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Brewster’s Millions: Could You Spend $30 Million in 30 Days?

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1millionDollars2There have been many movies made about money. One of the more interesting — at least from a spending perspective — was Brewster’s Millions. The movie was based on a novel written in 1902, and is one of 10 films based on that novel.

The main plot point of the movie is that Brewster has to spend $30 million in 30 days in order to get an inheritance of $300 million. Of course, he does have the option to accept $1 million up front and avoid trying to spend all that money. If he takes the $1 million, the rest goes to charity (minus a fee for the law firm executing the will).

Personally, I’d take the $1 million. I can’t even think about what I’d do with $30 million, much less $300 million. Plus, I’d feel great about the money going to charity. But that would ruin the point of the movie, and, of course, a thought experiment for the rest of us. The 30-day challenge comes with the following rules:

  • You can only donate 5% to charity.
  • You can only gamble away 5%.
  • You have to get value for services you receive (no extravagant tipping just to spend money).
  • You can’t own any assets already not yours at the beginning of the challenge.
  • You can’t tell anyone what you’re doing.

How Would You Spend $30 Million in 30 Days?

In order to make this work, you have to spend $1 million a day. The good news is that you could get a running start by donating $1.5 million to charity (5%), and then going on a crazy gambling spree in which you lose another $1.5 million. Boom! $3 million gone.

Of course, spending gets tough for the remaining $27 million. I would probably pay off my student loans and car loans, and then I’d have to ask the lawyers if paying off my home loan is the same thing as using the money to increase my assets. But, even if I was allowed to use the money to pay off my mortgage, we’re talking less than $300,000 for everything. Even if I remodeled house with the finest materials (questionable because of the asset issue), I’d still not  make a significant dent in the money I spend.

Another option is to give a few gifts out. In 2012, you can give up to $13,000 to an individual without having to pay the gift tax, and the lifetime exclusion through the end of this year is $5,120,000, so you could reduce your total amount by more than $5 million just using regular gift rules.

However, at some point you reach the limit of your generosity, so you have to start spending on other things. I would probably hire a personal chef to make healthy meals for me each night. We could buy all sorts of high-end Lord of the Rings collectibles for my husband. (But wait: Are those things assets? Maybe we couldn’t do that.)

And I’d go on vacation. I’m a big fan of traveling, so my family could take a great vacation, making sure that everything was done as luxuriously as possible. First class to various destinations around the world! Staying in the finest hotels! Eating the tastiest foods! But, still, I’m not sure that I could spend the $30 million in 30 days.

I just can’t imagine a lifestyle where I would use that much money. I know that it’s possible; fabulous wealthy people go broke because they spend like crazy. But I think about the lifestyle, and it just doesn’t do it for me.

What would you do if you had to spend $30 million in 30 days? Could you do it?

(this afternoon, we’ll see what Melissa would do with $30 million!)

(Photo: suburbandollar)

{ 17 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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17 Responses to “Brewster’s Millions: Could You Spend $30 Million in 30 Days?”

  1. I think I could do it. It would definitely be a great problem to have.

    Think about all the lottery winners who quickly go broke. For some, it would be hard not to blow through that $30 million.

  2. I think it’s possible, though difficult given the parameters. I would go for it with the goal of getting the prize of the $300 million.

  3. cubiclegeoff says:

    If you just rented a bunch of high-end houses/islands and yachts for a month, plus throw some large parties, fly first class a few times, and I think you’d burn through it.

    I think it would be fun and worth trying for the $300 million, most of which I’d donate anyway. $1 million just isn’t that much anymore.

  4. NateUVM says:

    The asset issue is a touch tricky, isn’t it…?

    Also, the gambling… Would it count to simply place a bet with the maximum 5% that might have a future payout at a date that is beyond the cutoff for determining success in the challenge? I.e. Get the $300million, and then, potentially win the placed bet, receiving the payout, too? That way, you also wouldn’t have to “waste” time gambling. You could just make one bet, and still, conceivably, “make” off of it…

    “Get Value…” Is there value in hiring a pilot to pilot the largest plane one could charter, hire a bunch of actors/actresses/extras/whatever to fly around the world, non-stop(less refuelling, obviously), for the whole month? THAT would have to add up to a pretty big bill. Wouldn’t the DOD be willing to help? Do that several times over, and I’m sure one could blow through $30million pretty quick….

