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What Would You Do With a Million Dollars?

Written by Nickel - 47 Comments

Here’s a bit of weekend fun… Jim over at pfBlueprint asked a bunch of personal finance bloggers what they’d do with a million dollars.

This was my answer:

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.

Boring, but true.

So… What would you do?

(Oh, and don’t forget to click through and read the other answers.)

Published on May 9th, 2008 - 47 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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47 Responses to “What Would You Do With a Million Dollars?”

  1. 1
    Nehal Says:

    “I’ll tell you what I’d do. Two chicks at the same time.”
    …But seriously, I definitely agree. I’d invest (nearly) all of it. Gotta have some fun with it, too you know. Can’t save it all for a rainy day.

  2. 2
    Sara A. Says:

    Diversify investments and live off 1/2 the interest.

  3. 3
    Allen Says:

    I would invest about 95% of it in a mutual fund most likely. 1 Million is not really enough to retire at my current age so I would also consider working, but would have a lot less pressure worrying about money. Besides, retiring too early could make it a little too boring since there would really be nothing to do for long periods of times.

  4. 4
    Sara Says:

    I’d pay off all my debt, which isn’t much right now, the pay off my house and buy a house for my parents. Whatever is left over would go into savings.

  5. 5
    kimiyasdad Says:

    i would get a new car! nothing too fancy just a 07 08 toyota. probably avalon. the rest would be put into a cd or something where the interest is paid to my savings or checking so i could live off it for a while. take a nice little 6-12 month break. then get back to work. =)

  6. 6
    Kacper Says:

    I would put about 50% of the money on saving accounts. About 10% I would invest in stocks. Some money I would use to make my dreams reality (own martial arts shool etc.) and rest probably on some funds.

  7. 7
    dogatemyfinances Says:

    I would spend every penny on a million dollar house, which is a whole lot of house in Texas.

  8. 8
    Carole Says:

    I’ld do just what I do with my “non-million” dollars I have now: Donate some/save some/spend some. In that order.

  9. 9
    KC Says:

    A million bucks ain’t what it used to be. I’d probably buy another car – as my Acura is turning 8 and has not been problem free. But I’d still buy used ($25k). I’d probably upgrade my home – maybe to a 4 bedroom with a yard so I could start a family. I’d still take out a mortgage as that’d run me $500k in my neighborhood. But I’d pay at least 50% down ($200k + equity in current home).

    I probably wouldn’t tell anyone either – not even my parents. I’d probably go visit and offer to get them a nice gift, same for my sister. But they are fairly simple people who don’t owe any money (both parents and my sister have paid for homes!) and don’t lead an extravagent lifestyle so I have no idea what they’d want as they really have no true needs ($25k).

    But you are always reading about lottery winners who become suckers cause every church, charity, con artist, relative is there with a hand out to get their share. (Don’t get me wrong – churches, charities, and family can be good things, but they will always be there with a hand out) That’s why I wouldn’t tell anyone. I’d give where I saw a need and not let anyone think I had anymore than anyone else.

    So I guess I’ve spent a total of $250k already not including charities, which would be something I would give to over time. The rest would be invested so I could continue to help my family, myself, and others if needed.

  10. 10
    AJC @ 7million7years Says:

    As you say: add it to your nestegg (which had better be a LOT damn bigger than $1 Mill. by the time you ‘retire’!) … it’s interesting that $1 Mill. now invested wisely will spin off about $25k a year (adjusted for inflation).

    $1 Mill. in 20 years (which is what most people will say that they are skimping and saving for) will only bring in about $15k a year (in today’s dollars).

    When you think about it in non-emotive terms, $1 Mill. just ain’t what it used to be …

    … food for thought?

  11. 11
    MITBeta @ Don't Feed The Alligators Says:

    I wrote a post on Why I Still Play The Lottery that also covers what I’d do if I won:

    http://www.dontfeedthealligato.....he-lottery

  12. 12
    Josh Says:

    “I’ll tell you what I’d do, man: two chicks at the same time, man.”

