To live an unconventional life you have to do unconventional things, which leads to unconventional conversations.
Which is why I enjoy meeting fellow early retirees and aspirees so much. There is so much more to build on than with more traditional thinkers: “Early retirement? Oh my…. I just don’t know what I would do with myself all day.”
So recently I had coffee with a reader who was passing through Taipei while doing nontraditional things, and we had a traditional conversation. This included riffing on that stereotypical question: “What would you do if you had $10 million?”
What would you do if you had $10 million?
$10 million is a lot of moola. It could be used to purchase homes/cars/vacations, sustain a $400,000 annual budget for life, help hundreds or thousands pursue higher education, or some combination or derivation thereof.
I was asked a similar question by J on the Fire Drill Podcast: “What is your absolute wildest dream? Wild. Out there.”
Both questions are inspiring – what would you do if you had no restrictions in life, financial or otherwise?
So of course I fumbled both answers. “Uh… I really just don’t know what I would do with myself.”
I’ve been living my dream for the past 6+ years. Early retirement and world travel were goals we worked towards for years, and I guess we haven’t gotten bored with it yet. I feel like Jeff Bezos.
To challenge my creativity, I sat down to think through how I would force myself to spend $10 million (just like that classic film, Brewster’s Millions.) First on ourselves and then on the world.
Spending more than enough
Houses, cars, fine dining… we already have all of that (or don’t want it.) I’m very happy being renters for life and never driving around to find parking, and I’m not hungry enough to eat 4 meals per day.
Literally, I can’t think of anything that we would buy up front so we would just add $10 million to our investments. Using the 4% Rule as a guide, we could spend an additional $400k per year or $33k per month.
- Taxes – It is nigh impossible to pay zero tax on $400k per year. Assuming a 15% effective tax rate on dividends and capital gains, we would spend $60k/year or $5k/month on taxes. Remaining to spend: $340,000
- Business Class – we recently booked ~$7k of economy class round-the-world tickets (we paid ~$200.) The retail price for business class tickets was about $40k. Remaining to spend: $300,000
- Nanny – the going rate for a full-time live-in nanny in Taiwan is ~$12,000/year. We would need a bigger apartment, both in Taipei and as we travel. This might add $6k/year ($500/month) to our rent. We would also pay additional airfare of between $2,500 and $13,000 per year (would he/she travel business or coach?) This whole concept makes me feel a tad uncomfortable, but it is the price we pay for financial success… Remaining to spend: $275,000
- Dining – with 24/7 outsourced parenting available, we would probably have more solo dining experiences aka Date Night. No more 1-star Michelin Star restaurants for us, 3 Star all the way! Extra spend: $500/month. Remaining to spend: $269,000
- Laziness – Over the past 3 or 4 weeks I’ve been booking trains, buses, hotels, and Airbnbs for our upcoming European trip. Maybe I spent an hour or 2 per day figuring it all out, including how to get good value out of housing and transport. Instead I could just throw $ at it, which might cost $500 more per month. Remaining to spend: $263,000
I’m not making very good progress here. I feel a bit like Edward Norton’s character in The Italian Job… it seems I have no financial dreams of my own, and would have to borrow from others.
Perhaps we could embark on once in a lifetime trips – $50k for an epic Safari in Tanzania or $200,000 to be amongst the first to launch with Virgin Galactic.
Winnie said she would maybe get a personal fashion consultant/shopper to pick out her new wardrobe (I suggested she just do this anyway…)
I suppose we could also downgrade our life while increasing costs by moving to San Francisco or something..
Go Curry Cracker Foundation
It seems we could push our already absurdly luxurious lifestyle up to 11 by spending an extra $100k or so plus tax.
I would also gift some $ to family to help give an upwards boost and pay for upcoming education expenses for nieces and nephews.
That leaves a whole lotta room for charitable efforts. Done properly, this would also reduce our tax bill thereby allowing even greater contributions. Specifically, I would make a lump sum contribution to a donor advised fund, which would allow annual giving in perpetuity.
My first priority would be to open a Go Curry Cracker charitable hospital.
“Wait, what is the name of your hospital?” Hahahahahaha….
Because laughter is the best medicine.
If funds were still available, I would like to promote world unity and brotherhood through travel by assisting young people from low-income / non-culturally diverse communities to have positive experiences with people from other cultures. Perhaps it would be similar to Birthright Israel, but in reverse.
As a guiding principle, we can use the popular joke/meme:
A Muslim, a Jewish person, a Christian, and an atheist all walk into a coffee shop…. and they all talk, and laugh, and become good friends. It’s not a joke, it’s normal.
Life is good. There isn’t much that more $ would do to make it any better for us, but could certainly help others.