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Your Take: What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?

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Earlier this week Nickel sent me this awesome video about someone building a ridiculously posh treehouse in their backyard. The video’s background music is If I Had A Million Dollars done by the Barenaked Ladies Bluegrass Tribute (I think!) and so I thought to ask a few personal finance bloggers what they’d do if they had a million dollars. Would they build a treehouse in their yard?

Surprisingly none of them wanted to build a treehouse in their yard. In fact, the vast majority did exactly what responsible pfbloggers always advise people to do, pay off debt, save for the future, and then spend a little of the rest on yourself. Here’s what they said:

Flexo said:

Start a foundation promoting arts education, a million is just enough to get it started.

Paid Twice said:

I’d get out of debt, buy my parents a house where we live, pay taxes, give 10% away, and whatever is left, put into retirement and college savings for the kids.

Nickel said:

If a million dollars suddenly fell into my lap, I’d invest the vast majority of it. The concept of “financial freedom” is very attractive to me, so I’d focus on building up that nest egg. I’m not saying that I’ll necessarily quit my job when we reach that magical crossover point, but it’s hard to put a price on being in a position to make that decision.

JD said:

I would leave it in the bank. I’m old and boring.That’s not quite true. I’d put it in index funds until it reached $2-$4 million, then go all Suze Orman and shit, putting it into bonds and living off the proceeds.

Lynnae said:

[I double posted one quote and managed to lose Lynnaes….]

MrsMicah said:

Get out of debt, buy a house, help out our parents, give some to church/charity, and invest the rest.

MoneyWatch said:

Pay off mortgage (approx $300k) save $300k invest $300k and spend the rest – holiday, car etc.

NCN said:

I would purchase a nice home on a few acres, and put the remainder in savings. Over time, I would use the savings to pay for kids college and future ‘major purchases”. And, I have one or two close friends / family members that I would like to help.
I might upgrade a few things in our house, but the last thing I need is more ‘stuff’. I’d use it as a major-league security blanket. We’re homebodies, but we might be inclined to take an extra vacation or two a year, if we had that kind of money in the bank.

Trent said:

Put it in something that earned a very secure 4-5% in perpetuity – t-bills or something – and then basically stop worrying about the day-to-day crunch of my life.

Cap said:

If I’d ever win the lottery or receive some large windfall, I’d love to be able say some grand things such as I’ll properly invest it and make it grow so that I can help notable foundations or charities. But when I really think about it, I think realistically I’d take care of my immediate loved ones first. It’s a bit strange… when I was much younger; I would most likely dream of the wild things I can acquire from winning the lottery. These days, as long as my family and loved ones are happy and content with their life, I’ll feel pretty rich — regardless of our material possession. This may sound like a cheesy canned response, but it’s the cheesy truth!

What would I do with a million dollars? I’d replace the roof to our house, buy my lovely wife a Prius, then invest the rest in a good mix of income generating stock market investments and subsidize our current income with the earnings. A million bucks is a nice chunk of change and makes for a good “life subsidy.”

What would you do with a million?

{ 43 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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43 Responses to “Your Take: What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?”

  1. Four Pillars says:

    I’ll echo Bill – that’s definitely the original Barenaked song – I’ve never heard of the bluegrass version so I’ll check that out.

    Anyways – I’d pay off debt, give 10% to family and invest the rest in dividend stocks. I wouldn’t quit work but man, if I really felt like quitting – I could…


  2. MoneyNing says:

    Dividend stocks is a good idea because of the income and low tax rate (for now). I wouldn’t be looking for capital appreciation so much so value stocks over growth since there’s less risk on the down side.

  3. AndyS says:

    I’d go to vegas and put in all on black…

    Realistically though I would use it to pay off outstanding bills and ramp my investments. I would though take 10% for fun and spend on whatever I want, 10% to family and friends in financial need and 10% to charity.


  4. thomas says:

    I’d take a month long vacation, and travel to all the places i want to see. Sure, everyone will pay off their home and debts, that should be a given. Hopefully nobody has more than a million in debt, so you could have some leftover money.

    But what would you REALLY do with the “fun” portion? Like I said, i’d vacation. I’d spend a 7-10 days in Europe, another 10 days in South East Asia, hop to China for 3 days, then spend the last week in Africa at one of those safari joints.

