What Would You Do With a Million Dollars?

By Will Chen on 5 November 2007 220 comments

If you had a million dollars (tax free), what would you do with that money? Will you invest it, take a trip, start a business, quit your job, or give it to charity?

Tell us what you would do with a million dollars and be entered in a random drawing to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com!

This drawing is over. Congrats to Lauren, the winner of the drawing! Thanks to everyone who participated.

(See also: Wise Bread Giveaways)

Philip Brewer

There's an old joke people tell around here. One farmer asks another, "What would you do, if you won a million dollars?" The other farmer thinks for a moment, then says, "I guess keep farming until the money runs out."

I didn't give up very much to become a full-time writer (because I had been saving for this for a long time — the closing of the site where I worked just accelerated things by a couple of years). We dropped our standard of living just a bit. If I won a million dollars, we could move back up to the standard of living that we had when I was getting paid a salary. We had also been looking for houses, and have had to put that on-hold indefinitely. (I want a small house within walking distance of downtown. I've got plans to make it super energy-efficient.) Winning a million dollars would make buying a house possible.

Other than that, I don't expect winning a million dollars would change my life a whole lot. I pretty much like my life just as it is — why screw it up?

Sarah Winfrey

Sarah Winfrey's picture

I would pay off student loans and then buy a house, though in this market I might wait a couple of years, until we know more of what is actually going to happen with real estate. I would invest a large chunk of the rest of it, though I have no idea how, off the top of my head. That much money is beyond what I know how to invest right now, so I'd read some good books and talk to some good people.

The most important thing (at least to me!) that I'd do with it, though, is use it as an opportunity to quit my job. I have a pretty complex business idea in mind that would play off of my writing, art, and people skills, and I'd focus on that now instead of going slowly at it, as I am now.

Julie Rains

If I added $1 million (tax free) to my assets, I would:

  1. Start a charitable organization, perhaps structured as a foundation, perhaps not that would fund non-profits with great ideas, committed volunteers, and limited start-up resources; these non-profits could be involved in any endeavor but I would look favorably on those who would a) give Internet access and appropriate resources to senior community centers and retirement homes so that senior adults could go digital (don't laugh, once they get the hang of it, they'll be blogging away, making new friends globally, sending digital images of bingo night to their grandchildren, etc.) and b) increase green spaces and opportunities for outdoor activities, mainly for children but for all ages
  2. Buy a second home in the Blue Ridge Parkway, where I will bicycle during uncrowded times, host family reunions and parties, and invite kids, families, etc. to go hiking
  3. Hire a professional organizer as I am nearly hopelessly disorganized when it comes to filing papers, storing legos, placing tupperware containers neatly on racks, etc.

Justin Ryan

Justin Ryan's picture

Sadly, these days, a million isn't really that much, so it wouldn't go as far as I'd like. Here goes:

  • A 3BR house (one for me, one for my home office, and one for company) in the area I used to live, with a big kitchen, and the furniture to put in it.
  • A new fuel-efficient car.
  • A vacation to London. (I haven't had a real vacation since 1997.)

The rest I'd take in cash, put in a wheel barrow, roll it in to my bank branch, dump it in front of my personal banker's desk, and say "Look at all this. I just don't know what to do with it — can you think of something?" (Based on a running joke between the two of us.)

Linsey Knerl

Assuming it is AFTER taxes, I'd like to start a small family-support office in my hometown. I'd staff some counselors and support workers and contract with the state to assist families in the area.

I'd also like to buy a few hundred acres of farmland to rent out. The land would generate some passive income while leaving something for my children's inheritance.

Andrea Dickson

I suppose I'd pay off my mortgage and my sister's. The rest, I'd split between investing in conservative stuff, like stocks and bonds, and I'd probably invest a hefty chunk in Wise Bread.

Paul Michael

I'd give my $1 million to Richard Branson, telling him he could keep half of the profits he made from whatever venture he decided to start with it. He's way smarter than me, I know he'd turn the $1 million into some serious cash. Then I'd buy my own island and retire there with my family, sipping ice cold beers on a perfect white beach.

William Chen

I would start a small venture capital fund modeled after Y Combinator. The fund will invest $10,000 to $20,000 on small startups like Reddit during their initial development stages. It will be a great opportunity to meet lots of exciting and smart people. Of course, the prospect of hitting home runs and earning billions is a nice bonus as well.

Tell us what you would do with a million bucks in the comments and be entered in a random drawing to win a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com! Deadline to enter is 11/10. Only one entry per person.

This drawing is over. Congrats to Lauren, the winner of the drawing! Thanks to everyone who participated.

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Guest's picture

donate to charity

Guest's picture

ok first of all im 12 right now and $1 million would be way enough for me.
i would buy a apple ipad 2
a droid x
share with my parents
help out my church or any charity
i would love to buy a permit to drive.(i already have experience,started wen wuz 7).
and then probably a Subaru Sti
and then if i could drive i would go to the mall and buy sum new clothes
and then last but not least i would blow the rest with my girlfriend...like go to the mall,go to the movies,buy her presents for christmas and birthday,eat out with her in nice places,take her to a strip club..not.jk.lol,ummm..and other stuff..i have a whole life in front!:)

Guest's picture

If I had one million dollars i would go through the world

Guest's picture

Well I am a girl I need my own bathroom but i am only 12 so i would use it to buy a new horse

Guest's picture

I'll try to spend it all as fast as i can (to see how fast i am at that).

