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

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 06/18/2013 @ 7:17 am In Personal Finance | 16 Comments

There 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 [3] (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 [4], 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 [5] 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 [6])


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[3] goes to charity: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/charity-navigator-research-charities.html

[4] pay the gift tax: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/gift-tax.html

[5] collectibles: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/collection-worth.html

[6] suburbandollar: http://www.flickr.com/photos/suburbandollar/3448592481/

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