Monday, June 21, 2004

Now how much would you pay?

I was a little surprised by some of the answers to Scalzi's Weekend Homework question.  In the sense that -- even conceding that I live in one of the pricier cost-of-living states in this fine union of ours -- I came away with the distinct impression that many of my fellow journallers don't have a really solid concept of what a million bucks can and cannot buy.

I don't mean to single anyone out, it's just an overall feeling. 

I mean, let's look at what this money can actually buy.

Lots of people want to send their kids to college.  A totally admirable thing.  D'you know what tuition at an Ivy League school runs these days?  $30,000 per year.  Call it $40,000 if you want the kid to have a roof over their head and eat regular meals.  Send a kid to an Ivy League school for four years and whammo! you're down $160,000.  And what if they want to continue their education and go for an advanced degree?  Face it, if you're talking about the top schools in the country (and don't you want the best for your kids?) sending just one child to college and grad school could eat up more than one-fourth of your million.  (Too bad you've got that million.  Otherwise, your kids might have been eligible for financial aid.)  Two kids and you might as well set $500,000 aside right off the top.

(Yes, yes, I know -- you'll put the money away now so it earns interest so that by the time your children go to college, you'll have a bigger pile of money.  But by the time they go to college, the tuition prices will have gone up, too.  Let's just keep this all in today's dollars for the sake of simplicity, ok?)

Lots of people want to buy the proverbial house on the beach.  Well, I had a little trouble searching the 'net for beachfront real estate listings specifically, but here's a couple...  Looks like if you want beachfront for your million, you're talking about a condo, not a house (at least in California) -- and it will wipe out your million (and then some) in no time flat.  If you want a house, sheesh, forget it.

(Yes, I know -- you don't need to pay for the whole thing now, just a downpayment.  And, sure, that's true.  But where are you going to come up with the money to make those massive mortgage payments on a monthly basis?  You sure can't quit your job and become a surfer-bum.  You'd have to work extra hard just to support your house.)

Things seem to be looking up if you want property in Hawaii.  On this guy's site (you have to do the search yourself, I can't get links to individual results), you can actually scare up an oceanfront house for $260,000, although it is on the rather low end of the market.  On the other hand, click on his "featured homes" link and you'll see that most of the properties are well over $1,000,000.  Those with particularly killer views exceed $3,000,000.

What else was on everyone's list?  Travel.  And, yeah, now you're talking about something you can do with an awful lot less than a million.  But it still ain't cheap.  A random search for around-the-world cruises yielded this rather nifty number on Radisson.  This pricing guide shows you can put you and your significant other on the ship for just under $100,000.  Of course, that's in the absolute cheapest room and with the "early booking discount."  Super first class all the way can set you back over $200,000.  Each.  So, yeah, you can definitely afford to splurge on some travel if you find a spare mill in your pocket.  Just be sure to spend conservatively.

Even charity ain't as cheap as you might think.  When trying to find out how many kitties and puppies could get spayed and neutered with $1,000,000, I came across this shelter where you can underwrite the cost of a cat for a year for $500, or a dog for $1000.  That's right, your million can buy you 1000 dog years  With a 12.8 year average lifespan (says this site) it means that your million dollars could safely shelter 78 dogs for their entire lives.  In the alternative, they've got a plan where $5000 is the cost of taking care of an animal for life -- in which case your $1,000,000 can shelter 200 dogs and cats.  That's it, people.  Your million can't build and staff a no-kill shelter -- it can just buy enough cage time to save 200 animals.

Depressing, innit?


andreakingme said...

As one of the multitude who had little to NO concept of what a million would buy, I'm going to stick my head in the toilet bowl now.

The first thing I'll do if I ever win the lottery is to contact a financial advisor. Um hm.

chattiekimmie said...

I have to admit your entry is very enlightening.  A dollar just doesn't stretch as far as it use to, and I had no idea really.  I'm glad I didn't do the assignment now. lol  I think if I had a million I'd pay off my debts then seek advice from an advisor for the balance.  I'd probably stay in this house, drive the same vehicles for a few years, and work.  Okay... my husband continue to work. hehe  How's that for a realistic p.o.v.? Thanks again for the cool entry.  Have a fantastic day!!! :))

lifes2odd said...

Great entry! You're going to be getting tons of attention coming your way after Scalzi's "pimp" of your journal! :-)

viviansullinwank said...

Great entry. It's easy to overspend and/or unrealistically spend with imaginary money LOL   I think John's assignment brought out the dreamer in everyone who blogged about their wish list/blue sky list :)

annalisa135 said...

:::deep sigh:::  yeah, i guess i was a bit in the clouds with all i wanted to do with the money.  honestly i can't even actually physically imagine that kind of money.  but i would definitely use it towards my children's education before anything else.  And I'm not really interested in the Ivy League schools.  I know they are supposedly "the best", but as long as they receive a good education and are happy, that's good enough for me.  big hugs, NZ.