice ranch house in West Boca Raton, Florida, and a fancy house in a gated community in East Boca… all before moving to my current house in Delray Beach.

I enjoyed all of my homes. But I have never forgotten a thought I had while sitting on the porch of that three-room house in Chad. It was late afternoon. A sun-shower was pelting the trees and cascading over our tin roof. A monkey with a baby clinging to her back scampered out of the rain and sat beside me, unperturbed by my presence, waiting for the rain to stop.

The thought was: “You will probably live in a big, fancy house one day. But you will never live in a better home than this one.”

It wasn't just the view of our rain-soaked garden or the friendly intrusion of our primate cousins. It wasn't just knowing that I lived in a community of interesting people who cared for one another and that I could get to work in 15 minutes on my bike and that Kathy and I were safe and comfortable.

It was the fact that this little stucco-plastered mud house with an outdoor kitchen and bathroom met all of our needs. It met them perfectly because of who we were at that time.

In the 30 years that have passed since, I have thought a good deal about what makes for a good home. I have ideas, but I also have a conclusion: The richness of a home has little or nothing to do with how much it costs.

The richness of a home depends on a number of things that are not directly or necessarily related to money. I'm talking about things such as location, space, balance, and personality.

The Economics of Home Ownership and the Changing History of Homes

In the “old days”, people better understood what makes for a rich house. Homes were havens and personal headquarters and family museums that became better with age.

People kept their homes for lifetimes - sometimes for generations. They updated them as their circumstances changed and improved them in countless little ways. These houses appreciated in value - financial and personal - as each year passed.

Because of the exploding population and changing demographic,the idea of a house as home changed. Because of the need to house hundreds of thousands of people migrating to Indian cities, builders invented a new kind of house. They built structures that were meant to last only 20 or 30 years. They were bland and all pretty much the same, often referred to as cookie-cutter homes.

As the economy improved and families grew, the new idea of “moving up” replaced the old idea of gradually improving a home over time. A significant raise in salary was an opportunity to get out of the old house and into one that was newer and modern. Thus, “new” and “modern” became the unreflected signatures of a “rich” house.

But the new houses today, though more modern, are indistinguishable from one another. A typical building complex of 10 or 20-storey buildings might have four or five “model homes,” each with an identical floor plan and all with similar materials.

The point of this little history is to highlight the fact that most of the younger generation of Indians today don't think of their houses as intergenerational habitats. They think of them as representatives of their move up the socio-economic ladder, still very much the way people learned to think about homes in the 1980s: as temporary structures that would do until one could afford to buy something bigger and newer.

How It Should Be

Your house should be a place that gives you constant pleasure. You should love everything about it - from its exterior architecture to the landscaping on the balcony, to its interior spaces, its furnishings, and its decorations.

You should enjoy spending time in every part of your garden and in every room - in the kitchen and living areas, in every bedroom, and even in the bathrooms and closets!

And the maintenance and upkeep of your home should be a constant, happy project for you - a work of art that you are constantly refining and shaping. Your home should be flexible enough to accommodate all of the people who inhabit it.

Ideally, it should be big enough to contain and provide room for all of your favourite family activities. At the same time, it should be small enough to leave no significant space unused.

Rules for Having a Rich Home

Longevity Enhances Value

This brings me to the first and most important lesson in having a rich home: To optimize its value, you should keep it as long as you can. You shouldn't think of it as temporary. You can't have, as a strategy, the thought that you will keep buying more expensive homes as your income rises.

You can't do so for two reasons.

First, moving into a more expensive home is the single surest way to increase your lifestyle burn rate. And increasing your lifestyle burn rate is the surest way to stay poor.

[Your lifestyle burn rate (LBR) is how much you need to spend each year to enjoy the lifestyle you want. It's easy to determine this number. Simply calculate how much you are currently spending each year, and then increase that by the yearly cost of all the extra things you'd like to have that you don't have now.]

The second reason has to do with simple economics. Keeping a home for a long period of time gives you the best chance of seeing its value appreciate.

This raises the question: How long should you keep a home?

My answer? As long as you possibly can. As a minimum, I'd say 20 years. The house I'm living in now will be with me for the rest of my life. It may also serve in some way as a house for my children. The longer we can keep it, the more value it will have for us.

With all the moving around we do today, keeping a home for a long time might seem impractical. But the truth is that you don't have to “buy up” as your income increases. It is entirely possible to find a house you love and keep it, enhancing it as you go.

I have written about this elsewhere several times. I have said that the single best strategy for building wealth over a lifetime is to keep one house for many years. Here's why.

The costs of living in a particular house are greater than simply the cost of the house. There are the “usage costs” such as utilities, landscaping, taxes, etc., that typically increase in direct proportion to the value of the house.

Then there are other, less obvious, costs - call them social costs-such as what sort of car you drive, what sort of furniture you buy, whether you send your kids to private school and, if so, what schools you choose. These costs can be huge, yet most people do not consider them when thinking about “moving up.”

Most people take for granted that a more expensive home will provide for appreciation and therefore is a better investment. But when your social costs are tens or hundreds of thousands of extra rupees per year, that may not be so.

I am not saying that you should be happy with your starter house. But I am saying that once you are established in a home that you love, you should keep it as long as you possibly can. When you get the raise, don't run out and buy another house that is a crore rupees more expensive.

Consider This

Warren Buffett is one of the world's richest people and, arguably, the world's greatest investor. However, he still lives in the same 6,000-square-foot home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500 (approximately $250,000 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars). Instead, figure out what you can do to your present house to make it more enjoyable. Even though the Rs. 10 lac you may spend renovating the kitchen is not money you'd get back later if you sold it, the pleasure it will give you - in terms of a rich life - could be enormous.

Again, the overlooked key here is the cost of use. That extra crore you spend on a bigger house could easily cost you more than 3 crore rupees in utilitarian and social costs over 20 years.

I know this is a difficult concept to grasp. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But the fact is that you will spend less money in the long run by having the nicest house in your old neighbourhood than you will by buying up and expecting big gains in the value of your property.

I give myself as an example - both negative and positive. I have owned and lived in three houses in South Florida in the last 30 years. I lived in the first one for three years, the second for seven, and the current one for close to 20 years. I could have easily bought a more expensive home years ago. But I didn't. My house was both big enough and small enough (see above) to meet my needs.

I've put good money into redoing my house over that time. In fact, there is almost never a year when I don't make some improvement. But the money I spend is nothing, compared with the money I'd have wasted if I had foolishly bought up.

In my mind, I live in the nicest house in Palm Beach County. No, that's not true. In my mind, I live in the nicest house I've ever seen. I feel that way because (a) the house meets the needs of my family and (b) I've spent 20 years improving it.

Right now, it's just about perfect. I enjoy every part of it every day. What more could I want from a house than that?

Bigger Is Not Better

Resist the urge to buy the biggest house you can afford. Buy the right house for you and then gradually make it perfect.

Logan Carter, a North Carolina real estate agent, muses about a client whom he helped relocate out of a pricey, prestigious neighbourhood that he had bought into several years previously.

He had left a successful career in New York to “escape” with his family to the quiet college town of Chapel Hill, N.C. “He moved them to North Carolina,” says Carter, “and bought this pretty gigantic home. It was a big, contemporary thing.”

Then he got tired of it. “It's not me,” he told Carter, as they began the search for a different sort of home in a completely different location.

“The man moved his family again,” says Carter, “to a small piece of land with a modest house and a pond where he can fish.”

“It's almost half the size of their first house in Chapel Hill,” says Carter. “And they love it. Now they've got chickens.”

The man is happy with his land and his fishpond and his half-size house. He got the chance to start over, twice - and he got it right the second time.

I enjoy the writings by you guys and find them very readable and practical, compared with a lot of other financial newsletters I have read. Club member K.S. Such false starts in home ownership are usually costly, in terms of money, emotion, and energy. But with advance planning, you can avoid them.

In her very successful book, The Not So Big House, author Sarah Susanka says, “I do not advocate that everyone live in small houses. What I do suggest is that when building a I enjoy the writings by you guys and find them very readable and practical, compared with a lot of other financial newsletters I have read. Club member K.S. new home or remodeling an existing one, you evaluate what really makes you feel at home. In other words, concentrate on, and put more of your money toward, what you like, rather than spending for sheer size and volume.”

Don't Overspend

Your house as a home is not a monetary investment. It is an asset that has great value, but the value is mostly personal.

Since the home you live in is not a monetary investment, you should not consider it as part of your investment portfolio. The financial objective of the home you live in is to preserve its value against monetary threats, including theft, physical destruction, and inflation.

Therefore, you want to insure your house against the most likely physical destruction - but you shouldn't expect its value to increase more than inflation on a sustained, year - after - year basis.

When you look at your house this way, you can see why you should not overspend to acquire it. You should find the best house you possibly can to meet your needs. But you should never spend more than you can afford, justifying the overspending as an investment.

You can put the money you “save” by not overspending into other asset classes that are more likely to give you higher rates of return. These should include safe long-term stocks business ventures, and even real estate specifically for investing. Investing in rental real estate is very different from investing in a home.

This raises the question: What percent of my net worth should be allocated toward my home?

The answer: As much as needs be to put you in a home that meets your real needs (not your need to impress) but not a rupee more.

My home represents about 8% of my net worth. Most people reading this - and especially younger people - will not be able to achieve that low level. But you should have, as a goal, a 25% target.

This is a goal that you can achieve by following two simple rules:

Don't buy a bigger and newer house if the house you have meets your needs.

As you increase your wealth, put an increasingly larger share of it into your investment bucket and very little of it into your home.

Remember that this is a long-term goal. When the kids are older and living on their own, you can sell your house and move to a smaller and less expensive one. That will allow you to put the difference into your investment bucket.

[I am not contradicting my earlier statement that you should try to keep your house for as long as you can. If, at retirement, the value of your house is at or less than 25% of your net worth, you can certainly keep it and eventually leave it to your family. But if you have not reached that target by then, you will be smarter (and happier) to live in a smaller house and have a bigger bank account.]

Your Ever-More-Perfect House

By thinking of your home as a haven (“Someone interesting lives here!”) and not a status symbol (“It is so big and expensive!”) or an investment, you can spend a reasonable amount of money each year on it, making it increasingly “richer.”

Your goal is always to enhance your pleasure, utility, or comfort. And in my experience, even small things can make a big difference. Resist the urge to make everything bigger or newer. Bigger and newer, as you remember, are the values of the poor-minded person. You are thinking rich.

Also ignore the advice of the idiots who tell you to make only those improvements that will give you back, in sales value, a rupee for every rupee that you spend. Keep in mind that the financial purpose of your house is to maintain its value against inflation, not to give you an investment-like return.

[According to Remodeling magazine, no upgrade or remodeling project recoups 100% of its cost. In fact, the average cost-to-value ratio is about 57%. In other words, you can expect to get back Rs. 57 for every Rs. 100 you spend.]

So whether you're considering a new balcony, a storage room, a mini rock garden, or a children's playroom, make sure it is something you will enjoy - not something you want because it will make your home more marketable.

As author Sarah Susanka said about planning her own new home, “Rather than spend our budget on square footage we wouldn't use, we decided to put the money toward making the house an expression of our personalities.”

Not sure where to put your renovation rupees? Here are a few suggestions - improvements that are, in terms of quality of life, well worth the money:

Lighting

There is nothing that affects the feeling you get from your house more than lighting. If you have no specific goals for renovations or upgrades to your home, take a thoughtful and thorough inventory of both the natural and artificial light in your home. You may need to install a skylight in a dark space or spend money on high-quality light fixtures that can create a variety of moods.

Views

We all need a place to unwind, a place of refuge. If you have no windows with engaging views, consider creating a space that looks out onto your world in a way that interests you.

In Patterns of Home, authors Jacobson, Silverstein, and Winslow examine this idea: “One of the abiding pleasures that homes offer is being in and looking out - providing a solid, stable, and protected place from which you can look out toward and over a larger 'beyond.'”

Rooms With a Purpose

Every room in your perfect house should be both purposeful and pleasing. By that, I mean you should design, organize, and decorate each room to accommodate some family activity, and it should provide an atmosphere conducive to that activity.

Most homeowners understand this in regard to the kitchen. The kitchen typically has several important functions: the preparation and cooking of meals… the storage of food and dishes and cooking paraphernalia… and sometimes as a place for the family to gather. Thus, the kitchen is often one of the most important rooms in the house.

It is easy to identify a purposeful and pleasing kitchen. The ambience is friendly and casual. The arrangement of appliances and surfaces optimizes efficiency. Storage is logical. The eating space, if there is one, feels comfortable.

The rich kitchen achieves these goals of purposefulness and pleasure neatly. It is no larger or more elaborate than it needs to be. It contains no more fixtures or amenities than the family needs. The décor is inviting and relaxing.

The principle that applies to the kitchen applies to every room - in fact, to every significant space - in the house. They should all serve some family purpose, and they should all provide a pleasing environment for that purpose.

The dining room should be a pleasant place for dinner. The living room should be a cozy place to socialize. Study areas and libraries should be quiet retreats. Bathrooms should be mini-sanctuaries.

Seating Areas

Seating areas are important but often-overlooked household real estate. Homes often tend to have seating areas that never get used. Such areas may look good and give momentary pleasure to visitors. But for frequent guests and family members, they tend to disappear.

In my current house, there are perhaps 20 seating areas that I regularly enjoy - including the standard ones (kitchen, dining room, porches, etc.).

For example, I do the Sunday crossword puzzle on the front porch so my neighbours can stop by and chat if they wish. There is a reading nook in the foyer where I like to peruse my art books, and a chess table across the hall where my sons challenge me when they are home.

There is a pavilion by the garden in the back, a perfect spot for cognac, cigars, and conversation with friends. And then a smaller pavilion by the fishpond where I like to sit and spend time alone.

Look at the seating areas in your house. Are there any that are “empty” - any that you don't use? If so, redesign or repurpose them. Remember, every square foot of your house costs you money every day that you live there. If you cannot derive some use or enjoyment from that space, why have it at all?

What to Look for in Your Perfect New House

If you're planning a move, think first about location. Try to pinpoint the type of community that best matches your values and goals.

Is being near people in a similar income bracket important to your sense of living well? Will you get satisfaction simply by driving through the streets and seeing the well-maintained homes and nice cars of your neighbours? If so, that's perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with appreciating the symbols of success or having them aesthetically please you.

But perhaps you don't care about affluence surrounding you. Maybe, for you, a home in a city or town with great theatre, abundant art, and excellent dining conveys a feeling of living rich. Or maybe the sound of a stream close to your bedroom window gives you an inner peace that any monarch would pay millions to replicate.

Buying a house is a huge financial decision. You have to get the money part right. But it's just as important to get the emotional and cultural part right. Do some emotional and cultural math and identify the elements of home and community that you and your family will best benefit from before you seal a real estate deal.

Balancing the needs and wishes of an entire family can be complicated. If you have young children, will they be able to walk to school with their friends? Will they have easy access to a swimming pool in the summer? Who will your close neighbours be - and will you have much in common with them?

If you yearn for a quieter locality away from the main city hub, be clear about the time your commute will take and the hours you'll spend driving to the grocery store, school, temple, office, and the like.

In addition to thinking about schools, municipality regulations, society rules, and property taxes, consider the intangibles that constitute so much of our quality of life.

What about your hobbies and recreational pursuits? How about a gym close by? A pool where your kids can learn how to swim? A gourmet kitchen? Room for some plants and a small vegetable garden?

Without overbuying, you could have any one, two, or possibly several such areas in your home. Be honest when compiling your “living rich” home list, and think about what you can realistically have immediately versus what you'll have to budget for in the future.

And while you're contemplating the cost of renovations, get an accurate baseline on expenses for upkeep and maintenance - especially if you're looking at an older home,as the infrastructure of older homes tends to need ongoing attention.

I ask you now to consider your own home. Do you love it? Are you living “rich”? Ask yourself these questions.

Am I 100% comfortable in my home? Does it meet my needs? Am I proud of it? Does it reflect who I am? Does it reflect my family?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” spend time thinking about what changes you could make right now to get you to “yes.”

It may help to reread the section above about where to put renovation money. Often, just a few inexpensive changes can make all the difference in turning your “house” into a “home” so that you live like a billionaire.

The Wealth Builders Club India team has prepared a special report, Home Improvement: A Guide for Would­be Renovators. In it, you'll find practical information about renovating various spaces in your home. Keep a look out for the next mail in your inbox to catch this report.

Best, Mark

Home Improvement: A Guide for Would­-be Renovators

It's the rare house that won't benefit from a little home improvement. Priorities vary from home to home; projects change with the occupants' ages and stages of life. But the short list of areas that people alter is surprisingly consistent. It usually begins with the kitchen, then the master suite and bathrooms, followed by the balconies, guest rooms and recreation areas.

Rooms and spaces evolve in small steps or large leaps, getting a new lease on life through paint jobs and window treatments or do-it-yourself (DIY) renovations. Sometimes renewal comes through professional renovations that architects design and contractors complete.

Minor remodelling jobs keep basic structural elements intact, while upgrading items such as countertops, sinks, and flooring. Major renovations reconfigure walls, windows, and entryways and make dramatic changes to how spaces look, feel, and function.

Most homeowners have a prodigious to-do list, but the room that's the least functional-and the most used-usually tops the list. Before you hire the architect or knock down any walls, however, think about making changes on a smaller scale.

The Facelift

Mark's Perspective

I've used these online applications, and they are really cool. You can see how your house (inside or out) will look with all sorts of different colour combinations. You don't have to buy quarts of sample colours and test them on the house the way you had to do when I was younger. This flexibility allows you to experiment with more colour combinations. It's very helpful. You can change the entire appearance of a room with less expense and effort than you may realize. All a dreary room might need is a new coat of paint and better lighting.

If the space is cramped and doesn't “flow,” rearranging the furniture or swapping bulky, old items for sleeker new pieces may immediately rescue the room.

The Web is awash with home decorating resources, many of which are truly useful from a planning and cost perspective.

The paint companies Asian Paints and Berger Paints have online applications that let users upload photos and “paint” walls, select the look of their rooms and play around with other elements.

The websites Pinterest and Houzz have thousands of images that viewers scour for ideas on products, decor, and room renovation. Members can get their questions answered by the people who posted the photos, many of whom are professionals. In India, some of the websites that are good aids for products and references are PepperFry, HouseProud and magazines like Inside Outside and Elle Décor.

Mark's Perspective

I've worked with a lot of decorators and designers over the years. And what I've learned is that, like brokers, these guys need to know who's in charge. That person is you. You are paying them to make you happy. Choose someone who can show you photos of past work-photos you like. Then don't make an overall deal. Just pay for a couple of hours of consultation. Take it one step at a time. Take a close look at rooms in homes that you admire and pinpoint what you like about them. Lightness and brightness are often a big part of the equation.

Without moving walls and adding windows, consider changing a window treatment or a lighting system, or both. Better light, combined with the right paint, can work miracles in a dull, drab interior.

If you see plenty of pictures you like but struggle to bridge the gap between these photos and your home, a consultation with a designer can target your biggest challenges and potential solutions.

Strategic changes to lighting, colour, and furniture are cost-effective and easy to build on. They may be the end in themselves, or they may help you tolerate a room's limitations long enough to save the money for the big remodelling job.

Next, look at the layer of hard surfaces that are built into a room. Structures such as counters, cabinets, floors, trim, and shelves, can be replaced or removed to de-clutter space.

Kitchens will look brand-new with refinished cabinet doors, new counters, and a different floor. Retiling a shower or bathroom floor is tedious and time-consuming, but the impact is huge and may eliminate the need for a full bathroom overhaul.

DIY and Other Cost­-Saving Strategies

Another major economizer is your own labour. Since labour costs make up most of the expense of professional renovations, doing the work yourself can often cut costs in half. Construction consultant Bruce Barker says, “With the exception of heating and air, which virtually always has to be done by a professional, everything else, including electrical and plumbing, is within the skill set of the homeowner.”

“If they know what they're doing,” he adds.

If you think you have the skills to tackle your home renovations, but you'd like an expert as backup, it may be possible to consult with a contractor.

Mark's Perspective

You can do home repairs and maintenance yourself if (a) you enjoy it, (b) you know how to do it, and © the cost of hiring someone is more than the income you can earn doing something else. In other words, don't do manual labour (which you can buy for a few hundred rupees per hour) if you can work on the side as a legal advisor for a few thousands per hour. The consultation won't uncover all of the pesky details and potential snags in a project; those tend to reveal themselves as the homeowner guts the drywall and the job evolves. But a contractor consultation can get a DIYer on the right track and raise awareness of critical issues.

If you don't have the skills for putting nice things into your home, perhaps you can save some money by taking the ugly stuff out. Some contractors may be willing to let homeowners do the demolition work necessary to prep spaces before construction. It goes without saying that a sledgehammer in the wrong place could be disastrous - determine the location of all pipes, wires, and load-bearing walls before you begin.

Other cost-saving measures include picking up materials and appliances yourself to avoid delivery fees and finding deals on similar items online. Contractors, however, are often wary of parcelling out different aspects of the job to homeowners. And legitimately so, since anything not directly under their management can affect their schedule and impact other phases of the renovation.

Contractors also caution homeowners about online purchases. A product might look great online, with a price that seems a no-brainer, but consider the impact if the purchase arrives incomplete or malfunctioning or simply doesn't look like it did online. Resolving these issues takes time and can cause further delays downstream.

Local Concerns

You, your architect, or your contractor are responsible for knowing municipality rules that define what you can build on your property. Before the project gets under way, someone needs to check requirements for setbacks from the road and neighbouring lots, water drainage systems, floor space index (FSI), etc.

