Is $10 million enough to never worry about money again?

Is $10 million enough to never worry about money again?

When people send me email, they usually have very specific questions about their very specific circumstances. “What should I do about my ailing parents?” “Should I fund my kids' college first or put money aside for retirement?” “How should I save for a down payment?”

Recently, though, a Money Boss reader named Mark sent me a simple hypothetical question. Here's the entirety of his email:

If you had $10,000,000 (in cash) at the age of 60, would you say that you would never have to worry about money again?

At first glance, there's no much to this question. All it requires is a basic “yes” or “no” answer. But I think there's a lot of depth beneath the surface here.

You see, I find that folks tend to fall into one of two camps: people who worry about money and people who don't. I'm generalizing, I know, and really there's more of a continuum than two binary opposites, but roughly speaking this tends to be true. Some people worry about money no matter how much they have. Others never worry, even if they have nothing.

You can see this division on early retirement blogs and forums. There are folks who have maybe $100,000 saved and feel completely at ease. Others have millions in the bank but worry that won't be enough for the future.

Plus, there are different degrees of worry.

In another recent email conversation, MB reader Travis wrote:

I look at retirement this way: It's a balancing act between not working too long on one hand but not running out of money on the other hand. It's easy to never run out of money — work until you drop dead!! It's also easy to “retire” early if you accept a really high probability of running out of cash. Let's say you have a family of five, and you think $2 million will probably be enough to retire on, but feel really confident that $3 million will definitely be enough. You can work extra years to earn that extra million or risk it and try for $2 million.

That extra million is effectively insurance, and the “premium” you're paying for the insurance is years of your life spent at work to earn money you may not ultimately need. I think a lot of people “over-insure” in the sense that they work too long. The nice thing is, jobs aren't going anywhere. If you quit your job at $2 million, and find in ten years you need more money, you can always go back to work. Of course, the converse isn't true…if you work too much, you can never get the time you wasted in the cubicle back.

As I always say, this financial stuff would be so much easier if we just knew the exact date we were going to die. With that single piece of knowledge, we could make much better decisions with our money. Instead, there's a constant balancing act between today and tomorrow. And people tend to worry about their financial futures even when they have plenty of money.

According to my six stages of financial freedom, the only point at which money is never an issue is after you've achieved abundance — when you have “enough and then some”. At this stage, your passive income from all sources grants you the freedom to do anything you want for the rest of your life. But few people ever reach this stage. More than 99.9% of the human population has less money…and more worries.

Even at the fifth stage of financial freedom — financial independence — you probably worry a little about money. Your investment income is enough to support your current standard of living, and that's great, but what if something goes wrong? Or what if you decide that you want more?

That's where I am: With about $1.5 million in net worth at age 47, my savings should support my current lifestyle indefinitely as long as there are no major economic upheavals. But if the stock market crashes and never recovers, I'm screwed. If hyperinflation hits the U.S., I'm screwed. If I suffer a catastrophic illness, I'm screwed. Although these things are unlikely, they are possible. (Especially that last one.) As a result, there's always a tiny bit of worry in the back of my mind.

But if I had $10 million at the age of sixty? What then?

I think that'd put me pretty darn close to the abundance stage of financial freedom. That'd be enough money (late enough in life) that money probably wouldn't be a concern ever again.

Still, we've all heard stories of sports stars or celebrities or lottery winners who have wasted vast fortunes. For these folks, even $10 million isn't enough to keep them from worrying about money. (The lesson, I think, is that you can't outearn dumb spending.) So, what's true in my case isn't true for everyone.

What do you think? If you had $10 million in cash at age sixty, do you think you'd worry about money? If not, how much would you need? Or do you think you'll always be concerned with your finances on some level?

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Eileen
Eileen
3 years ago

If I worried about having enough money with 10 mil in the bank when I was 60, I would seek professional help. And I’m not being snarky.

Anyone that would be worried (and isn’t someone who had 50 mil at age 59), should seek professional help, both financial and emotional.

Sonny
Sonny
3 years ago

For me, $10 million dollars is way more than enough to retire. The reason I say that with confidence is, I now have a good handle on money management. It has taken nearly decade of reading, studying, listening, saving, being frugal, investing to get to this point. Thank you J D, your Get Rich Slowly site was one of the best sites I always referred to during my learning process. As was sites like Mr. Money Mustache and others.

ESI Money
ESI Money
3 years ago

I agree that there are different degrees of worry. Generally, I think the more you have, the less you worry. Eventually, you get enough that worry is too small to matter (I think almost everyone worries some no matter what they have). I have a bit more than double your net worth though I suspect my costs are higher too (still have two kids at home — one off to college next year). I don’t worry much, though there are some days where I think, “What if _______ happened?” and get a bit nervous. It usually doesn’t last long. But… Read more »

Beth
Beth
3 years ago
Reply to  ESI Money

I like your point about different degrees of worry. For instance, when I hit the $100K mark with 0 debt, I started to worry less about emergencies. I’m incredibly grateful that I can live enough below my means that I never worry about there being more month than money. If I had $10 million dollars, I’d probably worry about managing it but that’s it. I wouldn’t worry about being like those celebrities or lottery winners because 1) I know a thing or two about managing money 😉 , and 2) My needs are fairly modest. I don’t want a big… Read more »

Stephen
Stephen
3 years ago

This is a pretty interesting way to look at the problem of how much. It never occurred to me that I may never feel like I have enough to not worry again but I do hope that the older and closer I get to my figure, the worry will get somewhat less. As I’ve travelling along the different stages of FF, the worry has gotten less so there is some hope. My goal is to build up enough of a nest egg to cover my needs, then finish work whenever I’m bored of it. But being someone who has tracked… Read more »

Full Time Finance
Full Time Finance
3 years ago

For better or worse I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying entirely but with every additional dollar I do worry less. Perhaps at the million .y fears would usually be exponentially small (nuclear war type fears) as Id live entirely off bonds as Id have no need for risk. So I probably would not fear stock market risk.

