If I Had a Million Dollars, I’d Spend It Like This

How many times have you thought about how you'd spend a million dollars if it were suddenly yours? Like a zillion times? And that was probably just this past week, right? So here’s my problem. I really want a million dollars and I’m tired of just wishing for it.

Have you ever wondered what you'd do with a million dollars? I've given it a thought or two (or more) and here's how I would spend it.

Getting a Million Dollars

Back in the 1990’s, one of the biggest hit songs was The Barenaked Ladies singing “If I Had a Million Dollars”. Imagine, they probably made a million dollars just singing about that. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? So simple and yet why didn’t any of us do it?

For most of the people who have walked the face the earth, that’s all it has really been, just a sigh, and a wishful dream. Today, while the number of millionaires in the USA is at an all-time high, for the average person, their best hope for a million dollars is probably hoping that their numbers will come up this week in the lottery. And I’m talking Pick 6 and not the Pick 3 here.  Speaking of the lottery, there would be plenty of taxes to be paid on any winning lottery ticket. The state and the feds would probably be looking at about 40% right off the top of that winning total. For a million dollars, you’d probably walk away with only about $600,000.  Why does that sound so damned disappointing?

Money Makes the World Go Round

It’s a fact: we live in a world that puts a huge emphasis on money. It’s really nothing new. Just look back as far as you’d like into history and there has always been the societal drive to have more and more money. Ok, to be fair, before we started using paper and coins, we used jewels, gold, silver, and all of that kind of stuff and people would do pretty much anything to get that. I’m pretty sure that back in the Stone Age, the guy who had the most rocks was the guy who lived in the biggest cave. Not too much different today, just check out the homes along the Pacific Coast Highway in California and see if what I just said translates into today’s money equations.

Why do I want a million dollars? If you have to ask me that question you are either the new Mother Teresa or you already have a million dollars and just don’t understand that not everyone has every creature comfort they could ever want. I mean, Jay Leno for example, has over 50 antique classic cars to play with whenever he feels like it. The garages alone he uses probably cost a million dollars.

Now you might think this is one of those personal finance posts telling you to increase your earnings and save your money from a young age, sock it away in retirement accounts, and soon you'll be a millionaire without playing the lottery. That's all true, but that's not this post at all. Well, then you might think this is one of those personal finance posts telling you how to invest a million dollars if it suddenly came your way. Great idea, but again, not what this post is about. If I were a younger man, I might go the investment route, but honestly, if I got that million dollars tomorrow, I just might spend it. Having already accounted for the taxes, I'm already down to $600,000. So here are my priorities:

Reasons Why I Want a Million Dollars

Teeth don't last forever

I need to fix my entire body. If you remember, both my wife Suzanne and I have medical issues. Besides my diabetes and heart condition, and her rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, there’s the latest tragedy, the dentist. I need dental work and although I still have (almost) all my teeth, I see what’s coming and it’s not a pretty sight. I’m 67, and I guess teeth just don’t last forever. OK, I could have taken better care of them, but that was 1978 and it’s a little late to pine.

Oh and yes, my wife is in a similar boat. In fact, she was at the dentist this week and was told that she needs a root canal and a replacement crown that will run about $2,700.91 to fix. It would be nice not to have to worry about that. I could fix her teeth, pay for a complete set for myself (let's say $10,000.00) and still have $587,299.09 left.

My laptop is on the fritz and I might need a new desktop too

It seems like I’m buying a new computer much too often these days, and I can’t tell you why except to say this, the technical team here at Super Saving Tips, aka Suzanne thinks our CPU is about to explode. It seems to be rebooting anytime it feels like it and making noises that I’ve only heard before when watching “Chiller Theater”. To go with it, I tripped over the recharger for the laptop and somehow broke the connector so I can't recharge it.  A part of it jammed into the laptop and I can’t get it removed so that will be making a trip to Mr. Fix-it this week. Total cost estimated between the two: $1,500.00. Balance on my million: $585,799.09.

Then, there’s the mortgage

Yes, Wells Fargo Bank owns my soul to the tune of $133,000. Nice people, Wells Fargo. You remember them, the folks who brought you “account openings for those who didn’t want them or even know they existed!” It would be so nice having that paid off right about now since I am retired. Hmm, that won’t happen until 2042 and I will be 92 then. Are the lottery tickets still available for tonight’s drawing? Balance after paying off the mortgage on my million: $452,799.09.