In India, for flats in old buildings and high-rises, you will need permission from your society or landlord before you start work on breaking or making any part of your home.

For example, replacing a faulty electrical receptacle probably won't require a permit, but you might need a permit to add a new outlet, even on the same circuit. In some cases, you may even need a permit to hang a ceiling fan.

In other matters of local importance, it's a good idea to keep your neighbours informed of the work ongoing in your home, particularly as it affects them with noise, parking, and traffic. If any construction occurs near property boundaries - including new driveways, garages, or balconies - all parties should confirm the exact point where one lot ends and another begins.

The Major Renovation

When you've exhausted your options on colour schemes or DIY changes on the cheap, it's time to call in the professionals for a major renovation. Most major renovations begin with an architect who creates the precise blueprint for the project. An architect's drawings describe all visible features of the new space and the network of critical infrastructure hidden behind walls and under floors.

To find an architect, ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations, consult relevant print resources, and go online. Architects' websites and Facebook pages feature photos of their work and list the types of construction they specialize in.

A website called Indian-Architects lists the names of India's top architects. You can also browse the cutting-edge projects they have worked on. Another websites that is widely popular is Yabeen. It features a range of professional interior designers, architects, trends in furniture and home accessories as well as pictures of newly-designed homes and offices. Most architects nowadays get their clientele through their online presence and thus also take up offers outside their home turf.

Additionally, architects and interior designers get featured in reputed home magazines and newspapers creating awareness about their brand and services. This enables potential clients to see a house or office they have created and then check out their websites to find out more. For example this article lists India's Top 10 Most Famous Architects.

Once you've located several architect candidates, review their previous projects and take time to understand how their development process unfolds. For instance the website of Neterwala and Aibara Interior-Architects takes you through the complete process of area surveys to space planning to selection of materials and the final furniture that fits into the room. Additionally they also help you coordinate with other consultants and contractors. Fee structures of interior designers and architects in India vary and could be a fixed amount, an hourly rate, or a percentage of the construction cost.

After the first phase of discussion, an architect will show you design drawings- which you will need to refine. In those early designs, however, you should get a sense of how well the architect understood your needs and the scope of the project. Sometimes architects miss the mark, or they may design on a grander scale than their clients really want.

It's not uncommon for homeowners to scale back an architect's original plans or substantially revise them. An architect who actively listens to a homeowner, however, can offer solutions that the occupants could never have envisioned.

Mark's Perspective

Again, just because an architect has a degree and even specific knowledge that you lack doesn't mean you should let him or her make the big decisions. It is your dream and your cash. Listen to his or her suggestions, but make firm decisions. Homeowner Anita Kumar recently finished a large renovation to her home, which needed more space, light, and storage. “It's so important to spend the time at the beginning of the process determining what sort of space would be most useful,” she advised.

“The renovations we went with were very different from our original idea, but after going through multiple concepts and plans with our architect, we came up with new ideas for creating space that would be of most use to our family.”

Architect Payal B says she can tell she's made a good connection with a homeowner when “the client sees the overall value in making their home very functional, as well as beautiful. I feel strongly that nice surroundings contribute to well-being, by creating an organized, and thus peaceful and fulfilling, backdrop for life.”

Architects should be skilled at asking questions to determine how people really live in a space. Understanding the residents' lifestyle and accommodating, not to mention improving, daily patterns of home use should be their goal.

Additions and alterations should appear original to the design of the home, not simply “stuck on” to the house. Spend sufficient time in the design phase to grasp the real proportions of new spaces. Be clear on the exact heights of ceilings and the size of rooms. Many people want renovations that expand their rooms, but greater size can sacrifice the intimacy of a space.

No remodelling project recoups all of its original costs at resale; 60-70% is a more common return. This disappointing financial fact can actually be liberating, because it frees homeowners from focusing on the trends and mandates of real estate markets and allows people to create spaces they will use and enjoy.

Architect Payal B says, “When a client's goal in the design is strictly resale driven, I think a lot of the magic can be lost. The most successful renovations, and the ones that probably sell well in the end, are driven by the desire for beautiful and functional surroundings that fit the lifestyle of the inhabitants.”

Working With Contractors

The right design will start your renovation on the proper path; a competent and experienced contractor will keep it moving in the desired direction. The success of any renovation depends on the contractor's skill and craftsmanship, his or her attention to detail, and his or her ability to work around unexpected issues while adhering to the vision for the project.

Your architect should be the first resource in locating contractors; most architects will already have relationships with contractors and knowledge of the best matches for a job. But if you're the one hiring the contractor, talk to multiple references, view photos, and get bids from several contractors.

Ask to visit a work in progress that is similar to your remodelling mission. You can learn a lot about how a contractor operates from how organized and tidy his or her current project is, as well as how many hours the contractor is actually there and who manages the work when he or she isn't.

Mark's Perspective

I don't agree on this bit about asking architects for contractors. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I think it's better to get a recommendation from a neighbour who has been happy with work a contractor has done. Just make sure it's the same sort of work you are looking for. While one contractor is in charge of the work, many folks will perform various tasks involved in each phase. This can be one of the more stressful aspects of renovating. Just when you're used to working with one group of people, the nature of the job changes, and a whole new crew is now on the scene.

A good contractor will manage people and workflow with little impact to the homeowner, especially if they are always, or even just often, on the job site.

Homeowner Anita Kumar appreciated her contractor's network of high-quality sub-contractors. “We found a contractor with years of experience who has worked in this area for a long time,” said Anita.

“He knows all the best sub-contractors, who would drop anything to help him. We could trust that his team and his sub-contractors would do an excellent job, so we didn't feel the need to micro-manage or monitor things too closely.”

Ask your contractor how they hire their subs, how long they've worked with them, and how they find backups when someone can't make it to the job. Ask how they handle cost overruns and how they keep the homeowner informed about progress or problems.

Even with the best designs and the most attentive contractors, renovations involve many decisions made in process, often with little notice. The adept contractor will advise homeowners of available options and guide them toward appropriate choices.

Kumar advises that potential renovators “expect things to go wrong and plans to change. For instance, we had to make a major change in the design of the roof, which ended up very different from the original plan from the architect. We trusted our contractor to help us through these changes and rework plans along the way.”

You're lucky, indeed, if your contractor can successfully revise a roof, mid-project, without the architect's aid. Best to leave luck entirely out of the equation, however, with a contractor who has a good working relationship with the architect. If they've done a few projects together, they'll have a track record of problem-solving - or clear communication to avoid complications from the start.

Renovations, Room by Room

The rest of this report looks at trends associated with the most popular places for home improvement, starting with the kitchen. The suggestions in each category come from various sources online and assume that licensed professionals will do the work.

Kitchens

The kitchen is the heart and the hub of the home. It's often the first target for improvement, primarily because we expect a lot from our kitchens these days. Homeowners want kitchens to include space for all sorts of activities, from dining to entertaining and socializing, to doing homework and charging laptops and phones.

Trends: “Chef's kitchens” feature dedicated task areas, such as baking zones, food prep zones, and cleanup areas. Appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators are hidden within compartments that appear seamless with the cabinets and counters.

In India, the modular kitchen is gaining prominence with several international brands like Poggenpohl providing complete kitchen solutions in one station. They help you design the complete look of the kitchen and provide appliances that are neatly tucked away into composite units. Overall the trend is to focus on having more space for work areas. Inset lighting with a soft glow just above kitchen islands and custom cabinets with greater storage and made from environmentally friendly materials like bamboo are also the in-things nowadays.

Master Suites

Formerly just the bedroom and adjoining bathroom for the head of household, master suites have evolved into private sanctuaries within a home. Master suites are where parents go to escape from kids or live out their golden years in safety and comfort.

They can include walk-in closets and separate dressing areas, spacious bathrooms, sitting areas, televisions, and divans. They are well lit with ample windows and often have private balconies.

The master bath is usually the most luxurious bathroom in the home, with double vanities, soaking tubs, walk-in showers, and plenty of storage space.

Trends: More houses now feature master suites in India. They are distinct because of the big master beds in them. The trend today is to place more emphasis on decorating the headboard and footboard.

The hotel theme often makes its way into master suites with the use of bright colours, bedside lighting, large windows, tables and chairs. Normally just shades of one colour are used, like a light grey moving to a darker one, to give it a more opulent feel.

While in bungalows, the master suites are normally at a higher level, in the case of flats, the issue of levels doesn't arise, but what does matter, is decorating it distinctly to give it a more plush feeling of space and luxury. You can use expensive silk linen, printed draperies, puffs, curtains, and floral patterns on the upholstery, place your finest crystal and ceramic accessories, and give a warm feel with plenty of natural light and candles.

Bathrooms

Not long ago, families shared one bathroom. Today, kids, guests, and parents have their own baths, many of them as large as bedrooms. Whether “en suite” or shared, there's more storage space in bathrooms, and homeowners make good use of natural light and natural materials such as stone and tile.

Trends: With the increased space devoted to bathrooms, it's more common to see toilets discretely housed in separate, small chambers (with an accompanying sink) or hidden from view behind a half or full wall. Radiant heating is often impractical in larger spaces, but the bathroom is a perfect spot for heated floors, set with timers to warm during the winter.

For homeowners looking ahead to the retirement years, grab bars (steel railings) make great sense and are available in a variety of designs that don't resemble the institutional metal bars installed in public spaces.

Balconies and Courtyards

Balconies and courtyards bridge the space from the walls of your house to the great outdoors. In good weather, they make ideal zones for entertaining, relaxing, dining, and gardening. Balconies are typically connected to the structure of the home.

They can be on ground level or at multiple levels. Courtyards can be in the interiors or exteriors of a home at the ground floor. They tend to be more closely integrated into the garden space.

Balconies are essentially extensions of rooms that can be beautifully decorated to serve different purposes. They can have a sit-out area where you can entertain or sip your morning chai, some speakers to play soft music, several plants to look greener and move effortlessly into the outdoors. You can also embellish it with wind-chimes and fancy lamps.

The Indian angan or courtyard is still seen in many larger homes across the country. They can be made of separate pavers, stone, or poured concrete. Stone is classic and beautiful, but pavers are less expensive and come in a range of colours and materials. Concrete cracks over time and, once poured, is an impervious and firmly fixed feature. Moss and mold, weeds, and “heave”-when frozen ground thaws and pushes up-can develop with stone and pavers.

Trends: Outdoor kitchens in courtyards have been in vogue for a few years, with comfortable seating for dining and lounging. Fountains and water features are always popular, with enhanced lighting and heat sources for cool, dark nights.

These include fireplaces, as well as gas and wood fire pits. Container gardening brings soft foliage and flowers, and even vegetables and herbs, onto the hardscapes of wood and stone.

Remodelling Rupees and Sense

The fact that no one gets a full return on their remodelling rupee does not mean homeowners should ignore the impact of renovations on a prospective buyer. Resale should never be the main motivation for making necessary, pleasing changes to one's dwelling.

Do undertake your projects, however, with one eye on the market, and the long view toward what a potential buyer might see when looking at your home.

Let's say you live in a neighbourhood where homes list from Rs 5 crore – Rs 10 crore. If you spend Rs 50 lac on a top-of-the-line chef's kitchen, don't expect to add the full value of your high-end, high-priced kitchen to the home's listing price. A renovation's added value will always be in proportion to comparable homes in your neighbourhood.

In the case of the kitchen, you'll do well to recoup more than half your investment at resale. But you'll have the joy of cooking and entertaining in the kitchen while it's yours. And the upgraded space should help sell your home faster, for the right price.

Before you commit to major renovations, consider whether or not your remodelling project will help or hinder the sale of your home. Some projects may potentially present barriers to resale.

Kavita Shah, a homeowner in a historic neighbourhood in Jaipur, thought she wanted to add four jharokhas (antique window sills) to her ancestral home to give it that authentic Rajasthani feel. She spent time and money to hire an architect, who drew up plans for them. Eventually, she decided against building the jharokhas as they merely had ornamental value and didn't add much to the value of the property.

It wouldn't add much to the quality of her family's life either; as the meaningful moments of their days would occur in the kitchen, the family room, or basically anywhere but by the jharokhas. The costs were significant to build the separate, little-used spaces.

She then decided to remodel space meant for “real” use. So she recently renovated her courtyard as a space that could be used for dining and entertaining. She added more chairs and tables and also created a small alcove with a bar.

With hot, muggy summers in Jaipur, the large courtyard on the ground floor gives the family more options for dining, relaxing, and entertaining that are well integrated with daily family activities.

Her home already had plenty of big windows that gave views of the city, but this courtyard now becomes an option to bring friends and family together for the occasional wine and kebabs!

Storage areas and guest rooms

Several flats in India, provide a small room that was previously called the store room. These areas can be repurposed to make perfect spots for a study, mini library with bookshelves, a video gaming zone for the kids or a gymnasium with a treadmill and some light weights.

They're also the best place for handling the overflow of stuff that accumulates in the main levels of a home. Large, lighted, dry closets with ample shelves will go a long way toward reorganizing a cluttered life in the rest of the home.

Light, ventilation, and airflow in store rooms is critical, as is controlling moisture. A good contractor will help you identify any problems with moisture and seal the space well before you begin renovating.

Dehumidifiers can be integrated within a home's HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system, or they can be free-standing, portable appliances. Either way, they're a good investment toward keeping your store rooms dry and free of mildew and mold.

The guest room is a luxury in modern India. But homes which do have that extra room can ensure it has some multi-utility so that the space is not wasted when you don't have any house guests.

With potential for nice views and natural light, an extra room can be an ideal space for a mediation or yoga room. It can also double up as a home office or home theatre system. Like the store room, the extra guest room can also be used to stock your extra linen and memorabilia from children's childhood like trophies, cricket bats, musical instruments that they no longer use but you feel too bad discarding.

Trends: With the number of options for the store room and guest room, there are no clear trends for these bonus areas in the home. Consult your family and use your imagination. The possibilities, from game room to yoga room, to home office or art studio, are endless.

There you have it. Think about how these ideas might play out in your own home. Does your family room need a facelift? Can you update your bathroom on your own? Would you like to completely renovate your kitchen? Whatever the project, take time to think it through and plan it out. Remember, you are making your house into your home. Good luck!

Resources

Houzz home remodeling website: www.houzz.com

Pinterest website for sharing design and product images: www.pinterest.com

Zillow real estate website, with “Digs” remodeling tool: http://www.zillow.com/digs

Benjamin Moore, online paint-viewing tool: www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/personal-color-viewer

Sherwin-Williams, online paint-viewing tool:www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/try-on-colors

Codes for Homeowners: Electrical Codes, Mechanical Codes, Plumbing Codes, Building Codes, Bruce Barker. Black and Decker Publishing.

Author, construction consultant, and building code expert Bruce Barker's website:www.dreamhomeconsultants.com

Soorikian Architecture, Atlanta:www.soorikianarchitecture.com

Samsel Architects, Asheville, N.C.:www.samselarchitects.com

Living Rich #8: Developing a Rich Mind: Discovering Value and Purpose

In Living Rich - the first part of this series of essays - we explored many ways to live rich on a budget. We talked about some big expenses, such as owning a house and a car. But we also discussed other important aspects of a rich life: how you sleep, how you dress, how you travel, how you eat and drink.

The idea behind those essays is that if you are smart, you can own, use, and enjoy the same world-class experiences that multimillionaires and billionaires do.

I don't mean you can have good, quality experiences at good prices. I mean that in all the ways that matter, you can live as richly as a billionaire on your current income.

Make no mistake about it, this is a desirable goal - one that anyone except a devout ascetic or a lunatic (there is no difference, in my mind) should want to achieve. But to achieve it, you must understand and embrace two core concepts that we have talked about.

The first concept which I call the Cost of Possession, says that there are smart and dumb ways to enjoy the best things in life. By paying only for the use you are likely to get from anything or experience (a car, a house, a vacation), you can have it for a fraction of what it would cost you otherwise.

I explained the second concept in bits and pieces throughout the first several essays. It is easy to understand but sometimes hard to accept. When you buy a luxury good, a large part of what you are buying is the prestige of owning it. It is sometimes as much as 90% of the cost.

I believe you shouldn't pay for prestige. Not because prestige doesn't matter, but because it cannot be bought. All you can buy with a brand name is envy, jealousy, and unspoken resentment - none of which is worth a nickel.

Without understanding and accepting these two concepts, you can't live rich. The limitations of your wealth and emotional intelligence will limit your experience of luxury. (Both, let's face it, are always limited.)

Either you will settle for second-rate products and experiences by buying when you should be renting (cost of use), or you will pay a fortune for prestige and realize later that you got nothing for it.

Having come this far, it is time to take another step. In the second part of this series of essays, we will talk about how you can enrich all of the other experiences of your life. In this case, our discussion will be not about material goods but about time. We are going to talk about how to make the time you spend each day and night richer.

Let us begin with an activity that will likely consume the greatest amount of your time. I am talking about the time you spend working.

The Time You Spend Working

When I was a young man, I had a young man's view of work. By that, I mean I didn't like it. Much of the time, I even hated it.

From the time I was a kid, work was something I had to do. As the second-eldest of eight children, I was working around the house almost as soon as I could understand English.

Keep up the good work. I look forward to each and every thing issued by the Wealth Builders Club. - Subscriber WN. At four, I was cleaning up my room. At six, I was helping to wash the dishes. At nine, I was responsible for cleaning the bathrooms on Saturdays and washing the walls along the stairwell where my siblings were always leaving dirty fingerprints.

And as soon as I was legally able to work part-time (at age 12), I had a job delivering newspapers five afternoons per week and worked Saturday afternoons and Sundays at the local car wash.

I had to work because we were a big family living on a teacher's meager salary. Also because my parents believed that work was good. Now I am grateful to them for that. But at the time, I didn't understand the benefit I was getting from it.

When I dreamed, I dreamed I was a rich kid who had a chauffeur who drove me to school in a white limousine. I wore a white tuxedo and sported a diamond-tipped cane. I dreamed of being rich, because I was embarrassed by my family's relative poverty.

We lived in a small house across from the municipal storage facility and electric plant. Our playground was the town's sand pits. We wore secondhand clothes donated by local charities.

What I didn't understand was that in many ways we had a very wealthy upbringing. My parents were educated and believed we should be educated too. At supper, my father would read to us from the Bible or from great works of literature. On Sunday mornings, my mother supervised us in memorizing poetry.

The result was a dichotomy. On the one hand, my desire to attain material wealth never left me. On the other hand, the education my parents provided had me yearning for more from life than material wealth.

I paid my way through college by working all sorts of manual jobs. And I graduated debt free and magna cum laude. I went on to acquire a master's degree from the University of Michigan and an all-but-Ph.D. from Catholic University, funding my tuition with a business I started with some friends.

By that time, at age 26, I was ready to take on the world. But instead of going into the workforce, I applied to become a Peace Corps volunteer and got accepted to a program teaching English literature at the University of Chad, in Africa. This turned out to be another invaluably rich experience - although I was paid only $50 per week.

When I got out of the volunteer Peace Corps, I got a job as an editor of a newsletter in Washington, D.C, called African Business & Trade. I got the job because of my experience in Africa, which included writing for the Peace Corps newsletter and authoring a few small books on the side.

I knew nothing about business, but I did the best I could to learn as much as I could. During that time, I wrote my first professionally published book, Information Peking, about doing business in China.

Eventually, I convinced my boss to let me take a stab at expanding the business. I have no idea why he allowed me to do it… but he did. After two years of doing my best at that job, I took a position as editorial director of a fledgling publishing company in South Florida.

A year into that job, I signed up for a 14-week course that I thought would help me become better at public speaking. (In my new job, I had to run staff meetings and give a lot of presentations.)

The course wasn't exactly what I expected. It was based on Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends & Influence People, and it was mainly about setting and achieving goals. The first week, we were given a challenge. We had to identify the things we wanted to do with our lives and then narrow them down to one.

This was hard for me. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to paint. I wanted to be a martial artist and a world traveler and at least a dozen other things. I also wanted to be rich. That dream had never left me.

The following week, I was going to have to address the class and announce the one goal that would be my priority. The rest of the course would be devoted to taking the first steps toward making it happen.

I finally narrowed my goals to three: to be a teacher, an author, and rich. I simply couldn't choose just one because I didn't want to give up the others. Finally, just minutes before class began, I made my decision.

My No. 1 Priority

My No. 1 priority would be getting rich. I figured that if I could do that first, I would have the time and money to do anything else I wanted to do.

As I've written elsewhere, that decision changed my life. I began to look at every choice I made in terms of whether it would enhance or take away from my prospects of gaining wealth.

Within weeks, I had talked myself into a promotion. Within months, my yearly income had doubled. Over the next two years, I became both a partner in the business and a millionaire. And eight years later, I retired with a net worth in excess of $10 million.

I had achieved my primary goal. But I had neglected every other goal. I had also neglected my wife and children.

Thank you very much for the tremendous suggestions offered in the Wealth Builders Club. Thank you too for the copy of The Pledge, which I have read cover-to-cover. It is a good read, easy to understand, and choc-a-bloc full of actionable ideas for self-improvement. - Subscriber RL. I was 39 years old. I had never liked work, seeing it only as a means to an end-and now I was free. I had the ability to pursue the goals I had neglected in my quest for wealth.

I began writing short stories in the hope of becoming a published author. I spent my spare time painting and learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I got about a dozen of my short stories published in small literary magazines and won a couple of awards.

My painting was personally rewarding, but the results were not especially impressive. I started to make progress as a martial artist, and that felt good.

It was an exciting time. I traveled to exotic places, stayed at five-star hotels, bought and drove luxury cars. I even bought a boat (big mistake). But none of those things give me any long-lasting pleasure.

Yes, they were fun. But the amount of pleasure I got from them had little or nothing to do with either how much they cost or how much time I spent doing them.