    Seriously though I would pay off all my debt which would leave me with just about $700,000. Invest the rest, quite my job, and go work construction installing underground utilities with the local union at $35/hr May thru Nov and then ski Dec-April.

  13. 13
    Jonathan Says:

    Tithe 10%, invest the rest in index funds to pass on some day to my children.

    I don’t particularly like the idea of quitting my career and “living off the interest”. We have a young family, with 3 children 3 and under (and #4 on the way!). $1million could completely finance their college education, and help to buy my children’s 1st homes, etc.

    Although now that I’ve said it, I am not exactly sure how good it would be for them to have everything provided for “free”, no worries, etc. Think Paris Hilton. I’ve had to work for everything, to manage the family finances carefully, to live below our means and save for the future. Could raising a trust-fund-baby actually be a curse in disguise?

    Jonathan

  14. 14
    zeromoney Says:

    With 1 million dollars, I would pay off my condo, purchase 3 more in the same development, and start renting 3 of them out. I’d pay off any of my friends debts, and put the rest in the bank.

  15. 15
    sharetheroad Says:

    If I had a million dollars…I would convert my house to solar. Open a coffeeshop and invest the rest.

  16. 16
    Rick Francis Says:

    I would invest most of it in tax efficient investments for non-retirement accounts. Most likely I would choose Index funds + municipal bonds. I would move the money into the investments over a year or two so that I’m dollar cost averaging.
    Depending on the rate of return I may pay off my mortgage, and be debt free. I’m not certain though as the mortgage is only at 5%.
    I wouldn’t make any radical career changes for at least a year. $1Mil isn’t really enough to live off forever, but with a bit of compounding it could be… I think I would work part time so I have more time with my family while the kids are young. Longer term I might try opening my own company or take a very rewarding but low paying job.
    I would spend a bit of it short term to celebrate, say 5% to take some very nice vacations, get some nice toys (a large screen TV, new computer etc).
    -Rick

  17. 17
    TheMightyQuinn Says:

    I’d hide it from my wife! :)

  18. 18
    Calvin Says:

    I’d pay off all my debt including my house, sell my current old cars, buy new reliable cars with good gas mileage (nothing fancy), & invest the rest. Any extra money I have at the end of each month I’ll invest in the account. I just like the idea of not oweing a dime to anyone.

  19. 19
    Casey @ OYFP Says:

    I agree with MIT Beta – donate/save&invest/spend. A million dollars is enough to do a little bit of a lot.

    Unlike Flexo @ Consumerism Commentary, if I Had a million dollars I wouldn’t start my own foundation, I would contribute a portion to a foundation already doing good. There are so many deserving causes that already have the infrastructure in place to do good… why waste funds setting up another?

  20. 20
    Brian P. Says:

    Are we talking about a million dollars tax-free?

  21. 21
    Danielle Says:

    My husband and I would probably buy some land just outside of town and build a house with all the things we didn’t know we needed in our first house (can you say 3 car garage and solar/wind power). With more land we would need bigger garden tools…

    We have both had some business ideas rolling around in our heads the last year or so, and I suspect this kind of capital would push us to make it into a real business plan.

    We have some debt, and would undoubtedly buy something expensive (hybrid car/European vacation). I have thought for a long time I wanted to pay off my Dad’s student loans.

    Since it is true that $1M is not what it used to be, the point of this exercise is not usually to brag about how great we are off financially and how generous we would be with this money, but to determine what it is you really want out of life.

    Given that, once we get other things in order my husband and I should start saving for the next house and start drawing up the business plan. $1M or no $1M.

  22. 22
    Jayden Says:

    I already have a cushy job as an assistant professor and we bank my wife’s salary anyway. However, I know that she would find some way to quit her job and would try to never work again.

    If she didn’t though, I would say let’s take her salary and split it both ways each month and let the $1 million grow. I also would self-publish all of my books and see if I could make money from that…

  23. 23
    Kimberly Says:

    If we had a million dollars, we would buy a house. On a little bit of land. I would learn how to vegetable garden. I would quit my job and go to graduate school, become a CPA and then do taxes for rich people while my husband goes back to school.

