What would you do with one million dollars?

Imagine for a moment that you had one million dollars.  Seems like a lot of money, right?  You are filthy stinking rich!  You won the lottery!  You picked the right stock!  You showed Las Vegas who’s the boss with your streak of good luck.

Vegas at Night

Sure, those are all plausible ways to strike it rich and get a quick million.  Of course, what are the odds?  Scratch the lottery and don’t double down on Vegas.  Those are bets on some long odds that are more likely to leave you broke and crying than sitting on piles of loot.

Seriously, you are smarter than that anyway.  Clearly you are a savvy investor and you used your investing acumen and deep intellect to carefully screen and pick the right stock that would make you an instant millionaire (and show everyone how smart you are).  Given your investing acumen and deep intellect, you would be remiss not to bet your million on the next sure thing stock.  Which, knowing your luck, would soon shrink to nothing as your “investing strategy” doesn’t pan out.  Should have gone to Vegas after all buddy!

Uh Oh!

But let’s not talk about the deep intricacies of investment strategy yet.  That is for a future discussion.

Let’s go back to the million dollars you were imagining at the beginning of this post.  You are once again rich!


But what does a million dollars really get you?  What can it do for you?  Is it enough? 

All legitimate questions.  The answer depends on you.  Think about where you are today and where you want to go.  Live intentionally and with purpose.


  • How do you live now?
  • What would you do differently if you had more money or more time?  Or are you living the perfect life today?
  • Do you have expensive tastes?  Can you downsize your budget?
  • Does it make sense to sacrifice your standard of living today to save for tomorrow?


  • Do you love working and want to work forever?
  • Will you always be physically and mentally able to work?
  • Are you happy in your current profession or is there some calling or avocation you want to try out?
  • Are you burnt out?


  • Do you have interests and hobbies outside of work?
  • Do you want to spend more quality time with friends and family?


Everyone will have different answers to these questions.  A recent poll from Gallup said people don’t particularly like their jobs and would prefer to do something else.  Actually it said “Americans Hate Their Jobs, Even With Office Perks“.

Just 30 percent of employees are engaged and inspired at work, according to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, which surveyed more than 150,000 full- and part-time workers during 2012. That’s up from 28 percent in 2010. The rest … not so much.


A little more than half of workers (52 percent) have a perpetual case of the Mondays—they’re present, but not particularly excited about their job.

The remaining 18 percent are actively disengaged or, as Gallup CEO Jim Clifton put it in the report, “roam the halls spreading discontent.”

That is just shocking!  There are actually 30% of employees that are engaged or inspired at work?  My hope is that many of you fall into that 30%.  My fear is that most of you are part of the other 70% (and that is why you are surfing on this site at work!).  The good news is, you can start thinking and plotting your exit from that 70% today.

And for you 30%-ers that are actively engaged at work, don’t hit Alt-F4 yet (or whatever shiny stylized fancy buttons you zany Mac users employ to close browser windows).  You may love your job today, but you are just one cost cutting effort or Megacorp acquisition away from getting downsized and tossed out onto the dirty dismal streets of Sadville.  You too can start plotting and planning your eventual escape from the delicious cheesy treats the overlord leaves you each 1st and 15th of the month in your currently “engaging and inspiring” rat race of a job.

Um, this guy still hasn’t answered the question “But what does a million dollars really get you?”

Soooo, you were paying attention and realized I still haven’t answered the elusive question.  The answer is simple.  A large sum of money, like a million dollars, will get almost everyone a lot of something.

Time.  Freedom.  Toys.  Travel.  Experiences.

A million bucks may not be enough to get you a life of luxury forever.  But it can easily support you (and even your family!) in a life of relative comfort indefinitely.  And that is why Money is the Root of All Good.  It allows you to live the life you want.

I am sure I will get a few skeptics at this point questioning my math skills.  Perhaps questioning my sanity.  Again, all legitimate questions that you should ask of any faceless person spewing advice on these internets of ours.

In this first post I can’t possibly convey the complete method to accumulating a large sum of money.  But I can provide a very rough outline:

  1. Reduce your expenses
  2. Save and invest your money.  A lot.
  3. Reduce your taxes (step 2 will do a good job cutting taxes)
  4. Give your investments time to grow
  5. Enjoy the benefits of being wealthy


For the time being, just think all this over.  If you are eager to start on the road to being wealthy, figure out one way to save more money each month.

Come up with a new way to make a little extra money or some area of expenses that you can cut.  It doesn’t have to be big as the point of the exercise is to simply get you started on the road to being wealthy, not get you to your final destination.

Commit to this money saving idea by posting in the comments.

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  1. “I would invest half of it in low risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to my friend Asadulah who works in securities…”

    All kidding aside, I’m a few steps into your rough outline and I can say with certainty that a million dollars is nearly twice what I need to achieve financial independence at my current expenses.

    But in the name of science, I would:

    Buy land near my family, build a super-efficient monolithic dome house (possibly entirely off-grid). I would hobby-farm to a high level of sustainability/self-reliance and spend time with my loved ones.

    I would explore farming as a business, with the exception being that my ancestors all farmed to put food on the table and support their families. Without that stress or pressure I can try new things, take risks, and possibly make a real impact.

    …And in case you’re wondering – just replace all the ‘woulds’ with ‘will’ and that’s my real plan after FI!


    1. Sounds like a plan! If we were older and just the two of us, under a million might be totally fine. We have 3 young children, so we have to include them in our expenses (for at least another 17 years anyway). Always good to hear about someone else who can live just fine on not a lot of money.

  2. My wife and I just got married a couple months ago. We have an extra bedroom in the basement of our house, with its own bathroom and shower and living room. Our money saving (making) idea fell into our laps – my wife’s cousin just moved in and is paying us rent. This will help us get to FI faster!

    1. Great way to keep your housing costs low, or looked at another way, bring in some extra revenue.

      I’ve heard of people renting out all the other bedrooms in their house and paying nothing for their own housing. Not a bad deal if you don’t mind roommates (or family in your case).

  3. I do everything possible to keep it as illiquid as possible and away from my grubby, greedy little hands b/c I know I’d spend it on crazy stuff like first class flights while I’m traveling!

    Instead, it’s producing about $38,000 a year in interest interest income and I’ll be penalized if I withdraw early.

    1. That’s smart to “lock” it away from yourself if you know you would blow it quickly. I have heard some make similar comments regarding a 401k. They actually like that it’s locked up to 59.5 without some financial wizardry to tap it earlier. They don’t view it as “savings” or “cash” or something that can be spent.

  4. I would definitely:

    – Invest
    – Set up a system to create a “paycheck” for myself off of the interest
    – Quit my job and focus on side projects
    – Devote more time (and maybe a tad more money) to a yearly travel plan

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