If I Had A Million Dollars

Ever since the disaster of not playing the lottery and missing my chance to win $350 million, I’ve thought about what I would do if I won a million dollars.  The commercials for the lottery say that all I need is a “little bit of luck” or “a dollar and a dream” and I’ve had both.  So, putting my luck and my dreams together, I’ve come up with my very exacting plans for what I would do if I had a million dollars.  My long lost great aunt Bertha who I haven’t seen since I was a baby passed away – follow along here.  In memory of my cuteness as a baby she left me a million dollars and left enough money to pay the taxes on it as well.  So I’m now flush with a million dollars in cash.  After nearly fainting and screaming, my heart has slowed down enough to allow me a breathe and think of what I’m going to do. 

  1. Normally, I wouldn’t have told my family anything, but since Aunt Bertha left me the money, they already know.  I’m sure some long lost cousins of my own will be knocking on my door, so I’ll have to move into a Comfort Inn for two weeks or so, and get a second cell phone since my phone will be ringing off the hook. “You’re cousin who?  From where?  No, I don’t think that I have any cousins in Siberia, but thanks for calling.”  Obviously, I won’t tell anyone at work, and I’ll continue to go since healthcare is expensive, but I would have a smile on my face every day that I walked through the door.
  2. Before I get too happy, I’ll cut some checks to pay off all the debts that I current track on this blog.  It would be completely irresponsible of me to get this money and not pay my debts.  Even if I went crazy, paying my debt should always be a priority.  Now debt free, I can breathe and get ready to have some fun.
  3. I’ve needed a vacation for a long time, but I don’t want to go nuts.   I’ve always wanted to go to Bora Bora.  The water looks beautiful (see photo above) and it’s clear on the other side of the globe.  I need just enough time to relax, clear my mind and think of what to do next.  I wouldn’t spend more than $15,000 for this vacation for myself and my BF…or if he doesn’t want to come, my brother.
  4. Almost as import to me as paying my debt is having a solid place to live.  Yeah, I own a rental property, but I don’t make enough to own a home in New York City and now that I’m left with about $915,000, I can’t afford to buy a home that would average about $500,000.  I would consider moving out of the city but not too far.  Maybe somewhere upstate New York, Delaware or Maryland because I would still need to commute to work.  I wouldn’t pay more than $300,000 for the home.  The question here is whether I would get a mortgage or pay for the home outright.  There might be some benefits to getting a mortgage even though I could pay for it, but quite honestly, I’m paranoid and having peace of mind is more important to me than anything else, so cash it is.  I’m now down to $600,000.
  5. Time to make my money work for me.   I don’t want to work for someone else for the rest of my life.  I’m not cut out for that.   With no debt, a paid for home, and a steady job, I could live comfortably for the rest of my life while stashing money for my retirement, but that’s not me.  I would instead like a proven system of making money that won’t actively need me to be there every single day.   I would invest in a national fast food chain with low entry costs.  As Americans we love to eat and we love our food fast and consistent.  The ones that I like best are Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Arby’s.  These companies are very recognizable and better yet, they’re always in the Top 10 Fast Food Franchises as compiled by Entrepreneur Magazine.   This will take time and money.  I’m willing to invest roughly $300,000 into my ventures and keep another $150,000 on hand for operating costs.
  6. I’m down to $150,000 already!  Gosh that went by pretty dang quickly.  While you might think that $150,000 is a lot, I will need money to stash away for retirement and into an emergency fund, so off that money goes.

That wasn’t very glamorous was it, and I’m already out of my million dollars, but let’s review what I did.  I paid of my debts, bought a house, set up an income stream that could take care of my income for decades and then put money into retirement.  While it took a million dollars for me to do it, this is exactly what you should be doing with your paycheck anyway.  According to the census Bureau, the average lifetime earning of a high school educated person is $1.2 million so you will most likely have made a million dollars anyway.

All in all though, is it me or does it seem like a million dollars doesn’t buy what it used to.  Using this example a million dollars is not enough to retire on in 30 years.

So, what would you do with a million dollars?  Come back on Sunday to see how Jacob from My Personal Finance Journey and some other financial bloggers answered this question!

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29 thoughts on “If I Had A Million Dollars

  • After I finished sailing around the world in my half-million dollar yacht I’d probably sell it (buying one from the 70s avoids too much depreciation) and buy a house like you. Something not too expensive, not too big and not too far from employment, transit etc. You have a solid plan! Now we need to find you a long lost cousin to kick the bucket 😉

  • As mentioned on one of the other blogs, I would pay off my rental property and collect rents free and clear. Any extra would be set aside and invested as well. I would keep working until I had a very nice cushion set aside.

