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When I was younger, my mom once asked me a question that really helps you understand yourself a bit better, and what your values are.

When I was younger, my mom once asked me a question that really helps you understand yourself a bit better, and what your values are.

Although it may not seem so blatant and in-your-face, money is the currency of the experiences and material goods that we assign value to.

She asked me if I had a million dollars (yeah yeah, a cool million isn’t that much nowadayscan’t even buy a detached house in Vancouver for that, really), what would I spend it on?  Let’s play ‘pretend’ for a bit.

If you had a million dollars and could only concentrate it on ONE area below, what would you spend it on? (the other areas in your life would be lacklustre to say the least)

The options are:

  • House
  • Clothes/ Fashion
  • Travel
  • Car
  • Food

For the House option, you would live comfortably in a nice house, in a nice area, with a beautifully designed interior, with or without a nice view.  But you would not be able to eat out, you would drive a car that is reliable and 10 years old, and not flashy, no designer clothing, and no travel.


For the Clothing option, you can buy all the name brands, and $250 jeans (like Rock and Republic, True Religion) are a staple in your closet.  Girls, you have a collection of the Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags (and no, they’re not replicas bought off the street, either!), you also have a nice collection of Christian Louboutins, Jimmy Choos, and other designer shoes that cost $1000+.  Guys, you own Hugo Boss suits and coats.  People envy your fashion sense and designer style.  Heck, even Sex and the City Carrie will envy your closet.

For the Travel option, you are able to afford to travel the world.  One of your goals is to travel to every continent of the world.  You will not have to live in hostels either and share your accommodation with cockroaches and bedbugs when you’re traveling South East Asia (unless you want to, ofcourse).  You will be able to afford to take a year off and travel.  You will be able to see the seven wonders of the world and travel to far away and exotic places like Bhutan (and not just have to stay for 4 days or less because it costs $200 a day to stay there!) and see Antarctica.  Going to Dubai is nothing for you, and you don’t bat an eye (or have a heart attack) when the hotel bill comes for your stay at the Burj Al Arab where it costs $2000 a night to stay there.

For the Car option, you will be able to drive a nice car, Mercedes, BMW’s, Bentley, or Ferrari and Lamborghini if you wish.  The car will have all the bells and whistles, but you will be living in a very modest part of town (and risk having your car stolen or broken into), and no traveling, no eating out, and plain non-designer wear.

For the Food option, you will be able to afford beautiful food, you can dine at steakhouses (Morton’s etc.) every week if you like.  You and your partner are able to go to beautiful restaurants overlooking the ocean, delicious flavours tease and tantalize your taste buds, and the variety of dinners and lunches available to you are endless.  (and just to put a cherry on top of the cake in this imaginary scenario, you will not gain weight and your cholesterol levels stay normal, lol!)

So?  What will it be for you?  Please share what you picked and why. =)

For me, I think I value traveling as well as a nice house.. I think they’re equal for me, though traveling right now is slightly crawling ahead of housing for me.  I learn so much about other cultures, make new friends from around the world, I have memories and experiences that will last a lifetime, and I have awesome photos to remember everything by.  I also have this goal to see all the tallest peaks on our beautiful planet earth (see, not climb!) so am hoping to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in a few years time (while my knees are still good!) and see Mt. Everest.

Anyways, enough imagination!  In the meantime, I’ll be working hard to try and get that million in the near future.

Article comments


If I had a million dolllars, I would like to have a nice car because nice car is my dream and I will not care of other negative factors.

That’s tough. In real life, if I were to quickly obtain $1 million, I would invest most of it, and give some of it away.

Given your options only, I’d probably buy the house, even though that’s actually my second favorite option on the list. My favorite thing on that list would be to travel, but I wouldn’t want to do it for a million dollars, so I’d rather take the million and use it for a house, and then a lot of my future income can go to traveling.
.-= Matt @ Dividend Monk

young says:

@Matt Thanks for visiting! Yes, traveling for a million dollars may be a bit excessive. You could stay like, a whole year in Dubai’s most expensive hotel lol! Thanks for sharing. Seems like most people pick house or travel. It’s nice that we all have the same values!! Group hug time! =)

This is the first place I’ve heard about McD’s giving away free coffee for 2 weeks! Thanks for the tip!
.-= Stay at Home Mom CFO

Thanks for doing this Young! Us little guys can use the bump, I’m sure the big-wigs won’t mind:)
.-= Stay at Home Mom CFO

Larimerboy says:

Why would I want a house when I could sleep in a hammock in Belize one day and a nice hotel room in Paris the next?

I get wanting the house with all the pretty things, but if I have to choose between a $2,000 TV and a week-long trip to Buenas Aires, that is not a hard choice.

young says:

@Larimerboy Ahhhh Belize and Buenos Aires! Both beautiful places starting with the letter “B”. It’s like “Eat Pray Love” she went to three places starting with the letter “I” (India, Italy, and Indonesia!). I’m a travel junkie too! (Once you start, you really can’t stop.. it’s addictive). I can’t decide!! House and travel are pretty much weighted equally for me. The pragmatic me is: “house” and the romantic/adventurous side of me says “travel”.

