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Asking You: How Much Money Do You Need?

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately: How much do you need?

Whether you’re in debt or you’re saving for the future, how much would you like tax free? And what would you do with it? What’s your “perfect sum”?

If I could get tax free money today, what I’d like most (tax-free to do whatever I want with) is $150,000. That would be enough to pay off all our debt right away, put some into retirement, and put some into savings. Plus there’s some places I’d like to give money to if only we had more. Debt puts some dampers on one’s giving.

Of course, it’d be awesome to have more to save and invest and give away even more. And we can make do with a heck of a lot less. But my biggest goal right now is to be well out of debt…and this would do it.

Now it’s your turn. If you’re game, I’d love to know more about you. How much do you need?

(Bonus question: How can you move towards that?)

{ 2 trackbacks }

How much do you need? | Sense to Save
February 4, 2008 at 3:52 pm
Meet The M-Network: An Interview With Mrs. Micah. | My Two Dollars
May 7, 2008 at 10:00 am


SJean February 3, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Well, I’ll try not to be too greedy here.
20k to destroy student loans
10k to beef up efund to a better level
15k to allow me to max out retirement accounts for the year
20k to start a nice downpayment fund
15k for a newer car (this is a little greedy)

So 80k would really be all I need (not counting taxes). Maybe another 20k for charity, to bring it to an even 100k.

If I had all those other goals taken care of, I probably could max out my retirement every year on my own.

How can I move towards it? Slowly, but surely, I will have those things. It’ll just take several years…. :/

Caro February 3, 2008 at 11:27 pm

It’s a very interesting question. We make enough to get along reasonably well right now, but there are always things I wish I could do around my house (custom bookshelves, an addition, a redone kitchen and bathroom), as well as a few other bigger items that I’ve been thinking about. So that would be what we would do if we had some fun money.

However, on a practical level, my biggest goal right now is saving more for my kids college funds and our retirement. I really want to have enough extra to fully fund our Roth IRAs each year, and possibly even increase our 401Ks.

So I don’t know how much the extra would have to be to do both. I would say your 150 to 200K would do nicely to take care of both my totally non-practical ideas, and the practical parts. However, knowing me I would probably pick one of my non-practical things and put the rest into the more practical saving for the future ideas.

The bonus question for me involves time (waiting for the youngest to get older and therefore cheaper in terms of daycare) and really watching my random spending more.

vh February 4, 2008 at 12:01 am

Hmmmm….. $23,750 to pay off the Renovation Loan. Plus enough cash in investments to generate $12,000 a year, the amount I will short of survival income after retirement. If my English-major math serves, I think would probably be around $150,000. So the total: $173,750.

Got any spare lottery tickets? πŸ˜‰

Early Retirement Extreme February 4, 2008 at 12:35 am

$0 – I’ll obtain it by hand waving. Wants.. now that’s a sad issue, but I would like million bucks merely so I can avoid having to explain my retiring with less.

Looby February 4, 2008 at 1:42 am

Hmm this is fun, I’d like $5000 for my student loan, $5000 for a trip back to visit our families for my SO and I, $5000 to split between my 2 charities of choice and I’ll take whatever else is offered and put it in savings! I guess if I was being extra greedy I’d take another couple of thousand for a new laptop for each of us. Can I have mine in Canadian please?!

fathersez February 4, 2008 at 2:14 am

I am surprised people are asking for so little.

Looks like there is still a lot of good in this world.

My experience has been that when we are given what we ask for, or even a little more, we want more, just a little more. and it goes on.

Likes someone said, even rich people want a $ more than the next rich guy.

m February 4, 2008 at 2:45 am

I calculated somewhere around 1,800,000-2,000,000
How can I get close to having that amount? Hmmm, let me see . . . have no idea!! I think your amount is a bit more doable. Good luck, you will get there, prob. sooner than you think, too.

Canadian February 4, 2008 at 8:10 am

I would like around $50,000. This would completely pay off our student loans and be enough for a down payment on a house.

Anitra February 4, 2008 at 10:19 am

We would be incredibly pleased to receive between $100,000 and $200,000. The lower sum would be enough to pay off all our debt other than our first mortgage; the higher sum would pay about 2/3 of our mortgage as well. If we got a windfall that large, we could easily afford to live on only one income, which is our eventual goal (want to have kids and not need to put them in daycare).