A Pivotal Discovery

What mattered, it turned out, was something much more fundamental - something I had complete control over. Something that I could have even if I didn't have millions of dollars.

What I discovered was that I derived the greatest pleasure from writing stories, from painting, from reading good books, and from exercising.

“It's true,” I thought. “The best things in life are free.” But then I had another, more profound, thought: The aversion to work that I had had all my life had come from a profound misunderstanding of how one achieves pleasure.

I realized that the pleasure I was now getting from life came from “working.” Not just working but working hard on things that had both value (to me) and purpose. This was a life-changing revelation.

It is one of the core ideas behind what we will be talking about in the next series of essays. It is one of the fundamental concepts that can help you have the life you want. It is a guiding principle that will enable you to spend your time richly.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #9: Developing the Rich Mind: Life's Trickiest Tradeoff – Money vs. Time

Andy and Jack were best friends growing up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. After graduating from high school, they both went to New York University (NYU) and graduated with business degrees in 1972.

Andy got a job as an investment analyst on Wall Street. Jack decided to return to Ohio to help his aging father run the family restaurant.

They agreed to meet up the following summer in Brazil and take an adventure trip boating down the Amazon River. But when summer rolled around, they were both too busy to do it.

A year later, Jack had the restaurant running smoothly and was ready to go. “I'd love to go,” Andy said. “But I'm in the middle of an executive training program. Maybe next year.”

The following year, Andy couldn't go because he had just taken on a “big” client. The year after that, it was a new boss. Then it was a promotion. At his wedding, Andy swore to himself that he would definitely do the Amazon trip “in the next two years.” Fifteen months later, he and his wife had their first child.

Jack kept in touch and would sometimes tease Andy about the trip. “It's going to happen one of these days,” Andy would say. “I promise.”

At their 40-year high school reunion, Andy and Jack saw each other for the first time since graduating from NYU. Andy had become a very wealthy man and dressed the part. Jack had lived a comfortable, middle-class life.

That night in the high school parking lot, while their classmates danced to old music, Jack and Andy sat on a bicycle stand, sipping beer and looking toward the football stadium.

“So what's it really like?” Jack asked.

“What is what like?”

“You know-living rich?”

“Living rich? Like, what is my actual life like?”

“Right.”

“I wake up early. I go right to work. I move into a state that fluctuates from mild aggravation to moments of feeling very good about myself to bouts of anger, insult, shame, pride, humiliation, hope…”

“Sounds exhausting.”

“It is.”

“But you're rich.”

Andy smiled. “And how is it for you?”

“What do you mean? Living poor?”

“You're not poor.”

“No. I'm okay. And I have a good life. It sounds-no offense-better than the life you describe. I get up and read the paper at breakfast. Then I piddle around in the basement, working on my little hobbies. At 4, I go to the restaurant and stay there till about 10. Then I go home. I read or watch TV for a while and go to bed.”

“You're right,” said Andy. “That is better. I'm envious.”

“Why don't you just quit working? Surely you have enough to retire.”

“I should,” said Andy. “I'm in the middle of a big project right now. And when I get it done, maybe I will.”

“So there will be no trip this summer?” Jack asked.

Andy shook his head. “No trip this summer, my friend.”

Andy did not retire that year or the next year. But seven years later, at age 65, he did.

He hired a private plane and flew to Chagrin Falls, where he surprised Jack by showing up at the restaurant on a Thursday night.

Jack was delighted to see Andy. He gave his old friend a tour of the restaurant before they settled into Jack's personal table overlooking the bar.

“So what brings you to Ohio?” Jack asked. “Some new business venture?”

“Nothing at all,” Andy said. “And that's the point. I've retired, Jack! I've finally retired!”

Jack was happy to hear that. He was. But somewhere in his heart was something that felt like resentment.

“That's great, man. Congratulations.”

“I'm going to have a lot of free time now,” Andy said.

“And what are you going to do with it?”

“Well, I know what I'm going to do with a month of it.”

Andy reached into his jacket pocket, took out a fat envelope, and put it on the table in front of Jack.

“What's that?”

“It's plane tickets, hotel confirmations, and the expedition itinerary. It's our trip, man!”

Andy looked at Jack's face, eager to see the excitement he had been expecting. Instead, he saw conflict.

“Man, this is great. But I can't.”

“What do you mean you can't?”

Jack leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Take a look at this place. It's half- empty. The recession reduced my sales by almost 25%. You can't make a profit in the restaurant business unless you are pretty much busy all the time. I can't afford the trip.”

“Hey, the tickets are paid for. Accommodations too. Just bring a toothbrush.”

Jack forced a smile. “That's great of you, man, but I can't go. I'm working part- time at a buddy's gas station just to make ends meet.”

“What?!”

“It isn't just that business is down. I lost nearly everything in 2008. I took a home equity loan to buy a retirement cottage in the hills. Now both places are underwater. I'm as poor as I was when I graduated college. I have to keep working.”

Andy didn't know what to do. He wanted to offer his old friend some financial assistance, but he knew Jack would refuse it.

“It's not really so bad,” Jack said. “I'm working more, but my life is still good. The kids all live nearby. We see them and the grandkids on weekends.”

“But our trip…”

“Maybe next year,” Jack said.

Time and Money… Money and Time

Time and money. They do seem to be connected: We can spend our time earning money, or we can spend our money enjoying our time.

The obstetrician can afford a four-week vacation in Honolulu but doesn't have the time to take it. The high school teacher has more than four weeks off every summer but can't afford that kind of trip.

The more time you devote to making money, the more money you are likely to make. But what good is that money if you have no time left to enjoy it?

It was Ben Franklin who said, “Time is money.” What he actually said was: “Remember that time is money. He that can earn 10 shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness… has really spent, or, rather, thrown away, five shillings besides.”

The truth is that the Wealth Builders Club really spoke to me. It pushed all my right buttons. Finally there is something that diversifies making it and not just preserving it. I do want to be a part of that. Mark has the credibility to take you there, unlike so many other Internet players. - Subscriber G. S. Franklin was not saying that one should spend no time traveling or having fun (sitting idle). He was saying only that one should be aware of the financial cost of one's time.

Franklin was pointing out that, for example, if you are a consultant and make Rs 5,000 per hour, each day of vacation you take “costs” you Rs. 40,000. When calculating the cost of a vacation, you must include that. (If your travel, hotel, and other expenses total Rs.20,000 per day, the cost of the vacation is Rs. 60,000, not Rs. 20,000.)

Likewise, if you make Rs.5,000 per hour… does it make sense to mow your own lawn? From a strictly financial perspective, it is foolish. You “save” the Rs.1,000 per hour a gardener would charge you but net out to a loss of Rs. 4,000 per hour.

Of course, you might get pleasure from mowing your lawn and trimming your bushes. Just know, Franklin would say, that it is costing you Rs.4,000 per hour.

Being aware of the financial value of your time is important. It makes it easier to make financially smart decisions about the way you spend that time. As a young man, I made a living by painting and remodelling houses. But at this point in my life, I recognize that I should not paint that window frame or fix that door hinge simply because I can.

But surely that doesn't mean we should spend all of our working hours doing what is most remunerative. We have other priorities: our health, our social lives, and our personal ambitions.

That's what I'd like to talk about today: How much time should we spend working versus socializing, exercising, playing checkers, and so on. To put it differently: Is there an optimal ratio for spending our time to produce a rich life?

How Bill Spent His Weekends

For about six years, Bill Bonner and I shared the same office space. We were both busy doing the same work: growing a profitable international publishing company. On weekends, I would go home and continue working on the business. Bill would go to his farm and build walls out of stone.

Building stone walls is difficult and strenuous work. It is also very poorly paid work. Bill understood that he was working “under his pay scale” on Saturdays. But he chose to do it because it gave him a kind of pleasure.

Bill also may have believed that he could do only so much high-quality work in any given week. He may have believed that the manual labour he did on Saturday (and the idle time he spent on Sunday) recharged his business-building batteries somehow.

And he may have been right. The business grew from $8 million to $100 million in about four years, and then from $100 million to $500 million in the 10 years that followed. Except for business travel, Bill never felt obliged to abandon his work/non-work schedule.

Ben Franklin, himself, took a different path. As a young man, he worked almost every waking hour. But as soon as his businesses began to produce profits, he devoted some time every day to study. Study, of course, is a kind of work. But it can also be a kind of pleasure.

In his middle age, Franklin was a wealthy man who kept busy in business, as a diplomat but also as a gourmand, a connoisseur of French wine, a ladies' man, a bon vivant, an intellectual, and a skillful conversationalist.

The Time You Spend Working

Over the years, my own struggle with the money/time quandary has changed but not abated. I wonder…

Why is it that I'm still working 60 hours per week when I don't need any more money?

Why do I find it so difficult to stop thinking about work when I'm with my friends and family?

Why is my weekly schedule jam-packed with work and hobby time?

Why can't I give myself a half-day off without feeling guilty?

I also wonder whether I could have worked half the hours I've worked and still made the same amount of money. I wonder what I could have gained in intimacy, had I spent more time with my children. I wonder whether my maniacal drive to become a more accomplished person might not be pushing me into depression.

What About You?

You may have these same questions. You may have others. All responsible people must ask themselves: “How much time should I spend earning money versus relaxing versus self-improvement versus taking care of family and friends?”

Let's begin with three simple observations.

Observation #1: We have inherent responsibilities.

When I asked my father why he abandoned his first career as a dramatist to become a college teacher, he told me that he felt his “first moral responsibility” was to support his family. Teaching was not (and is not now) a well-paid profession, but it was enough to keep his wife and eight children clothed and fed. I admired him for that.

My mother was a contrarian thinker. A Catholic by upbringing, she was critical of the church and had progressive views of right and wrong. But she did leave her children with one absolute ethical rule: Leave the world “a little bit better than you found it.”

It may seem odd to share these memories in a discussion about time and money, but for me, they are essential. I take the view that, regardless of the circumstances we are born into, each of us is bound to earn the money needed to support his family and to leave the world a little better than he found it.

If you accept these precepts, you accept also that we cannot, however enlightened it might feel, allow ourselves to eschew working for money.

Money matters. If you have it, you must spend it well. If you don't have it, you must earn it and then spend it well.

Observation #2: Being rich is better than being poor.

I was poor for 33 years. It was a good 33 years. Wouldn't trade it for anything, as they say. But I have also been rich for 30 years. And that, too, has been good.

I can't say that my overall happiness/equanimity/whatever has been greater in my rich years than it was in my poor years. But I can say that I am definitely happy that I got rich.

Now, I might be happy about my wealth because, growing up poor, I needed the ego gratification of succeeding at life's most universal contest: making money. Had I been heir to a fortune, perhaps I wouldn't value wealth. Unless, of course, I lost it.

Observation #3: Work is sometimes fun and sometimes miserable.

I worked hard to become wealthy. Some of that work was fun. A lot of it was not.

You might think that the fun work was flying to exotic locations, meeting powerful people, and counting my money. And that the un-fun work was slaving away at some project till 9 or 10 at night. Or perhaps you think that the fun work was the work that resulted in financial windfalls while the un-fun work was the work that resulted in losses.

None of that was true. The fun I took from traveling and hobnobbing evaporated rather quickly. And the fun I had in earning a $5,000 bonus disappeared immediately, only to be recaptured by a bonus twice that size.

In retrospect, I now understand the factors involved in what made work fun. Working on projects I valued was the most important factor. Doing good work on a project I valued (work I knew to be good) was a close second.

From 1982 to 1993, I earned millions of dollars every year and acquired an eight- figure fortune. But I never truly valued the work I was doing then, so the amount of “fun” time I had while working was limited.

Since 1994, the fun I get out of work has been steadily increasing. That is a direct result of a gradual increase in the time I spend working on projects I value. I am talking about my charitable activities, of course (for which I am not paid but contribute both time and money). But I am also talking about the books I'm writing, some of the businesses I work with, and, most of all, my work with Wealth Builders Club.

Two Secrets for Finding Happiness in Work

If you are not born rich, you must work to make money. How much time you devote to making money depends on whether you feel, as I do, responsible for the financial welfare of your family and whether you believe you should leave the world a little better than you found it.

If you feel that way, you will almost certainly have to work at least 40 hours per week. If your financial ambitions are greater than simply “to get by,” you will have to work 50-60 hours per week for a good many years.

But if you can learn to enjoy the time you spend making money, your life will be that much richer. You won't have to fill up your happiness piggybank outside of work. You will be able to get much or even most of your happiness from the time you spend working.

This leads me to my first recommendation: If you possibly can, you should find a way to make money by doing something you believe is valuable. And if you don't have that luxury right now, you should gradually move your career in that direction.

You should also recognize that having a career that you value is just one part of a two-part process. You must also do work that is clearly good.

I value the work I'm doing for Wealth Builders Club. And most of the time, it makes me happy. But sometimes it doesn't. I am unhappy, for example, when I have to rewrite an essay six times.

But I realize that I'm unhappy not because I resent the time I am spending on revising the essay… but because, each time I have to do a revision, I'm “fixing” work that was not good to begin with.

So I accept that there will be hours I will be spending on Wealth Builders Club that will be unpleasant. But they will be just a fraction of the hours I spend having a really good time. Each time Tim or Jeff or Emily or Amanda sends me a note saying, “Good essay, but…” I have to tell myself: “This is your chance to do better work and have more fun doing it.”

And this leads to my second recommendation: Never work like you don't like your work. Work hard. Work carefully. Work like it matters.

Finding the Optimal Balance

This hardly completes our inquiry into time and money. Nor does it fully answer the question posed by the story about Jack and Andy that I told you at the beginning of this essay.

To live a rich life, you must find pleasure in your work. But you must also find pleasure outside work: with your friends and family and community and in your personal pursuits and education.

How much time should you devote to those other obligations and activities?

In answering this question, it might be helpful to think of the time you spend in terms of the four major categories I identified in an essay: your wealth, your health, your social time, and your personal time.

Your wealth

I've talked about the time you spend acquiring wealth. And I've noted that a typical workweek for a person who is serious about acquiring wealth is between 40 and 60 hours. Let's settle on 50 hours.

Your health

There is no question that sleeping and exercise are two of the most important- and time-consuming-factors in good health. Sleep experts, as I've noted, recommend 7-8 hours per night. Let's round that down to 50 hours per week. Some people like to exercise several hours per day. But the latest studies show that for health purposes, 30 minutes per day of intense exercise is all that is needed. A half-hour per day is 3.5 hours per week. Let's round that up to 5 hours.

So far, we have 50 hours per week devoted to your wealth and 55 hours devoted to your health.

We are left with social time and personal time. And we are left with 63 hours (24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours - 105 hours = 63 hours). That's nine hours per day.

Your social time and personal time

The amount of time you spend socially (with family, friends, and community) versus the time you spend personally (learning, developing skills, practicing hobbies, relaxing, playing games, etc.) is a matter of circumstance.

When you have a young family, you will be spending most of those 63 hours socially (with your kids or escaping them). As an empty nester, you'll be able to spend more of those hours on personal interests.

All of this suggests that the 24 hours each of us has in a given day is sufficient to make the money we need, stay fit and healthy, have a fulfilling social life, and develop our personal interests.

So the next time you find yourself thinking, “There is never enough time,” remind yourself that there is enough time. The question you need to answer is “What can I do to get my time back into balance?”

You have enough hours. But you may not be optimizing them. When your time is in balance, you will be able to accomplish all you need to without feeling worn down. On the contrary, you will feel energized throughout your entire day.

I will talk more about how to do that in my next essay.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #10: Developing the Rich Mind: The Most Important Thing I Ever Learned About Living Rich

I often have lunch with Jeff, a friend and former business partner. (He left a high-income business years ago to devote his life to philosophical pursuits). Our lunches tend to be long, luxurious, and filled with interesting conversation. Whenever I think about “living rich,” one of those conversations - one that we had many years ago - comes to mind.

“What do you think of when you think of wealth?” Jeff asked me.

Among other things, Jeff is a master of the Socratic dialogue. I knew this question was just the first step of a walk I would be taking with him on the subject. I gamely went along.

“I'm not sure. I guess I think about big houses with swimming pools and fancy cars,” I replied.

“That's interesting,” he said. “Now do this: Imagine yourself lying on a lounge chair next to a swimming pool behind a big house with a fancy sports car parked in front of it.”

I closed my eyes and did as he asked.

“Do you have yourself in the picture?” Jeff asked. “Yes,” I told him.

“And how do you feel?” he asked.

“I don't know,” I said. “Good.” “Can you be more precise?”

I focused on the feeling. “Tranquil,” I said. “And safe.”

“Good,” he said.

The conversation turned to other things that day - but I was intrigued. The feelings I associated with the symbols of wealth were very different than what I would have guessed. Safety and tranquility? Really?

About a month later, Jeff and I met at a small Italian restaurant in Palm Beach. When I arrived, he was already seated at our usual table, chatting with Giuseppe, the maître d'. He stood to greet me, then sat down and offered me a glass of prosecco from the bottle that was chilling in front of him.

I want to say a big thank you for the great information and teachings you provide. I feel so much more confident about my financial situation and progress since joining the Club. My portfolio is getting better every day. Club member M C. We enjoyed our meal and then carried what was left of our drinks outside to the patio so I could smoke a cigar. As always, every part of the meal with Jeff was slow, precise, and deliberate. He talked with interest about the meal. He sipped the wine with attentiveness. Time slowed down.

Our prior discussion about wealth hadn't come up during the meal, but I had been thinking about it. So I brought it up.

“I've been thinking about how I feel when I think about wealth,” I told him.

I explained that my feelings about wealth seemed to come from my early childhood experiences. We were a family of 10 living on a teacher's income. We were the poorest people on Maple Street, which was one of the poorest streets in town.

The feeling I had then was a combination of anxiety (the fear that my schoolmates would make fun of me for being poor) and insecurity (embarrassment because of the clothes I wore, the cheap sandwiches I brought for lunch, etc.). I realized that my adult feelings about wealth - tranquility and safety - were the obverse of those emotions.

“That's a thoughtful observation,” he said. “You are saying that your goal of becoming wealthy was actually connected to the feelings you associated with poverty when you were a child.”

“Yes,” I said.

“What percentage of your time have you spent working to make money and buy the symbols you associate with wealth?” he asked.

“Lots of time,” I admitted.

“Yet you found that when you had the money and the house and the cars, you still didn't have the feeling of being rich?”

“I'm not sure I know what you mean by that,” I confessed. He nodded and said, “Let's take a walk.”

Digesting the Feeling of Rich­ness

We took a walk along Worth Avenue and stopped at a small newsstand. “They have a great selection of international magazines,” Jeff told me.

We spent some time looking through French and Italian and Chinese magazines that I had never seen before. As with lunch, the pace was leisurely, almost languid. The magazines I was looking at gave me ideas for improving some of the magazines I published.

They gave me ideas about art projects I might start. I bought several that had especially inspired me. The cost was less than $20. And as we continued our walk, I found myself filled with energy and optimism.

This, I realized, was what Jeff meant by “feeling rich.” Not the giddy but ephemeral feeling I always got from spending lots of money and acquiring expensive toys but… this more subtle and enduring sensation. And I had done it by slowing down and using the extra consciousness that afforded me to learn new things.

Here I was, already wealthy by any ordinary definition, and I was still spending most of my waking hours pushing myself to make more money. I was doing so because I believed it would one day give me the feeling of being rich. As a result, I was in a constant state of anxiety and sometimes depression.

Meanwhile Jeff, with much less financial wealth, seemed to feel rich all the time. Now, don't get Jeff wrong. He doesn't eschew the material aspects of wealth.

Beautiful things and elegant service are real, and he knows that. But he understands something that most people don't: It's not the things themselves that give you the feeling you are looking for. It's knowing how to experience them. And Jeff has proven that it doesn't cost a whole lot of money to do it.

For example, instead of owning a yacht that might cost millions (not to mention hundreds of thousands in maintenance), Jeff enjoys reading about them, learning about them, going to boat shows, and occasionally renting them.

Instead of owning a $6 million condo in a ski resort, Jeff is happy to take a three - day vacation at a five-star hotel in Aspen.

Nailing Down the Feeling

If you're like me, the feeling of being rich has three elements: tranquility, safety, and enrichment.

You get the feeling of tranquility by slowing down…

You get the feeling of safety by not spending more than you can afford… And you get the feeling of enrichment by selecting experiences that add something to your life…

You need money - sometimes lots of money - to own the symbols of wealth. But to get the feeling of being rich, you don't need to spend much at all. In fact - and this is important - owning things often diminishes the enjoyment you can derive from them.

Let me give you an example. My wife and I used to buy season tickets to Miami Heat basketball games. For many years, we sat courtside with other wealthy people, rooting for our team. The tickets came with many benefits: a VIP entrance, access to the VIP restaurant and players' lounge, invitations to private events, and so on. It made us feel special.

I appreciate the fact that you seem to think a bit more “holistically” - and not just about money. Life and living it well are all that really matters. (Of course, financial stability and independence are pretty helpful there!) Keep up the good work. Club member G W. But before long, I began to dread the hour-long ride to and from each game. Hiring a driver didn't help. It was the commitment of time. We started to give some of our tickets to friends. Eventually, we were making only a handful of games per season.

One year, we attended only three games. The cost of our tickets, including the playoffs, was something like $30,000. (It is higher now.) So that year, we were paying, in effect, $10,000 per game.

I realized that we could get front-row tickets from a scalper and stay overnight in a luxury hotel for about $1,500. So that's what we did from then on. We were now spending far less… and enjoying ourselves more.

