On March 5, 2007 I wrote a post entitled, If you won $1 million, what would you do? It was interesting to read it again, four years later. And it’s really nice to know that while my life has changed a lot, my values really haven’t. My goals have always been to eliminate all debt, save money, invest in myself and my passions, and save for the future.
Here are my answers today, side-by-side with my answers from 2007:
2007: Pay off all debts. ($7,000) <– this was my student loan debt
2011: Pay off all debts. ($18,000) <– this is my car loan
2007: Max out emergency fund: 6 months worth of income. ($18,000)
2011: Max out emergency fund: 12 months worth of income. ($50,000)
2007: Buy a new 2 or 3-story detached house in my city. ($400,000) <– I was living in my hometown
2011: Buy a 3 or 4 bedroom town home in the suburbs. ($500,000) <– I want to live just outside of Vancouver
2007: Buy the dream car: Mini Cooper S convertible. ($45,000)
2011: I would not invest in a new car at this time, since I already own one. ($0)
2007: Take distance education courses to obtain my B.A. in Communication Studies. ($20,000)
2011: I would not invest in my education at this time. ($0)
2007: Set $$ aside to go traveling once I’ve obtained permanent employment. ($10,000)
2011: Set $$$$$ aside to go traveling. ($100,000) <– this would fund my traveling for many years to come
2007: Talk to a trusted financial advisor, and invest the remainder. ($500,000)
2011: Talk to a trusted financial advisor, and invest the remainder. ($332,000)
Not much is different, except that I would have to pay more for a smaller home now that I live just outside of Vancouver, and I would definitely put away a huge chunk of money for future traveling. There are so many (expensive) places that we’ve always dreamed of going to – including Antarctica! :)
That’s what I would have done then, and now. What would you do if you won $1 million?
There have been two Moneyville articles that really caught my eye recently. There was one called How $100 a month can make you a millionaire by Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew, as well as Can anyone really save $1 million?, by Allison Grifiths.
In Madhavi’s article, she begins by telling readers that we can all become millionaires in 40 years just by starting off with saving $100 a month. As you get older, you increase the amount you contribute. Going from $100, $250, $500, $750 and finally with $1,000/month. The numbers are based on a 6.8% average return over the life of the RRSP or TFSA. A lot of comments on those articles were about how a 6.8% average return was too high. But according to an article by MoneySense.ca in response to those two Moneyville articles, a balanced portfolio can reasonably expect a 6-7% return.
While saving $100 or $250/month might be feasible for most of us, $750 or $1,000/month might seem like a ridiculous amount of money for a lot of people. But consider this: by the time you are in your 50’s and 60’s, you might be nearing the end of your mortgage – and your salary will most likely have increased over the years. So when that money frees up, you will be able to apply it to your Retirement Portfolio instead. Or, if you contribute more when you’re younger, you won’t have to contribute as much when you’re older. For example, I make an average salary, and have average expenses. But I am making saving for retirement a priority right now, because I know that once I start a family, I probably won’t be able to save as aggressively as I am right now.
There IS truth to what both Madhavi and Allison are saying. You CAN become a millionaire by the time you retire if you want to be. But for most of us, it takes discipline and hard work, and you really have to want it. And I guess that’s the problem. With so many 20-somethings struggling with student and credit card debt, trying to start a family, saving for a down payment, planning a wedding, and spending money on other things, saving for retirement just isn’t a priority. In fact, I can see why it’s so hard to save anything these days – especially an amount as daunting as $1 million.
In Allison’s article, she quotes a TD Canada Trust poll, where 75% of those aged 18-34 do not believe they could ever save $1 million, and 1/3 of respondents felt they had a better chance at winning $1 million in the lottery, than saving it themselves. That thought of hopelessness makes me sad, because while it isn’t the dream or goal of some people to save that much for retirement, it is my ultimate financial dream. I want to retire early at age 55 with over $1 million in the bank. And reading the comments on those two articles was hard. Most commenters were full of negativity. But, that just fuels my fire to prove them wrong.
Whatever your savings goal is, we all have one common goal in mind: to save for retirement. And the key is to start as soon as you can. The harder you work now, the easier it will be in the future.
What do you think? Do you believe that you can save $1 million by the time you retire?
I’m buying a lottery ticket today. The jackpot tomorrow is an estimated $33 million, and I want at least a chance of winning it. I haven’t played the lottery in years and years.
Sure, I’ll probably just be throwing away my $2, but on the teeny tiny chance that I might win, it’s worth it to me. :)
Do you play the lottery on occasion?