Corbett Barr

Lifestyle Business Weekly

Cash Rich… Lifestyle Poor

My friend and DJ Sean Gallagher runs an online business teaching people how to DJ. His business gives him the freedom to live anywhere in the world, and he built this lifestyle very intentionally.

Sean values freedom more than money. That’s one of the reasons we hit it off so well (that and because he lives in Mexico and spends a lot of time surfing).

Last week Sean related a story to me that I just had to share with you. It made me really appreciate what I have.

Money is nice, but freedom is priceless.

Here’s the story in Sean’s words…

I was in the spa at the Four Seasons yesterday here in Punta Mita and I started chatting with a gentleman in the steam room.

He asked what I do and I briefly told him about my online businesses.

I asked what he does and he said, “I’m a doctor”. I said thats great!

He replied with “You know what Sean? I would trade what I do for what YOU do any day. I made 2 million dollars last year after tax. I’m grateful for that but I have to be in my office to make money. You can automate things and create passive income streams with little overhead. You get to enjoy more of life than I do. You’re half my age and you’ve probably seen double the world than I have and have experienced ten times more than I ever will. Want to trade?”

I laughed but I was seriously humbled.

He continued “I bought into the hype that money brings happiness because thats what society pushes and thats why I became a doctor. I figured that money and status would bring happiness, but I’ve come to learn that life is more enjoyable when you have the time and freedom to enjoy it. God bless you Sean. I’m envious!” The conversation reminded me how lucky I am.

Sometimes I take for granted my free, experience-oriented lifestyle. As part of the human condition, even incredible dream lives become normalized. I felt the need to post this to remind all of us pursuing our dreams to be grateful for what we have! We really are living life to the fullest. ♥

Now I’d love to know, what’s your definition of “rich?”

How much freedom is worth trading for money? How much money is worth trading for freedom?

Corbett Barr

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  1. Striking a balance is vital. It is important to have just enough money to pay for the freedom, but once that occurs the world is your oyster. Sounds like wise advice from the doctor.

  2. For me being rich is being able to experience and enjoy life. I agree that you need to work to have money and all that, but if your work can give you valuable experiences and joy, you will achieve freedom a lot faster.
    At least in my small experience as a freelance and forming my online business (3 months) has proven me that money is not the most important thing as long as you have enough to pay your bills and basic needs.

  3. Matt

    I think the story of the Dr. hits the nail on the head. I’m making some significant life changes at the beginning of 2012 that align with that story.

    To me, life is about enjoying the experiences while providing value to others and making money. It’s not a sequence of events: Make Money, then experience life. It’s a combination of the two: Make money AND experience life.
    It’s not a zero-sum formula. If you combine the two, you can make more money and experience life better than if you only focused on one of the parts at a time.

  4. Got to this page after seeing one of my friend shared this. I am inspired by Sean because like him, I am perusing life of freedom rather than riches. Currently working on my business model to make sure that I can automate the stuff I do and travel around the world.


  5. Freedom is subjective — doesn’t really have anything to do with income. Yes, money in our Western World buys a lot of things, including food, shelter, health care, education…… but we chose to live that way, buying instead of self-supplying. Nothing stopping us from making changes. To think otherwise is not being honest with yourself.

    For example, the DJ with the online business thinks he’s free because he travels, and so he is; the doctor with the stay-at-home practice thinks he’s trapped, so he is.

    Nothing to stop either from adopting the other’s life style. I suspect the real reason they were having their conversation is because the DJ wants to experience the world and the doctor wants to serve people. At least, that was their original intent.

  6. Bill Polm

    My definition: Time, good relationships, health, and enough money to do what I want. thank God, I have all that except for enough money. Supporting my daughter, her husband, and 2 grandkids on my retirement income, while they delelop their careers is challenging.

  7. Bill Polm

    P.S. That was a good one, CB.

  8. Adrian Price

    As Jim Rohn says, “Better to live in a tent on the beach with someone you love than live in a huge mansion all by yourself”.

    I believe that people and experiences (good or bad) that create memories are what makes our lives rich!!!

    Check out the fun theory at (a VW initiative). It’ll put a smile on your face :-)

    • Adrian, i’m going to take that and stick it on my wall… “Better to live in a tent on the beach with someone you love than live in a huge mansion all by yourself”.