Another example: I once bought a small fishing boat for about $50,000 - and I don't especially like fishing. It was an impulse buy. Not surprisingly, I took that boat out only once. For a fraction of what I paid for it, I could have rented a much bigger boat and invited a dozen friends to enjoy a day at sea. I would have saved a lot of money - and aggravation - and all of us would have had a memorable experience.

Now, it might make sense for a guy who truly loves fishing to buy a $50,000 boat. He'd use it all the time. For him, the “cost of use” each time he took the boat out would be minimal. And he would get a great deal of pleasure from his investment. But for me, owning a fishing boat was nothing more than owning a symbol of wealth.

I now realize that it is much more important to engage in activities that give me lasting pleasure. To, for example, read books, listen to music, and watch movies that inspire me instead of simply giving me an excuse to kill time.

So I'll leave you with one question I'd like you to consider…

What have you been focusing on: pursuing wealth or pursuing rich living?

Best, Mark

Living Rich #11: Traveling Like a Billionaire

Traveling is one of the great experiences of life. Few pastimes can provide such a combination of benefits - escape, adventure, relaxation, education, and even romance.

And like every other topic we have discussed in this series, you don't need to spend a lot of money to enjoy it.

I admit it, I like to be pampered. I like to fly first class, stay at five-star hotels, be chauffeured to my destinations, and generally have my butt kissed. This kind of travel is - to be honest - very nice. But it is also very expensive.

When I travel by myself, I can justify it because my solo travel is usually business related. And at this point in my life, if business travel were any less comfortable, I simply wouldn't do it.

When I travel with K, however, we generally spend half of what I do on my own. And if K had her way, we'd spend even less. She simply can't get herself to fork out the big bucks for convenience. Instead, she spends a fair amount of time on the Internet searching for bargains. And she finds them.

What Does Luxury Travel Mean?

Let's talk about luxury travel - what it means and how you can travel like a billionaire on a budget.

Luxury travel evokes images of catered safaris in Africa, summer barge trips along European rivers, sailing the coast of Turkey, and seeing India from a hotel ranked first in the world.

I've done all of those things. I've also flown my wife to Key West and back for an anniversary dinner… invited 15 of my best friends down to Nicaragua for an all- expense-paid golfing vacation… taken privately guided tours to amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, Morocco, and a half-dozen European countries.

I can't pretend that the expensive components of the traveling I've done weren't enjoyable. They certainly were. But if you were to ask me about my trips I wouldn't be telling you, “Oh, the seats on our Virgin flight to London were so roomy!” Or “We toured the city in the most comfortable Mercedes-Benz.”

Our best memories of traveling are probably much like yours: looking at the sunset from a cliff high above the Irish Sea… rolling up to a pride of lions in the back of a pick-up truck in Chad… sipping espresso in front of Luigi's art gallery, talking about what's wrong with the world.

These are the richest experiences of traveling. And they aren't necessarily costly. Of the hundreds of meals I've eaten while traveling abroad, one of my favourites consisted of a baguette (French bread), a chunk of cheese, and a bottle of vin ordinaire (ordinary wine) that K and I enjoyed in a small park on the Right Bank of the Seine in Paris.

Once again, I am saying that the best things in life are free or can be bought without spending a fortune. When it comes to travel, though, budget travel - however well-planned - will lack certain amenities.

When you travel on a budget, you do give up certain comforts. If you weigh 200 pounds (approx. 91 kgs) , as I do, you will definitely be less comfortable flying coach than flying first class. And if you end up spending a lot of time in your hotel room (which you shouldn't), you will want to enjoy the extra space and terrific views that an expensive room will cost.

So, yes, there is a difference between high-cost travel and budget-conscious travel. It's not just a matter of prestige.

That said, you can do pretty darn well - having all the fun and maybe 80% of the luxury of a $1,000-per-day (approx. Rs 60,000) trip for a third or even a quarter of that cost.

Thanks for your help and all the great information you've provided so far. It's inspired me in ways I haven't before been inspired. Club member K. A. Let me give you an example. Right now, at my insistence, K and I are staying at Le Sirenuse, a five-star hotel in Positano, Italy. It is a very beautiful hotel, full of antiques and fresh flowers. We have, again at my insistence, booked a junior suite. The cost is $1,300 (approx. Rs 81,000) per day.

That is a hell of a lot of money.

This morning, to give me a reality check, K walked me into two adjacent hotels - a four-star hotel whose rooms go for between $300 and $400 (approx. Rs 19,000 - Rs 25,000) and a charming three-star hotel whose rooms go for between $150 and $250 (approx. 10,000 - Rs 15,000).

She wanted me to see those hotels so I could understand what she already knew - that the views from their terraces are every bit as good as the views from Le Sirenuse.

Last week, we were in Rome. There are plenty of famous restaurants in Rome where you can easily spend $250 (approx. Rs 15,000) per person. But there are also thousands of amazingly good trattorias (Italian for restaurants) where you can eat just as well for a tenth of the price.

Roman cuisine is actually very simple. And since Romans have an affinity for fresh foods and natural ingredients, it is very difficult to have a bad meal anywhere in the city, including the so-called tourist traps.

The point is that it makes no sense to spend a lot of money on fancy restaurants in Rome. You won't get a better meal. You'll get only the satisfaction of saying you've been there, whatever that's worth.

I asked the WBC Research Team to put together a full report on how to get the most for your travel dollar. You will receive it shortly. Meanwhile, here are four examples of the kind of bargains I'm talking about…

Example #1: A LONG WEEKEND FOR TWO IN THE BIG APPLE

The biggest expense if you are traveling on a budget is always airfare and lodging. As K has proven to me countless times, there are many ways to find airfare and lodging at a discount.

Sometimes you can save a lot of money by booking a flight and hotel package together. Expedia, for instance, offers a round-trip flight to New York's JFK from Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, or Denver with three nights at the four-star Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel for $590 (approx. Rs 37,000) per person.

You'll find similar offers for domestic and international flights on several Indian travel portals like MakeMyTrip, ClearTrip, TravelGuru, GetMyTrip, Arzoo and the Indian Expedia. Many of them have daily “hot deals” with tickets that can start as low as Rs 500.

Tribeca is a very cool place in New York. There are quality restaurants, shops, and galleries to enjoy. There are architecturally interesting buildings to admire and several parks to relax in and read the paper.

A taxi from JFK to Manhattan is a flat rate of $52 (approx. Rs 3,300). If you are traveling with K, you are more likely to arrive in the city faster by taking the AirTrain and the subway. (As is the case in many large cities in the world, local trains and metros are a more economically viable option for commute within the city.)

As for sightseeing, there are many affordable options.

You can spend a very pleasant morning window-shopping, stop for lunch at a small restaurant, and then walk or take the subway to the Williamsburg Bridge. From there, you can take a quick subway ride to Brooklyn and spend the afternoon at any one of several great museums.

Walk back to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge's pedestrian walkway above the river and enjoy sunset views of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and all of lower Manhattan.

The next morning, you can take a subway uptown to visit Central Park or further still to the Bronx Zoo. For lunch, you can dine at one of the restaurants in Grand Central Terminal, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. More than a train terminal, Grand Central is a New York City icon. For $5 (approx. Rs 300), you can download an app for a self-guided tour.

A visit to New York wouldn't be complete without a Broadway show. Last-minute bargains can be found in Times Square, but the lines can be long. Instead, buy your tickets online before your trip. Websites like theatermania.com and BroadwayBox.com discount tickets to popular shows by 40-50%.

New York has every type of cuisine imaginable and in every price range. To keep costs down, check out dining deals on Groupon. As I write, you can enjoy a South American dinner and dancing for two at the Copacabana in New York's theatre district for $59 / approx. Rs. 3,700 (a $180 / approx. Rs 12,000 value)… a three-course Middle Eastern dinner for two at Gazala's on the Upper West Side for $32 /Rs 2,000 (a $77 / approx. Rs,5000 value)… or a “horror-themed” dinner for two at the Jekyll & Hyde pub in the West Village for $49 / approx. Rs 3,000 (a $100 / approx. Rs 6,300 value).

Example #2: RIDING THE RAILS FROM CHICAGO TO SEATTLE

For a stress-free trip, nothing beats traveling cross-country aboard a passenger train. You'll enjoy spectacular views, sleep to the rhythm of the train rolling along the rails, and encounter interesting people along the way.

There are several routes to choose from. Amtrak's Empire Builder, between Chicago and Seattle, is probably the most picturesque. It takes you through Big Sky Country and the Pacific Northwest-Wisconsin, Minnesota, the North Dakota plains, Glacier National Park in Montana, Idaho, and the Cascade Mountains in Washington.

The journey lasts approximately 45 hours, with two nights on the train. A private “roomette” for two runs $680 (approx. Rs 42,000) and includes three meals each day.

The route is bookended by two great cities, giving you the opportunity to extend your trip. A three-and-a-half star hotel can be booked in either Chicago's or Seattle's downtown for around $150 (approx. Rs 10,000) per night through Priceline.com.

India is already full of train journeys. An interesting one in which to explore the country could be the Palace on Wheels. It runs through the great landscapes of Rajasthan, stopping at places like Alwar, Bharatpur, Bundi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Udaipur.

You can go through their website and look out for good deals at off-peak seasons. Indian booking portals like GoIbibo, Yatra.com and Trivago will provide similar options for good deals on hotel rates.

If you're willing to bid on a room, your savings can be as much as 50%. (When you bid, you choose the area and star level of your hotel but not a specific property.)

In both cities, you can buy a pass that gives you access to popular attractions. Chicago's pass ($94 / approx. Rs 5,900) admits you to the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Adler Planetarium.

Seattle's pass ($75 / approx. Rs 4,700) admits you to the Space Needle, the Seattle Aquarium, an Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, the Pacific Science Center, the EMP Museum, and the Woodland Park Zoo.

Example #3: AN ALL-INCLUSIVE, ONE-WEEK RESORT VACATION IN KERALA

I recently travelled through this state in India which had diverse topography. It encompasses the mountains in Munnar with tea plantations dotting the hills, the calm and peaceful town of Alleppey where charming houseboats fill the backwaters and Thekkady, where wildlife, forests and the Periyar River come together.

I was delighted to see tea lovers, beach lovers and seafood lovers come together in one place. Being a history buff, the quaint churches and museums at Cochin intrigued me. At times I was happy simply to bask in the Indian sun and enjoy the palm-fringed, sandy beaches.

An Internet search for “Kerala - all-inclusive vacations” brings up hundreds of options. It may also benefit you to contact a local travel agency that offers generous all-inclusive deals (like traveliteindia.com).

Example #4: A ROMANTIC WEEK IN PARIS

If you're going to spend more than a few days in any major European city, a smart way to save money is to rent a centrally located apartment, instead of staying in a hotel.

Through the adrianleeds.com website, for example, you can find a nice two-bedroom, two-bath apartment that sleeps up to four people and costs $1,650 (approx. Rs 1 lac) for the week. If you travel with another couple, your weekly rent would be just $825 (approx. Rs 52,000).

And because you would have the use of a kitchen, you would be able to save a considerable amount of money on food. You could, for instance, have breakfast in the apartment and enjoy a nice meal out for lunch (when menu prices are often less). Then, for dinner, you could pick up something from a local market.

To get the best deal on airfare, consider booking out of season. For Paris, that means February or early March. The weather will be a little chilly, but the crowds will be smaller, and the price of just about everything will be lower.

Take Time to Research Your Trips

As I said, K is the travel planner in our family. She seems to like the job, as she spends (and I don't think I'm exaggerating) about as much time researching and booking our trips as we spend on them. But the results are terrific. We have first-class experiences for pennies on the dollar. K likes boutique hotels with smaller rooms but elegant amenities. My main requirement is to have a bar and an outside terrace where I can smoke my cigars.

I just want to say that I am very glad with the Wealth Builders Club. I could not be happier about creating wealth. Club member T.B. (The latter is becoming increasingly difficult to find these days, so lately she's been finding boutique hotels a block or two from a cigar bar.)

Her selections, I must say, are unerring. And the rates we pay are no more than a third of what I pay for a room at the Ritz when I'm doing my business travel.

She often books us into hotels prior to their official openings. This means reduced prices and a staff that is trying very hard to please despite some inevitable glitches. By being willing to put up with these minor hiccups, we have been able to stay at some very chic hotels that later on would be prohibitive because of their high cost.

K does her research on the Internet, but I notice that she also spends a good deal of time on the phone, interviewing clerks and concierges about accommodations, amenities, nearby restaurants, and points of interest. She also is an avid reader of The New York Times travel section, the Hideaway Report newsletter, and countless travel websites and books.

The Times of India Travel website and their weekly Lifestyle issue, Outlook Traveller magazine and website and Conde Nast Traveller India would be good alternatives for you.

When you travel with K, you can be sure that the theatre ticket you are holding has been purchased at half-price, that the restaurant you are eating in has been highly rated, and that you are at least aware of what is “happening” in town even if you decide to pass. Before she even arrives at a destination, she has compiled a long list of art shows, cultural expositions, book readings, etc., that are often free to the public.

K much prefers subways to taxis and walking to subways. This - and her habit of reading about wherever we are in the morning while I write - gives her an astonishingly good understanding of new towns and cities in the shortest possible time.

Invariably, our breakfast is included in the price of the hotel room. And although I can sometime persuade her to have lunch or dinner at our hotel, she much prefers to go (i.e., walk) to some interesting place she has discovered in her research.

Often there is a bottle of wine and a bowl of fruit waiting for us when we check into a hotel for an extended stay. This, for K, is a perfect low-cost and healthy meal.

We can afford to do anything we want when we travel. But K has taught me that “traveling rich” is often a choice between spending money to do things impulsively and spending time to shop for value.

The trick is to avoid doing the foolish things most wealthy people do - such as dining in the most famous restaurants - and find equally good experiences for a fraction of the price.

Finally, remember to check out the WBC Research Team's special report, “The Living Rich Guide to Travel,” which will reach you soon.

Best, Mark

The Living Rich Guide to Travel

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine

These days, travel is not restricted to the very wealthy. If you have the right information - and you plan ahead - you can travel in comfort and style, regardless of your budget. There are even places (nice places, not youth hostels) where you can stay for free.

As always, our focus is on how to travel in style, living rich without overspending.

Let's start with this…

Where To?

Travel destinations are personal. Heaven to one can be hell to another.

Economics, both positive and negative, have a lot to do with the locations that the travel industry is promoting in any given year. Regions and countries that have been hit hard by the economy pull out all the stops to get tourists - and their money - back.

Consider Japan, still recovering from the 2011 earthquake. In Tokyo, a simple Japanese-style minshuku guest house was recently advertised for $37 (approx. Rs. 2,500), and many tourist sites (e.g., temples and botanical gardens) are free.

In Greece, experienced travelers know that their euro or pound will buy more vacation than ever before. Holiday packages have been discounted by as much as 60%, room rates have dropped, and restaurants are playing hard to attract business.

Major world events also play a role. The Summer Olympics placed London on the top of many “hottest destination” lists for 2012. Unfortunately, the organizers also witnessed a backlash to all of that positive PR. Tourists, fearing long lines and overpriced accommodations due to demand, stayed away from London.

Rio de Janeiro was on the radar as the place to be for the next few years, with the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

Pop culture and social media placed the Seoul District of Gangnam in the limelight recently. A crazy dance video produced by Korean entertainer Psy became the most-watched YouTube clip of all time, with more than 1 billion views in December 2012.

Bhutan is predicted as a popular destination for Indians this year. Its famed high happiness quotient and serene beauty can be witnessed on the trek to the Tiger's Nest Monastery. One can also get a glimpse of the Bhutanese men dressed in skirts and take a bite of its unique cuisine which includes a dish made only of chillies and cheese.

Closer home, Lucknow is slated to have a high number of tourists this year with its uber gastronomical experiences, Nawabi culture, tonga (horse-drawn carriage) rides and Asia's highest clock tower. It's also a fashion aficionado's delight as one can find a variety of the quintessential Lucknowi Chikan work fabrics and garments in the old bylanes of Aminabad.

When making recommendations, travel experts take into account all of the above, in addition to considering such things as expanded services, major hotel openings, and new airline routes.

Here are some expert recommendations for 2015 that you might want to consider:

From Trafalgar.com: Great Britain and Ireland Italy Spain, Morocco and Portugal France Culinary vacations in cities like San Francisco.

From CNN.com: Scotland Rabat, Morocco Sub-Saharan Africa Singapore Downtown Los Angeles

From NYTimes.com: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Orlando, Florida Bolivia Cuba Durban, South Africa

For travel with family, LonelyPanet.com likes: Sacsara Valley, Peru Namibia London, UK Whitsundays, Australia Dordogne, France

For travel in India, Conde Nast Traveller India (cntraveller.in) recommends: Amadubi, Jharkhand Hankon, Karnataka Damro, Arunachal Pradesh Garamur, Majuli, Assam Jawai, Rajasthan

And for a totally unique experience, LonelyPlanet suggests:

Philadelphia - where you can watch Kronum, a game designed to display the full range of human athleticism. It is promoted as “fast paced, action packed, and unpredictable… the first major sport invented in a century. ”

The Philippines - to see the Varanus bitatawa, a “herbivorous relative of the komodo dragon.” Scientists confirmed the lizard as a new species in 2010.

Israel - to hike a trail that follows what is believed to be the 63 km path that Jesus took.

Sri Lanka - to experience the endless beaches, timeless ruins, herds of elephants, cheap shopping, famous tea and flavourful food. An added advantage: Indians don't need a visa for it!

The newly built Spaceport America in Las Cruces, N.M. - where Richard Branson plans to launch trips into suborbital space. Once the legal and liability issues are sorted out, you will be able to book a two-and-a-half-hour flight for $200,000. Meanwhile, you can see actual Virgin Galactic models and have a tour of the place.

How About a Volunteer Vacation?

Whether it's teaching English, digging a well, building a school, or participating in a campaign to vaccinate children… volunteer labour is in demand all over the world.

This isn't free. You'll pay for the privilege. But if your heart is in it, volunteering with a respected, not-for-profit group will be well worth the money.

As BootsnAll.com puts it:

Some vacations are just about kicking back, lying on a beach, gazing in awe at world-class art, or enjoying the local delicacies. But when you want to come home with more than just a few souvenirs or photographs -when you want to come home with the knowledge that you've given something back to the place you just visited-then a volunteer vacation could be just the thing for you.

Check out its website to look into some of the possibilities.

Additional websites to explore:

WorldTeach.org GlobeAware.org VAOPS.com (Volunteer Abroad Opportunities) VolunteerInternational.org

For volunteering travel opportunities in India, look at sites like:

Traveltoteach.org VolunteersIndia.org VolunteeringIndia.org

Value-Based Travel in the 21st Century

For booking a trip, we like the old standbys: Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, Kayak, and (one of our favorites) SmarterTravel. Indian websites include: MakeMyTrip, ClearTrip, Yatra, GoIbibo and TripAdvisor. Additionally, the Indian Expedia.co.in and Kayak.co.in work just as well here too.

But on the Internet, there's always something new… and sometimes better.

Hipmunk.com was described by Forbes magazine as smarter, slicker, and quicker. A Hipmunk search is a “decision-making engine,” fast and to the point. You get a time-table with coloured bars ranked in descending order of “agony,” a factor that includes price, length of trip, number of stops, and departure/arrival times.

Trippy.com takes advantage of social networking by letting your globe-trotting friends help you plan your vacation. Through Facebook, for instance, your online network can make recommendations that are automatically converted into an itinerary and plotted on a map.

TripIt.com uses the latest technology to turn your flight, hotel, and car rental confirmation emails into a master itinerary. Very useful.

TravelGuru.com has a list of the newest hotels launched in the country, offers some great discounts on room rates and tells you exactly how much percent you will save per day on your travel itinerary if you book smartly.

For the Ultimate in Cost-Saving… Couch Surfing

Couch surfing originally referred to “crashing” on the couches at friends' houses while traveling. Now, thanks to the Internet, it has evolved into an opportunity for everyone to experience another culture first-hand - not just people with friends in interesting places.

Through CouchSurfing.org and GlobalFreeLoaders.com, you can choose your location and get connected with people who live there and would be happy to put you up in their homes (and possibly act as your tour guide).

A notch above CouchSurfing.org and GlobalFreeLoaders is Airbnb.com (Air B and B). For a very modest fee, it books everything from city apartments to country villas - offering 200,000 inexpensive listings available in more than 37,300 cities and 192 countries.

To date, Airbnb has booked more than 10,000,000 rooms. According to a TechCrunch post, “on any given night in New York, there are more people staying in homes via Airbnb than there are rooms in the biggest hotel in Manhattan.”

With the launch of Airbnb in India, you will now also see several homes and other reasonable accommodation options registered by Indians too.

(By the way, the site is currently the No. 1 travel company to watch on the Momentum Index, which ranks start-ups. It has seen an 800% growth in service in a year and has been valued at more than $1 billion.)

A Word About Travel Guides

Travel guides are invaluable to help you learn about places you might be interested in visiting - and, when you're in a new place, to help you get your bearings.

Michelin, Fodor's, Frommer's, Let's Go, Bradt, Footprint, and Lonely Planet have been publishing guides for years. They're popular - with good reason. They give you all the basic information you could possibly need.

But for something a little different, maybe try one of these:

Robert Young Pelton's The World's Most Dangerous Places is described as “an underground classic among the CIA, mujahadeen, special forces, NGOs, and savvy adventurers.”

The Wallpaper Guides are tiny books that do not make you look like a tourist. They are stylishly designed for “chic travelers.”

If you are moving to a new country, pick up a book from the NFT (Not For Tourists) series at NotForTourists.com.

In India, you'll find a popular brand called DK Eyewitness Travel India which is packed with photographs and illustrations of all the must-see cultural sites in India.

