Saturday, June 19, 2004

Bring on the Cash

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #10: Congratulations! You've been given one million dollars. What would you do with it? But wait! There's more -- seems you've been given two million dollars. Would you do anything different with the second million than you would with the first?

For the purposes of this assignment, assume that you've got two million after taxes -- so you don't have to worry about Uncle Sam and your state and local governments dipping into your pot of cash. Also, you've got it all at once -- no installment plans.

(Extra Credit: If you had two million not to keep but to donate to a charity, which charity and why?)

Isn't it a shame that a million bucks isn't a big enough figure to make you ponder quitting your job and livin' large for the rest of your time on the planet?  I mean, used to be a time when "a million bucks" was the stuff "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" was made of.  Now, even without doing all the interest rate/inflation rate math, I can safely say that a million dollars would not be enough to sustain me in the style to which I have become accustomed (as they say) for the next 30-some-odd years.

You have to realize here that I have no kids or other obligations beyond keeping the cat in kibble, so I'm basically looking at life as a zero-sum game.  You know, where there's just enough money in your bank account at your death to pay off the funeral home.  You also have to realize that I am, basically -- knock wood -- incredibly happy with the way I live, to the point where I'm not actively looking to be kicking things up a few more notches.  So, really, quitting work and keeping life going at pretty much the same standard would be the Really Big (financial) Dream.  And a million bucks isn't enough to cover that.

But two million might be.  Two million (assuming it is plopped into an annuity or wisely invested) would probably be just about enough to let me stop working without any drop in my standard of living.  So if I was given two million, I'd quit my job, continue living life pretty much as I always have been, except I would instead fill my days and nights with:  (a) teaching algebra, (b) seeing and reviewing plays, and (c) being an amateur Sherlockian (see below) -- all of which are pursuits I'd very much like to spend my time doing, but they don't pay enough.

If I had a million, on the other hand, I wouldn't change anything.  I'd put half of it away, on the theory that $500,000 in the bank now would enable me to retire a good ten or so years earlier twenty years from now -- which would certainly be worth it.  As for the rest, I'd look at it as $25,000 per year in mad money.  An extra $25,000 this year could remodel the bathroom.  Next year it could buy a really nice new sofa and that cruise to Alaska.  The year after that, it might go to paying down my mortgage.  It'd just be a nice pile of money to play with, however I want, each year until retirement.

Extra credit:  Two million to charity.  I consider myself a "theatre person" and therefore make most of my (current) charitable contributions to what I consider the standard "theatre person's charity" -- Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  But two million dollars is the sort of amount that could make a huge difference to a lot of smaller charitable organizations, and I would seriously consider chopping the amount up into 20 $100,000 grants to smaller organizations where I would see immediate results from my contributions.  Like $100,000 worth of books donated to local schools; $100,000 in clothing and school supplies for a local group home for abused and neglected kids; and $100,000 to the local humane society.  I wouldn't so much be interested in making contributions to fund research, change laws, or build buildings -- I'd want to use the money to directly impact lives.  In that respect, I'd aim toward organizations that support literarcy, education, children, pets and the arts.

I've thought too much about this, haven't I?


1 comment:

chattiekimmie said...

Naaa you didn't give it too much thought, but it is a great thought you've given. :)