Dan February 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

I would really like $150,000 to buy land in my area. I’ve always wanted to live in the country.

Catherine L February 4, 2008 at 10:32 am

Mrs M – I would like enough to pay the school fees so I didn’t have to worry about them. My son’s fees are over 12k a year ($24k US) – so that would be $120 for the next 5 years. It would be nice to send my daughter also. Her yearly fees would be lower as she doesn’t need extra help – so that would be $19k for the next 7 years.

So I would need a total of $253k. I haven’t counted for fees going up as I’d get a slight discount for 2 of them. That in £126.5k – which is a lot!

deepali February 4, 2008 at 11:23 am

Hmm, good question. I’d like 10K for debt repayment and some extra coursework. 40K to donate to my favorite charity. And another 50K to stick in a fund for a while until I’m ready to start my non-profit.

SavingDiva February 4, 2008 at 11:30 am

$10k for an Emergency fund
$20k for a new car (to get rid of my high repair bills that just keep rolling in)
$80k for retirement (it would put me right around $100k, which would make me feel okay about getting my PhD and not being able to contribute to my retirement funds)


deepali February 4, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Oh, I didn’t answer the bonus! Well, the 10K is coming from selling my car and… maybe some magic. πŸ™‚ (My debt is actually more than that, but the overage is something I can easily cover).

The 50K will come from grants and some investment (which means it won’t come until I’m ready to get started).

The 40K… most likely inheritance from my parents. I think they’d appreciate it going towards a good cause (which, given my spending habits, is not me).

Four Pillars February 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm

You people need to think big!!

I’d like at least $1.5 million. That would take care of debts and give us a sustainable income of about $60k (indexed to inflation) which would be pretty cool…

and I’ll take more if I can!


RacerX February 4, 2008 at 1:20 pm

OK then as a counter to everyone…$10MM tax free…That would give me at least $500K/yr in interest to live off of. I would then reelax and spend a lot of time post more and better article on my blog πŸ™‚

OR…$721K would pay every debt and the house…

Ryan S. February 4, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Interesting. Since right now I’m debtless except for the mortgage… well, wait, I actually did a post on this on my blog awhile ago. πŸ™‚

There’s also some books on this concept, I think the most recent one is called “The Number”.

Bonnie February 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm

$11K to pay off my credit card debt
$6K to pay off personal loans to my parents (mostly incurred when I was laid off 5 years ago)
$10K to add to my emergency fund (currently at the bare-minimum $1K)
At least a 20 percent downpayment on a home
At least $5K for giving (although I agree with other posters–if my debts were paid off, then I could give more on a regular basis)
Anything else would be gravy. Even if I just received the $11K for the credit cards, that would help everything else come true so much faster!

deepali February 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm

@ Mike,
Well, if the sky’s the limit, I’ll take $5 billion or so and set up a foundation to rival Gates.

How to get there? Well, I clearly need to marry the head of Google. πŸ˜›

Alice February 4, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Once I got a lottery offer in the mail — subscribe to this magazine and I could win $5000. We had no money, so I thought that sounded pretty good — we could buy a good used car for that back then. But then I thought about our house — it needed significant renovation — hmm, another $5 – 10K would be good. Well, why not sell and buy a better home — how about $50K? And it would be nice to help out some folks we loved — $100K? By the time I’d decided we really needed a million dollars, I realized it was not good for me to be thinking along those lines!

Heidi February 4, 2008 at 3:46 pm

$265,000 would make me debt free.

I would take the money that I’ve been putting towards student loans, mortgage, and my car and invest it. I would also probably start my own business since I wouldn’t need my current salary to pay bills.

Fiscal Musings February 4, 2008 at 4:08 pm

I’d go for a cool mil. I just want to invest it all and see what I could do.

Becky@FamilyandFinances February 4, 2008 at 4:15 pm

If I was going to be NOT greedy, I would ask for $72,000 to pay off our house. We’ve been blessed and that is our only debt. I could always add to that for home improvement projects, retirement funds, etc., but if the mortgage was paid off, we would have more spare money to save for those things.
As it stands, we just continue to save for those extras a little from each paycheck. Without winning the lottery, we’ll have the house paid off in about 10 years πŸ™‚

plonkee February 4, 2008 at 4:19 pm

£200K. That way I could pay off the mortgage, and finish the house things that need doing, whilst still giving 10% to charity and 5% to each member of my immediate family.