    I’d set up a scholarship at my alma mater. Nothing big, but something like a $1k yearly deal for 10 years. I wouldn’t target the super poor, I’d focus on the kids whose parents make too much for free money, but not enough to pay for college (which was my deal).

    I’d do a lot more if that million was 20 or 50, but you could still do some good with that new bag of nickels.

  5. clicclic says:

    If a million $$ fell in your lap you’d become REALLY conservative REALLY quickly. Or, you’d become FOOLISHLY FRIVOLOUS until it was completely gone.

    It’s amazing how quickly you learn about yourself when you receive a giant wad of cash.

    When you’re young your subconscious screams “don’t worry be happy!” and out the window it goes. If you’re old in age or in spirit, you become very scared very quickly about this cash. All these charitable comments (I’d give 10% to…) are quasi-laughable; if $1 mil appeared out of thin air you’d worry about only one thing: how to protect it and yourself. It’s a scary responsibility.

    Don’t fool yourself…

  6. pete says:

    (Context: I am 22 and debt free.)

    Would ‘spend’ it all on freedom called Vangaurd equity index funds, allocated according to global market caps.

    I would spend the dividend each year. With a current dividend yield of around 2% and a history of going up over time (also in real terms), this would give me more options in life. I would continue working, adding maybe 10K of my take home salary to the dividend stream in the first year, 8K the second year, 6K… and be financially indendent after 5 years at age 27. All salary over 10K goes into my nice big freedom nest egg.

    I can imagine myself using the dividends for special travel (North Pole, French Chateau vacation, Ferrari drivers weekend, …) in the first couple of years, for a nice wedding and house once travel starts to lose its novelty, and my future children once they arrive in – at least, I may hope – 7 years.

  7. steve says:

    i would make sure my children and my grandkids would be taken care of 1st. my mother wouldn’t have no more worries the rest of her life. as for me an my wife we have never had much so i would probably get a few nice things. and donate some to a cancer research program of some sort. that would be about it.

  8. Stuart says:

    red or black, red or black?

  9. peter smith says:

    IF i had one million i would build a mariner for boats to and a beuitful place where you can go play glof. Also build me a lummber comany and also a frew appartment to rent out. also a gas asstion. And people who are in need.

  10. francela says:

    If I had a million dollars I would help set up daycares that pay more and give benefits to the people who take care of our children…I have a 22 month old and a 6month old and as a working mom I need to have these facilities take care of our kids. I am scared that some of the daycare workers aren’t qualified to take care of young children.
    If all children at the daycare paid the same amount it would also be fair for the parents of high income and lower income be able to afford daycare of good quality. I think investing in daycares is a good way to make money and help society as a whole $1 million is a good start!!

  11. Trisha says:

    If I had a Million tax free Dollars! I would give a $175,000 to Charity! I would put some away for my four Children. Buy a House and a Car. Then pay all of my $50,000 in Debt! Live Comfortably!:)

  12. AJ French says:

    I would build a home for people who didn’t have a home to live in. In January 2009, approxiamtely 750 people were identified as experiencing homelessness in Madison County, Illinois. I have recently invested all of my time & energy into an organization that will provide housing (and employment services) for persons with psychiatric conditions, but $1 Million dollars would make it happen a lot sooner!

  13. janie eddins says:

    At the age of 59 I have already saved 1.2 million dollars and have a local govt pension and retiree health insurance after 36.5 years of employment total. This came about by very careful saving, budgeting, and fiscal discipline to achieve my goal of retirement while I am still young enough to enjoy it!! It has been well worth the sacrifice. I am still very careful. I want to STAY retired without worry or anxiety. Save, save, save. It is SO important! Janie

  14. ellington1 says:

    I would definitly invest for our future and maybe spend a mere 5% and no more,pay off my home ,buy a newer car,invest invest invest with the rest and live well praise god and jesus.

  15. nomad1 says:

    I would share it with my family and a few friends.

  16. Eunice says:

    I would pay debts, pay off my house, get a new car. Mine is over ten years. Help my kids who are not doing well. Help friends who need help, go on a vacation since I haven’t been on one in over ten years. Visit my children and great grandsons who I have not seen. I would set aside money for my grandson for college. He is really intelligent and I want him to have a chance at college and make something of himself. He was reading at the fifth grade level at the end of the first grade so he deserves a chance to do great things. He is really intelligent and I want him to have the opportunity to d great things.

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