Guest's picture

I would rescue animals and find them homes , pay all my debt off, rescue more animals, pay my family's debt, rescue even more animals, donate to a NO KILL shelter ..as many as possible, and buy a very simple modest home with a pool ..oh yeah..and foster some animals too.

Guest's picture

Blow it all on a massive week long bender with lots of booze and drugs travelling around the world with lots of people as i could bring and have the best time of my life you only live once so make sure you live it. no point investing you can't keep the money once you die and more things just brings more problems less is more and more is less.

Guest's picture

I would probably turn that one million into one billion, then I would waste it on selfish personal reasons... like most everyone would. Don't lie you all want to waste a million dollars on nothing specific, it's easy to say that you would start a charity when you don't actually have the money. I bet that three quarters of the people that said they would start a charity or pay for kids in africa to get medical help, an education, new clothing, etc. They would be the first ones to waste that million on things that can only leech more money off of them, now not everyone would do that but I'm just saying that not everyone can be a 'hero'. So don't get offended because I feel like telling the truth about not being a 'hero'. I always thought that it would be fun to start a war between two countries that were previously friends, just to watch it happen and profit off of their misfortune. :-)

Guest's picture

If I had a million dollars I would put in 10 different bank accounts and sign up for interest income of a total of $5,000 a month. I would buy an rv, a trailer, and A tiger. I would train my tiger and travel the u.s. with a traveling petting zoo! In the end when I want a more stable home I would still have my full million dollars to do what I wanted or still live off the 5 grand and save the million for my kids to split when I die. In the end I lived out my simple dream life of traveling and being around kids and animals everyday.

Guest's picture
Jose Perez

I would send 1,000 to ten of the most poorest charities and then buy life insurance for my family and i then i would buy a cheap house i could fix up and then buy myself a used car and buy my kids new clothes. then invest to bonds stocks but most important i would open up two small grocery stores to provide more jobs to those who need work and then and then id put money into a savings account in my childrens name but wit strict condition most of the money they recieve will be for college and if im successfull ill even create my own food/shelters for homeless people and install a manditory class that will help them find employment and establish a way for them to find housing a vechicle and a finical stability and after all said and down i would like to vacation down in the bahamas... then hopefully i could pay off my mothers house and my school loans and finish school and pay off all my debt and my wifes debt and last but not least help out another person family that isnt family or friend

Guest's picture

1.Pay $350,000 taxes to the Federal Government
2.Pay $50,000 taxes to Illinois Government
3.Give $100,000. to my Church
4.Save/Invest $100,000
5.Whew Pay off Mortgage and Student Loan
6.Give $100,000. to each of my 3 children
7.Give $25,000 to each of my 7 grandchildren
8.Put the last $25000 in our checking account and take a vacation.

Guest's picture

First, put everything in a money market - can get 0.25% and keep it staying put until final plans are decided. Separate banks if more than $250,000 to make sure all is insured under FDIC.
Second, start double paying HELOC until further plans are made.
Third, max out 401K payments for both spouses.
Fourth, set aside $90,000 for vacations for the next 9 years, until my kids are in college.

Other than that, I'd have to think more about it. There are a few charities I want to give to, but I don't want to be harassed as others have said, so anonymous donations.

I don't feel like $1,000,000, even if after taxes, would be enough to like in my area of the US if I quit my job, let alone both of us quitting our jobs. It would just be helpful in terms of paying for college etc.

We might pay off our HELOC completely and pay for college with that.

Guest's picture
Rebecca Stone

I would buy 40 acres of plow able land. I would build an organic farm that only relies on solar power and wind generators for electricity. The farm would have its own spring fed well for my future animals (chickens, goats, ducks, cows, pigs and fish) and my family to take care of ourselves while being off the grid. I would have a couple bee hives for honey, both for use in baking, and for retail. The bees will ensure steady pollination of my fields for a better harvest season. I will plant berry bushes (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) a couple of apple trees for future use, and sell my goods at a local farmers market for income. I want to make my own cheese, bread, pies, canned goods, jellies, and some wine as well. I would teach my kids to appreciate life and all there is to offer without the social pressures of an unstable nation lurking over their heads. Sure its a lot of work, but I am sure the good food and company will be enough to sustain a lifetime of happiness!

Guest's picture

I would give a good chunk of it 2 finding a cure for cancer being that my mother lost her battle with cancer at age 45 leaving her 3 kids and an already not so health husband behind. She would of done anything 2 b able to stay with us an if there was anything I could do to help someone else not have to go threw what we went threw with her I'd spend every penny I had to make that happen.

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Mutotwe Kafwaya

I would quit my jo and start a micro financial institution, which would initially employ only 5 people including myself. I would grow this micro finance to a full commercial bank in 4

Guest's picture

If I had a million dollars tax free I would pay off all mine and my mothers bills including mortgages, then I would travel for awhile to find a country that I liked to move to and I would move taking my mother and my son and his family with me if they wanted to go. I would also donate a good amount to the ASPCA.

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I would pay my sisters kidney transplant #ilovemysister

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cindy lamb

i would give to god his share first then help my family get out of dept then i would help myself to paying off my bills

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Naomi Desty

PCH-FRONTPAGE If "I Win" The $1 Million GVWY. No. 4950, I would pay off my student loans/FEDLOAN and then buy a house. Help my parents and others and community, social and churh. Know more of what is actually going to be happened with real estate/market place. I would invest a large chunk of the rest of it... so I'd read some good books and ask for some good INFOs. This would be an opportunity to quit job. Would Be Debts Free! A pretty complex business that would play off of my writing, art, and people skills!....a Life-Changing On 6/30th,2016...Thanks