We’ve all dreamed about it. We’ve all fantasized about it. In fact, other than having an army of naked bikini models or an army of Ryan Gosling clones, it’s probably one of our most frequent fantasies. What would we do if we suddenly became rich?
I know I’ve fantasized about it. Then again, I fantasize about a lot of things. It’s kind of necessary when you’re trying to be an erotica/romance writer. You need to be able to conjure the kinds of potent fantasies that make women need to change their panties and men wish they hadn’t worn such tight jeans. It’s a skill I’m developing and one from which I hope to gain greater success in the future.
Now I know the odds aren’t exactly in my favor right now. The odds of any writer of any genre, regardless of sex appeal, becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer is right up there with scoring a date with Taylor Swift. However, with the recent interest I’ve attracted from publishers, those odds are improving. It’s not much, but any improvement is better than no improvement at this stage of my publishing career.
Even with the odds still not in my favor, I often find myself entertaining various scenarios on what I would do if one of my books became a best seller. Specifically, I often wonder what I would do with the money I make.
First off, I would not immediately get on the first flight to Las Vegas and spend three nights in a hot tub with five strippers, a keg of beer, a buffet of deep-fried Twinkies. Unless you’re a billionaire, that sort of thing is best left to pornos and low-budget skin flicks on Cinemax.
Second, it’s worth pointing out that a whopping 70 percent of lottery winners end up going bankrupt. On top of that, according to Sports Illustrated, over 60 percent of professional athletes go bankrupt after their careers are over. Even if you suck at math, you should know that those are not trivial figures.
Here’s a good way to illustrate that point: imagine you ordered your favorite pizza, but over two-thirds of it was eaten before it got delivered. That’s a lot of pizza you’re missing out on. Now imagine you were supposed to live off of that pizza. Losing over half of it now feels a lot more serious, doesn’t it?
So why does this happen? Who do people who strike it rich go broke? Well, it isn’t just a matter of owning pet Tigers, owing child support to multiple women for multiple children, investing in failed business ventures, or buying one too many cars, although that’s part of it. There’s a psychological component to it.
Unless you’re born rich or become rich through skilled business savvy, which only applies to a fraction of the population, you don’t know how to be rich. Yes, there is a certain amount of skill to being rich. Like any great talent, not everyone has it. As such, not everyone knows how to deal with it.
There’s even a psychological term for it. It’s called Sudden Wealth Syndrome and it’s pretty prevalent among lotto winners and professional athletes. When someone gets a sudden influx of wealth, it causes a great deal of stress because their brains aren’t wired to handle it. They’re so used to being not rich that it just feels off.
This is why it’s so easy for lotto winners and professional athletes to go broke. Their brains aren’t wired to see all this money the same way Bill Gates of Warren Buffet sees it. In some respects, they look at money the same way they look at milk. They need to spend it or it’ll expire.
That’s what leads them to just throw it away, giving it to friends or investing it in businesses that have the organization of a 6th grade science fair project. They don’t realize until it’s too late that money doesn’t go bad. It’s okay to actually save it and it’s possible to invest it in a way that’ll ensure you don’t need to dine on Ramen noodles and hot pockets.
Now to be fair, most people don’t know squat about finance or investing. It’s not a class public school teaches to kids at a young age. I get the sense that administrators understand that most kids in public schools aren’t going to strike it rich so it’s not worth the effort. It’s cynical, but understandable.
Given these odds and the tendency for non-rich people to piss their money away like an incontinent monkey, I’ve already crafted a plan on how I would invest a million dollars if I ever achieved that kind of success. This isn’t a fantasy. This is a plan. I may never get a chance to implement this plan, but like a condom, it’s better to have one and not need one rather than need one and not have one.
For this plan, I start with about a million ($1,000,000) dollars. I know Bill Gates can probably find that much money in his couch cushion, but it’s a nice even amount to work with. Since the human brain is terrible at dealing with large numbers, it helps to keep things even.
With this million, here are the simple steps of my plan. Any future lotto winners or professional athletes who want to follow this plan are welcome to do so. It’s free, it’s easy, and anyone who knows how to work a cell phone can do it.
Step 1: Pay off ALL the taxes first, if possible
This is, by far, the most important step anyone with money can take. The IRS is, in many respects, the ultimate dominatrix in that she’ll hurt you in ways you didn’t know were possible. You do not want to defy her.
Step 2: Set up an investing account with a reputable bank and pick one with the lowest fees
This is fairly easy for someone with money. If you have a million dollars, most banks will roll out the red carpet for you. Some will even waive certain fees if you have a lot of money in the account. Depositing a million dollars will usually get you a lot of leeway in that respect.
Step 3: Buy either an index fund (VFINX) or buy a blue-chip stock with a healthy dividend like Verizon, Exxon, or GE
The key here is not to buy a stock you’re going to sell for a quick turn around. The key here is to buy the stock and just basically forget about it. From here, you focus entirely on the dividends. They’re basically Wall Street’s version of masturbation. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.
Step 4: Build a budget around the dividends
From here on out, I focus on the monthly or quarterly dividends that the stock or index fund pays. With a million dollars, it’s usually not enough to just live in a mansion and never have to work again. You usually need several million for that. However, it’s still pretty considerable.
For example, let’s look at how $1,000,000 pays with buying Verizon. As of this posting, the dividend yield is %4.49. Do a little basic math and that comes out to $44,900 a year, which is paid out quarterly with four payments of $11,225 over the course of a year.
Take a breath now. That’s the most math you’ll need to do with this strategy. With this means is that you’ll have a yearly income of over $40,000 for doing absolutely nothing. It’s basically a slacker’s wet dream.
Now unless you want to dine on caviar and snort cocaine off a supermodel’s ass every week, you can budget $44,900 a year to live fairly comfortably. For me, this means taking that $11,225 quarterly dividend and budgeting it for three months at a time.
In most areas that aren’t New York City or San Francisco, you can find a decent home with decent amenities for that sum, plus utilities. That’s the ultimate endgame for this plan of mine. I invest the money in a way that gives me a passive income I can use to pay for the essentials, ensuring that any money I make beyond that is just icing on the cake.
There is one more step though and it’s also quite essential. If you followed the first step, then it should be easy to figure out.
Step 5: Pay all the necessary taxes associated with your investment and dividends
Again, it’s worth re-emphasizing how much you do not want to mess with the IRS. They don’t care if you take your money and throw it at a flock of pigeons. If you don’t give them their cut, they’re going to come after you and you will be in a world of legal trouble that no amount of money can make easier.
There you have it. That’s my plan if and when I ever become rich from either my publishing efforts, by winning the lottery, or by marrying Jennifer Lawrence, whichever comes first. I hope I get a chance to implement it one day. Until then, I hope others take the wise advice of Warren Buffet.
When it comes to money and investing, nobody can beat the market. The best you can do is not lose to it, but unlike gambling or sports, not losing can still be pretty damn profitable.