  • Sandy, Your exercise yielded some really solid recommendations. A million bucks really isn’t what it used to be…. but it is within reach for those young enough to start seriously saving and investing now.

      • I agree! Have you seen the movie Austin Powers? Remember when Dr. Evil says he’ll destory the world if he doesn’t get $1 million dollars, and all the world leaders start laughing at him … he’s confused until someone explains that a million just isn’t that much money anymore?

        I think of that scene more often than I’d care to admit. A million isn’t a lot anymore … you can’t even buy a place in Manhattan with it!

  • Hmmmm just a thought i might by out of left field.. but you never addressed any life values or goals… seems that your needing to stay at your job would automatically wipe out almost half of your million dollars by needing a home in the area… if this job and location are paramount to your long term happiness i guess it would make sense.. i just thought myself with such a safety net would give me the freedom to pick and design a lifestyle that would maximize the cash.. why a fast food franchise? is that a life long goal? a passion for food?.. just my 2cents.. seems that after the million your still living in the same place working at the same place and aiming/working for retirement..

    • Oh, initially I would stay and work. I like my job. It’s all about the safety net for me right now. So yes, until the franchise thing took off I’d be at the job and living in the area.

      I certainly love eating fast food, but I’m sure that not everyone opening a Subways franchise has a passion for sandwiches. I want to set myself up for long-term freedom and retiring in my early 30’s on a million bucks wouldn’t cut it. I LOVE New York and the East Coast so I’m perfectly happy staying. 🙂 So the goal for me wouldn’t be aiming for retirement, it would just be the freedom to be my own boss. That’s all.

      • If you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing, that that would be retirement… whether you’re serving up delicious donuts or kicking impossible tenants out to the curb (or getting the sheriff to do it).

  • I would like to say that I would retire, but in this day and age, 1M really is not a ton of money. I would probably buy a nice home, and sack the rest away for my kids college education, but I would continue to work. Maybe do a little investing…

  • A million really doesn’t buy you much in the Northeast these days. The first thing that popped into my mind was to take a year off from working a regular day job to see what my mind would come up with for entrepreneurial ideas.

  • You have very specific ideas as to how you’re going to use the million, good goal setting, Sandy!

    Are you practising the art of visualizing and The Secret? 🙂

    Yeah, a million doesn’t buy you very much unfortunately. You can’t even get a house in Vancouver here for that much (on the west side).

    I would pay off my mortgage and go traveling 🙂

  • It’s so true- $1m just doesn’t go that far these days. That said it does allow you to lead a comfortable, debt-free lifestyle, which I definitely wouldn’t say no to!

    I’d certainly buy a property and rent it out. Amongst the sensible stuff and charity donations, there’d be a holiday in there and (ahem) some Kurt Geiger shoes.

  • Great question!
    I would pay off my house, which would leave me with 870k. I would then buy several homes in the metro Detroit area to be used as rentals. I would buy only in good school districts, and I would buy solid houses that are priced low because they look crummy (nothing paint and new carpet can’t fix).

    I would keep a couple hundred thousand set aside to help fund college and create a larger emergency fund.

    OK, so that is my plan (at the moment).

    • Solid plan! I think that for most of us once we have solid housing everything else isn’t so bad. Considering that it’s the largest purchase that most of us will ever make, it’s a great idea to wipe out that debt before anything else.

  • I’d buy a big house with plenty of space to run my online retail business. I’d also buy a couple of holiday cottages to rent out for an alternative income 🙂

  • I worked 41+ years at the same job I took 2 days after graduating from high school. I was forced to retire early due to kidney failure, however my wife has to continue to work so we can pay the bills and mortgage. With this kind of windfall we could pay off the mortgage and bills and have enough money so that my wife could stop working and stay home and help me with my medical needs. This would also open up a job for someone that is out of work.

    • Opening up a job for someone else would be a decent altruistic thing to go. Do you think that $1M would cover all of your medical needs?

      • HI Sandy. I am sure you get this all the time. But I am a struggling mother or 4 with debt coming out of my ears. My husband is a small town police officer and I work part time medical billing. I am begging you for $$. I am so afraid we will lose our house and have no where to go with our four kids. They are 8,6,4 and 2. It would be so nice to be able to provide them the basic necessities. I know this is probably ridiculous to you, but I thought I would try. Congratulations and all the best to you and your family.

        • Hi Darcy,

          I have a couple of suggestions that I think you might like. I’ll be publishing that in a new article on September 2. Please come back!


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