TacoMa’am asked me a question she found on the internet the other day that, while ill-posed, was interesting none-the-less. The question was, “If somebody offered you ten million dollars and in exchange you could never use the internet again, would you accept the money.” Without hesitation, I chose the money. In fact, I’d probably quit the internet for a lot less than that, to be honest.
TacoMa’am seemed surprised that I was so quick to swear off the internet, and seemed baffled that I would be so willing to give it up for a “paltry” $10M. So I explained my logic thusly: Even conservatively invested at 3% long term interest (Lets say Bank CDs or Bonds), 10 million dollars would generate $300,000 a year; which after taxes would probably be something like $150,000 or so. With $150,000 a year after taxes in just interest, we would be set for life; and this is assuming I wouldn’t invest more diversely and aim for much better returns (which is a poor assumption). In the extra money we would be making above my current salary, our house would be paid off in two years, we would quickly be able to build a decent college fund for Tron and Tron Mk2 (whenever we get around to “constructing” him/her), the residual of our college loans would be paid off in a year or two, and I could finally get that swanky kitchen knife set I’ve always wanted. Hell, even without interest I could quite easily live off of $10 million for the rest of my life.
Sure my blog, any online games, online social interactions, and buying internet things would be history for me; but for almost immediate financial independence and security, I feel that’s a small price to pay. Plus, with $150,000 a year I could probably afford to pay somebody to do the internet stuff for me (though that might be breaking the spirit of the exchange… again the question was poorly posed so I’ll take some liberty with my interpretation of the rules).
Thinking on it more and more, it just seems like a better and better deal. For giving up a luxury (as core to our society as it is) I could be set for life… and a comfortable life at that.
But, TacoMa’am brought up something that deepened the conversation and made me stop and think about a skewed view. She mentioned that she thought $10 million wasn’t that much; and I could only think: “Since when?”
I think our near constant exposure to multi-millionaires has warped our society’s view on money. Unless you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars, you aren’t really rich, and anything below that isn’t much money at all. But then, a lot of these people making that much money are living lives that require that much money. Frankly, I can’t relate to that kind of lifestyle. Not at all.
I’m a simple person, I have basic needs and pretty modest taste. Where a super-star may need a mansion on a 10 acre city lot, I would never need more than a 2500 sq-foot home on 50 acres of forest land (for reference: 50 acres of timberland is about $60,000 and 6 acres in Bel Air without a mansion on it is about $18 million). Where a super millionaire may need 20 sports cars, I’m fine with a dependable sedan and a sturdy truck. Where the rich person needs their own jet, maybe I’d fly first class from time to time. Where they would eat at the fanciest restaurants, wear expensive clothing, and need a staff to keep their mansion clean, I would eat Indian and Thai food when I infrequently ate out, wear jeans and a T-shirt, and maybe buy a nice vaccuum… or a roomba. Parties would be burgers and brats on my grill, travel would be low-key with the family, the house would be modestly furnished with more of a focus on it being cozy and functional than modern and glitzy, and really other than a few super luxuries (like my big kitchen with a stocked larder and my wife’s indoor, heated pool) I can’t really see me ever living a lifestyle that would require me to have a “rich” amount of money.
And I think that’s the disconnect when looking at large amounts of money. There is an automatic assumption that if you have tons of money you must necessarily acquire a taste in expensive items and start spending that money. To me it seems like that expensive of a lifestyle could too easily fall apart if the income dried up – and in these turbulent economic times we’re all sensitive to how easily things can fall apart if you’re not super-rich. I’d be fine making oodles of money, no doubt, but other than a few upgrades to my life (bigger house, better kitchen, and a 52″ TV), I don’t think I would be all about spending tons of money just because I had it. Nope, I’d stick around until I’d built up enough to retire comfortably, then vanish into the night.
And seriously, what the hell do you do with all the extra space in a mansion anyway? I’d have a pudding room, I think. Yes sir, 400 cubic feet of various flavors of pudding and a spoon dispenser.
So, if you know anyone out there who’s giving away $10 million in exchange for quitting the internet*, send me their number. Oh, and you probably won’t hear from me again after that, for which I apologize in advance.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?
*Actually that sounds like an MTV reality show. Somebody get me their number, quick!