@Stay at Home Mom CFO Yeah I STILL haven’t taken advantage of the free coffee deal. I need to get on it!

The Rat says:

I’m with LeanLifeCoach.

Pay off the house. Invest the rest and create income streams. And travel!
.-= The Rat

young says:

@The Rat we all want it all, now don’t we? =)

Austin says:

Not my first choice, but it’ll do.
.-= Austin

Austin says:

Definitely a house. So many people spend the majority of their working lives paying off a house so having a million to start it off and finish it would be such a relief.

I’ll take one in San Dieogo, please. Can I accept a check or will it be transferred straight to my bank account 😉

Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances
.-= Austin

young says:

@Austin Sure thing, coming right up. Did you want the La Jolla one? =)

MoneyHoneySF says:

If I had a million dolllars, I would pay off my mortgage. But realistically, I would want a nice fancy house, designer fashion, and a fancy car.

I’m not being arrogant but I have all of the above for now. :O

But yeah, I would pay off my mortgages and be debt free. That would be the ultimate plan.
.-= MoneyHoneySF

young says:

@MoneyHoneySF You go girl! =) Sounds like you got it all figured out!

@Ryan Yeah, my scenarios are pretty black and white, huh? Hey I’d love to be living a minimalist lifestyle in Hawaii like you! (very jealous!) =)

If it was as black and white as what your scenarios are I would chose travel because I could experience new cultures, learn from others around the world and gain a broader perspective, thus making me a more interesting and well versed person than if I had chosen any of the other options.

I actually don’t have much interest in any of the things at face value, only much smaller versions of each. If given $1 million post tax I would probably donate a lot of it, invest the rest, and still live my minimalist lifestyle.
.-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars

Derry Brown says:

Those are near the lowest rates we have ever had in NZ. But higher rates also make it more expensive to borrow money remember.

P.S Go Canada, 13 golds and counting!

young says:

@Derry Brown YAY! Hopefully we get the gold in hockey today too! =) I guess you’re set in NZ/AUS if you don’t need to borrow money and just want some interest =)

Derry Brown says:

Whoops, I wouldn’t borrow the other 100K I would just take it out of the term deposit account but would have to wait 18 months to do so.

I know that this doesn’t stick within your rules but I don’t like your rules :).

young says:

@Derry Brown lol now THAT is what I call a multi-prong attack! Turning your million to much more =) Yeah, you guys down under are so lucky to have such nice rates for term deposits!! Your interest rates are still nice and plump =) (I remember going “What??!!” to the interest rates when I was down in Australia last year).

@Ken seems like most people are picking the house. I guess that makes sense, huh, since that IS the biggest purchase we make in our lifetime.

Derry Brown says:

I would put 700K it onto an 18 month term deposit @ 5.4% (NZ rate) and use this as collateral to buy 3.5 million dollars worth of property on interest only loans targeting foreclosures and FSBOs with room to add value.

The properties would be purchased buy two separate companies in my trust each acquiring 5 dwellings; 4 lower end high cashflow and 1 upper end (historically) high capital growth but most likely negatively geared. Each set of 5 would aim to have neutral cashflow after tax. The remaining 300K would be used to add value to the properties.

After 12 months the interest on the 700K would be would be about 25K after tax and IF I had purchased the properties well assuming there was NO capital growth I would expect to have been able to add at least 14% value bring their worth to about 4 mill. I would then refinance and borrow a further 100K, add this to the interest from the term deposit and invest the 125K to my ETF trading account.

Ken says:

I would take the house. I already drive a 10 year old car…not a problem…I have a wife and 2 boys and a nice home is a great place to make memories.

Yeah… I roll like that! 😉
.-= Money Reasons

I would choose the house!

1.) Home is where the heart is!
2.) The house is the only thing that appreciates in value over the long run in the list above (I had to qualify it with “over the long run, since this current market sucks).
3.) a good house is also most likely in a good school district, which more times than not is a safer area to let kids grow up in.

Just for the record :), Travel would be my next choice!
.-= Money Reasons

young says:

@PF Ninja Yeah, food’s a good one too!

@LeanLifeCoach lol you’re right, I’m not sounding very thrifty at all! More like “young and non-practical” haha.

@Money Reasons Very practical selection (house) and you’re thinking of someone other than yourself (your kids)…good values! =)

Not sounding very thrifty?

I’d pay off the remainder of our house and put the remainder in a mix of investments with a focus on developing future income streams.
.-= LeanLifeCoach

Mike says:

Food, for sure!

I don’t need a lot in my life but food is one of those things I can’t live without!
.-= Mike

Can I rent out the house I buy? If not then I would probably just go travelling.
.-= Investing Newbie

young says:

Heh heh, no, you can’t rent out the house. Let’s go to Dubai together Investing Newbie, shall we? =)