How Would Your Life Change With A Billion Dollars?

I use this amount because this is a life altering number. There are so many who continue to remind us that 1 million dollars today is not the same as 1 million dollars in the past. Therefore this larger number is to allow all discussion to surpass those barriers. Thankfully this has been a question that I have used in some form or another to make many big decisions in my life.

It is a wonderful thought experiment. It allows one to compartmentalize for themselves what money will and will not be able to do for you. Here is how I sequence it.

Relationships

I would most certainly have the same relationships. You would not be able to change the most important relationships such as with yourself and your family. Hopefully you already possess meaningful relationships well before you develop wealth since we hear more stories of money destroying relationships rather than the other way around. This part of one’s life needs to be solid as for many people, myself included, not getting this part of your life correct will cloud everything else. I am a firm believer that without meaningful social connections it is difficult to attain true happiness.

Many would agree that the easiest moments to make great friendships were during our younger years. Some of my most enduring friendships were cemented during university. Most of us were broke during that stage in our lives and we could enjoy one another’s company effortlessly. That certainly makes me pause when I remember that.

Health

This one is multifaceted. It is likely in the American medical system that you need money. Probably a lot of it. Thankfully I am in the Canadian medical system. However, to attain general good health probably has more to do with some basic principles- get proper sleep, eat less and maybe even fasting at times, exercise, do not smoke, do not drink alcohol in excess, maintain a healthy weight, wear seatbelts and bike helmets, etc.

I think of these broad strokes when it comes to good general health. I have found myself healthier and happier when I maintain a mainly whole foods, plant based diet. This is a very affordable way to eat. It certainly limits my ability to dine out as often since it is very simple to make sweet potatoes and beans at home!

With respect to working out I would never sign back on for a gym membership. After outfitting my basement with free weights, I simply can not go back. It is so convenient and efficient to workout out at home. And going for a wonderful run outdoors still can not be beat.

Finally, practices that maintain a healthy mental state usually involve meditation which is free! It is the ongoing practice of these basic health habits that will help each of us achieve better health.

Thus when it comes to healthy lifestyle habits, more money does not help all that much in this arena.

Education

This is an area that pays dividends to get right. I truly believe that a good education opens up many opportunities. I used my post secondary studies to train in a profession but my real education started after my formal training.

Being wealthy does not particularly aid with one’s appreciation of a good education. Especially for competitive programs, few gain entrance by simply paying more. And even those who get in by paying, they still need to do the requisite training and hard work to attain a degree or profession. The public education system thankfully still maintains a relative meritocracy. It is not perfect but if you are a hard working student, you still have a good chance to succeed.

So once again having a billion dollars won’t help you here.

Career

My husband and I have talked about this. I am grateful that he would not change what he does for a living. He enjoys his career and has no plans to give it up.

But having a billion dollars could allow one to work significantly less while their family is young. Or even take a sabbatical to pursue further study and opportunities. In this arena having a billion dollars could change this altogether. If you dislike what you do- you would simply quit. That’s what happens to some lottery winners. Unfortunately without adequate preparation to fill their lives with other meaningful activity, some of them become adrift and start to spiral downhill quickly.

This one is a wash- I think a billion dollars would be helpful but you could quit that job you dislike with much less money saved!

Investments

The investing principles should remain the same. There are only a few major asset classes where one could invest. Basically equities, real estate, business and commodities. Most investing is in some variation of all these.

It would be prudent to maintain an investing plan as you would be investing with even larger dollar amounts. This is where risk management would be crucial. And you would likely require excellent accounting and legal help to maneuver through the maze of it all.

Unfortunately, having a billion dollars here is beginning to feel like more work!

Stuff

This is the area that would change for most people. They start to dream about what they really want. But when you read the brochures to many of these lotteries, it is eerily repetitive. Everyone seems to want a dream home, luxury vehicles, exotic vacations, vacation homes, nicer clothes and jewellery, etc. I can not help but laugh that it is always the same slew of stuff. It is a veritable template!

I want a comfortable home, reliable cars and a relaxing vacation at times. I am not sure a billion would really help me here since I already have all those. The other stuff I think I would sell it or give it away since it sounds like too much of a hassle to keep.

Errands

Since I refuse to hire people to do for me what I can do for myself, I would not tend to buy more properties or stuff that I need to maintain. I prefer designing a home that almost cleans itself with good dishwashers, Roomba, built in cabinets that keep dust out, etc. I like hardwood floors that are easier to clean. I prefer minimalist furnishings since it is much easier to clean your home with less clutter.

I definitely subscribe to the trifecta for all errands of eliminate, automate and delegate. But eliminate first!!!!

Whenever I do this thought experiment I realize that I would not change much of anything. I still believe that a good life is filled more with things that require accomplishment such as getting a good education and developing a meaningful career. Furthermore, the most important aspects of life for myself involve relationships and health. Those can both be attained with minimal costs.

That is the value of these thought experiments since it allows one the ability to envision life not being all that different with the additional wealth. The ability to enjoy a simple and minimalist life is truly priceless. Performing these thought experiments might highlight exactly what you feel is lacking in your current life. Try talking this over with your partner. See if you share any of the same goals or are they divergent?

I have developed an appreciation for a minimalist uncluttered life. This runs counter to having wealth purchase things for me.

Most of this life journey begins in our minds. You can build an effective and efficient life by being very clear of exactly what you want. No one has the answers for your life. Therefore take the time to figure out what it is that you might be seeking. Enjoy your thought experiment!

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