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When we moved from Oklahoma to Arizona I drove the Subaru, Sheila, and Greg drove the Tundra, who he named Percolator? Harvey Judgerson? I can’t remember. The point is, I had a lot of hours to listen to financial podcasts and think about money in the solitary comfort of my own vehicle. How much we’ve made, how much we’ve saved, and how much I’d like to have invested to consider us worthy of a true “we don’t have to work anymore” retirement.
One million dollars
Using the ever-popular Four Percent Rule, if we had $1,000,000 invested in low-cost index funds earning an average 7%/yr, we could withdraw 4%, or $40,000, every year and theoretically not run out of money before we die. Our million dollar dream does not include the money we could get from social security which we don’t depend on but would thoroughly enjoy.
What would we do with all that money?
I closed my eyes and imagined we already had a million dollars and thought about the life I’d like to lead if I didn’t have to worry about bringing in an income. But then I opened my eyes quick because like I said, I was driving to Tucson. I kept a stack of papers and some markers next to me so I could make notes while I listened and drove. I don’t need to see to write, so don’t worry, I was perfectly safe. In no particular order I made a list of what I would do if we had a million bucks:
Read by fireplaces.
Travel at will or full time.
Be a campground host.
Teach Financial Peace University.
Exercise every day.
Hike, camp, backpack, ski, bird.
Be a hospital retirement motivator.
Be a National Park volunteer.
Do medical missions.
Live in an RV.
Be up for sunrise every day.
Help people get their finances under control.
Be a free life coach.
Stop worrying about other people.
What would you do with all that money?
So what if I walked up to you today and said “Here’s a million dollars. Figure it out.” Of course I’d slip in a Life Plan, but go ahead, think about it. Close your eyes if you aren’t operating heavy machinery and imagine what you would do if you didn’t have to work anymore; if I handed you a million dollars in cold hard cash. Make a list. Write it down. Go on… I’ll wait.
Mmmm yes that sounds great.
Oh yeah I love it.
Wait, what? Pay off other peoples’ debt? Have I taught you nothing?
Sorry, this is your dream. Keep going…
What did you figure out?
If you’re like me, you realized you don’t need a million dollars to live the life of your dreams. It occured to me I don’t want to put all my time and effort and potential future happiness toward some huge life dream when I could be doing those same things right now, without a million dollars.
And I realized if I don’t do those things now that make me happy and bring me joy and fulfillment because I’m waiting until I have enough money, well then I’m just making excuses, aren’t I?
Oh man did that sit well with me.
Dream big, but keep your feet planted firmly in reality
Obviously I’m not going to hand you a million dollars, or any dollars. Because something for nothing is never a good idea, and giving someone money without teaching them how to handle it is the root of all evil.
I am simply encouraging you to realize your life dreams. To figure out what they actually are, and to work toward them all day every day, any chance you get. The very idea that I can pursue my dreams in the life I currently live has brought me more peace and contentment than I can possibly express in a blog post. It empowers me to keep working, and encourages me to spend less and save more, and brings so much joy when I do get out to hike, or eat a popsicle in the sunshine, or help someone make a budget.
Pursuing my million dollar dreams helps keep my tootsies right here in reality when my head is off in the travel clouds.
I don’t need a million dollars to live like a millionaire, at least not yet.
What would you do with a million dollars?
I’ve made my first printable to help you find out!