Another detailed travel guide that covers every city of every country in the world is called Footprint. Their series on India particularly unravels information on little known places in the country and how you can optimise your visits there.

10 Quick Money-Saving Tips

Flexibility pays off. If you can be flexible on when you travel (next week or three weeks later) and on which day you leave and return - you can save money.

Generally, it is cheaper to fly Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Five Handy Travel Gadgets

GPS MP3 or MP4 player A universal translator through Google PC tablet or iPad Swiss Army knife complete with a 2GB USB flash drive and LED flashlight.

Check a variety of airports. You may have cheaper options within a reasonable distance.

Generally, it is cheaper to fly Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday.

Check a variety of airports. You may have cheaper options within a reasonable distance.

Some people are better than others at finding ways to collect and use frequent flyer miles. You'll find unbiased information on a forum called FlyerTalk.

If you subscribe to a frequent flyer program, sign up for promo codes. Promo codes can lead to savings of 10-50%.

Keep in touch with airlines via social networking. They have been known to tweet amazing deals.

You can bargain with a hotel for your room rate. Sixteen students at Columbia University did it as part of a research project - and every one of them got a discount, anywhere from 5-32%.

Hotel loyalty programs reward patrons with free nights, discounts, and special privileges. And those rewards can be used at any of the hotels in the chain. For instance, The Hilton has 10 distinct brands, including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Hotels, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and Homewood Suites. While in India, the Oberoi Hotels & Resorts also have the Vilas properties which are distinct luxury experiences.

You can book a room at up to 60% off, if you are willing to do it through an opaque site such as Hotwire, Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels, or Priceline. The only catch is that you will not know which hotel you have booked until after you have paid. Consumer advocates have tried every trick in the book to match prices from these three sites, with no luck.

Sign up on as many travel websites as possible. Also, don't forget to surf regularly for the deals that you're looking for. On one day, for example, TravelGuru.com listed the following deals:

A package deal of 4N/5D to the exotic Andamans starting from Rs. 16,280. Save 50% on rooms at The Resort, Mumbai.

Beware of Hidden Hotel Fees

Before you book a hotel, read the fine print. Here are some of the traps to look out for:

If a hotel offers golf, tennis, or hiking trails, it may add between Rs. 1000 - Rs. 2000 per day to your bill - whether you use the amenities or not.

If you use the mini-bar, you may incur a “restocking” fee of Rs. 150- Rs. 500 on top of the excessive cost of the snacks and drinks.

Extra fees for early check-in and late departure have been increasing. And if you do arrive early or leave late and need to store your luggage, be prepared to pay per bag. (Such fees can often be waived if you participate in the hotel's loyalty program.)

Make sure you understand the hotel's cancellation policy. Some have increased the time from 24 hours to 72.

Room service may have a mandatory 10-15% (the percent can change in different countries) tip added, in addition to the (approx. 5% in India) service tax. But in India, if the bill already has a service charge included, you don't need to give an additional tip.

You may have to pay to send a fax or access Wi-Fi.

Stress-Free Travel-It's All About Planning Ahead

Do your research. Know everything you can about your destination. You don't want to be surprised by unexpected weather, rules and regulations, exchange rates, or arrival/departure taxes.

Prepare a list of emergency information that you can leave with someone back home. This should include your itinerary, as well as contact names/numbers for every place that you will be staying.

Make sure that you have all required immunizations.

Get your passport and visas organized a few months before your trip. To avoid potential red tape, check the requirements for each country you will be visiting.

Buy a back-up memory card for your camera.

Buy a small notebook to take with you. On the first page, list the addresses of friends you may want to write to while you're away.

Make copies of your travel documents, credit cards, and ID. Plan to tuck those copies away in your luggage… just in case.

Take the correct currency with you. Traveller's checks are not welcome everywhere, and access to banks may be limited.

If you are going to rent a car, make sure that your driver's license will be valid.

If you are on prescription medication, take enough with you to cover unexpected travel delays.

Look into getting travel medical insurance. If you already have a policy, review the fine print.

Don't overpack. Put the clothes you think you will need in a neat pile - then remove 50% of them. This is easy to do if you keep your wardrobe simple. Just two colours and two or three pairs of shoes.

A very good reason to keep your baggage to a minimum (aside from not having to lug around a lot of unnecessary stuff): Some airlines will hit you hard for it. The fare may be a bargain, but you can pay as much as $100 (approx. Rs. 6,000) for the privilege of taking an extra piece of luggage. In India, for domestic travel each extra kg of weight in your baggage is billed.

Don't expect similar levels of service if you are travelling off the beaten path. Sometimes, adventure and charm are more important.

It may seem “touristy,” but consider hiring a guide or booking a bus tour. It can help you discover the hidden gems in a city.

How to Find the Best Deals Available TODAY

So… how do you go about finding a real travel bargain?

Right now, let's walk through the process - using ClearTrip.com, one of the top travel search engines.

Step 1: Go to the ClearTrip website-and you are immediately attracted to an ad from Indigo.

Indigo's latest ultra-limited time airfare promotion, “IndiGo Exclusive: Lower than low fares” discounts seasonal flights, but only if booked at least 90 days before departure. Fares start at Rs. 1,800 one-way (Rs. 3600 round-trip).

Let's say you are interested in a trip from Mumbai to Jaipur. You've vacationed in Jaipur many times in the past and have made the trip on Indigo several times. For details on prices for available dates, ClearTrip provides you with a link to the Indigo website. You put it on hold, deciding to come back later. The next day you find all seats booked up.

Lesson learned: With deals like this, you have to be ready to make decisions quickly.

Step 2: Working with the same Mumbai-to-Jaipur itinerary, you can check what else ClearTrip can come up with. This time, enter preferred dates and the destination - and ClearTrip will give you results from other airlines too. Depending on the airline, you can now find seats for the same date with similar timings like the Indigo flight. Your search will now bring up more flights with comparable rates to the Indigo one.

Not bad, considering you're still paying the same amount.

Step 3: Sticking with ClearTrip.com, you click on the various combination deals that are available when you book both hotels and airlines through the same site.

There is quite a variation in ClearTrip's results. Using the same travel dates, at a chosen hotel, may show you a much better airline rate as well.

Your ability to compare travel rates is now as easy as a click of the mouse.

Step 4: You can now also look at ClearTrip's other deals of the day.

The various ads on it will throw up some interesting offers that you will be glad you noticed on time.

Step 5: Book and give your credit card details only once you are completely sure. As many of these deals are non-refundable.

Bottom Line

Despite the proliferation of online options, there has been a resurgence in the use of travel agents. And, sometimes, it makes sense.

Travel agents have a wide network of connections. They know the execs at top hotels, cruise lines, and restaurants, and they have an insider's view of the way the industry works. If, for example, the 1-800 phone number you call says the hotel you were hoping to get is booked, chances are a good travel agent can access one of the rooms that are being held “just in case someone important needs it.”

But let's be clear. The value of a travel agent increases in direct proportion to the cost and specialized components of your trip.

There are travel deals to be had every day. And many excellent websites keep making it easier for you to find deals tailored to your particular needs and budget. As a result, most of the time, you'll do even better on your own.

Whatever travel paths or methods you choose, bon voyage. Your adventure awaits.

Living Rich #12: Developing a Rich Mind: How to Spend Your "Spare" Time

There are three ways to spend your spare (non-working) time. You can do something that:

1. Improves you somehow 2. Leaves you more or less the same 3. Damages or diminishes you in some way.

Look at almost any activity and you will see what I'm talking about.

On your commute to work, for example, you have a fair amount of “free” time. You can spend that time getting aggravated about traffic, laughing at idiotic conversations on talk radio, or listening to an audiotape on some subject you care about - maybe a course on how to speak a foreign language.

Getting agitated about the dimwit in front of you who's driving with his turn signal on will harm you. It will upset you. It will drain your energy. And that will make you less capable of doing good work when you arrive at the office.

Listening to talk radio may amuse you. And if it does, time will pass quickly. That can feel like a benefit if you view your commute as time to kill. But killing time is never a good idea unless you are in pain.

Spending your commute listening to and repeating Spanish phrases might not sound like a lot of fun. But if learning Spanish, or any other language, is a goal of yours, you will certainly feel better about yourself by the time you arrive at work.

You see what I mean. When it comes to our free time, we have choices: spend it wisely, wastefully, or self-destructively. Choose one.

We have these three options every minute of every day that we are not working or sleeping. For simplicity's sake, I am assuming you have eight hours of non-sleeping time outside of work each day. That amounts to 480 choices (eight hours multiplied by 60 minutes) per day.

I started to read Mark Ford and mused-“This guy sounds like Michael Masterson.” Was I surprised to learn he was one and the same!

It's like being reunited with an old friend. Mark, keep up the good work; I look forward to each and every thing issued by Wealth Builders Club. Member N. W. Free time, of course, does not present itself in discrete minute-by-minute blocks. But there are still many, many choices. The average person spends four to six hours per day watching TV or amusing himself with video games.

Add to that commuting time, time spent sitting around waiting for something to happen, time spent doing stupid things you don't have to do - it adds up quickly.

Even four wasted hours per day equals 28 hours per week or more than 2,000 hours per year. That is enough time to write a book, compose a symphony, build a cottage, or acquire competency in any two complex skills (e.g., playing a musical instrument, speaking a foreign language, becoming a public speaker, learning how to write advertising copy, etc.).

I'm talking about free time, but it's not really free at all. It is a limited and very precious commodity. How you use it determines how richly you live.

You cannot ignore your free time. You cannot pretend it doesn't matter. You have to accept your responsibility for it and decide: Will you kill it, use it to kill you, or invest in it to make your life richer?

I first wrote about this 15 years ago. Since then, I've tried repeatedly to make good choices. It isn't easy, for reasons I'll explain in a moment. But one thing that has helped me make the right decision was to name my options.

The idea: If I am going to make a bad choice, at least I should have the courage to call it bad.

Self-Destructive Habits

I tell people who don't know me that I never met a self-destructive habit I didn't like. If you aren't attracted to self-destruction, you have no idea what I'm talking about. Or maybe you have self-destructive habits but refuse to recognize them. A self-destructive habit is anything you do that makes you intellectually, morally, emotionally, or materially poorer.

Gorging on junk food is a self-destructive pastime. And however brilliant I have felt while I was doing it, I always felt that much worse afterward. Same goes for drinking rum and getting into arguments… or staying up late watching mindless television. The criterion isn't how I feel at the time but how these things leave me feeling later on.

There are many behaviours that we might all agree are self-destructive. Some of those I've mentioned could be put on the list. But - legalities aside - the ultimate judgment about what is self-destructive is a personal one. Only you know whether a particular behaviour makes you feel better or worse, healthier or sicker, richer or poorer.

The good news is that knowing whether any particular option is self-destructive or not is easy. Just pay attention to how you feel about it the next day.

Zombie Pastimes

There are many pleasant ways to kill time. Many, many more than there were when I was a kid. In my teenage years, television was a boring, black-and-white affair. Other than Saturday mornings, there was nothing worth my attention. Nowadays, we all have an infinite number of options when it comes to amusing ourselves. But many - if not most- of those options don't do us any good.

They entertain us. They divert us. They pass the time. But they don't make us better in any way. In fact, studies have shown that extended TV watching, for example, puts our brains into a kind of zombie zone that lasts long after the TV is turned off.

I like my zombie pastimes. I like watching mixed martial arts, listening to Howard Stern, and playing solitaire. I like drinking tequila and smoking cigars. I like eating hamburgers. I like my zombie pastimes especially when I am tired or sad or disappointed.

They seem to beckon to me, promising to soothe me. And they do, for a while. But after an hour (or four) of zombie time, I never feel better. I feel more or less the same but a little ashamed of myself.

Enriching Behaviour

Our third option is the obvious winner: choosing an activity that somehow improves you, leaving you feeling (or actually being) wiser, smarter, more understanding, happier, healthier, stronger, etc.

So why is it that we don't always choose enriching options when deciding how to spend our free time?

The reason has to do with energy. Enriching behaviour takes more of it. It takes more energy, for example, to practice my French horn than to play solitaire. I don't know why that is, but it is.

And if it requires, say, 100 milligrams of mental energy to play the French horn for 15 minutes, it takes 1,000 milligrams of mental energy to will myself to open up my case, blow the spit out of the valves, and put the mouthpiece to my lips. Again, I don't know why that is, but it is a fact of life.

Enriching behaviour is also less addictive. I've put at least 40 hours into studying Italian and so far have felt not a single impulse to continue. Each practice session requires willpower to initiate and energy to push through. I do think I know why that is. Practicing Italian is stressful for me because it is difficult. And it is difficult because I am not good at it.

Making the Right Choice

We have three choices. And as long as we are honest with ourselves, we know which one is the right one. The trouble is we don't always have the energy to do it.

Driving to work, your energy stores may be low because you have not yet done anything active. Driving home from work, your energy stores may be depleted. You are in the car and you have a choice.

You can listen to that new language CD, you can listen to Jeeturaj on the radio, or you can… I don't know, keep glancing at your odometer to see if you can catch it rolling over into the next set of multiple zeroes.

You know you should be doing the language CD, but you just don't feel like it. So what do you do?

There are many answers to that question. But here's what I do when I find that I'm going to be stuck behind the wheel for a fairly long period of time. (I don't drive to work.) I make a deal with myself. Practice language for five minutes, I tell myself, and then you can listen to radio for the rest of the trip.

I have convinced myself that I can do anything for five minutes - even hold my head underwater. (Four minutes and five seconds is my record.) So I do the five minutes. And most of the time, something marvelous happens. After about two minutes, my stress level drops considerably. After another minute or two, I find that I'm actually enjoying the work.

This doesn't happen all the time, but it happens most of the time. So my five minutes of enrichment turn into 10 minutes and then into 15 minutes. Sometimes they last the entire trip.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #13: Developing a Rich Mind: Buying Happiness

In the first part of this series of essays - Living Rich - we talked about how to get the most for the money you spend on material goods. Now - in Developing a Rich Mind - we are going to be talking not about things, but about experiences.

Many times, the things/experiences that give us the greatest joy really are free. (We'll be talking specifics in future essays.) But money is often involved. And when that's the case, we have to weigh the cost of the thing/experience against the pleasure we will get from it. One example: owning a home.

In Automatic Wealth, I argued that one of the most important things you can do to become rich was to get off the “moving-on-up train” and be satisfied with the house you have.

This conclusion was based on two observations. First, your house - although usually the most expensive thing you will buy in your lifetime-is an imperfect investment. As the center of your family's universe, it is likely that you will spend money on it that won't provide market-level returns.

Plus, the costs associated with owning a house go well beyond the cost of the house itself. They include taxes, insurance, and upkeep (which rise in direct relationship to the cost of the house). They also include things that you would normally consider separate line items - e.g., schooling, vacations, and furniture.

By keeping the house you have and investing the money you would have spent to “move up,” you will end up far richer over 10 or more years.

That is a matter of dollars and cents. But there is another reason to follow this advice - an interesting psychological fact that I recently became aware of by reading a good book titled Happy Money.

The book's authors, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, compare spending $200,000 on a house to spending the same amount of money on a flight into outer space. On the face of it, spending $200,000 (Rs. 12,000,000) on a six-minute space flight might seem crazy. And even crazier if you aren't wealthy and could have bought a house with that money.

But research, they say, suggests this is not necessarily true. “Remarkably, there is almost no evidence that buying a home - or a newer, nicer home-increases happiness.”

Moreover, they argue that spending the money on the space trip would provide more long-term satisfaction.

How can that be?

Home Ownership and Happiness

“Between 1991 and 2007,” Dunn and Norton tell us, “researchers tracked thousands of people in Germany who moved to a new house because there was something about their old house they didn't like. Immediately after settling into their new abodes, these movers reported being much more satisfied with their new homes than they'd been with their old ones.”

As time passed, satisfaction with the new house did not diminish all that much. But what was remarkable was that the purchase of a new home did nothing at all to increase their satisfaction with their lives. “Their overall happiness didn't improve at all.”

In another study, researchers found that a group of Harvard students who were lucky enough to get rooms in the dorms they wanted were no happier with their overall school experience than students who had to settle for lodging they initially didn't like.

As recently as 2011, 90% of Americans said they believed home ownership to be a “central component of the American dream.” Yet in study after study, home ownership does not seem to correlate to happiness.

To understand what's going on here, Dunn and Norton suggest the following mental exercise:

Think of purchases you've made with the goal of increasing your own happiness. Consider one purchase that was a material thing, a tangible object that you could keep, like a piece of jewelry or furniture, some clothing, or a gadget. Now think about a purchase you made that gave you a life experience-perhaps a trip, a concert, or a special meal. If you are like most people, remembering the experience brings to mind friends and family, sights and smells.

According to one study cited in the book, 57% of the participants said that the experiential purchase made them happier. Other studies show that even when people spend only a few dollars, they get more lasting pleasure from buying an experience as opposed to a thing.

A Curious Discovery

Another interesting discovery that came from Dunn and Norton's research is that sometimes even an unpleasant experience can provide happiness afterward. They cite studies in which people on trips reported that they were having a less-than- enjoyable time. But when asked about the trips later, they remembered them as being good.

I love this newsletter. I love your examples, your word about charity, and your style of writing. You have started my day full of energy. Subscriber Naren R. This makes sense to me. I have several times competed in national grappling meets. My nervousness prior to the events and the actual experience of fighting was anything but fun. But I have drawn enormous pleasure from remembering and recounting these experiences.

This was also true of the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The experience itself was excruciating. Yet I enjoy the memory of it more with each passing year.

My two years in West Africa was half pleasure and half pain. But thinking about it has provided me with a great deal of happiness over the 30 years since then.

Veterans often remember their wartime experiences nostalgically. Nostalgia turns out to be a very beneficial emotion, some scientists say. It allows us to convert difficult times into positive memories. And that helps us cope with tough times ahead.

It seems, then, that the actual pleasure you get from an experience is not the most important criterion for determining its ultimate value. The criterion seems to be one of intensity. The more challenging the experience, the more happiness it brings.

The bottom line: Experiences provide more happiness than material goods.

There are many reasons why this is so. For one thing, experiences tend to involve most, if not all, of the senses. Another reason: Experiences often bring you in contact with other people. Most importantly, perhaps, experiences-especially intense ones-tend to stay in your memory for a long time.

When Cornell University researchers asked groups of people to discuss purchases with one another, the groups that discussed experiential purchases reported enjoying their conversations more than those that talked about material goods.

Another series of studies focused on feelings about trips and vacations. Generally, people remembered having had more fun than they'd reported having during the experience itself. And the further back in time the experience was, the more happiness they remembered.

Thinking About My Own Experiences

In my 30s and 40s, I had a very different view of this. I felt that money spent on vacations was largely wasted because the experience itself was finite. I thought it made much better sense to spend $10,000 (Rs 600,000) on a used car or a handful of gold coins than on a family trip.

My good friend Eddie agreed with me. But his wife Barbra and my wife had a very different idea. They thought money spent on trips to Europe was a good investment. And so we went. Year after year, for more than a decade.

Looking back now, I can see that they were right. I value those trips not just for the good times I remember, but also for what I learned during our travels and (most especially) for how it deepened our mutual friendship.

For more than 20 years, K and I have sponsored a sort of extended family reunion. We call it “cousin camp.” We pick a destination where about 40 of us congregate to have an adventure for several days or a week. These camps have become increasingly expensive over the years. Nowadays, each one costs us considerably more than $100,000 (Rs 6,000,000).

My former self would have thought that it would have been smarter to invest that money in some tangible assets and perhaps divvy up those assets among those same people. But I don't feel that way. And neither, I think, do the family members who have been enjoying this experience.

Relative Values

An interesting issue not addressed in Dunn and Norton's Happy Money is this: Is there a relationship between how much you pay for an experience and how much happiness you get from it?

Since I have no studies from which to draw conclusions, I will research my memory banks instead.

Off the cuff, I think these are the 10 experiences that have given me the greatest overall happiness:

Romancing my wife Having and raising our children A dozen European trips with Eddie and Barbra Poetry classes with Harriet Zinnes Learning and practicing Jiu Jitsu My two years in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro The 20-year conversation I've been having with my friend Jeff Writing books, stories, poetry-even a few memos Teaching students, employees, conference attendees, etc.

The most expensive of these experiences were the European vacations. Each of them cost, on average, about $10,000 (Rs 600,000). Next would be the trip to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro. That was about $6,000 (Rs 360,000). I spent several hundred dollars per month on Jiu Jitsu lessons. Everything else on my list cost me little or nothing.

Now, if I were to make a list of the material purchases I've most enjoyed, it would include my present house, several of my cars, my art collection, and certainly my cigars. I can't say that the pleasure I've gotten from these things measures up to the pleasure I've gotten from my experiential purchases.

Thank you so much for the invaluable information we receive from Mark! We've been given new hope for our futures and have put to good use the information we receive. We are having fun and building income sources at the same time. Keep the information coming! Subscriber S E. But when I think about them more carefully, I realize that the material purchases that gave me the greatest pleasure were much more than things to me. They were in their own way experiences.

The cars I most enjoyed, for example, were the old cars I restored and drove on special occasions. The reason I love my house so much is because it has been an ongoing project of restoration and improvements.

Likewise, art for me is not just an investment. My art collection crowds every room I live and work in. I have spent countless hours admiring those objects.

So I think the argument that Dunn and Norton make in Happy Money is a solid one. Money spent on experiences, by and large, can be well spent if the criterion you are judging them by is how much happiness they give you during your lifetime.

Conclusion

What can we take from this?

First - that it is a mistake to think as I did when I was a young man. Just because experiences end doesn't mean that the pleasure they provide ends. The opposite seems to be true, at least with intense experiences. In general, they seem to provide more happiness than the purchase of material things.

