No, you don’t have to have a million dollars to start out…but Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity asked a bunch of us what we’d do with a million dollars. Most of us came up with standard answers involving paying off debt, buying houses, helping people, etc.
Like you, most of us don’t have that million dollars just lying around. And it’s unlikely we’ll ever get a million dollars all at once. Answering seemed almost silly.
Still, I think it’s a good exercise. It helps us put together our goals, our hopes, helps us figure out what we really want. Over our lifetime, we will probably earn something close to that. $500,000, $1 million, $5 million, $500,000 million (ok, maybe not that).
That money comes in and out of our lives. Some of it is spent on our everyday needs. The million dollar question seems to assume that we’ve already got the basics covered (unless “retire now” is on the list). But generally there’s more than we need.
So coming up with our “if I had a million” is actually a great starting point. But instead of answering and dropping it, let’s keep going.
If I had a million dollars I’d pay off our debt, buy a house, help my parents finish their mortgage, give some away, and invest. I’m super-boring that way. Maybe your plans involve traveling the world and starting a quilting business. Or maybe they’re like mine.
So what does that mean for how I live?
Well, it means that we try to avoid new debt. It means that we put more money than necessary towards paying off the debt because that’s part of our goals. It means that in the future we’ll be saving up for a down payment when we’re ready for a house. It means that we’ll keep giving now and hopefully give even more later. It means we’ll invest.
I would probably also get a new laptop and some fabric, which are both short-term achievable goals. So when I decide the time is right, I can start saving up for them.
The only thing that I won’t be able to do is help my parents with their mortgage. If we had more than enough, I’d like to help them out since they’re getting near the end. But by the time we have that kind of money I expect it’ll be paid off. Or they might not even be living there anymore.
So not willing a million dollars isn’t a big problem for my dreams. I just have to learn to live with what I’ve got and what is still to come.
Some ways to optimize your the million dollars you’ve got coming into your life:
1. Don’t take on debt you don’t need. Paying finance charges makes your purchase a lot more expensive.
2. Prioritize. Some things, like food and rent and a little fun, are important now. Sometimes you have to buy a new computer. But when buying things, ask whether it’s part of your million dollar spending plan.
3. Plan. Have a million dollar spending plan. If you’re going to achieve your goals, you have to know what they are. You can come up with time frames, dollar amounts, whatever works for you. At this point the only part of my big plan I’m working on is giving and paying off debt. And a little investing. As things change, I’ll start coming up with new plans.
4. Enjoy it. Don’t stress about your money. Unless you’re having trouble making ends meet…getting rich slowly isn’t a crisis. We all have more than enough stress already in our lives, adding to it isn’t constructive. If you want to make more money, look for sensible ways to do so (i.e. get rich quick is a bad idea). But don’t let your goals become a prison.
What are your million dollar plans? Are they just a vague idea in your head, or are you ready to turn them into something concrete?