A couple of years ago, before I bought this house, I speculated as to what I might do if I won, say, $3 million after taxes, a figure chosen arbitrarily on the basis of having won, at that time, about $3 million in scrip on BlogShares. Since then, I have managed to parlay my B$ bucks into the two-trillion zone, but it seems kind of foolish to ask what I'd do with two trillion dollars: the entire Federal government is going to spend, at least on on-budget items, only $2.57 trillion in fiscal-year 2006, and while I'm probably only 1/535th as irresponsible as the Congress, I see no reason to go completely berserk with this exercise. (What would I do? Refinance the Baxter Building for the Fantastic Four? Oh, right, they've moved, sort of.)

So, we're back to $3 million, and what I'd do with it. Back in 2003, I opened with this:

I'd probably divide that first million between my two children, both of whom are in their twenties and are struggling with the usual young-family issues. With five hundred grand, each of them could pay off the mortgage, replace the Death Trap On Wheels, and have plenty to stash away for the next big expense.

No change there.

That leaves two million. $30,000 would get me completely out of debt. There aren't many places I'd consider living where I can't buy and furnish a home of reasonable dimensions (I don't want anything over 2500 square feet — too much cleaning) for $400,000, and maybe one more not-too-expensive automotive toy would be nice.

As of now, I have a house and a mortgage, and $30,000 wouldn't even begin to get me out of debt. On the other hand, I have no particular urge to go look for a new house. Let's say I paid off the mortgage and all the rest of the debt, which would come to about $110,000 or so, and allow myself somewhere around $90k for said automotive toy. We're now down to $1.8 million, and:

Then stash the [remainder] in the bank. Even at today's meager interest rates, I could probably draw $35,000 a year — say, $25,000 after taxes. And it's amazing how little I need to live on when I have no debts to service; I could easily maintain my current lifestyle (such as it is) and my current charitable donations and have a little to spare, and without the irritation of actually having to go to work.

Which would free me up to do some more traveling, since I seem to be at my best, or maybe just my least irritating, when I'm on the road. Those six states I have yet to visit would certainly seem a lot closer to hand.

And, as I concluded during the first speculation:

As fantasies go, this seems relentlessly tame. But I don't really want much, and I don't think my life would be substantially enhanced by a Whole Lot Of Stuff. And more to the point, the things I want most simply can't be acquired by writing a check.

That, you can be sure, hasn't changed.

The Vent

24 July 2005

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