Second - that the satisfaction you have with the purchase of material goods is not directly related to happiness. You may feel that the purchase of a house or boat or car was a good one, yet it might not add a drop of happiness to your life.

Third - that the amount of money you spend on an experience has nothing to do with the amount of happiness you draw from it. Many experiences that cost nothing can produce abundant, lifelong dividends.

To have a rich life, you need a rich mind. And the rich mind recognizes that spending money on things will not automatically add to its lifetime store of happiness. It prefers to spend money on experiences, recognizing that very little money needs to be spent. But it also recognizes that when money is spent on a material object, that object can bring happiness if it is used and enjoyed over time.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #14: Developing a Rich Mind: Richness From Movies

There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “Pearls don't lie on the seashore. If you want one, you have to dive for it.”

In this series on the rich mind, I've been applying this observation to the way we choose to spend our time - at work and at play.

I've argued that to enjoy a full, rewarding life, you must spend your work time focusing on projects you value, and your leisure time on activities that somehow improve you as a person.

For example, in my essay on literature I pointed out how some novels - think Danielle Steele or John Grisham - are easy to read and loads of fun (if you like that sort of thing), but provide no lasting pleasures. You read them quickly, caught up in the plot or amused by certain well-drawn characters. But then you put the books down and forget about them. You've invested time into them and you've gotten a return on your investment, but the return was very modest.

Compare that experience to reading Sophie's Choice or Lolita, books that are more “difficult.” Such books challenge you on every level. The authors' writing styles are more sophisticated. Their plots are less conventional. Their characters are more complex and/or fluid, like people tend to be in real life. And there are ideas presented throughout the story - ideas that often test your convictions and notions and beliefs.

For lack of a more precise term, we categorize more challenging books (and music and art) as “better.” But what makes one book or symphony or painting better than another?

I've said that there are three qualities that are usually present in “better” literature and music and art: complexity, subtlety, and emotional power.

Think about that for a moment. Complexity. Subtlety. Emotional power. Dealing with complexity requires a sharp mind. Dealing with subtlety requires attentive eyes and ears. Taking in something that has emotional power requires emotional resilience.

By “complexity,” I don't mean complicated. I don't mean, for example, a book with a plot line that has 17 different threads running through it. I mean that there is something in the work that goes deeper than the surface and encompasses more than the obvious.

Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea has a very simple plot line: A poor fisherman goes out to sea, catches a huge fish, and is unable to get it back to shore before it is decimated by sharks. But the story itself is so much more than that. By the time you've finished reading this very slim book, you feel like you understand in some deep way not only this man, but also something more about poverty and nobility and human grace.

By subtlety, I mean something like the opposite of obvious. I mean that the subject matter is treated with delicacy and precision. The artist/writer/composer is not satisfied with presenting the obvious. He wants to convey the complexity he sees in his subject matter in an understated way. He does this so the viewer/reader/listener can discover the complexity on his own.

The third criterion, emotional power, denotes something more than the capacity to provoke an immediate emotional response (fear/pity/sympathy). The objective-if you can say that there is an objective - is to elicit a response that is both deep and enduring. To leave the viewer/reader/listener a slightly different person than he was before.

It is, for example, impossible to read Lolita without coming away from it troubled by your sympathy for the main character who is, by any definition, a pedophile.

In discussing art, literature, and music I've said that you can make your mental/emotional life richer by choosing to spend your leisure time with works that have complexity, subtlety, and emotional power.

The same is true for movies. (In this essay, I'm going to focus on movies - but everything I say will apply equally well to TV shows.)

Most movies - certainly most movies made in Hollywood (or Bollywood for that matter) - are made to be fast-paced and fun to watch. Whether it's a thriller starring Harrison Ford or a comedy starring Adam Sandler, the producer's goal is to sell tickets.

This is true even for many movies that win awards. Take the most obvious relatively recent example: Titanic. It was a major motion picture that won 11 Academy Awards. You don't need to be a film snob to see that Titanic had near-zero complexity, zero subtlety, and that any emotional power it had was the kind Hallmark greeting cards are known for.

You may have liked Titanic. But liking a movie is not necessarily a criterion for judging its ability to enrich you.

Movies, like food, come in many degrees of quality. Some movies are like junk food - they provide temporary satisfaction. But that satisfaction sometimes turns to other emotions (regret, guilt, anger) after you have indulged. And a steady diet of such fare will leave your mind flabby.

Good movies, like good books, do more than tell stories. They provoke your thinking, challenging you to go deeper and further with ideas than you otherwise might. They inflame your aesthetic sensibility, even if you never thought you had one. And when they are very good, they can change or deepen your perspective… and, in doing so, enrich your life.

That said, here are five lists of movies that I strongly recommend. Keep in mind these lists are based on the movies I've seen, which represents only a fraction of the good movies out there.

My Top 20 Older Movies in English

All About Eve Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans Casablanca The Maltese Falcon The Wizard of Oz The Bridge on the River Kwai To Kill a Mockingbird Rear Window The Third Man Vertigo Psycho Some Like It Hot Sunset Boulevard Gone With the Wind The African Queen Double Indemnity Rebel Without a Cause City Lights Frankenstein Lawrence of Arabia

My Top 20 Modern Movies in English

The Godfather, Part I Pulp Fiction Apocalypse Now The Conversation Bonnie and Clyde Taxi Driver Schindler's List Five Easy Pieces The Deer Hunter Reservoir Dogs Slum Dog Millionaire Amadeus The French Connection The Graduate Jaws One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest American Graffiti Easy Rider Goodfellas The Godfather, Part II

My Top 10 Recent (Since 2000) Movies in English

The King's Speech Her Argo The Artist Midnight in Paris The Social Network Searching for Sugar Man A Separation Winter's Bone Crash

My Top 10 Foreign Films

La Dolce Vita (Italian) 8½ (Italian) Breathless (French) M (German) The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (French) The Seven Samurai (Japanese) My Night at Maud's (French) The 400 Blows (French) Flowers of Shanghai (Chinese) The Bicycle Thief (Italian)

My Top 10 Recent (Since 2000) Foreign Films

The Hunt (Danish) Amour (French) The Baader Meinhof Complex (German) Departures (Japanese) The Lives of Others (German) The Sea Inside (Spanish) Amélie (French) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Chinese) Tsotsi (South African) Footnote (Israeli)

WBC India has put together lists from some of India's most classic movies both regional and Hindi. We have deliberately stayed away from the typical Blockbuster 100-crore plus films and have chosen a few that we believe represent Mark's ideas and go beyond entertainment. Most of these movies are representative of their times and challenge conventional thought.

These movies are a random selection from our research online, but we encourage you to build your own lists and share suggestions with readers on the WBC Forum too.

Top 10 Regional Films (Older)

Pather Panchali (Bengali) Meghe Dhaka Tara (Bengali) Apur Sansar (Bengali) Charulata (Bengali) Sant Tukaram (Marathi) Gad Ala Pan Sinha Gela (Marathi) Ghatashraddha (Kannada) Garam Hawa (Urdu) Elippathayam (Malayalam) Sarada (Malayalam)

Top 10 Regional Films (Recent)

Iruvar (Tamil) Chokher Bali (Bengali) Classmates (Malayalam) Vaaname Ellai - The Sky is the Limit (Tamil) Anjali (Tamil / Hindi) The Terrorist (Tamil / Hindi) Mai (Bhojpuri) Hamaar Bhauji (Bhojpuri) Shwaas (Marathi) Natrang (Marathi)

Top 20 Hindi Films (Older)

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro Sholay Pakeezah Mughal-e-Azam Anand Andaz Pyaasa Mother India Arth Shatranj ke Khiladi Saransh Guide Prem Rog Deewar Kaagaz ke Phool Madhumati Mera Naam Joker Safar Kal Aaj aur Kal Ardh Satya

Top 20 Hindi Films (Recent)

Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenge Lage Raho Munnabhai 3 Idiots Taare Zameen Par Gangs of Wasseypur I and II Kai Poche Swades The Lunchbox Slumdog Millionaire Sarfarosh Queen Rockstar A Wednesday Lagaan Rang De Basanti Monsoon Wedding Bandit Queen Kala Pani Dil Chahta Hai Salaam Bombay

You can easily develop your own “Top 10” or “Top 20” lists. And I urge you to do it. Start with my lists or get on the Internet to find some others. Don't be surprised when you find that most of these lists overlap. There's a reason why some movies are consistently rated at the top. It is because they are - compared to the average movie - more complex, subtle, and emotionally powerful.

Then set some time aside to watch these movies, one after the other. Don't feel compelled to like them just because other people do. And don't feel compelled to watch any movie all the way through. Give it at least 20 minutes. If you're not involved by then, go on to the next movie.

The idea is to be your own judge. But the criteria should not be how “easy” or “fun” it was to watch a particular movie, but how it affected you afterward. Did it give you a new view on some aspect of life? Did it teach you something interesting that helps you understand how things work? Did it stimulate your thinking?

The goal is to build your own list of movies that you can watch again and again… getting more out of them each and every time you do.

Best, Mark

Resources for Indian movie lists - Get ideas from here and make your own hit lists:

http://filmschoolwtf.com/best-bollywood-movies/ http://www.ndtv.com/photos/entertainment/india-s-20-greatest-films-1124/slide/20 http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/at-their-regional-best/article2343088.ece http://www.quora.com/Which-are-some-of-the-most-underrated-regional-language-films-in-India http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Film_Award_for_Best_Feature_Film_in_Tamil http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054751902/ http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jul/25/10-classics-indian-cinema-centenary

Living Rich #15: Making Our Lives Golden: The Choices We Have

Now that our last child is about to leave home, K and I are talking about getting television service. For about 20 years, we have been without it. The idea was that our children would become better readers without the distraction - and that objective was achieved. All three of our boys are voracious and skillful readers.

But now, as empty nesters, we are thinking that it would be kind of fun to watch some shows together - to spend an hour after dinner, sitting next to one another, laughing at the same things.

To test this hypothesis, we jimmy-rigged an antenna connection for the television set that we've been using to play DVDs.

The results of that experiment were mixed. There was something wonderful about watching those programs together - the double pleasure of the experience itself and knowing that your mate is “getting it” too. But when it was over, we found ourselves feeling like we used to when we watched television - a little sad and empty inside. As if we were mourning the time we'd lost.

That got me thinking about how people spend their recreational time - how much time they devote to it, the things they do, and whether the time they spend is spent wisely.

Broadly speaking, you fill your day with four kinds of activities: working, sleeping, eating, and relaxing. And it seems logical to assert that - up to the point of mental or physical exhaustion - the more hours you spend working, the more successful you'll be.

That said, we must acknowledge that all work and no play makes Jack a dull… or cranky… boy.

You do need some recreation. The question is: How much?

The answer to that is pretty simple. Just ask yourself how far you want to go in life. How smart you want to be. How high you want to rise in your industry. How much money you want to make.

What accomplishments you want to achieve.

Determine how ambitious you are… and then find out how many hours of work were done per day by people who have already achieved what you want to achieve. Unless you are exceptionally gifted (or exceptionally slow), chances are you will have to work about as hard (i.e., as many hours) as they did.

Take the number of hours you sleep and eat and add to that the number of hours successful people in your industry typically work. Subtract that from 24, and you will be left with the number of hours you can safely devote to recreation.

But there is another question that must be asked: Does the kind of recreational activities you engage in make a difference? Does it matter whether you are sitting in front of the TV watching some show or lifting weights or playing a musical instrument?

In general, there are three ways you can occupy yourself during down time. You can amuse yourself with activities that, though fun, are harmful (like getting drunk). You can busy yourself with mindless distractions (like junky novels). Or you can choose to do something that requires a bit more energy but will give you both a high degree of pleasure and the knowledge that you have somehow improved yourself (like practicing yoga).

It seems to me that whether it is the work we do, the sports we play, the vacations we take… we have the same three choices. We can do something that:

Improves us somehow Leaves us more or less the same Damages us in some way

Look at almost any activity, and you will see what I'm talking about. In the books you read. In the friends you keep. In the jobs you take. You name it. Some choices will improve you and some will damage you… but most will fall somewhere in the neutral zone: They won't harm you. But they won't help you either.

If we fill our lives with mediocre experiences - does that make sense?

Every day, we are given dozens of choices - from which foods to eat to which parts of the newspaper to read to which words to say in any given conversation. Many of these choices seem to be insignificant. But when you string them all together, they determine the quality of our lives.

At the lowest end of the scale, there's the person who spends his time using drugs or stealing to pay for his addiction. At the highest end of the scale - well, I don't really know who that is. But when I think of rich guys in limos or holy men on mountains… that just doesn't work.

Most of us live in the middle ground, mixing quality experiences with neutral ones while trying not to harm ourselves… but doing so anyway. We recognize that some of the choices we make are better than others, but we don't always have the willpower to make the better ones.

It's interesting, isn't it? The best choices are often the hardest to choose… because they require more of our energy. The worst choices are usually the easiest to refuse… because we are frightened by them. But when we have experienced them and found them to be pleasurable, they have the greatest pull on us. The neutral choices - the actions that do little more than get the job done - are the most popular because they are relatively easy and benign. They don't require much energy and they don't leave us hurting.

If there is one thing that life gives us all in equal portion, it is the hours in a day. Everyone has 24. We can't determine (with any certainty) how many total hours will be allotted to us, but we can decide how to spend those that we have.

As I pointed out earlier, the more time you spend working, the more successful you're likely to be. But I acknowledged that even the most ambitious and hardest workers need to take at least a few hours out of their day to do something that gives them pleasure. Something that isn't work.

The question then becomes, “What should that 'something' be?”

Think of the best choices - the ones that improve you - as Golden. Think of the neutral choices - the ones that just help you pass the time - as Vaporous. And think of the worst choices - the ones that damage you - as Acidic.

It's up to you how much Gold, Vapor, and Acid you are going to have in your life.

When I think of my own choices - good, bad, and neutral - I notice that they have the following characteristics:

Golden Choices

My best experiences tend to be with activities that are intellectually challenging and emotionally engaging. Because they demand a lot from me, I shy away from them when I am low in energy. But when I do get into them, they build my energy and, thus, make it easier to continue. When I am through with a Golden activity, I feel good about myself and content with how I have spent my time.

Vaporous Choices

These activities are easy to slip into and easier, too, to stay involved with. They are the choices we make when we don't feel like making choices. The time we spend when we don't much care how we spend our time. Welcome to the Vapor zone, the neutral, happy world of playing cards and soap operas and gossip.

When I'm ready for some relaxation, my first impulse is always to choose a Vaporous activity. Having “worked hard all day,” I want something simple and mindless so I can gear down. And most people would probably say the same thing. Getting into the Vapor zone is easy - and staying there is easier still.

The big problem with Vaporous activities - and this is a very big problem for me - is that they leave me feeling enervated instead of energized. And empty. Vaporous activities do for me what Vaporous foods (i.e., comfort foods) do: They fill me up but tire me out.

Acidic Choices

Everybody has vices. At one time or another, I've had just about all of them. I have never smoked crack, but I've done plenty of other things to destroy, reduce, or disable myself.

Why I do those things, I can only guess. Sometimes I think I need the challenge of surviving self-imposed obstacles. Whatever my reasons, the result of making those choices is the same. I get a dull pleasure that is mixed with a barely discernable level of pain. Even when the pleasure is intense, it is clouded by a foggy brain. It feels like I'm having a great time… but I am not sure. And if the actual experience of Acidic activities is mixed, the feeling afterward is not at all ambivalent.

It is bad.

The interesting thing about Acidic options is how attractive they can be. Nobody would argue that they are good choices. We pick them because we are too weak to pick anything else, and we use what little mind we have left to rationalize our self-destruction.

Let's Take a Closer Look at These 3 Categories

When we are at our best - confident and full of energy - we can easily choose Golden activities over all the rest. When we are feeling just okay, we can usually reject Acidic choices but find it hard to opt for Golden moments over Vaporous ones. And when we are at our worst - low in energy and full of doubt - that is when we are most susceptible to making Acidic choices.

Golden activities include:

Meditation

Yoga

Watching an educational and inspiring documentary

Listening to complex, uplifting music

Appreciating art

Watching a really, really good movie

Reading a very good book

Tasting a really good wine

Vaporous activities include:

Getting a massage

Going to a sporting event

Watching most “entertaining” TV (like CID, Comedy with Kapil, etc.)

Reading “beach” novels and page-turners

Listening to most mood music, including most rock 'n' roll

Drinking beer or whiskey

Acidic activities include:

Getting drunk

Listening to popular music

Watching stupid/degrading TV shows (like Big Boss, Roadies, etc)

Doing things you'd be ashamed to talk about

You may not agree with some of these designations. Not to worry. You can (and should) make your own list. But in creating that list, consider the following:

When Choosing Gold…

The activity/experience is intellectually challenging. It teaches you something worth knowing or develops a skill worth having.

It is emotionally deepening. It helps you understand something you hadn't understood before and/or makes you sympathetic to experiences and/or situations you were closed to.

It is energizing. The experience itself charges you up spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. You have greater strength and more endurance because of it.

It leaves you happy with your choice. During the experience and afterward, you have a strong sense that you are doing the right thing.

It builds confidence. Because you know that you are improving yourself, choosing Gold makes you feel better able to make wise choices in the future.

When Choosing Vapor…

The activity/experience is intellectually and emotionally easy. It feels comfortable and comfortably enjoyable. You have done it before and it amused you, so you are sure that if you do it again you will be equally amused.

It is usually passive rather than active. It is watching TV rather than going to a stage play. It is getting a massage rather than practicing yoga. It is chugging a beer rather than savoring a good wine.

It tends to be habit forming. Because it feels good (in a medium-energy sort of way) and is so easy to do, you find yourself doing it over and over again.

Doing too much of it is not good for you. Whether it's eating starch and fat or sitting on the couch and staring at the TV screen, a little bit doesn't hurt. But too much leaves you with the unpleasant feeling that you've wasted your time.

When Choosing Acid…

The activity/experience is physically or mentally damaging. Often, it kills brain cells. Sometimes, it gives you cancer.

Although it is bad for you, it is alluring. There is something about the way the experience takes you out of yourself that you find appealing.

It attracts bad company. Since most healthy people don't approve of it, you find yourself doing it with another set of friends. Eventually, you reject the friends and family members who don't “get it.” They are too strait-laced to understand, so you figure you don't need them in your life.

It disables you intellectually, emotionally and physically. While engaging in Acidic activities, you are less capable of performing complex skills or dealing with complex emotional or intellectual issues. If you engage in Acidic activities a lot, you become less capable of peak performance generally.

Acidic experiences have ever-extending thresholds. What gives you a high in the beginning is never enough, later on. You have the mistaken notion that more is always better.

Will This Make a Change in the Choices You Make?

Once you've drawn up your own list of Golden, Vaporous, and Acidic activities, use it to keep track of the way you're choosing to spend your time. (A good way to do that is to make notes in your journal.) You may be surprised - and disappointed - by what you discover.

So make your own list. Track your own life. Ask yourself what you could become if - starting right now - you began making better choices.

In the meantime, I am going to have a talk with K about our tentative plans for installing cable TV in our house. I will tell her my fears:

That I will become addicted to it

That I will begin to watch the worst kind of shows

That in watching more and more Vaporous TV, I will spend less time on Golden activities

She will point out that she is content watching her three or four favorite shows on video while she is on her Stairmaster. She will tell me, “Do what you want. It makes no difference to me” - and she will mean it. Which will make me entirely responsible for figuring out how much of my free time will be Golden or Vaporous or Acidic.

What about you?

Best, Mark

Living Rich #16: Richness From Music

The Philistine believes that appreciating music requires a multi-thousand-dollar investment in a state-of-the-art sound system. The man with the rich mind understands that what determines his musical enjoyment is not the quality of the sound equipment but the quality of the music itself. By that I mean the subtlety, complexity and emotional power of the musical score combined with the technical quality of the performance.

Everyone has a right to like whatever sort of music he likes. But that doesn't mean that all music is equally capable of providing a rich auditory experience.

I do think that some forms of music are “richer” than others. The criteria are, as I suggested above, subtlety, complexity and emotional power.

If you accept those criteria it shouldn't be difficult to agree that some forms of music (i.e., classical) are generally better than others (pop). But within any individual musical genre there are some pieces that are more complex, subtle and emotionally powerful than others.

Because rich music is both complex and subtle it tends to be an acquired taste. One of my colleagues, Chris, recently told me that when he began to listen to classical music he found Johann Sebastian Bach to be “boring.” So boring, he said, that he would often fall asleep while listening to it.

But since Bach is generally considered to be a great genius, he made an effort to appreciate his work. He listened to him almost every day for months until one day something changed inside him.

The point is: if the music itself is complex, subtle and emotionally powerful, you can acquire a taste for it. And once you do acquire that taste, you can enjoy a lifetime of listening to music of many kinds.

Towards that end, I've compiled a group of “top ten” suggestions for a number of different musical types.

(In shortlisting a larger list of critically recommended favourites to ten I realized how insane “top ten” lists are. I could have easily created five top-ten lists for each category. Still, if you are looking to venture into new musical territory, these will get you started.)