  24. 24
    Wendi Says:

    Buy a nice house maybe in the $300,000 range. That will get you a lot in TN. A $30-$40,000 car. Pay off all my bills. Give close family members and a couple of close friends 20,000 each. Pay off my dads condo help my Sis and Bro put a down payment on a house they can afford. Find someone i trust to help me invest the rest for a good return. if i play my cards right my husband may only have to work part time. That would be great. Of course i would also have to take maybe 20,000 and go crazy, new clothes for the kids me and hubby, furniture I’ve had my eye on for years. New TVs for all the rooms a nice vacation to Disney World.

  25. 25
    Christopher Kinney Says:

    First off, to those who think a mill is THAT life changing, I suggest you do a little math hehehehe….
    I would pay the tax on it first, which in Minnesota would leave me with about 750k +/-, then I would use about 100k to pay off what little debt I have. then I would invest 200k in a broad base index fund and ride the market back out of this hole, and use that to pay off my medical degree, Then I would buy a modest $300,000 house in a decent neighborhood and spend another $100,000 making it the house of my dreams with all those little details that would make me never want to sell it. whatever is left I would have spent on incidental junk along the way so there is no way in hell I would quit my job, a mill isnt anywhere near enough for that!

  26. 26
    Amayy Says:

    If I won 1,000,000 dollars first, i would buy basically everything at Wet Seal (my FAVORITEE store:D) and then I might buy myself a trampoline, since my parents wont get me one:D

    since that would only add up to a few hundred dollars, i think i would split the rest in half, donate half to cancer research, and the rest to my Band teacher, because he does everything for us, and tries to give us the best out of what the band can afford. We’re doing every fundraiser, and i think it would be nice to give him some money to spend on the band stuff we need.

  27. 27
    Miriam Gaddis Says:

    Your financial advisors are going to HATE me. I would choose one of these:

    Give it all to my church.
    Start a construction company that only hired ex-offenders.
    Travel around the world and preach the gospel.
    Give away free Bibles.
    Evangelize though billboards and full page ads in magazines and newspapers.
    Go to Africa and drill a well in any town that needed water.
    Fill up my local food bank.
    Plant a church in a town that did not have one.
    Help change “bad” laws in the United States.

    Yeah, yeah. I’m a goody 2-shoes. I don’t care. THAT’S what I’d do!

  28. 28
    Patrick Coffey Says:

    If I had 50 million dollars, I would start a Church, invest a little in property, and give the rest to Voice Of The Mayrters, or Gospel For Asia. I would also by Ray Comfort out of tracts ,and start a big witnessing team.
    I would buy gobs of free Bibles, and pass them out to the poor, and I would purchase a local TV channel for Ray Comfort’s Way Of The Master.

    50 Million is a lot of money, and if one has that amount of money, it would be pure foolishness for him to buy himself extravegant needless things. He should put it towards preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    That’s what I would do.

  29. 29
    Daniel Says:

    Be imaginative my friends! I would sell or give away virtually everything I own and travel with my wife to every country of the world, taking on a something new in every one of them (whether it be a job, a voluntourism project, an educational opportunity, or just something invigorating or eye-opening)… have a few kids along the way (none yet but we look forward to starting) and expose them to the most exciting and enlightening life possible… and if we ever decide to settle down again we’ll probably make a boat home!

  30. 30
    Bill Hutson Says:

    I already work over 100 hours per week so that I can sustain Table Talk Ministries, we make free home repairs for the elderly and the disabled.
    First, I would eliminate the waiting list, we currently have 36 on it.
    Then I would purchase a couple newer trucks with tool beds and trailers so we could be more effective in our work.
    Lastly, I would be able to start a proper ad campaign to bring in donations, (they’re tax deductible).
    I actually, might splurge on a vacation/honeymoon, I haven’t had a vacation since 1982, I got married in 2002 and we never got to go on a honeymoon.
    I would continue to work until I knew for sure that Table Talk could become self-sustaining.

