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02:30 pm: Let's Play "Make Believe"
Let's pretend that I'm the 7th richest person in the United States. I was reading today about trying to put huge amounts of money into perspective and I want to play that game. This could get extremely long, so forgive me. I may even use a very rare lj-cut at some point.

Right now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the 7th richest person in the US, 13th richest in the world with a $27 billion net worth. Let's pretend all of that is liquid for a moment and that none of it is or can be used to make even more money. I now have $27 billion just sitting there, waiting to be spent. What could I do with it?

Well, for starters my favorite vehicle is the BMW Z3. That's about $18,000. It's not a super-luxury car that's going to cost millions of dollars but it's a fun little car that I could definitely enjoy. And hey, if I wanted to switch it out for a different one every month for the rest of my life that would only cost me about $10 million over the course of the rest of my life.

That's a different BMW Z3, purchased every month for the next 50 years for only .03% of my net worth.

Okay, so I have a car now. What about a house?

Well, I don't need much. 10,000 sq feet? A reasonable price would be $200 per square foot for some of the nicer areas of the United States, all the way down to $60 per square foot but let's go on the high end. My 10,000 sq foot "humble" home would cost me $2,000,000. If I want to build it from scratch let's up that to $4,000,000. Let's say $6,000,000 after I furnish it. Reasonable?


Now, I get bored pretty quickly so I'll probably need to build myself a new house every 2 years or so. 25 new homes, $6,000,000 each (because who wants to move the furniture from the previous homes? That's such a hassle! We'll just buy new furniture.). $150 million over the course of 50 years and in the end I have 25 10,000 sq ft houses, fully furnished.

I now have spent $160 million dollars over the course of 50 years. That is 0.6% of my net worth.

Let's get big, then. Let's go really big.

Let's buy an island. That's big, right?

I want a Caribbean island because that sounds exotic and is probably pretty expensive. I'll use privateislandsonline.com and see what they have. They actually have quite a few Caribbean islands for sale, just my luck!

Looking at the most expensive islands I'm really not sure what I'm looking for. I don't really have the time to go check them out personally so I'm just going to buy the top six most expensive and figure it out from there. Whew. That's going to be a big chunk of change but it's well worth my time not having to actually go to the islands.

That's about $180,000,000. I can probably hire someone to haggle those prices down but why bother? I can just buy them outright.

I now own 6 Caribbean islands, 3189 acres of what's probably pristine land. I could turn them into businesses but maybe I'll just give them away as gifts to some of my buddies around the world. Taxes? I honestly have no idea. Do you think $1 billion set aside for the rest of my life in trust to taxes should cover that? I do.

Well, that WAS a pretty big chunk of change. I started with $27 billion and now I only have $25,660,000,000 at the end of my life! What do I have to show for it? Some crass material things? 6 islands, 25 houses built just for me, 600 BMW Z3s? I should help fight diseases and save the world! Charitable donations! That's what I should do now!

What to give money to, then? Well, there's always cancer research. That's about $4.8 billion each year going to the National Cancer Institute; that's a pretty sizable amount of money, even to me with my $25 billion. What if I looked specific cancer research. Say, children. People love children and that'll make me look good. How much money goes to children's cancer research?

Only 4% of federally funded cancer research goes to researching childhood cancer. Wow. Out of that $4.8 billion that's only $16,000,000? That needs to be fixed so I'm going to find a way with my money to bring that up a bit. Let's say I donate one dollar to childhood cancer research for every dollar I spend on myself. So far that's $1,340,000,000. That should help and I still have about $24,000,000,000.

I like the finer things in life, if that hasn't been obvious, so I think I'm going to have a Michelin Star meal for every meal of the day for the rest of my life. That's conservatively $250 per meal. Three meals a day over the next 50 years, that comes out to $13,687,500. Let's add tip in there and round it up to $17,000,000. I tip generously and also don't want to do more math than I need to. That's another $17,000,000 for funding childhood cancer research for those who are curious.

Well, alright. I also enjoy traveling. It's probably going to be much easier to just get my own jet, gut it and retrofit it to my liking and pay a pilot to fly me than to have to go through the hassle of buying a ticket every time I want to go somewhere. From a quick search it's difficult to tell exactly how much a decent jet will cost me but I'm getting the idea that with retrofitting and with paying the pilot we're probably talking somewhere around spending about $250,000,000 over the next 50 years. That should include maintaining, fuel, and replacement at least once or twice when needed. Let's bump it to $300,000,000 just to be sure. And another $300,000,000 for childhood cancer research.

