How to Live Like a Millionaire on an Ordinary Salary in Sustainable Style

CC BY-SA 2.0. Christine Lepisto

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

My husband enjoys a game called, "What would you do if you had millions?"

Over the years, I have heard the answer to this question from a wide range of people. You would be surprised how often the answer turns out to be something relatively achievable. Almost everyone says travel. One woman wanted a new bicycle. The amazing conclusion is that it's not as much about having a million dollars as it is about knowing what you want.

My million dollar wish? An Elektra espresso machine.

Elektra espresso machines Belle Epoque

Christine Lepisto/CC BY-SA 2.0Elektra Belle Epoque espresso machines

The most important rule of the game
The next step in the game involves plotting out how to make the dream come true. But here is a key rule that must not, under any circumstances, be overlooked: to win at life, you have to live!

Ordering over the internet is NOT living. Living is meeting people. Living is experiencing wonder. The game of life demands a quest.

For example, if your dream is an Elektra coffee machine, you would go to the factory. Learn how the factory has been owned by three generations of the Fregnan family. We were fortunate to meet the entrepreneur and inventor Florindo Fregnan who had officially retired, but stayed close to sons Federico and Andrea, now the third generation running the company.

Federico and Andrea Fregnan of Elektra espresso machine fame

© Christine LepistoFederico and Andrea Fregnan of Elektra

A tour of the factory that manufactures your dream possession multiplies its value by adding a story to the substance. The attention to detail, the quality control, the history and craftsmanship all contribute to the sense of luxury you will feel every time you recall that your greatest material desire is fulfilled.

Elektra factory

Christine Lepisto/CC BY-SA 2.0Elektra factory

You probably already know what makes your dream product great. But don't close your eyes or ears during your factory tour because chances are, there is something more to learn when you hear it directly from the source.

Elektra brew head

Christine Lepisto/CC BY-ND 2.0Elektra brew head

Your dream item may not come cheap, that's why you don't own it yet. But think of all the things you spend money on. How many "cheap" broken products line the shelves of your basement? How many months has it been since you used the last product you impulse-bought online?

Your dream may be in your budget even if you have to pull the $150 Alfa Romeo out of a pasture, have a childhood lawyer friend make the title (that was part of a divorce settlement gone south) right, and the Columbian water skiing champion with terrific mechanical skills (electrocuted during an award ceremony and earning a few bucks while recovering and studying English as a second language) make it go well enough to scare the pants off your mother-in-law - which teaches you countless resurrection skills along the way. The journey is the goal.

Elektra coffee experience

© Christine LepistoElektra coffee experience

The beauty of your dream product is treasuring it every day for the rest of your life. Every sip of every cup of coffee from the aspirational Elektra (models at every price point) will feel like the pod coffee commercials make you believe a cuppa joe should make you feel: rich, successful, lucky; in short, like a millionaire. I just joined George Clooney's club. (Remind me to tell you the story about the moderately priced champagne from the lesser-known vineyard George served at his wedding someday, over a cup of coffee.)

Start living with less, but make sure that every product you own is the one you would acquire if you were a millionaire. These enduring testaments to the joy of owning a well-designed, built-to-last product will probably be loved by the generations that succeed you, leaving the planet greener and the world a better place, full of people living better than kings. What's your million dollar wish?

Caveat: article less applicable for actual millionaires.

Elektra micro casa leva

Christine Lepisto/CC BY-SA 2.0More affordable Elektra Micro Casa Leva S1C