Ideal Lifestyle Costing


Somewhere between college graduation and your second job, a chorus enters your internal dialogue: be realistic and stop pretending. Life isn’t like the movies.

If you’re five years old and say you want to be an astronaut, your parents tell you that you can be anything you want to be. It’s harmless, like telling a child that Santa Claus exists. If you pass 25 and announce you want to float in space or sail around the world, the response is different: be realistic, become a lawyer or an accountant or a doctor, have babies, and raise them to repeat the cycle. Put all of your disposable income in a 401(k) and do your best to enjoy your “too-weak” vacation.

Lifestyle Design offers more interesting options and reverses this repression.

Here are just two personal examples of what’s possible once we reset the rules:

$250 USD: Five days on a private Smithsonian tropical research island with three local fishermen who caught and cooked all my food and also took me on tours of the best hidden dive spots in Panamá.

$150 USD: Chartered a plane in Mendoza wine country in Argentina and flew over the most beautiful vineyards and snow-capped Andes with a private pilot and personal guide.

Question: What did you spend your last $400 on? It’s two or three weekends of nonsense and throwaway forget-the-work-week behavior in most US cities. But eight days isn’t what I’m recommending at all. Those were just interludes in a much larger production. I’m proposing much, much more. How about a four weeks of luxury living—and I mean penthouse apartments, five-star restaurants, and VIP treatment—in Buenos Aires or Berlin for less than $1,200 each, including airfare and stop-over trips in other countries?

Or forget about traveling. A brand-new black Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, fresh off the showroom floor at $260,000, can be had for $2,897.80 per month. I found my personal favorite, an Aston Martin DB9 with 1,000 miles on it, through eBay for $136,000—$2,003.10 per month.

The rules of reality can be bent. It just requires thinking in different terms.


For purposes of Lifestyle Design, it is necessary to move from annual thinking (“I make $50,000 per year”) and total costs (“A Ferrari 612 Scaglietti costs $250,509”) to monthly cash-flow. What is your ideal lifestyle in exact detail, and how much does it cost per month?

This figure becomes your TMI—Target Monthly Income. This is divided by 30 to give you a TDI—Target Daily Income. I know, for example, that for me to ride a Aston Martin DB9 in style, have a personal assistant handle my life, cover all of my expenses (including a new house and motorcycle), become a bestselling author, and take a month-long trip along the Croatian coast to celebrate, I must make…. $2,000 per day? $1,000 per day? No—$197.90 per day. That is my TDI and will enable my ideal lifestyle. It’s a simple idea with profound implications.

Before we get into automating income, firing bosses, outsourcing life to overseas MBAs, and all of the other things that make the four-hour workweek possible, we need to figure out your baseline. The first step is determining current monthly expenses:

Monthly Expense Calculator

The next step is creating “dreamlines” to determine the characteristics and costs of your ideal lifestyle. Detailed instructions for how to do this are contained in the book in “System Reset: Being Unreasonable and Unambiguous,” but you can get a good idea with the following worksheets:

Sample 6-Month Dreamline and Blank Dreamline

Dreamlining Calculators and Worksheet

Create a two timelines—six months and twelve months—and list up to five things you dream of having (including, but not limited to, material wants: house, car, clothing, etc.),being (be a great cook, be fluent in Chinese, etc.), and doing (visiting Thailand, tracing your roots overseas, racing ostriches, etc.), in that order. For now, don’t concern yourself with how these things will be accomplished. That’s all covered later.

Consider the question: What would you do, day-to-day, if you had $100 million in the bank? If still blocked, fill in the five “doing” spots with the following:

1 place to visit

1 thing to do before you die (a memory of a lifetime)

1 thing to do daily

1 thing to do weekly

1 thing you’ve always wanted to learn

Chances are that the ultimate TMI figure will be lower than expected, and it will decrease over time as you trade more and more “having” for once-in-a-lifetime “doing.” Mobility encourages this trend. Even if the total is intimidating, don’t fret. It is possible—case studies in the book prove it—to get to more than $10,000 per month in extra income within three months. This is usually 3 or 4 times more than is needed. Getting to an extra $2,000 or $3,000 is seldom a problem.

You can have it all—really.

Get Tim Ferriss’ #1 New York Times bestselling guide to lifestyle design for less than $15.