Saturday, January 21, 2017

If I Had a Million Dollars

What would you do if you had a million dollars? A million dollars you HAD to spend on yourself?

This is the question being asked of me this week in The 52 Lists Project.

BMG and I play a variation of this game a lot, the variation where we fantasize what we would do if we won a fantastical amount of money in the laundry. After many heated arguments, we have a rough plan that involves giving a certain percentage of the winnings to our siblings and their children. We would also designate a certain percentage to be put into a foundation that I would run as my full-time job. And then, whatever is left over, we fantasize about. Sometimes we take a ridiculously extravagant vacation. Other times we buy multiple houses around the world (Paris! London! Hawaii! New York City!). Fancy cars, technology,

I've been a "Your Money or Your Life" person for nearly 15 years, which means I try to be very thoughtful about using my money to help me live my values. So, in the absence of having to compromise with my husband about how to spend my windfall, I would want to spend the money on things or activities that will help me live out my life goals of having a strong center and lots of adventures. This is what I came up with:

Creating a beautiful, peaceful, contemplative home - $711,000
I often think I'd like to live closer to the water, or in a beautifully renovated farmhouse in France. So I started my $1M journey by poking around on Zillow and the internet. I quickly realized that making these dreams a reality would would eat the entire budget. Finding just the right place to live isn't worth $1M. So, instead I'd spent 75% of my budget on:

  • Renovating my house (again) from top to bottom, fixing the things we didn't do right with our 2013 renovation, adding space, repairing the things that have broken (e.g., the front porch) since we last renovated
  • Hiring a landscape architect to make the yard beautiful - front and back. I'm trying to do it in dribs and drabs, with a shoestring budget and no skill with tasks like masonry. 
  • Buying new furniture for the inside of the house to replace the Ikea pieces and the hand-me-downs that I wouldn't call "heirloom" quality

Travel - $192,016
Aside from wanting a beautiful and relaxing home, I'm not much of a 'stuff' person. This may be because I don't have kids, and therefore have no one to pass things down to. Suffice to say that, when I leave this mortal earth, I'd rather leave a legacy of adventure than a pile of things. So, I'd set aside $25% of the budget for the following bucket list travel experiences: .

  • I'd take myself on a luxury safari to Africa, combined with a trek to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. This is a bucket list item for me. 
  • I've long said my 50th birthday trip will be a whitewater rafting down the Grand Canyon with one of my sisters and one of my sisters-in-law. I'd foot the bill for this for everyone.
  • Also on my bucket list is seeing every single national park in the U.S. I'd hit the road (and, in some cases, the air) to make this happen over the course of one year.
  • I've also said I want to be the kind of aunt who takes her nieces and nephews on a special trip of their choice to celebrate their graduation - from either high school or college - depending on their personal trajectory. So, I'd set aside money to make this happen over the next two to 12 years. 
The only expense not included in either home or travel would be the purchase of a brand new, fully loaded, Subaru Outback, estimated to cost (in 2017 dollars) $45,000. I love my Subara Impreza wagon, but I'd want something with better towing capacity and more amenities. 

That brings me to $950,000. $50K short of the $1M goal. 

If I thought a little bit longer, I'm sure I could spend the remaining $50K. Maybe I'd buy season tickets to the Red Sox for as long as I could, or a shopping spree to replace my entire wardrobe, or maybe set aside money for a fancy gym membership or regular visits to the spa. All of these things would be nice. But, they are not core to to my lifelong happiness. 

So, rather than trying to figure out how to spend the leftovers, I'd plan to put the $50K I can't spend (plus all of the money I'm not spending right away) either into charities that make my heart go pitter pat, and/or in safe investments to earn income that I can use to supplement my paycheck. 

If you had $1M, what would you spend it on? 

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