Advertising
Advertising

If You Suddenly Came into More Than One Million Dollars and Have Exactly 10 Years Left to Live?

If You Suddenly Came into More Than One Million Dollars and Have Exactly 10 Years Left to Live?

“If you suddenly came into $20,000,000 and the same day you found out you have exactly 10 years left to live, how would you begin living your life?”

This is called the “20/10 question” and it’s one of my all-time favorites when working with clients.

Most people say things like “I’d quit my job and go traveling,” or “I would take my family around the world” and one very amusing response “I would buy my own cruise ship.”  Unfortunately for the last girl, we ran the numbers and found that $20 Million was NOT enough for her to enjoy a private cruise ship, though for the next ten years she could cruise almost non-stop and be okay.

What’s odd is what people who find themselves in this situation ACTUALLY do.

When someone gets this kind of money, they are far more likely to KEEP working than QUIT working.  The reason is quite simple: sitting around on vacation all the time is boring.  Very, VERY boring.

Sure, enjoying a drink on the beach for a couple of days is nice, but there’s only so much sun, swimming, and Anne Rice novels you can read.  After a while, you need something to DO.

Advertising

The second part of the question “10 years to live” provides a sense of urgency to the equation.  This helps us get rid of safe answers like “I’d invest in real estate/gold/tulips” or “pay off my house and put it away for retirement.”

If we know that our life is short, we choose to live a little more recklessly because we understand we can’t take that money with us.

Now, you may be wondering “Trent, what does this question actually DO for people?”

Why Should I Ask Myself This?

The answer is simple: it’s the way truly successful people approach life.

The vast majority of us will go to work with the plan to earn a steady pay check every week for the next forty years so we can retire and enjoy our grand-kids for the last 25 years we’re alive.  We might retire in Florida with other people in their “young 60s” and relax, but that’s usually the most exciting decision we’ve made in a long time.

We operate on the premise of “save now, play later.”

Advertising

This is a broken idea because it’s based on two flawed assumptions:

1) it is difficult to amass enough income early in our working years to enjoy ourselves without working constantly

2) we will have a “later” to enjoy

Let’s tackle the first assumption: earning enough income to enjoy your life early is difficult.  This isn’t really true, depending on what you consider a comfortable life.  Many times, we associate material possessions with happiness, so we work to buy “stuff.”

John goes to work at a job he doesn’t really like but which pays $70k/year.  With that money, he, his wife, and their three boys share a nice 3400 sq/ft brick home in a nice neighborhood.  He drives a nice car and his wife has the SUV.  After all the bills for said house, cars, kids, and other various bills add up, John can put back $7,000 year into investments for retirement (10%).

Does John sound like someone you know?  Maybe someone you see every day?  He should: he represents 60% of the American population.

Advertising

The problem with John is that there will never be enough money or “stuff” to provide the happiness he wants.  There will always be a new car or some nice addition to the house to purchase, which keeps him working at his less-than-satisfying-though-well-paying job.

The sad fact is, research has shown John would be just as happy living in a much cheaper 1800 sq/ft home with much cheaper vehicles.  People aren’t happier based on what they own; they are happier based on what they DO.

The second assumption: when we retire we will enjoy the benefits of a lifetime of hard work.

This is also false: depression is one of the major issues facing retirees.  When you’ve spent 30 years in a routine, even one you hate, finding yourself with nothing to do will leave you feeling useless.  No amount of Bridge can make up for a lack of purpose.  If you wait until retirement to enjoy the “fruits of your labor” you will miss out on life’s most enjoyable moments.

What’s the Solution to Life Enjoyment?

Do what successful people do: find something you would do for free and get so good at it people will pay you for it.

I have two friends which are stark examples of the effects of these philosophies.

Advertising

James is a very successful salesman.  He works for a company he doesn’t really like, dealing with issues he doesn’t really care about, and makes a very lucrative income doing it.  He diligently goes to work every day and his first thought is about when he will get to leave.  He has a very large house and nice cars, and his kids are taken care of.  He feels he’s “doing what he should.” If a company offers him better pay and benefits, he will probably take it to make some upgrades to his house and cars.

Kevin is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  After graduating college, he couldn’t find a job easily.  He started building furniture and signs in his shop as a way to pass the time.  He sold a few to friends and neighbors, eventually deciding to create a business out of his hobby.  He wakes up every day with ideas on what he will make and goes to work with excitement.  His wife is a schoolteacher who loves her job as well.  They live in a modest house with their little dog.  They love cooking together and hanging out with friends.  They don’t have a lot of extra money, but they can afford to live comfortable and take vacations during the summer.

Who do you think is happier?  Who stays awake at night stressed about work and dreading the alarm clock?

Now, here’s the million-dollar-question: which one sounds more like you?

More by this author

The 7 Deadly Sins of Happiness 3 Reasons Your Resume Sucks Why Introverts Make the Best Sales People If You Suddenly Came into More Than One Million Dollars and Have Exactly 10 Years Left to Live? Three Thoughts to Make You Instantly Happier

Trending in Money

1 How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success 2 17 Practical Money Skills that Will Set You Up for Early Retirement 3 25 Things to Sell to Make Extra Money Easily 4 How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide) 5 30 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

Advertising

So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

Advertising

Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

Advertising

You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

Advertising

Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Read Next