How Much is a Million Dollars Really Worth?
That is the million-dollar question…no pun intended. It sounds like a lot – and it is – but well, it’s not. It is exciting when that life event you’ve been anticipating finally occurs: retirement or selling your ranch or business. It is especially exciting when there is a seven-figure check involved. However, it is important to put your excitement in check fairly quickly.
You finally have that freedom, that windfall, that feeling of relief. So now what? For some reason when you see that chunk of money, you want to do something with it. You have all “those things” you have always wanted to do or buy and now you have the money, right?
But hold on. What about the reason you built it in the first place? Was it not to take care of the new, retired you and your spouse? Was it not to take care of the old person you would be some day? If you spend it or even part of it, what happens then?
Too often we see people carried away by these “new money” emotions. And then they are shocked to learn that what is left after they do a little spending won’t provide what they need it to do. Even though these impulses didn’t seem outlandish, it may not have been in your best interest. Many people want to do that last home remodel, buy a second home, buy a car, build a barn, etc. Let’s say whatever “it” is, costs $100,000 cash. What if I told you that your “it” really cost you almost $300,000 in terms of your retirement? 1. Would you still do it?
Maybe you think you actually would, but what if you could have your cake and eat it too? Have you not waited and saved money for those things you wanted to do in the past? What makes today any different?
If you were 30 years old again today, you would need to save a little more than $430 a month to retire at 65 with that million dollars. 2. That’s 35 years of hard work and discipline – pat yourself on the back! And when you see that seven-figure check, remember that. It is the fruit of that young person’s labors that is taking care of the person you are today.
So how much is a million dollars? How much income can it provide for you and for how long? Is it enough? Is it enough for everything you’ll face: retirement, perhaps living too long, taking care of a sick spouse, widowhood? Before you spend a penny, you need to know if it is enough.
A million dollars translates differently for everyone. For some people it is $40,000 a year for the rest of their life. For some, it is only $20,000. Then, there are those it may produce $60,000 or even $70,000 for, but there are un-pleasantries associated with those larger numbers. You may run the risk of running out of money, having less when you or your spouse need it later, not keeping up with the cost of living going up every year and disinheriting your children and grandchildren. For some, income can be guaranteed. For others, it pays not to pay for the guarantees.
The one thing a million dollars isn’t, is a lot money. So, when you see that windfall coming, remember the years it took to put it together and ask yourself, “If time is money, how much is a lifetime?”
― Ljupka Cvetanova, The New Land
Just how long will the rest of your life be? How long will your windfall need to last? Remember that reality will set in eventually – it will be your choice whether it is a gratifying reality or a harsh one.
- Assuming an 8% growth rate and 4% annual income for 30 years.
- Assuming an 8% return and $14.20 per day investment for 35 years.