  31. 31
    earl the redneck Says:

    I would splurge and re-decorate the double-wide.

  32. 32
    amanda Says:

    that is easy i would use it to buy stuff in the store im not wasting money on somthing i dont want too buy only freeks do that ok/i mean it oh and i would buy a movie that i would like

  33. 33
    Steve Says:

    I have a million dollars, and it isn’t as great as you think. After you’ve bought a nice house, there isn’t enough left to get a free income from investments, so you’ll either have to start a business if you have the skills or keep on going to work.
    It does buy you plenty of free time though, so you can sit and worry about how not to lose it all.
    It did make me very attractive to the wrong kind of women, so I had a bit of fun at their expense for a while, but now I’m settled with a great woman and we’re having a baby. The security of knowing I can give that child all the support it needs is the best thing I’ve got out of having the money.

  34. 34
    vickie Says:

    I would give 30% into ministry and charity. 50% into the right investments for me. Then I would travel off the remaining 20%.

  35. 35
    Money Says:

    I would exchange all the money into $100 bills, make it into a nice pile and sleep on it.

  36. 36
    Nikki Says:

    If I had a million dollars I would pack up my daughter and I and move back home to Texas. I would buy a house and a car. Then finish my education and put the rest in savings…but Ill admit that there will be a lil shopping spree here and there for the two of us thats for sure!

  37. 37
    Anonymous Says:

    File for divorce, change my name, get custody of the kids and move to a different state.
    Once that’s done.
    Invest, travel, donate to a charity and party.
    (In order of importance)

  38. 38
    Chris Parsons Says:

    Pay off all of my debt (including mortgage), which would leave me with approximately $800k. Then I would invest $300k into stocks, $300k into rental apartment complexes, $100k into savings, and $100k into starting a business.

    In 2-3 years I would be able to buy a much nicer & larger house from the cash flow I’d be creating from these investments.

  39. 39
    Wendy Says:

    I would move my family out of Alabama, and move back home to New Hampshire, but a house in Laconia, maybe even start up a small bookstore. Whatever was left invest, and try to build a small nest egg. As I am disabled, I don’t need an elaborate home, just one that is adequate for my Mother, Son, and myself. Isn’t it wonderful to dream…What if I had gotten out of bed, looked at my nightstand and there was a million dollar check…Wow.

  40. 40
    Long life Says:

    I would invest a majority of the money, then I would live off the interest. Right now, my mutual fund just paid 16.94 percent for last month. It’s been averaging 11.34 since its inception. So, I’d pay off the rest of the mortgage, which is about 45 grand, eventually purchase a new home, within the next five years (because I don’t like to make moves without giving it great thought) or I could rent out my house and buy a new one. I think I could rent it out for about 2k a month and it only costs about 5 grand for property taxes and insurance. The new house I’d buy would certainly have a guest house so I could rent that out. Unless of course, I find a poor soul that needs to crash there for a while. I’d probably invest all the rent in a mutual fund such as the one I’m investing in now. I’d live off the interest and tell everyone with a handout that I’ve invested the money and only live off the interest. I’d probably start another entertainment website or write a book. Who knows? One thing is for sure, I’d make sure I’d help others, like the homeless or teenagers who are homeless. It’s something I’ve always felt led to do. Perhaps I’d start my own radio station. You never know. One thing is for sure, with that kind of money you can certainly live off the interest. And at 11.34 percent, you’re talking a lot of money! :)

  41. 41
    Long life Says:

    Come to think about it, I’d still shop at the killer sales when everything is 50 to 75 percent off. I’d still pinch every penny, like cutting out coupons and and selling all the stuff I don’t want on eBay. I usually buy designer clothes when they go down to 75 percent off, then after I wear them for a while, I sell them. I still think I’d do all that because I hate the thought wasting money. I even sell off all our old perfume and shoes on eBay as well. You’d be amazed at all the sales just from old perfume. LOL! I know it sounds a little cheap, but you know, even Kim Kardashian sells her attire on eBay after she wears each outfit. I want to save every dollar I can. I’d still fix up the same cars and drive them around before I went to purchase a new car. The new car I’d get would be bought at cost since my mother-in-law’s husband, who died, had owned car dealerships. If I didn’t have that kind of car connection, I’d still buy used and save every penny I could. I’d probably go to a pawn shop to buy antique jewelry or used diamonds, etc. Anyway to save a buck, that’s me! That’s always been me, and it will always be me. Once I’m done with my sunglasses, shoes or whatever, it gets sold on eBay. Then I go out and buy new designer attire on clearance. I buy designer because I know can pretty much get my money back when I go to resell on eBay! The only thing I could never buy is a used rug because I think that there are germs in those rugs, and who knows how many times the family dog has peed on that rug? That’s probably the only thing I’d have to buy new–that and my clothes, which I’d buy 50-75 percent off. Even the furniture would be bought at a thrift store or when they had a 75 percent off sale. I’m pretty cheap. NO matter how much money I had, I’d have to save much of it because there was a time when I had nothing. I was out on the streets, homeless. Now when I get something, I make sure it’s an investment. Even when people give me gift cards, I wait until they have a 75 percent off sale, buy sale items and resell it on eBay. I know it sounds crazy, but not having anything drove me to save and invest like crazy. I really appreciate everything I have now. It’s a great feeling to have my home almost paid off, even in the midst of an economic downturn.

  42. 42
    Marilyn Joan Hadey Says:

    IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS I WOULD BUY A BIG PIECE OF PROBERTY AND HAVE A 2 STORY HOUSE BUILT AND MADE SURE THAT I HAVE ALOT OF HORSES,COWS,BILLY GOATS,CHICKENS,ROOSTERS,CATS,DOGS,RABBITS AND A GORGEOUS PROBERTY TO LOOK AT OUT MY BEDROOM WINDOW AND SEE GREAT LOOKING WEATHER,AND GO AND FEED ALL THE ANIMALS AND OF CAUSE DO ALOT OF PLANTING. THANKYOU YOUR FRIEND marilynh89

  43. 43
    Marilyn Joan Hadey Says:

    IF I WON A MILLION DOLLARS, I WOULD BE SO VERY HAPPY THAT I COULD FINALLY PAY OFF ALL OF MY BILLS & FINALLY BE WHAT YOU CALL DEPT FREE. I HAVE BEEN IN DEPT SINCE MARCH OF THIS YEAR & ALL I AM LIVING ON IS $200.00 AMONTH IN FOOD STAMPS. I CANNOT EVEN COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT. MAYBE I CAN ALSO HELP ALL OF THOSE HOMELESS PEOPLE THAT HAD LOST THERE HOMES. I WOULD ALSO LOVE TO HAVE MYSELF WHAT WE CALL A HOME MAKEOVER, BY TY PENNINGTON FROM EXTREME MAKEOVER. I REALLY WONDER IF IT ALL WILL EVER COME TRUE. ONLY GOD KNOWS THAT. GOODLUCK TO EVERYONE. THANKYOU ALL

  44. 44
    Randy Says:

    I would purchase my mom and dads property in setup a windmill farms ,there is no reason for them to have to work everyday at 71 and 72 years old to make ends meet. in a recent wind analysis the property register to number 2 ,which will support wind turbines no problem ,anyone out there able to help me do this ,if it’s a legitimate offer feel free to contact me at rj196969 at gmail.com

  45. 45
    Randy Says:

    I would purchase my mom and dads property in setup a windmill farm ,that would give em enough money to retire ,there is no reason for someone 71&72 years old I have to work hard everyday to make ends meetthe property have a recent wind analysis and it is rated a 2 . if anyone can help make this happen ,and it’s a legitimate offer contact me at rj 196969 at gmail.com

  46. 46
    michael Says:

    Just help people everywhere and save the rest of it for a good retirement living.

  47. 47
    DDR Says:

    I would buy a house that has a elevator and give it to homeless people

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