I'm also insanely curious about the world around me and want to learn stuff. You know, stuff! I'll go the college route. Yale's current tuition for 2012-2013 was $58,600. I know that tuition is bound to go up over the next 50 years. Do you think I could get them to agree to letting me take courses for 50 years if I just paid a lump sum of $10,000,000? That's a little more than 3 times the actual cost if I multiplied it out. It sounds reasonable to me and if not them then I'm sure some college somewhere would be okay with that deal.

Let's check in on what I have and how much money is left:

Eating fine food every meal for the rest of my life.
A new BMW Z3 every month.
A brand new house every 2 years.
Several college educations if I actually go to class.
6 Caribbean islands.
$1 charitable donation for every $1 spend on myself (so note that HALF of the total cost is charitable donations)
My own jet.

Approximate Total Cost: $3,314,000,000

Let's keep going because even if everyone else is bored of reading this (hell, I would have TL;DR'ed this a while ago as a reader) I'm really curious where this game will take me.

I want Lois to be well off when I'm gone but not spoiled so, you know, I should leave $1,000,000,000 to her. That's reasonable.

This is where I'm starting to get stumped on ideas. I'm having great ideas on businesses to invest in but the whole point of this is to spend all the money instead of making money so that's right out. I guess a private security force would be a good idea, hire some people to keep me and my family safe. We'll go with a full-time bodyguard for each member of the family. No, you know what? We're the 7th richest family in America. We're going to go ahead and need a top-level security detail for the three of us.

$657,000,000 might seem like a lot of money but isn't my family's security worth every penny?

Clothing! We'll all need to get dressed at some point! Well, I don't want my family to look poor so let's make sure that we never have to wear the same clothes twice! Assuming too that we want to wear at least some decent clothes, not anything from Old Navy or something, that's probably $1,000 a day for the three of us just on clothing alone! That's $18,250,000 for the next 50 years of looking good! We'll bump it up to $20,000,000 because I'm sure some days we'll want to have good clothing, not just the day-to-day stuff, you know?

Where are we? Doing some quick math that puts us at  $6,668,000,000 spent over the next 50 years, half of which go to charitable contributions (I think we should diversify and give money to alternative fuel sources too, and maybe research into medical technology to help people walk or something like that, so we're now giving to 3 charities but keeping the amount the same as $1 donated per $1 spent on myself and my family). Let's just go ahead and round that up to $7 billion spent in 50 years. I'm sure I'm missing taxes or something ridiculous like that.

Only $20,000,000,000 left to spend and 50 years to spend it! Oh no! And that's only $10,000,000,000 for selfish spending if we assume I keep giving to charity at the same rate!

Let's just go ahead and assume that half of the $27 billion is given to charity at this point. That means that between our three charities we've split $13.5 billion. Roughly $4.4 billion dollars spent on childhood cancer research, another on alternative fuel sources, and another on medical technology.

This is where my math gets fuzzier.

The remaining Ten Billion Dollars (I feel like those words need to be capitalized in this context) means that for the next 50 years I can give myself a salary of $200,000,000/year to spend on whatever I want. Maybe I'll buy a copy of every video game ever made (I can't find an approximate cost of that but every Nintendo game ever goes for about $11,000 so let's assume $5,000,000 will cover it) and how about every movie/tv show on the market in DVD (average $40 per movie, definitely no more than 2,000,000 movies/tv shows made that have been released on DVD, right? $80,000,000)?

Let's just stop there because my imagination has run out. I can think of other stuff but if it's not spending at least ten million dollars it's not even worth mentioning at this point*.

Here's what we end up with:

$13.5 Billion in Charitable Contributions
6 Caribbean Islands
A new home every 2 years
A new car every month for the rest of my life
A Yale education
Extremely fine dining for every meal for the rest of my life (personal chef/professional kitchen at my whim)
$1 billion left for my daughter when I die
New clothes every day for me and everyone in my family
My own private jet, probably several
Every video game ever made
Every movie on DVD
A full, high-end security detail to protect me and my family for the rest of my life
The realization that if it costs less than $10,000,000 the money doesn't even matter a little bit
For example:

  • Personal trainer

  • Fresh flowers delivered daily

  • Fully funding any kickstarter that catches my fancy

  • Lois' education

  • Live-in maid service

  • Buying land for every LARP I enjoy

  • and way more


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