If I Had a Billion Dollars

woman with money

If you are a child of the 80s and 90s like I am, you probably remember the Barenaked Ladies song “If I Had a Million Dollars.”  They sang about all the things they would do if they had a million dollars, ending the song by saying “I’d be rich!”  Well fast forward to today and a million dollars is no longer what it once was.  With soaring real estate costs and the crazy inflation of the past few years, most people could easily spend a million dollars and it might not drastically change their lives. 

What Would You Do with a Billion Dollars?

However, thinking about what you would do if you came into a large sum of money can be an illuminating exercise.  When we think about financial goals, most of us think about paying off student loans or saving enough so that we can retire at 65.  But those goals aren’t very exciting.  While they are important and should be done, they aren’t the kind of goals that get most people bounding out of bed in the morning to get started.  Goals that are exciting and get people motivated are things like supporting an organization that they are passionate about or building a business.  When we start to reframe money as a tool to help us achieve our goals, rather than just something we need to have to pay off debt or save for the future, working on our goals can be a lot more exciting.

To shift from thinking about the financial “shoulds” to the financial “coulds” start by thinking about what you would do if you suddenly (legally and ethically) came into a large sum of money.  For the sake of the exercise, let’s say you woke up tomorrow morning and found your checking account with a billion dollars in it.  Why a billion?  Because while most of us could easily spend a million dollars in today’s economy, it’s pretty hard to spend a billion dollars.  At that level, money is no object.  You and your family will be secure.  How would your life change?

I Would Quit My Job, Of Course!

For many, the first thought might be quitting their job.  Is that what comes to mind for you?  If so, is the cause that you don’t want to work ever again, or just that you don’t want to work at your current job anymore?  Are there things you would like to do if salary and benefits weren’t the main driver?  Maybe you have always dreamed about working for a non-profit or becoming a ski instructor, but those jobs don’t provide the resources you need to maintain your lifestyle.  But if money was no longer a concern, how would you like to fill your time?  While retiring at forty-five might sound like a win, in reality most people need some kind of purpose to build their days around beyond endless golf.  Finding a career that is aligned with your passions is one possibility. 

What about starting that business that you have been secretly thinking about for years?  Maybe its opening a bakery and coffee shop in your neighborhood.  Not only do you have to be comfortable with an unpredictable income, but there is also the huge upfront cost of building out the space.  What seems nearly impossible in your current reality because of the financial risks could be possible if money is no longer a concern.  Would you do it?

Why is Retirement the Goal?

I once met a man who told me he couldn’t work with a financial advisor because every advisor he met immediately started to talk to him about retirement.  He asked why he would ever retire when he had the perfect life.  The man was an author who worked out of his home.    He was able to wake up and write in the morning, and then greet his son when he got off the school bus in the afternoon.  In his view, his life was perfect as it was and there was no need to retire.  This man made me think – why isn’t the goal to build a life you never want to retire from rather than toiling for decades at a job you hate just so you can retire at 65?

What is Possible When Money is No Object

Using the billion-dollar exercise is a way to start opening your mind to what is possible.  Most people never think expansively about what is possible.  In fact, when you ask most people their financial goals, they say things like retire at 65 or travel.  But when you ask why, they don’t know.  They are just regurgitating what they have heard from others or seen in the press.  And those aren’t the kinds of goals that make foregoing spending today for the promise of a different financial tomorrow very exciting.

While it is unlikely that you or I will suddenly wake up to find ourselves billionaires, what is possible is starting to create the life we envision when money is no object.  I am not talking about buying a private jet or a mansion in the French Riveria.   But I am talking about using money as a tool to move your day-to-day activities more in line with your values.  And living the life you want now instead of waiting for some far-off future date.  What if you could figure out a way to start that business or work at that non-profit without winning the lottery?  How different could your life look if you woke up every day with a sense of joy and excitement for what was ahead rather than a feeling of dread?

Step One: Create the Vision

It might seem impossible to reach these goals from where you sit today.  However, I am here to tell you that it is more possible than you think.  The first step is to create the vision.  What can you dream up when you start to think out of the box?  Take off all of the expectations of family and society.  What is it that you want to do with your life in your heart of hearts?

I don’t believe that you can manifest your dream life just by putting it out in the universe.  But I do believe that if you take time to examine what is actually important to you and what you really want your life to look like, then you can start to achieve it.  And your money is a tool that can help you do it. 

The problem most people face is not that they can’t achieve their goals, it’s that they never take the time to really think about what is possible because they are too busy with the day to day of what already is.  Do you want the next twenty years of your life to look like the last or are you ready to start building something that you really love?

Sara Zuckerman, CFP®, CDFA® is the founder of Reset Financial Planning located Scottsdale, AZ and serving women across the country with a focus on helping women who find themselves suddenly single in mid-life, align their financial resources with their values to plan for the next chapter of their lives.

 

If you are interested in learning about how I can help you take charge of your finances as a newly single woman, please contact me at  or schedule a free 20-minute consultation.

 

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational, general information, and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. We encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Reset Financial Planning, LLC, and all rights are reserved.