Classical:

A good start would be to try the following ten recordings: Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 - the most famous piece of classical music ever written Mozart - Piano Concertos 20, 21 Beethoven - the “Pathetique” and “Moonlight” piano sonatas Bach - Brandenburg Concertos Brahms - Piano Trio No. 1 Stravinsky - Rite of Spring Schubert - “Death and the Maiden” string quartet Tchaikovsky - the “Pathetique” symphony Haydn - Lord Nelson Mass Bizet - Carmen - the world's most popular opera

Jazz:

Take the A Train - Duke Ellington My Favorite Things - John Coltrane All Blues - Miles Davis The Girl From Ipanema - Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto Sing, Sing, Sing - Benny Goodman A Night in Tunisia - Dizzy Gillespie Blue Rondo a la Turk - Dave Brubeck Stolen Moments - Oliver Nelson West End Blues - Louis Armstrong God Bless The Child - Billie Holiday

Opera:

Mozart - Marriage of Figaro Bizet - Carmen Verdi - Rigoletto Puccini - Tosca Beethoven - Fidelio Debussy - Pelleas and Melisande Janacek - Cunning Little Vixen Berg - Wozzeck Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin Massenet - Werther

Rock and Roll:

Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys Maybellene - Chuck Berry I Want to Hold Your Hand - The Beatles What'd I Say - Ray Charles My Generation - The Who A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix Hound Dog - Elvis Presley

Country:

Streets of Loredo – Burl Ives White Lightning - George Jones Stand By Your Man - Tammy Wynette Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson I Walk The Line - Johnny Cash Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford The Dance - Garth Brooks I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams, Sr. El Paso - Marty Robbins Crazy - Patsy Cline

Rhythm/Blues:

My Girl - Temptations Back to Black Amy Winehouse Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke Just To Be Close To You - The Commodores If You Don't Know Me By Now - Harold Melvin And The Bluenotes Say It Loud - James Brown When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge Little Red Corvette, Prince

Folk:

This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan City of New Orleans - Steve Goodman If I Had a Hammer - Pete Seeger Where Have All the Flowers Gone - The Kingston Trio Suzanne - Leonard Cohen The Circle Game - Joni Mitchell Don't Think Twice, It's Alright - Bob Dylan Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez Sounds of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel

These were Mark's lists of music that have an emotional, complex and subtle appeal. Keeping this criteria in mind, WBC India developed its own lists of music from different genres to give you a preview in to the rich sounds of India's musical heritage.

Classical (albums):

Call of the Valley - Pandit Shivkumaar Sharma, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Brij Bhushan Kabra Collaborations - George Harrison & Ravi Shankar Traces of You - Anoushka Shankar Jugalbandi - Hariprasad Chaurasia Davataa - Pt. Jasraj The Masterworks - Pt Kumar Gandharva Mohan's Veena - Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt Traditional Music of India - Ali Akbar Khan Global Fusion - L. Subramaniam Maestro's Choice - Bismillah Khan

Sufi:

Khwaja Mere Khwaja - A.R Rahman Kun Faya Kun - A.R Rahman, Javed Ali and Mohit Chauhan Arziya - Javed Ali Allah Ke Bande - Kailash Kher Maula Mere Maula - Roop Kumar Rathod Piya Haji Ali - Kadar Ghulam Mustafa Mann Ki Lagan - Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Ya Ali - Zubeen Garg Maula Mere - Salim Merchant, Krishna Beura Ya Rabba - Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Sameer

Ghazals:

Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo - Farida Khanum Aap Ki Yaad Aati Rahi - Abida Parveen Chupke Chupke Raat Din - Ghulam Ali Ranjish Hi Sahi - Mehdi Hassan Main Khayal Hoon Kisi Aur Ka - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Baat Niklegi Toh Phir - Jagjit Singh Zindagi Jabbhi Teri Bazm Mein - Talat Aziz Mausam Ayenge Jaayenge - Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain Apni Dhun Mein Rehta Hun: Nasir Kazmi Mein Khayal Hoon - Hariharan

Indie-pop:

Bachpan ki Badami Yadein - Ali Haider Punjab - Jasbir Jassi Circles - The Bicycle Days This Feels Right - Ujjayinee Roy In The Name Of - Abiogenesis Maye Ni - Jasleen Royal Sajni Tu Hai - Ayaz Ismail ft. Vaibhav Sheth Shiva Tandava Stotram - Archan Naina - Rock Veda This Never Happened - Plus One

India has an unlimited khazana of rich music and we have just touched upon a few names and artists. So if you exhaust this list, feel free to explore some more artists and their music with ideas from these links.

Resources:

40 Greatest Ghazal Hits Best of Ghazals Ever 100 Most Famous Ghazals Top 10 Ghazals Of All Time 17 Indie artists you need to know Artist Aloud Top 20 Indian Classical Top Albums Indian Classical Indian Classical Album Highlights Indian Classical Albums Bollywood's 10 Best Sufi Songs Top 10 Sufi Songs In Bollywood

Living Rich #17: Richness From Reading

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

I grew up in a family of readers. My mother could easily (and often did) read a book a day. My father was a Shakespearean scholar who taught speed-reading on the side. If you walked through our house on any day at any time, you'd find several people reading. Reading, we all believed, was an essential part of a rich and productive life.

I believe that still. And I will tell you why.

How Reading Can Make You Smarter

Reading makes you smarter. In fact, it makes you smarter in almost every way you can be smart.

Studies show that people who read on a regular basis have higher raw intelligence, better analytical skills, stronger perceptive powers, and perform better when it comes to intellectual challenges.

If that were not enough, reading also improves emotional intelligence. In one study, participants read excerpts from literary fiction, popular fiction, or nonfiction. A control group read nothing at all. They were then given tests that measured their “social perception”–i.e., their ability to intuit things about people based on visual and verbal clues. Those who read literary fiction scored highest. Those who read nonfiction scored second-highest. Those who read popular fiction scored third-highest. And those who didn't read came in last. Two studies conducted by York University psychologist Raymond Mar, targeting both adults and children, came to the same conclusion.

Reading also improves memory. More than a dozen studies have demonstrated that regular readers are better at recalling all sorts of details–not just in the material they read but in every area of their lives.

And it improves analytical thinking–the ability to spot patterns in complex problems and conceive solutions.

It doesn't surprise me that reading makes you smarter. What surprises me is that some people think reading is an anachronistic skill. “I watch lots of biographies on the History Channel,” one friend tells me. “I don't need to read books.”

I'll grant my friend that there are plenty of good programs on TV these days. And there is no faster way to do quick research than by using Google. But watching TV or Googling does not activate the brain as fully and effectively as reading does.

How Reading Can Make You Healthier

Anything that makes you smarter is - as far as I'm concerned - something that any person interested in a rich and rewarding life should want to do. But reading offers health benefits too.

For one thing, reading is a very effective way to overcome stress. In a British study, participants engaged in an anxiety-provoking activity and then either read for a few minutes, listened to music, or played video games. The stress levels of those who read dropped 67 percent - more than any of the other groups. And, in fact, research conducted at the University of Sussex showed that reading is better at reducing stress than listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, and even taking a walk.

A second health benefit you'll get from regular reading is a youthful brain. A study of 294 participants published in the journal Neurology found that those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities (such as reading) experienced slower memory decline. And according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, readers are less likely to have Alzheimer's disease.

“The brain is an organ just like every other organ in the body. It ages in regard to how it is used,” lead author Dr. Robert P. Friedland told USA Today. “Just as physical activity strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones, intellectual activity strengthens the brain against disease.”

Another study, reported in Prevention magazine, found that readers have a 32 percent slower rate of cognitive decline later in life.

“Brainy pursuits make the brain more efficient by changing its structure to continue functioning properly in spite of age-related neuropathologies,” Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., professor of neuropsychology at Rush University Medical Center, told the magazine.

How Reading Can Make You Kinder

Smarter and healthier - surely those are sufficient reasons to become an avid reader. But in doing my research for this book, I discovered yet another benefit. According to several studies, reading can actually make you kinder.

Researchers in the Netherlands, for example, found that people who were “emotionally transported” by a work of fiction experienced a boost in empathy.

Another study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that people who regularly read are much more likely to be engaged civically and culturally.

And yet another study, published in Creativity Research Journal, showed that people who have just read a short story have less need for “cognitive closure” than people who've just read a nonfiction essay. One hundred University of Toronto students read either one of eight short stories or one of eight essays. Then each student completed a survey measuring their emotional need for certainty and stability. Those who had read a short story had significantly lower scores than those who had read an essay. They expressed greater comfort with uncertainty and chaos - an attitude that allows for higher-level thinking and greater creativity.

Making “Rich” Choices

Some novels - think Danielle Steele or John Grisham - are easy to read and loads of fun (if you like that sort of thing), but provide no lasting pleasures. You read them quickly, caught up in the plot or amused by certain well-drawn characters. But then you put the books down and forget about them. You've invested time into them and you've gotten a return on your investment, but the return was very modest.

Compare that experience to reading Sophie's Choice or Lolita, books that are more “difficult.” Such books challenge you on every level. The authors' writing styles are more sophisticated. Their plots are less conventional. Their characters are multifaceted, like people tend to be in real life. And there are ideas presented throughout the story - ideas that often test your convictions and notions and beliefs.

You will get some of the benefits of reading - especially stress reduction - no matter what kind of books you read. But if you want a life that is richer in terms of your emotional and intellectual experience, you have to be selective in your choices. As with music and art, that means choosing books that have complexity, subtlety, and emotional power.

I don't have the space or time to recommend great books for every aspect of a rich life, so I will limit my suggestions to five categories: modern fiction, classical fiction, short stories, nonfiction, and poetry.

My recommendations are in no way meant to be definitive. As award-winning author Lloyd Alexander said, “We don't need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites. Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They're always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.”

My 10 Favorite Modern Novels

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway The Road by Cormac McCarthy True Grit by Charles Portis One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey On the Road by Jack Kerouac Sophie's Choice by William Styron Naked Lunch by William Burroughs To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My 10 Favorite Classics

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens The Tin Drum by Günter Grass Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë Moby-Dick by Herman Melville Brave New World by Aldous Huxley Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Native Son by Richard Wright

My 10 Favorite Short Story Collections

Dubliners by James Joyce A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver The Complete Short Stories of O. Henry Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe WillYou Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters by Julian Barnes Pastoralia by George Saunders

My 10 Favorite Nonfiction Books

Ten Philosophical Mistakes by Mortimer J. Adler Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt The Elements of Style by Strunk & White The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway The Essays of Michel de Montaigne In Cold Blood by Truman Capote The American Language by H.L. Mencken

My 10 Favorite Poetry Books

Shakespeare's Sonnets Selected Poems: Edna St. Vincent Millay The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg Selected Poems of Ezra Pound The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats Selected Poems by W. H. Auden The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson Love Is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski The Collected Works of Robert Penn Warren

WBC India's 10 Favourite Indian Works of English Literature

The Imam and the Indian by Amitav Ghosh The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature edited by Amit Chaudhuri A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh India: A Million Mutinies Now by V. S. Naipaul The Story Of My Experiments With The Truth by Mahatma Gandhi Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. - Confucius

Best, Mark

The Living Rich eBook

Anisa Virji Dear WBC Members,

As I have mentioned to you before, Mark has put together a series of his ideas on living rich and published it as a wonderful new book.

Living Rich eBook Now, you have already received several of these from us, and of course, the essays you received from us include specific ideas from within our Indian context. And you will always have access to those essays.

But Mark's book is still a delight to read - and I thought you would like to have a copy.

To get to your copy of the eBook click on the link below.

Living Rich: How to Live as Well as a Billionaire on a Middle-Class Budget.

Inside:

How to own a BMW at “Hyundai prices” (page 43)

“I just took delivery of my 2006 BMW 760Li. It is long, low, quiet and beautiful. Like driving on a cloud-a very fast cloud. Thanks… I will enjoy this ride for a very long time. Here are a few images… I just took my first road trip to Montana and only got 1 ticket. That car went 140 miles per hour and felt like we were going 60!” ~Ben K.

5 essential questions to ask before hiring your next general contractor (page 25)

The 4 Places a “Thrifty” Millionaire Shops for Nice Clothes (page 83)

The Cardinal Rules for Ordering Wine: Follow These 7 Guidelines at Any Restaurant, and You'll Never Be Left Wondering What to Say (page 77)

Before you spend money on your next “home improvement” project, read about these 6 “hacks” first-they could save you $10,000s (pages 23-24)

What you should never, ever look at when you go to your next museum (page 151)

3 $-Saving Websites You Should Check Out Before You Book Your Next Vacation-and They Aren't Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, or Kayak (page 98)

And much, much more!

Living Rich #18: Maximum Health for a Full-Capacity Life

Editor's Note: When we sent out a Retire Next Year essay on health, member Vinay G wrote in with two requests. As you know our Wealth Builders Club is a dynamic body, ever-changing, and in that way we can be quite responsive to your needs. So from his letter I identified two needs for us to write about.

What to look out for in a health insurance policy while considering one. An essay from Mark sharing his wisdom on how he maintains fitness at this age.

We recently sent you this to address the first issue: Retire Next Year #12: What To Look Out For In A Health Insurance Policy?

Today, we have for you an essay from Mark sharing his wisdom on how he maintains maximum health. And it has some great ideas that work beautifully in our context as well - I especially love how much faith he has in eastern healing systems.

*

Mark Ford, Founder, Common Sense Publishing I've been told that I shouldn't write about health.

I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nutritionist. I can't claim to be an expert on health in any way. But I do know something about accumulating wealth and living well - and what I know is directly related to health.

Because without my good health, I couldn't have accomplished nearly as much as I have in my career. That includes the best-selling books I've written, the multimillion-dollar businesses I've developed, and all the money I've made.

I work like a madman, enjoy a busy social life, drink wine, smoke cigars, and compete athletically (in Jiu Jitsu) with men half my age.

I can do these things because I wake up each day bounding with energy - and I maintain that energy from 6 o'clock in the morning till 10 or 11 o'clock at night.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” - Buddha In the past 10 years, my energy level has increased. At an age when I should be slowing down, I'm speeding up. Six months ago, I took a battery of tests to determine my “biological fitness.” In every category, I was much younger than my chronological age. In lung capacity - arguably the most important determinant of longevity - I was rated as a 26 - year-old.

Other than a bout of malaria when I was living in Africa, I have never had a serious illness. I get the yearly cold and have my share of sports injuries, but I'm able to perform at 100% capacity 90% of the time.

I attribute my health and fitness to three things:

How I eat How I exercise How I heal myself.

None of my “secrets” are difficult to do. All are based on good science. You can adopt one or all of them easily into your current routine.

How I Eat

I used to avoid red meat, eggs, butter, and ice cream. I used to eat grains with every meal - as the government told me I should. That seemed to work when I was young. But when I hit my 40s, my weight ballooned to 235 pounds.

Then I began to work professionally with Dr. Atkins. I consulted with him on his publishing ventures and spent time at his clinic in New York City. I read his books and talked to him. What I discovered was that there was very little science behind the government's recommended diet.

In fact, there were very few scientific studies done on nutrition.

Dr. Atkins was a pioneer in studying the effects of a high-carbohydrate diet. His research suggested to him that the argument against cholesterol and saturated fats had no basis at all. Its advocates were groups funded by the wheat and margarine industries. He conducted clinical trials of his own and discovered that, in general, people who ate a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet were leaner, healthier, and more energetic.

Based on what I learned from Dr. Atkins, I made some changes in my diet. And I noticed an immediate improvement in my health. My appetite decreased. My post-lunch drowsiness disappeared. And muscles started popping up where I thought none existed.

Years later, I began a working relationship with Dr. Al Sears. He took Dr. Atkins' work to a higher level. Dr. Sears told me that most of the meats I was eating were laden with hormones and omega-6 fatty acids.

He had discovered that grass-fed beef actually has a better fatty-acid ratio than salmon!

When I switched from supermarket meat to grass-fed meat, my lean body mass increased. I also followed Dr. Sears' recommendations to eat more organic vegetables, avoid fruit juices, and limit sugar-laden desserts. Again, I noticed an improvement in the way I felt right away.

When Dr. Sears began reporting his findings 10 years ago, nobody else was talking about a “primal“ diet. Today, it is recognized by many as the healthiest diet in the world. People are jumping on the bandwagon in droves. And that's a good thing.

How I Exercise

I used to lift weights and jog. My muscles were always sore, and I had a hard time getting stronger, however much I tried. But I'd had such good results with Dr. Sears' recommendations concerning my diet that I decided to give his PACE workout a try, too.

And within a few weeks, I dropped 20 pounds of fat.

When I started PACE, something quite remarkable happened. It felt like my lungs were ballooning in my chest. I could even see a difference in my chest when I looked in the mirror. I seemed to be able to take in twice as much oxygen, and I had more energy.

Dr. Sears told me that lung capacity is the best indicator of “all-cause mortality.” That's doctorspeak for all the ways you could possibly die. In other words, the bigger your lung capacity, the longer you'll live. And I don't doubt it. The extra oxygen I've been getting has given me not only more energy but an unshakable feeling of optimism.

The PACE workout is truly revolutionary. It is based on the way our bodies were programmed to exercise over thousands of years. In that regard, it is compatible with the “primal“ diet.

Dr. Sears' studies have shown that PACE produces:

Expanded lung volume High-speed fat loss Reserve capacity in the heart A higher metabolic rate with increased insulin sensitivity New muscle growth Better sexual performance.

And if you get the same results I've been getting, you will:

Build strength and reserve capacity in your heart and lungs Avoid heart attacks and cardiovascular disease Develop a powerful and disease-resistant immune system Dramatically increase your energy levels Burn fat, even while you rest.

How I Heal Myself

Since I am active in Jiu Jitsu, a very physical sport, I am subject to athletic injuries on a regular basis. But I've reduced them drastically in the past two years by doing four things:

15 minutes of yoga each morning 30 minutes of Pilates twice per week An hour of massage once per week Acupressure when I have an injury.

Yoga is an amazing thing. It will make you limber and strong in ways you can't imagine unless you do it.

I used to have trouble touching my fingers to my toes. Now I can put my palms on the floor and my nose to my knees. When you practice yoga for 15 minutes per day, like I do, you need to be sure to stretch your body in four directions. Forward, backward, and to each side.

Pilates is in many ways the opposite of yoga. The breathing is different and so are the movements. While yoga teaches you to relax and breathe with your lower belly extended, Pilates teaches you to keep a tight core and breathe with your stomach sucked in.

The combination of yoga and Pilates is a perfect yin-yang.

I also get a deep-tissue massage once per week. It keeps my hips and shoulders loose (the two most important joints for athletic performance) and helps repair my tissues quickly when I am hurt.

Most massage therapists are next to useless. They don't know anything about physiology. They simply rub you down. Find someone who understands how to go deep and break up scar tissue. Find someone who is willing to work hard on the areas of your body that need work. You will know immediately when you have found someone who is very good. You'll feel significantly better 24 hours after the massage.

Acupressure has recently become a big part of my health routine.

It is related to acupuncture, which you may be more familiar with. Both are ancient Chinese therapies for curing almost anything that ails you by liberating blocked “chi” at key points in the body. But where acupuncturists do it by inserting fine needles into the trigger points, acupressure practitioners do it by applying pressure with their fingertips.

These therapies are 5,000 years old. That makes them more than twice as old as Western medicine.

There is more than enough historical documentation to make acupuncture worthy of consideration. And, indeed, millions of Americans have tried it, and many of them have reported good results.

But recently, studies at Western universities have confirmed that acupressure, too, works.

In fact, the World Health Organization published a review of controlled trials using acupressure and concluded that it is effective for the treatment of 28 conditions. There was also evidence to suggest that it may be effective for several dozen more.

I tried acupuncture several times and was impressed with the immediate results. But my schedule was too busy to do it regularly. So, I kept it in the back of my mind as therapy for when I have an acute injury.

Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a woman who teaches people how to use acupressure to treat themselves.

She explained that the pressure is applied to places on the skin that are especially sensitive to bioelectrical impulses in the body and conduct those impulses readily.

Stimulating these pressure points triggers the release of endorphins, the petrochemicals that relieve pain. As a result, pain is blocked and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing.

What I especially like about acupressure is that I can use it in my office or any public place, and nobody even notices that I'm doing it. (I often give myself an acupressure treatment four or five times per day.)

So that's my three-part program. None of it is difficult or time consuming. My morning yoga routine takes 15 minutes, as does my afternoon PACE workout. I spend an hour per week doing Pilates, and just a few minutes every day with my acupressure treatments.

I do Jiu Jitsu training for an hour per day, but that is my sport. It's a pleasure for me. It certainly helps me stay stronger than the average person, but it's not necessary for my health, so I don't recommend it to you unless you think you might enjoy it.

If you are not in perfect health or lack the energy you need to keep your career on the right trajectory, I strongly recommend these practices. I am certain they will improve your life.

There is no reason why you should work at less than full capacity, regardless of how old you are.

But you won't know how true that is until you start one of the programs I just told you about. Then you'll see for yourself… and be motivated to gradually adopt them all.

I wish you happiness, wealth, and wisdom.

But you won't get your full share of what you deserve without maximum health.

Best, Mark

Living Rich #19: Thinking Like A Billionaire

In this thoroughly entertaining book The Prime Movers, Edwin A. Locke gives this example of the way entrepreneurs think:

An average person observes evergreens growing along the roadside and thinks that they look pretty, especially when partly covered with snow. At this point, his thinking stops. An entrepreneur observes the same trees and thinks, “These trees would look good in people’s living rooms at Christmas. I wonder what people would pay for them?”

And he would continue to ask such questions as:

How hard is it to grow evergreens? What investment is required? How big should they be before being cut? How difficult would it be to cut and transport them? How much would it cost? How long would they keep before losing their needles? Where would they be sold? What would the competition be like? Could I make other, related products - e.g., wreaths? Can I make money in such a seasonal business? How much? How can I get started?

This kind of active, directed thinking is one of the things that separate entrepreneurs from the rest of humanity. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs in history - all of them mega-billionaires by today's standards - seemed to have dynamic, pragmatic minds.

