If You Had Money?

If you had money what would you do?

Seriously think about it for a moment. If you had say $10 million what would you do? I’m guessing lots of you would buy or pay off your house or sell it and get a new one. Would you quit your job? Would you start a new job? Would you move? Would you retire? Is $10 million enough to retire? Would you teach? Or run a flower shop? Open a bar or a cafe or a club? Would you invest? In what? Buy a sports car? Blow it in Monte Carlo? What if you had $1 million. What would change in your life? $1 million, at least in the USA is clearly not enough to retire unless maybe you’re already at retirement age. It’s not enough to buy a house in most of the Bay Area though it is enough money to buy a house in plenty of other places. If you had a $1 million would you buy a house in the Bay Area (if you lived there.) Would you move somewhere cheaper? Would you quit your job?

Think about it, if you make $100k a year at your present job you probably only take home $70k. So if you had $1 million you could live your present lifestyle, without working, for a little over 14 years. Would you do it? Maybe go back to school? Or volunteer every day? Start your own charity and run it for a few years?

What would you do? Would you start your own company? Would you invest it? In what? Would you give some of it away? You could probably start a restaurant. I know some people that want to do that. Seriously, how would you spend your time?

What if you had $100k? Is that enough to make you do something you don’t do every day? Maybe you’d buy a new car. Assume you have no other debt (no need to pay off your current car or student loans). What would $100k enable? You could go back to college and learn something new. Live abroad for a couple of years and learn a new language. I don’t know how much money most students live off of but I do know when I went to Japanese school 13 years ago it was only $6k a year. The apartment I was in was $12k a year so I suspect my expenses were under $30k a year. In other words, $100k is enough to be a student for at least 2 years, maybe 3.

I’m sure there are other things you could do with $100k. Buy a few houses in Detroit. Travel the world snowboarding for a couple of years.

I’m really curious about your answers.

  • I’d create a trust and hopefully find a way to better my chances that I’d live long enough that my dependents flew the coop on their own without either party burdened by the other. Most likely I’d ask my wife to stop working, and maybe hire someone to help with my mother-in-law. (If I’m pretending that I’m more magnanimous than I really am, then helping to keep the local library and parks open (or open longer) would be nice-to-haves. But I don’t know if my remains from the $10,000,000 would make enough of a dent.)

    Fair’s fair. I’ve answered. Now you. What would you do? (And I just realized that I need to watch Ikiru.)

  • Thank you for your thoughts. I wrote this because honestly I don’t know. I was I the $100k situation once in 2000. I used that money to go to Japan and learn Japanese. I wasn’t very frugal and was out of money in 21 months.

    I guess I’m curious how to even decide. In 2000 I was younger and it was easier to make a decision without worrying about the future. On top of that my real plan was to start a company with a friend and I was only supposed to be in Japan for 6 months. At the end of that 6 months my friend said he wasn’t ready to start something so I hung out in Japan. 6 months turned into 6 years

    I guess I feel that most people, and certainly myself, mostly just follow the path of least resistance. Either that or just go from one crisis to another. When you have debt or when you have no savings you get forced into picking a job which then effectively directs your life for a while. But, if you manage to save enough or win the lotto or in someway run into enough money that you don’t need to work for > 2 years it suddenly becomes 100% up to you to decide what to do. You’re not scrambling to pay the rent etc.

    That’s kind of terrifying in a way. Sure it’s almost everyone’s dream. But, I think the $100k and even the $1 million examples are not enough to retire for most people so there is still pressure to figure out what the next step is just no pressure to do it within 1-2 months like people with little savings.

    For some people, if they have some goals or passion maybe it’s easy as they can just go do that. Example in 2000 I wanted to start a company with my friend and I wanted to learn Japanese so there were 2 easy directions.

    Now though I’ve lost most of my passions and so I’m really lost as to what to do. And so I’m curious what others would do.

  • I think the way to look at such an amount of money is an opportunity for independence. At some point in your life you won’t want to do what you are currently doing anymore, or you just want to stop. That takes money, money most of us never manage to accrue. However, if you are given $1m that’s the perfect base from which to build your independence.

    So I think my answer is, you don’t spend it even if you have a mortgage to pay off. Instead you put it in a high interest saving account immediately while you spend some time figuring out how to get the best return with the lowest risk. The ultimate goal being to create your own independence using it. By that, I mean you replace your pay packet forever so you can do whatever you want 5-10 years from now.

    Also, continuing as if nothing has happened also allow you to get over the initial shock and ultimately the desire to buy nice things. That can come in the (near) future once your new found wealth is earning you a very nice return.

    tldr: you never spend the money, it just becomes your jumping off point for future and complete independence.

  • Donna Lamoreaux DiGiacomo

    I just ran into your blog, looking for subway AND rail maps of Tokyo. Thanks for your many postings, which are interesting. My husband and I always joke to our kids that one day, when we grow up, we’ll know what we want to become. In the meantime, life happens. It’s all quite simple and tricky at the same time. If we won $1M, I think we’d sock it away and keep doing what we’re doing. After taxes, it’s not that much in the scheme of things. We get our little bitty drops of juice from the everyday moments, strung together. Enough to sustain with a smile. BUT! I would dearly have preferred having an overriding passion and seeing it through. That’s a much more romantic notion, and I know why you still search for that.

  • Captains Krab

    Shoot, if I had a million dollars… I’d probably by a pizza or somethin’.

    Cool blog btw. Lookin’ forward to soakin’ it all up.