Cars and boats and planes

Ok, boats and planes I actually can do without. It’s the car thing that’s a bit annoying. Three years ago we downsized to just one car. It was a noble attempt to cut our cost of living and of course be kind to Mother Earth. But, truth be told, I am so conditioned to having my own car and going out whenever I want to go on a whim, that it is frustrating not having that second car. Slap me on the wrist, but I miss it. My wife does almost all of the driving these days. I was actually thinking of giving up my license and just resigning myself to being chauffeured around all the time. A million dollars would change all that. I can see it now, a beautiful brand new Kia Sportage with all the trimmings for just $19,840.77!  Balance left on my million dollars: $432,958.32.

Then, there’s the kids

I have two grown children. My daughter is kind of a financial disaster. Her career choice was all about being a useful, caring, loving person who works with handicapped kids. Unfortunately, the earning power from that and the lack of some good common sense and judgment in her everyday management of her money and her life is pretty lousy. Paying off her debts and freeing herself of it might lead to buying a new car and a nicer place to live and sure I’d be willing to be her ATM machine and help her out. I’m guessing she’d need at least $75,000.00 to get out from under her current conditions. I say guess because there are certain rules of secrecy involved here. Technically as her dad, I’m not allowed to know anything more than what she wants to tell me about her finances since she turned 9 years of age. She’s 35 now so you can see where that is going.

My son, 24, is down in Florida trying desperately to open his own business. He’s going to school part-time and trying to work while managing his startup in men’s cosmetics. A check for about $50,000.00 probably gets him over the hump and I might even invest some of that million in his idea. He’s a pretty smart, albeit poor kid.

Balance left in million dollars now $307,958.32 (less another $50,000.00 for investing in it, why not?) and that leaves $257,958.32.

Fun and travel

That would be a YES! Cancun, Paris and why not Tahiti too. That takes care of this year but where to next year? Oh, of course, London and Liverpool to check out all of the Beatles stuff. As long as I can physically handle it all…I'm there. Worst case scenario, I'll cruise to Britain on The Queen Mary 2. Total: $28,500.00. Million dollar balance left: $229,458.32.


Of course I’d have to allot some money for charity. I have a few favorites and so does my wife. As I have gotten older I have been giving more than I ever used to do. Just yesterday, I wrote a small check out to a human rights charitable organization. That check would be much larger when I hit that million. I have several gifts in mind and totally I think that a $50,000.00 gift would be significant from us to a few different places. I’d definitely do that. Balance left in my million after a bunch of donations totaling $50,000.00 is now $179, 458.32.

Beefing up the emergency funds and making investments for my wife’s retirement

Last on my list are a fully-stocked emergency fund and then a retirement program for Suzanne. I want to make sure she has the funds she’ll need in her “golden years” especially if she is unable to return to work in the future. We have already started the plan but this money would ensure her comfort in the future.  I figure put $70,458.32 into the emergency funds and the remainder, $109,000.00 invested in a really good bunch of Vanguard mutual funds. Balance: $0.00.

When it comes to the rest, like clothes and electronics stuff, I’m good. I have enough clothes to wardrobe an army of me’s since I still have a huge bunch of things that I have just never thrown out or donated from the past 30 years. Anyone who needs a sports-related T-shirt, just drop me a line. I seem to have a few hundred extra ones of those for some deserving person.

Here’s an interesting little fun fact to chew on. I started working when I was 16, I mean the kind of work that gets you a W-2 and makes you file a tax return. So from 1965 to 2012 when I retired, I worked a total of 47 years. Would you believe during that period of time I earned in salary almost $1,400,000.00. So, I guess I am a millionaire in some sense of the word.

The problem, of course, is that I spent way over that amount during the past 47 years. Oh if only I would have had the common sense to put that money in a big piggy bank. Imagine what I would have written about in my blog today if I had done just that!

Moral of the story: don't play the lottery. Real winners take their money and put it into savings and investments.

Do you think about being a millionaire? Are you working your way towards that goal right now and do you think you can achieve it? What would you do with a million dollars if you had it right now?