      This really is true. I’ve had a ton of staff in the past and turned over more than I do now. But with a new, leaner company with a load of automated tasks, I can spend much less time and have much more fun.

  9. I went to the doctor a couple days ago and he asked what I did. I gave him the 10 second overview, and eventually we got on the topic I’d been living in Bali. You should have seen the look on his face. He ended up getting my business card, but not before telling me how jealous he was of my lifestyle. Not something to be taken for granted.

  10. I only wish that it wasn’t every physician we deal with that wouldn’t say the same thing.

  11. Great post.

    Yep, I’ve been there. Learn from others’ mistakes!

    My definition of rich: having time to enjoy family, friends, wild places, and a good book.

    To not be a slave to money means finding the elusive middle ground…and staying there!

  12. I get the feeling the doctor needs that $2 million from last year to sustain his / his family’s way of living.

    “I bought into the hype that money brings happiness because thats what society pushes and thats why I became a doctor.”

    The doctor has confused something fundamental in the money-happiness relationship. Neither freedom nor happiness depend on the money coming in; how that money gets spent is the key.

    If our doctor has a Maseratti collection, or a sick family member, or three kids in liberal arts colleges or an ongoing lawsuit, then he probably needs to feed $2 mil / year into the engine to keep that train running.

    If any expenses can be pared down, that opens the door to freedom, which will then give our doctor the chance to find the happiness he initially tried to buy.

  13. I guess most people reading this blog value freedom over money, right?

    The doctor can choose to be free if he wants to as well. I am sure he can change his lifestyle into something that else that produces income, but respects his time as well.

    However, I think he probably doesn’t want to/thinks it’s impossible, etc.

    • Maria,

      Don’t get me wrong!

      I value money as well and I make more than all of my friends back home working corporate jobs.

      I love traveling, playing sports, dinners with friends, taking courses to learn things etc. I want money for experiences and learning.

      But this is a lot different than wanting money just for money’s sake, or the sake of the status that money brings along with it.

  14. Hey Wen,

    You’re right.

    In this case though, the doctor admitted to me that he became a doctor for the money and the status. Not to serve people even though I’m sure he finds that side of his work rewarding.



  15. To me, a rich person is someone who can enjoy life without ever having to think about money.

    An awesome person, however, is someone who DOES enjoy life without ever thinking about money. There’s a huge difference!

  16. I remember a boss of mine saying that he found “clinching a business deal” “better than sex”. I thought about this for a long time. In the end I realised that he was obviously lacking a great deal of spirituality. While certain aspects of business can be exhilarating, there are far greater pleasures in life when you realise what is really important.

  17. Chelsea

    I thought it was interesting, but as someone who is studying biology myself (though I want to be a researcher rather than an MD), I have to ask–does the doctor not get any satisfaction out of the lives he is helping to save and better each day? I understand that it is a time consuming job but surely he has to feel that the sacrifice is worth it because of how noble the nature of his job is? I guess the money vs. freedom aspect didn’t strike me as much as that issue, since I’ve had to think about this myself and though I know that anyone in a science/medical job experiences an extraordinary amount of stress, I continue to see it as a necessary sacrifice to benefit the world. NOT saying there’s anything wrong with not being a doctor or scientist if you’re more talented in other areas, just something to think about.

  18. The number of people who choose a profession just for the money is crazy to me. How people live their lives hating their jobs is totally beyond me. Who would want to spend 35% (35% other and 30% sleeping) of their life doing something they hate? Not me.

    I’m working on building a business to allow myself to live and work wherever I want and operate completely on my own schedule. aka doing the impossible in most people’s eyes.

  19. Amazing post, Corbett. Thanks for sharing Sean’s story. My husband and I have been on the path of lifestyle rich for some time now. Reminded both of us to never give up on our dreams and live the lifestyle we choose. Riches come from gratitude for the things we do have like family, friends, our relationships and the opportunity of choice.

  20. “Money is nice, but freedom is priceless.” – This quote is priceless. I remember a few years ago when I started working on the internet how people laughed and saw it as a joke …today lots of those people look at me and say …how lucky is this guy.

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