What makes one Rich?

Over the years, human societies have evolved differently in various part of the world. Personally, the meaning of Rich has also evolved over time.

as a kid, when I learnt the word Rich, it meant having lots of money.

as I grew up, I think of Rich in a slightly different way, to me being happy is being Rich.

before I continue on, let me share a familiar but meaningful story: The parable of a Mexican fisherman.

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”


I pondered on this parable when I first read it years ago, I felt that the meaning of this parable is very Powderfool (pun intended, why this site name is a topic for another time).

It brings clarity what the money game is about… and what it isn’t.

In this day and age, it is often easy to get dragged into the rat race. In that busy race, we could easily get trapped in the mindless pursuit of wealth, financial freedom and forgot about the pursuit of happiness – which ultimately is a Rich & fulfilling life.

So What makes one Rich?

My concept is simple: Imagine a table, it needs 4 legs to be stable.

The top of the table is: Rich/Happy life

The legs are formed by 4F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, Finance

If any of the legs is compromised, the table would be wobbly, hence the ups and downs in life.

Faith: being rich spiritually vs a regular churchgoer who act like a jerk, admittedly I am still early in my journey on this, and faith itself is a long topic for discussion so I’ll leave it at that.

Family: spend quality time with family when you can. I used to take it for granted when I was younger. Now being abroad and far away from family, I would be lucky to meet my family once a year in person. But thankfully there’s FaceTime though it’s definitely different from being there in person.

Friends: they are literally my second family, so I try to be around people that I am comfortable with but still challenge me in a good way for various aspect of my life. After all there’s a saying “you are the average of the 5 persons you hang out with the most”.

Finance: being grateful with what I got yet at the same time save and invest for the future to ensure I would have sufficient to live a comfortable life.

By all means, there are definitely other factors that would contribute to a Rich and Happy life. For eg. I like to be challenged mentally, so being rich in knowledge/life experience is pretty important to me as well.

Ultimately it comes down to what makes you happy?

Even with my simple 4F concept, it can sometimes still feel overwhelming to juggle them. So I tried to simplify my life as much as possible.

One success I have so far is simplifying the Financial aspect of my life. Saving and investing could be done easily if the common misconception and pitfalls are clarified. As I get asked quite often, how do I start to invest? Over the next few months, I’ll write some recommendation based on my personal experience and share my thoughts on various saving and investment topics. If you like to see some specific topics, just leave a comment and I’ll make sure I’ll include that in future posts.

As we human beings are cognitive misers, we have limited focus, energy. The lesser energy we spent on finance, the more effort and energy we could redistribute to things that matter, and in turn leading to a more happy and fulfilling life.

What do you think? Feel free to leave your comments and any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Let’s explore further with the Ultimate Guide to Invest Successfully.


8 thoughts on “What makes one Rich?”

  1. Thanks Ollie, hope you enjoy reading and find it useful as well.
    As Ralph pointed out, being content is really important for being Rich. There are a lot of people out there who are financially rich but aren’t happy with where they are.
    Personally I strive and aim to live without any financial worries, so I could focus on things that matter more to me.

  2. Daniel I finally got round to reading your blog and it is very perceptive and in many ways relevant to where I am at right now.

    Look forward to reading your builds on this blog
    Well done

  3. Nice blog post and the well known parable / joke is very important. But the connotation of the word ‘RICH’ in this context is primarily financial. The other aspects certainly lead to an enriched life, but sidestep the initial question of ‘What makes one Rich’. The parable makes this clear though, ‘rich’ is the ability to easily support a life you are content to live. It is essentially the freedom from financial worriers.

  4. Regarding of the American and the Mexican fisherman’s story, it should have been a self-reflective story to most youngsters. The current generations tend to have a mentality of what I called “retired first then work hard later in life”, which is the opposite of the way we used to know of past generations : work hard,earn the money,retire with good life. Obviously, it sounds like it’s so wrong yet right only if one’s capable to do in a lifetime,the cliche of keep living in “retirement” whole life.
    Looking good Dan!Keep up the good work.

    1. My personal choice would be taking a career break every couple of years. It refreshes me and give me some new perspective in life. I think it’s a good balance between working hard and “retiring”. I like how a good friend been taking time off to travel the world once every few years.

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