Beth
Beth
3 years ago

I agree – retirement planning would be so much easier if we could see into the future. Going by my family’s medical history, I’ll either die of cancer between ages 65-75 or live to be 90+.

Still, I think that uncertainty has shaped how I approach retirement planning. My goal is to save/invest enough to have an income stream without touching the principle. Maybe it’s a pipe dream. We’ll see.

JC Webber III
JC Webber III
3 years ago

That’s a tough one. At 66 with 1.5M, and retired, we are living the FI lifestyle. But I feel that we have ‘just’ enough. We’ve maintained our standard of living for the last 9 years at a comfortable level while also maintaining a portfolio balance of 1.5M (for the most part. We dropped down to 864K during the ‘Great Recession’, but managed to climb back up to 1.5M during the subsequent years). Because of our experience recovering from the recession and the fact that we have yet to begin collecting Social Security (anticipated annual amount at ~$40k), we aren’t *too*… Read more »

Mustard Seed Money
Mustard Seed Money
3 years ago

For me personally $10 million would be more than enough. I would try to set up an asset allocation that yielded me 2%, which in turn would fund me $200k.

Right now I have found with expenses that I live off $30k so $200k would clearly cover all of that and then some.

It wasn’t until I read your article on stop focusing on income and focus on your expenses that I saw that financial independence was much sooner than I expected.

Thanks for sharing JD!!!

Toocold
Toocold
3 years ago

For me, $10M would definitely be enough. A finer and more nuanced question would be, would you work one more year (OMY) at a job that you either dislike or neutral, if you could get x closer to the $10M? This is a question I’m asking myself – should I work another 18 months if it will add 30% more to my NW? Before FI, the answer is easy. After FI, it gets harder. After financial abundance, the answer will be likely be no. It’s all about defining “enough” and often times, the decision has nothing to do with finances.

geeteekay
geeteekay
3 years ago

I clicked this story half hoping the body of the post would be “Yes.” with no further explanation, as it’s sort of an absurd question to me. If you’re estimating to live until 85 and you get $10 million at 60, you’d have roughly $4 million to live on per year until you die. At that age, you’d put it somewhere incredibly safe and secure – you wouldn’t be worrying about high-risk investments at that point. A more fun experiment for me would be estimating whether it’d be enough at my current age of 33, which once again for me,… Read more »

Doug
Doug
3 years ago
Reply to  geeteekay

You might want to check your math for the 60 year old. I estimate he might make it to 63 with your spending plan.

Tim
Tim
3 years ago

I feel like 10M is enough to make it, but for me personally, I define financial comfort as constant yet passive income of at least $50k a year. In other words, I can’t find comfort in having a pool I’m draining. That said, 10M is a killer buffer!

One Dad
One Dad
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim

With 10 million invested in stable blue chips you could live on 350k in tax advantaged dividends per year without even touching the principle.

Keith Schroeder
Keith Schroeder
3 years ago

You shouldn’t worry about money at any level. Money is a tool and a scorecard only. I might have concerns over my health as I get older, but money will just be thing I like to play with in life. After a while, long before $10M, you stop caring about money. It all starts to feel like a game of Monopoly.

pauld
pauld
1 year ago

said with wisdom

Warren
Warren
2 years ago

We’ve done the math with our financial advisor and our number for investable assets is about $12-$13 million to retire at age 54, which is only a year away. We still have a lot of college expenses and 3 weddings to pay for and own 2 expensive homes. If we weren’t boaters that $10 million number would be about right!

George Catsavis
George Catsavis
1 year ago

I have 15 mil and still worry. I respect money but i’m also invested in the stock Mkt. It takes me 35,000.00 per month to live after taxes. What r your thoughts on this? thank you

pauld
pauld
1 year ago

wow , I’m 51 and have a net of about 14mil and still work , don’t really calculate the master plan, I just keep going and have somewhat non rockstar fun on the way. My 12yr old daughter says i’m a rockstar i my 15 yr old Ferrari lol

Not too worried in nj
Not too worried in nj
1 year ago

I’m 57 and have a net of about 20 mil including homes. Probably will work another 2 years to give myself time to transition out, not because I can’t financially. Let me tell you that if you are a worrier, you still will worry but in my case less than when I had 10 million net. There is worry about managing the money and not losing it after you worked so hard to earn and save it. (Think stock market crashes, bond defaults, poor financial advice or what turn out to be shady investments) You don’t get to this point… Read more »

Not Ashamed of My Net Worth
Not Ashamed of My Net Worth
7 months ago

I am exactly in your place! 57 and have about $20 million in assets without homes. I am now retired and enjoying life doing what I want. My wife continues to work, but enjoys it, with the freedom to say BYE anytime she wants. I totally agree the concerns becomes maintaining the money we have worked so hard all our lives to be at this point. We married young, with both our families were in bankruptcy. We worked our way through collage. It was hard starting out. Hell for first 6 months of our marriage our refrigerator was 36qt igloo… Read more »

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