Locke gives plenty of examples, including these:

Thomas Edison: He was a “virtual thinking machine. Almost until the day he died, his mind poured forth a torrent of ideas, and he might track as many as 60 experiments at a time in his laboratory.”

Steve Jobs: He bombarded people with his ideas - his investors, his board of directors, his customers, his subordinates, and his CEO John Scully.

Henry Ford: “He threw himself into every detail, insisting on getting small things absolutely right…. But he never lost sight of the ultimate, overall objection. He had a vision of what his new car (the Model T) should look like. From all the improvisation, hard thought, and hard work came a machine that was at once the simplest and the most sophisticated automobile built to date anywhere in the world.”

You may be thinking, “Hey, I'm no Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs or Henry Ford.” Well, neither am I. And I could rattle off a dozen multi-millionaire entrepreneurs I know who don't have that kind of brain capacity either.

Raw intelligence is not the issue. If it were, Einstein would have been wealthy. What matters in the world of commerce is how you think.

Some people, whether because of their upbringing or their DNA, have a natural billionaire mind. But just about anyone who is smart and ambitious can learn to think like a billionaire.

You can transform your mind completely and permanently in a matter of a few short months by making small changes, one at a time. It will take some effort, though. As Joshua Reynolds once said, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”

Begin by vowing to talk to every successful person you know or meet. Tell them how much you admire what they have accomplished and ask them how they do what they do.

You may be amazed at how open they will be to such inquiries. Nine times out of 10, they'll be eager to tell you just about everything they know.

Unfortunately, many of the twentieth century's greatest entrepreneurs have been disparaged by historians and the media. As Locke points out in The Prime Movers, if you mention the names Andrew Carnegie or John Rockefeller or Cornelius Vanderbilt to most people, they think “greedy robber barons who took advantage of their circumstances.” They know nothing about their accomplishments. What they know, for the most part, is based on persistent myths that prevent them from learning from these men and prospering.

Locke says:

“It is often claimed that the Prime Movers have been viewed with suspicion at best and with distaste or repugnance at worst…. The most basic motive [of those who envy them] is… hatred of the good for being good… it is hatred of the Prime Movers because they are intelligent, successful, and competent, because they are better at what they do than others are.

“The ultimate goal of the haters of the good is not to bring others up to the level of the most able (which is impossible) but to bring down the able to the level of the less able - to obliterate their achievement, to destroy their reward, to make them unable to function above the level of mediocrity, to punish them, and, above all, to make them feel unearned guilt for their own virtues.”

When you become super-successful, you'll have to learn how to handle the people who are going to resent you for achieving what they themselves have been unable to do. But first, you have to get yourself into that enviable position. And you do that by practicing the thinking of the great entrepreneurs who thought like billionaires and so amassed billions.

I'll be writing more on this subject in the future. But for right now, here are eight characteristics of the billionaire mind that you can emulate:

A “normal” person is concerned with protecting his ego. When dealing with a problem he doesn't really understand, he pretends he understands the contributing factors and doesn't try to find out what anyone else thinks. A person with a billionaire mind asks questions incessantly. He has no ego when it comes to learning. He knows that knowledge is power.

A “normal” person has a consumer mentality. He looks at a hot new product and thinks about how he would like to own one. A person with a billionaire mind has an entrepreneurial mentality. He looks at it and thinks, “How can I produce this or something similar in my own industry?”

A “normal” person is wish-focused. He daydreams about making gobs of money. A person with a billionaire mind is reality-based. He is always analyzing his own success and the success of others and wondering how he could learn from it.

A “normal” person, when confronted with a challenging idea, thinks of all the reasons why it might not work. A person with a billionaire mind sees the potential in it and disregards the problems until he has a clear vision of how it might succeed.

A “normal” person resists change. A person with a billionaire mind embraces it.

A “normal” person accepts the status quo. A person with a billionaire mind is always looking to make things - even good things - better.

A “normal” person reacts. A person with a billionaire mind is proactive.

A “normal” person looks at a successful business owner and thinks, “That guy's lucky.” Or “That guy's a shyster.” A person with a billionaire mind thinks, “What's his secret?” And, “How can I do that?”

Start by being humble and asking questions. Do this until it becomes a habit. Then take on another characteristic of the billionaire mind - like looking at a successful new product and thinking, “How can I do something like that?”

Go through the list, mastering one characteristic at a time, and within three months you will be able to create new businesses almost automatically. You will become a natural leader. Money will flow to you like water coming down a hill. And then you'll be ready to deal with all the “normal” people who are jealous of your incredible success.

Living Rich #20: Richness from Gardening

Of the many childhood memories I cherish, one is watering my garden during summer evenings.

I spent summer vacations in the countryside with my family. Our house there has a huge garden - the 'compound' as we call it - full of trees and plants. There are mango trees, guava trees, eucalyptus peepal, pomegranate, coconut, papaya, lemon, ashoka, Indian blueberries (jamun), gulmohar, etc.

Then there are roses, lilies, jasmine, saunf, basil, and my favourite - touch me not!

Gardening is one of my father's few hobbies. He takes care of most of our yard. He never forgets to water the plants in the evening.

It was he who introduced me to gardening. But as I grew up, I realised gardening isn't just another hobby for older people. The benefits are many for anyone wanting to live a good life…

Therapeutic effects of gardening As long as I can remember, my father has been close to nature. He loves greenery and mountains. His library is full of books on gardening, horticulture, etc. He is a calm, patient man who never loses cool. But whenever he gets a little tense, a walk in our yard eases his stress.

It would relax anyone. There's no greater bliss than starting your day with a walk amid greenery. It exhilarates and energises you for the day.

It is a scientific fact that the green is a boon for your eyes. It not only absorbs UV rays but also reduces glare. It is healing and restful for the eyes. Green, the colour of nature, has the power to eliminate fatigue and anxiety.

And don't forget the air - fresh and rich in oxygen - that always surrounds you! Be a gardener and breathe fresh. Your lungs will thank you.

Gardening and patience go hand-in-hand. When you sow the seeds, they take time to germinate… You have to put them in soil, water them and keep them moist almost all the time. Seeds need light and oxygen while germinating.

You could mix soil and compost in a pot, put seeds in it, and keep it in an airy place where it gets sufficient light. Different seeds need different temperatures to grow… For instance, broccoli seeds need more heat than spinach. You could learn about germination temperatures here.

Over time, the seeds will grow and your efforts will be rewarded.

Yes, gardening teaches us to be patient… Things will happen when the time has come! And our efforts, if channelled in the right direction, will never go in vain.

Gardening for medicinal benefits First of all, gardening provides great physical exercise. It will help you burn calories every day. But you can also grow medicinal plants for treating ailments. Many medicinal plants are actually quite easy to nurture.

When I moved to Mumbai three years ago, I lived in a shared flat. My flatmate was a guy in his mid-twenties. He suffered from kidney stones and had tried several treatments. One evening, he came home with a small plant. A doctor of Ayurveda had given it to him. It was pattharchatta, a medicinal plant used to treat kidney stones.

He had potted it, and the little plant grew by the day. All it needed was water and sunlight. He placed it in the window, and consumed one leaf every day.

Two months later, when he got his tests done, no stones were found.

Indian Ayurveda is vast and offers effective remedies for most diseases, without any side effects. Plants like aloe vera, ginger, garlic, peppermint, lavender, thyme, and chamomile offer manifold health benefits and are convenient to grow.

Richness from Gardening Source: Pixabay.com

Fresh foods for your kitchen I don't remember paying for jamun in my life…ever! Half of our yard at home is sheltered by huge jamun trees that produce thousands of berries in the late summer. Not just berries, we rely on our family's garden for pomegranates, lemons, papayas… even coconuts!

When I am munching on home-grown fruits and veggies, I am munching on organic stuff…free from harmful fertilisers and other chemicals.

Planning a kitchen garden is one of the best ways to take up gardening. It will keep you active and you will enthusiastically grow more varieties. Leafy veggies like spinach, cabbage, and coriander are healthiest when grown at home. And you tend to consume more of it because they are just a pluck away. Gardening improves your food habits and well-being.

Another benefit of a kitchen garden is savings. In today's era, when you pay multiples for 'organic' stuff, a kitchen garden is a great way to save…and it assures that the food you are eating is entirely organic.

It really is EASY If every terrace of Mumbai has a garden, we could have a large forest cover on our city.

- Naheed

Naheed owns property in one of the busiest areas of Mumbai - Muhammad Ali Road. As I make my way through the narrow streets, I encounter several gaudy shops and hurrying people. Bustling with energy in the heart of South Mumbai, Mohd Ali Road is an area of old buildings…some of which date back over a hundred years. Naheed's building is an old one too. And one would never guess that it's home to a full-fledged organic garden on the terrace.

'People come for a walk in the morning. People come to read books here… Or sometimes for fresh air,' she says.

Her garden has more than 50 varieties of plants - flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices…you name it!

'It takes not more than a few hours in maintenance. I also have a full-time job. If I can make time and do it, anyone can!' she says.

You could give the surplus from your garden to family, friends, neighbours, or the needy. You can even start an extra income stream by selling produce from your little urban farm.

Gardening aspirants often worry about lack of space…especially in metro cities. In such cases, you could put the terrace space to use…

In smaller towns, carparks, verandahs, etc could provide the space you need. All you really need is a couple of pots, soil and compost, some tools, and seeds…here is a great resource for gardening beginners.

A garden would be a small investment…with priceless returns. Are you growing your way to green wealth?

Living Rich #21: The Best Exercise Routine Ever

I strictly believed that one should eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) jogging and weightlifting from his exercise routine. I explained that for years I was a die-hard runner and weightlifter, but I found it put an unnatural strain on my joints and tendons. By the time I was 40, I had all the symptoms of this kind of bodily abuse: chronic back pain, sore knees, 'trick' shoulders, etc. I pushed through my pain, hoping that doing more of what had been bad for me might heal me. It didn't.

By the time I turned 52, three years ago, my shoulders were so bad that I couldn't do a single push-up or hang from a bar, and my hips were so locked up that I couldn't walk more than five minutes without having to sit down to reduce my lower-back pain.

That was the old me. The new me has no back pain, no knee pain, no shoulder pain… No pain of any sort. I wrestle with guys 30 years younger than me every day. And I can do 14 pull-ups and 60 push-ups, strict.Today, I want to tell you how I fixed myself and got myself into the best shape of my life. The program I adhere to now is the result of stuff I learned from Al Sears, John Mahoney, and Matt Furey. It's a program that should work for you too - especially if you are over 30.

I believe that the secret to maximum fitness, flexibility, and practical strength is to follow a program of intense, short-duration sprinting, stretching, and calisthenics. One that I recommend strongly is Dr. Al Sears' PACE program.

Or, if you want to, you can try to keep up with me. My workout program (which I developed with my personal trainer, John Mahoney) takes 45 minutes, including stretching.

Perhaps the most important characteristic of a good exercise program is that it should feel like fun. If it feels like work (or, worse, torture), you are not going to look forward to it. And if you don't look forward to your exercise routine, you will eventually stop doing it.

Everybody is different in terms of what makes exercise fun. For me, it has to do with time and intensity.

Because of how busy I am, I don't like to spend more than 45 minutes exercising. That 45 minutes includes about 10 to 15 minutes of stretching, which means the exercise portion of my workout has to be completed in 30 minutes. Thirty minutes a day is plenty of time to develop strength, speed, and muscular endurance. (You can probably do it in even less time. Dr. Sears tells me he thinks it's possible to reduce that part of your program to 10 or 15 minutes a day.)

To make my routine even easier and more fun, I break the 30 minutes into three 10-minute segments. To me, 10 minutes seems like a short span. Even if the exercise I'm doing is very intense, I don't feel overwhelmed because I know it will soon be over.

To be clear: My exercise routine consists of three 10-minute sets of somewhat intense exercise with two-minute rest periods in between, followed by a 10- to 15-minute stretch.

An Enjoyable, Intense, and Pain-Free Routine This program is based on three proven principles and several very effective techniques. The principles are the following:

Short-duration, high-intensity exercise is generally more effective than long-duration, low-intensity exercise. Natural strength exercises (using your body weight) are generally better than unnatural exercises (using weights, pulley systems, etc.). Interval training is better than static training. Here's a crash course in my weekly workout program…

Every Morning: Warm Up Ten minutes of stretching or yoga. Be sure to stretch in every direction - forward, back, and to both sides.

MONDAY AND THURSDAY: UPPER-BODY AND SPRINTING Ten minutes alternating between chin-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and sit-ups. Start with 2 chin-ups, 4 push-ups, 2 pull-ups, 4 dips, and 4 sit-ups. Immediately go to 4 chin-ups, 8 push-ups, 4 pull-ups, 8 dips, and 8 sit-ups. Immediately go to 6 chin-ups, 12 push-ups, 6 pull-ups, 12 dips, and 12 sit-ups. Then go to 8 chin-ups, 16 push-ups, 8 pull-ups, 16 dips, and 16 sit-ups. Take a two-minute break (just 120 seconds) and then reverse the pyramid, starting with a set of 8s and 16s and working back down to 2s.

This entire upper-body workout will take about 20 minutes and will leave you totally pumped. Take another two-minute break and then do 10 minutes of interval running. Alternate between sprinting and jogging for 10 sets. When your running is done, do 10 minutes of intense stretching. Once again, make sure you stretch in every direction.

TUESDAY AND FRIDAY: LOWER BODY AND CLIMBING My trainer calls my lower-body routine the '12 days of Christmas.' This is a sequential program, done without weights.

Here, you do a series of leg exercises (squat thrusts, lunges, calf raises, etc.), starting with a single-set repetition and going up to 12. What I mean by that is you do one repetition of your first exercise, then do two of your next exercise, then three of the next, until you've reached 12 repetitions of your final exercise.

As in the Christmas song, with each new set you also do all the other sets. For example, after the twelfth set of, say, squat thrusts, you would do 11 of something else (maybe lunges), then 10 of something else, then nine of something else (maybe star jumpers), etc. - all the way down to the single rep of your first exercise.

Doing the 12 days of Christmas means a total of 78 exercises. The trick is to do them all in 22 minutes. Again, I work intensely for two minutes take a two-minute break, and go at it again for another 10 minutes.You won't be able to do this at first, but you'll make great improvements fast.

WEDNESDAY AND SATURDAY: MEDIUM-INTENSITY WORKOUT These are the only days when I exercise for longer than 45 minutes. On Wednesday and Saturday, I do one or two medium-intensity workouts. I vary them to keep my interest level up. Some days, I do Pilates…some days, yoga…and others, aerobic dancing.

Then, there's Sunday…

For my Sunday 'workout,' I walk to the song, Luna Rosa, and eat breakfast with Peter, walk back to my house and smoke a cigar while doing the Times crossword, then walk across the street to the beach and wade in the ocean. And I try not to eat too much …

If you try a routine like mine, it will blow you away. In four to six weeks, you will be much stronger than you are now, you'll have much better wind, you will be leaner and more muscular and - if you stretch intensely - you'll be more limber too.

Living Rich #22: The Advantage of the Business 'Uniform'

Ralph Lauren makes beautiful clothes. Over the last five decades, his company has grown from making a small line of neckties to a multibillion-dollar international name with nearly 500 brick-and-mortar stores.

Yet he dresses simply.

His usual attire is a pair of jeans and a collared shirt. I've seen dozens of photos of him over the years. He's always looked good - even well dressed, albeit in a casual way. Even when he's wearing a coat and tie, he'll often be wearing jeans, too.

Yet if I had to describe his personal clothing style, I'd call it a uniform.

Not a uniform in a strict, militaristic sense. But a distinct and recognizable style that doesn't really differ from day to day.

I have two colleagues who dress that way. Their uniforms are even stricter than Lauren's.

One, a writer, wears jeans and a white T-shirt every day. The other, a publisher, wears jeans and a white main-tailored shirt, also every day, which I see as a nod toward formality.

I do sometimes tease them ('Wow! Great look today. You are so creative!'), but the fact is they both look good - always.

Like most people, I have a larger working wardrobe comprised of dozens of different pants, shirts, and suits that give me hundreds of options every morning. Sometimes I get it right-I feel well dressed and people say so. Sometimes I get it terribly wrong. If I'm lucky, my wife K spots me before I leave for work. Most of the time, it's 'fine' - as in, 'You look fine,' said only upon prompting.

But the only time I feel better dressed than my colleagues in uniform is the 10% of the time when I nail it.

When you have lots of choices, dressing each morning takes time - even if you are an organization nut like me and have all your clothing sorted. On a typical morning, I spend 10 to 15 minutes getting dressed. That's about as much time as it took me to write this little essay.

Yesterday, I spent nearly 15 minutes getting dressed and came up with an outfit that I decided to jettison at the breakfast table. Back I went again, and 10 minutes later got the deflating 'fine' rating.

So I'm thinking about doing the uniform thing - and even thinking about it is getting me sort of excited. Not only will I save myself 10 to 15 valuable minutes every morning, I will also reduce a bit of stress and eliminate the fear of having a bad clothing day.

I'm serious. After a lifetime of trying to look good but different every day, I'm looking forward to picking a uniform.

When you think about it, the traditional suit and tie was the executive uniform for more than 50 years. It's only since that look has been abandoned that we've been caught in the time-wasting trap of 'new day, different outfit' thinking.

By the way, wearing a uniform to work doesn't mean you have to wear it on the weekends or even on special business occasions. I recently saw the uniformed publisher I mentioned above at a corporate cocktail party. She was wearing a red dress and looked great. In fact, the contrast between her uniform and the dress made the look even stronger.

Besides the uniform, it's possible to dress well and feel very good about your clothes without spending a lot of money. All you have to do is follow the two simple rules from my book, Living Rich, that will improve your wardrobe and save you a fortune:

Buy quality, classic clothing and wear it for years. (You can even buy secondhand if you like.) Buy cheap, trendy clothing to replenish your wardrobe every two or three years. And, of course, never buy anything - no matter whose name is on the label or how cheap it is - if it doesn't make you look and feel good when you put it on.

Living Rich #23: How to Cure Workaholism and be More Creative

“If I had more time, I'd have more fun,” we tell ourselves. Or, “If I had more time, I'd knit/paint/write a novel/[fill in the blank].”

Time is an equal opportunity provider. Every one of us, regardless of age, sex, race, or religion, has the same 24 hours per day. How we use those hours determines our success.

On one hand, we know that working long, hard hours is a characteristic of most successful people. On the other hand, we understand that working that way gives us little pleasure and less time to devote to family, friendship, intellectual stimulation, etc.

“Workaholism is an addiction,” Julia Cameron says in The Artist's Way, “and like all addictions, it blocks creative energy.”

Cameron's concern in the book is to find time for creative writing. But her advice is useful for anyone who is fighting his or her workaholic streak.

You can be successful in business without sacrificing personal relationships. You can make money and create art, too.

You can accomplish your major goals in all of life's four most important dimensions:

Your health-building goals

Your wealth-building goals

Your social responsibilities

Your personal aspirations.

To do so, you've got to choose a productivity plan that recognizes the following:

Achieving any important goal takes time.

At any specific period of time in your life, you must establish priorities and give primary attention to your top goals.

Many of the problems prioritizing may cause can be limited by respectful scheduling and thoughtful communication.

As opportunities change, so must your objectives.

You must also recognize that the way you work right now may be working against you.

A workaholic pattern might help you accomplish your primary goal, but it will usually leave your other goals in a shattered heap.

Begin, today, with this self-administered evaluation from Julia Cameron to help you figure out if you have workaholic habits.

Answer “seldom,” “often,” or “never” to the following:

I work outside of office hours. I cancel dates with loved ones to do more work. I postpone outings until the deadline is over. I take work with me on vacations. I take work with me on weekends. I take vacations. My intimates complain that I always work. I try to do two things at once. I allow myself free time between projects. I allow myself to achieve closure on tasks. I procrastinate in finishing up the last loose ends. I set out to do one job, and start on three more at the same time. I work in the evenings during family time. I allow calls to interrupt-and lengthen-my workday. I prioritize my day to include an hour of creative work/play. I place my creative dreams before my work. I fall in with others' plans and fill my free time with their agendas. I allow myself downtime to do nothing. I use the word “deadline” to describe and rationalize my workload. I go everywhere, even to dinner, with a notebook or my work numbers. “There is a difference between zestful work toward a cherished goal and workaholism,” says Cameron.

“That difference lies less in the hours than it does in the emotional quality of the hours spent. There is a treadmill quality to workaholism. We depend on our addiction, and we resent it. For a workaholic, work is synonymous with worth, and so we are hesitant to jettison any part of it.”

Your answers to Julia Cameron's self-evaluation questions will give you a quick sense of whether you have a problem with workaholism.

But don't just test yourself.

Do what I did. Ask a few members of your family, or a few friends, to answer those questions for you.

You may be surprised by what you find out.

It can be hard to make time for your personal life when you're trying to prove to your boss that you deserve a raise… when you're busy building your business… or when you just plain love what you do.

But don't work so hard or so long that you neglect your family and friends. If you do that, you will eventually regret it.

Here's how I keep myself from falling into that trap:

I don't take work home at night. I put in my time at the office, and then I come home… without my laptop and papers.

I don't take work home on weekends. If I want to put in a few extra hours on Saturday, I clear it with my family in advance. But, again, I don't pull out the computer or papers in front of them. It sends the wrong message.

Away from work, I try my best to stay “in the present.” For me, this was the hardest lesson to learn because my mind is always jumping from one topic (the story someone is telling me) to another (something related that happened at work). When I feel myself drifting - and it happens frequently - I pull myself back.

When I follow these rules, I am happier twice - at work and at home. I recommend that you do the same.

livingrich.txt · Last modified: 2018/06/19 16:52 by 122.164.155.174