    It’s too bad, from a social impact perspective, that the charity bit is limited to 5%, but I guess that is what makes the challenge. Just seems like such a waste.

  5. dmosinee says:

    When fabulously rich people go broke, it’s almost always because of bad investments — not crazy personal spending. For any normal person, throwing away millions of dollars left and right would raise all kinds of mental red flags — but if something is an investment, you convince yourself that it’s not really spending (even if it’s a stupid investment, like starting your own celebrity restaurant chain).

    If it’s allowed under the contest rules, you can lose 30 million dollars (or as much as you want really) in the blink of an eye if you get into heavy options trading.

    If the rules consider investment to be like gambling, then I have another simple way to win the challenge all at once… go to space. Wikipedia says that for 25-35 million dollars, you can take a Russian Soyuz spacecraft up to the international space station.

  6. JoeTaxpayer says:

    One word – Party. The CEOs and other big shots can throw multimillion dollar parties. So can I. 28 days of planning, one day to fly every friend I’ve ever made to one destination for a two day party. One band for the 40+ crowd, one band for the younger folk. I bet I’d lose track and go over by a few hundred grand.

  7. David S says:

    Finance every kickstarter program. As you are buying things (the prizes) I am sure that you could easily get through the 30M in a day.

    • …but then they would ship the final product to you, and you’d have the dreaded assets.

      You’d have to fund only *terrible* kickstarters, which could be a joy unto itself, I suppose. =)

  8. John says:

    Or… Go into it for the challenge, but don’t worry if you lose. Make sure that if you can’t spend the $30 million, you end up with over $1 million in assets and you’re better off than if you hadn’t accepted the challenge. You could still make a change in the world while attempting the challenge.

  9. Ria says:

    Divide half the money between several SuperPacs, and then run for Congress yourself. Political campaigns consume money like air. It took Hillary Clinton almost 4 years to retire her Presidential campaign debt. Also, this kind of giving is not considered charity and it is not tax-deductible. Run a lousy campaign on an outrageous and offensive platform, so that you lose the race. Reference those idiots who ran similar campaigns during the 2012 election cycle as examples to follow.

    Another money vacuum is scientific research. Set up a lab, rent a lot of expensive equipment, hire a bunch of very expensive research scientists, assistants, gophers, etc. Then tell them you want to find cures for (1) the common cold, (2) insomnia and (3) for preventing hair from going gray. It wouldn’t take anywhere close to a year to go through $30 million.

  10. Mark says:

    It would be easy for me to spend the 30 million. I would invest in 29 startups giving them each a million dollars. I would give 1,000,000 dollars away to a charity.

  11. Don C says:

    Interesting. I wonder what $30M in 1902 dollars would be in 2013 dollars.

  12. Deborah I says:

    It would be incredibly easy to blow through 30M. I would set out traveling around the world and stay at the best places and rent the best boats, and cars, and go to the best restaurants. I would have to be careful not to go over the 30M! It would be a great celebration and a beautiful way to begin my new relationship with the 300M! And of course then I would have gotten that out of my system, so I could focus on the best way to set up businesses and charities so that I could make that 300M keep on giving.

  13. KenderJ says:

    Very easy – fund every kickstarter campaign. Sell all ‘kickstarter funding awards’ on e-bay for $0.01 each. Then buy lunch for yourself with the money you make on e-bay. done.

  14. SammyB says:

    Ever been to “this is why im”? Poof. Thirty million is gone in no time flat. Even faster if you also go to “dude I want”. I’m Not shamelessly advertising, these sites really offer products that will suck up your millions.

  15. David says:

    Keep in mind that was 30M back in let’s say 1985 when it was released, it would not be equivalent to use the same amount due to inflation. To follow in his footsteps you would need to spend over 66M dollars in 30 days.

    $30,000,000 of 1985 dollars would be worth: $66,815,144.77 in 2015

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