I asked the question to a bunch of friends.
In a 1985 movie, Brewster’s Millions, Brewster, the lead character (played by Richard Pryor), inherits $300 million from his uncle, whom he has never met.
But he has to complete a challenge with several conditions.
To get his hands on the inheritance, he has to spend 30 million dollars in 30 days. But at the end of 30 days:
- he shouldn’t own any assets
- he can not give away money to other people
- he can not waste it by purchasing and destroying valuable objects
- he must get value for the services he buys
- he can lose up to 5% in gambling and
- he can donate 5% to charity and lose 5% by gambling
Finally, he is not allowed to tell anyone about the challenge.
Brewster, who has never earned more than ten grand a year, rents an expensive hotel suite, hires personal staff on exorbitant salaries, and places bad gambling bets. He does crazy things like running for Mayor of New York City, buying a million dollar collectors’ postage stamp, using it on a postcard, and hires the most expensive interior designer to design the hotel room for him for just a night.
Unable to spend 30 million dollars, Brewster becomes fed up with money and realizes the money’s real value, something his uncle intended all this time.
I have often wondered what people will do if they find themselves in a similar situation.
30 million dollars is a lot of money, but what if people like you and me are given a substantial amount of money and told to spend it wherever we like.
I settled on $100,000, and I thought I would experiment by asking people around me.
What if you are given $100,000 to spend as you like, where would you spend it?
The above question became my favorite icebreaker.
People’s reaction to the question was worth noting.
At first, they don’t want to be game enough to respond. Then they want to make fun of me. They wanted to know when am I handing out the money.
But with some encouragement and a bit of probing, I start getting interesting replies.
Different people at different times in their life will pick up different things to spend the money on. My husband will no doubt invest the money in shares, and my daughters would go traveling, a friend of mine said she would hire house-help at least once a week.
Another friend wanted to go cruising for the rest of her life. Travel was the common thing (of course, I was asking this question pre-Covid times)
Recently I popped this question in a forum.
Here are some of the responses.
If the $100,000 is still available, I’ll volunteer to take it.
It would go towards paying off short term debt, buying a different family vehicle (ours is about to die), putting some in the bank for our children’s education funds, and putting the remainder aside for a nice family vacation (probably Hawaii) when we may all travel again.
Oh, I’m so selfish. Of course some for charity. There are a couple of organizations we love to support.
These days I might spend it on political ads. Aside from that context, however, I would likely put a third to charitable organizations and invest the rest in environmentally friendly stocks. Although, a trip to Greece would be nice. I am currently retired with a comfortable nest egg, so I don’t need to pay off debts or the like.
I read this, but I struggled to answer it. However, if I were to go back in time to when we first moved to New Zealand, I’d have put it to pay off the mortgage. We were keen on paying it back as quickly as possible. And that’s the only thing I could think of. Even back then, I didn’t aspire for stuff that was beyond my budget. I see $100k as a substantial amont of money, and I’d personally feel it was a great extravagance to use it anywhere else than paying back a loan.
Today, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. The loans have been paid a long time ago. If someone just gave me that money, I’d probably give it to the St. John’s Ambulance service so they could buy some ambulances.
Hide it from my wife. She is gunning for the Amazon shopper’s hall of fame. Just kidding… kinda.
I would invest in myself (for learning), then put the rest in some kind of interest-bearing account and try to forget about it. I have actually received a lump sum in the past, and I was disenchanted by the experience.
I’m much less of a consumer now. Less enamored with the ‘goodies.’ They remind me of soap bubbles — all pretty and shiny. And empty. I came to the realization that I enjoy having money more than spending it. The money spent making good memories with my family is an exception. So is money spend on quality learning experiences.
There is no right and wrong answer to the question.
But most people, even the educated and savvy looking ones don’t know what to do with a windfall.
Research shows that 70 percent of people lose all of their financial windfalls within three years of receiving it.
$100,000 is not a huge sum that you need a financial advisor to tell you how to make the best of it.
And it is quite likely that you might get a windfall in your life.
According to a recent study by Cerulli Associates, there’s a massive transfer of wealth poised to happen in the U.S. over the next 25 years. An estimated $68 trillion will change hands, with the country’s aging population transferring those assets to charitable endeavors and their heirs.
I am curious to know what will you do if you get $100,000 with the instrctutions to spend it all.
Let me know by writing in the comments section.
I will let you my response in the next article.