Frugal Mama February 4, 2008 at 7:46 pm

I’d love to have 107k to pay off my mortgage. Other than that, I don’t have any debt.

A February 4, 2008 at 7:49 pm

25k to knock off the student loans
50k for a house down payment
10k for investment
25k to wipe off some of my parents mortgage.
12k to pay for additional classes so I could change careers.

= 122k. Any extra would be invested and some donated to charity. Then again, any free money would be rad.

CanadianSaver February 4, 2008 at 8:11 pm

With $100,000, I’ve had a very nice cushion to put into savings/retirement. I’d like to remodel the kitchen, but I think for $15,000 I could have a really nice one… that would leave $85,000… perfect!

Ashley February 4, 2008 at 8:57 pm

I would take anything $40,000 and up. $40k would pay off all my debt (all school related except for about $1700 left on my car). That would leave me with a little left over (about $2k) to put into savings. Heck, if I only fell into $2000 I’d be happy with it and would pay off the rest of my car. One less monthly payment would be amazing.

Momto2Boys February 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

I would also go with the $150K number. THat would pay off all debt including our home and student loans. We are a one income family so paying off all of our debt and being mortgage free would be HUGE for us. We’d be able to spend a little more freely and to also give a little more freely! Anything extra would be lovely as the previous commenter mentioned though!

Chief Family Officer February 4, 2008 at 11:32 pm

My number is a whopping $2.5 million. That would allow me to quit work to be a stay-at-home mom and we could live off the interest income and still pay for the kids to attend private school. I’m sure we could do that on a lot less money, but I tend to be rather conservative πŸ™‚

Nick R February 4, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Lets see, the breakdown is like this:

Student Loan : 18K
Visa Debt : 10K
Family Loans : 7K
Enough to buy a good house in my city outright : 200K
Reliable Car : 25K
Fully Business Upgrade : 30K

TOTAL : 290K

How am I going to get there? By becoming the best photographer in atlantic canada by 2012.

Patrick February 5, 2008 at 7:06 am

My wife told me she doesn’t want us to win the lottery, she would rather us earn the money on our own. I’m good with that line of thinking.

My goal is having enough cash to retire our mortgage which would allow us to easily have one income and raise our children (when we have them) with fewer money worries. I’m working on that now. πŸ˜‰

majellamom February 6, 2008 at 10:28 am

Well, I think that my number would be right around $100,000.

We have just over $70,000 left on our house (our only debt)

We are currently working to save $20,000 for a newer car (we’ll be moving up to a minivan) by July of 2009.

And just to give us a little wiggle room, eventually we plan to have about $15,000-$20,000 in savings for emergencies.

How we are getting there: We did the Dave Ramsey debt snowball to pay off $10,000 in less than a year (we had a baby that year, too!). We slacked for a while, but have gotten back on board with the new year. Since Jan 1, we have earned just under $5000, and saved $1750. Our savings goal is $1100 per month for the next 16 1/2 months. That should get us our car by July 2009. Hopefully we will be able to keep up at close to that pace (we might have to drop it back to $800-$900 per month with changes in car insurance) to have a nice emergency fund, it should take us another year and a half after that!

Tanya February 7, 2008 at 10:39 am

Well, it depends if you mean “how much would you need to accomplish all your dreams (or at least the ones money could buy?)” or “how much would it take to make you much less nervous about your future”?

For all my financial dreams– $100k to pay off student and graduate loans, $2mill for a condo in a brownstone in the east village (NYC), a 50k emergency fund, $500k in retirement savings, $250k in personal savings (cause, y’know, shit happens), and $250k for a few years off of work in which I could do my own research and travel the world… and enough money to bribe the PhD program I want at Columbia to admit me (?)

Enough to make me significantly more comfortable? $18k to pay back my private loan and a $5k emergency fund. And, if getting a little more spoiled, I’d love another $10k for a lovely trip to Europe (I’d like to go one one sometime in my twenties or thirties, but I doubt somehow it’s going to happen) and another $12k for my retirement fund. So… $45k.

I’ve got several job interviews in the next few weeks, I just finished my masters, and I’m networking like crazy… plus living as cheaply as possible while I get the loans out of the way (right now 40% of my take-home pay goes to my student loans).

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