If I Had A Million Dollars…

Medieval Madness

… It’s just a silly little love song by a quirky Canadian rock band, but it’s stuck in my head.

I like that song… a lot.  Probably because I first heard it and it became popular in my part of Minnesota right around one of the best summers of my life (It’s pretty hard not to have a great summer when you’re 19).

Now, deep down I knew that Barenaked Ladies song is about buying crazy things to try to land love.  And I knew the last line, “If I Had A Million Dollars… I’d Be Rich”, isn’t really about the million dollars.  It’s more about the love part.  Still, when listening to that song, I couldn’t help but focus on the money and how ridiculous it is to think you’re rich with just $1 million.

To really be rich and be able to throw money around like they’re doing in that song, you have to have tens of millions, AT LEAST!  I thought.  Even that’s probably not enough.

Unlimited Mac and Cheese?  Fancy tree forts?  Some dead guy’s bones?  A monkey (Haven’t you always wanted a monKEY)?

It didn’t add up.  At least not in my head.

Pfft.  A million dollars?  I could burn through that in a month…  Good tune though.

Oddly enough, I’ve got a lot more respect for $1 million now.  Even though I’m much older and I make a lot more money than those minimum wage days at the theme park.  Even though $1 million today is only worth about $658,858.88 in 1997 dollars (plug it into this calculator to see for yourself).  Somehow $1 million is more valuable to me now.

After 20-plus years of adulthood, I’ve gained even more respect for people who are able to save up seven figures over their working lives.  And, I’ve come to realize if you actually give most major purchases more than a minute’s worth of thought, you can still stretch $1 million a lot of different ways.  Besides, acquiring lots of stuff is just less important to me now.

So, in honor of the Barenaked Ladies classic, I took a stab at spending $1 million on myself, just to remind me and anyone who reads this blog how much extravagance $1 million can actually buy.  In this ultra-consumer world of $100 million sports contracts and $1 billion startups, I think it’s good to have a reminder from time to time that a “measly” million is still a lot of money.

Here’s my million dollar spending list:

Tesla Model 3 $35,000 sticker plus tax, tags, title and fees estimate


Transportation Stuff
Specialized S-Works Fatboy bike


Transportation Stuff
Nikon D810 DSLR Camera Body


Productivity Stuff
Nikon Lenses 6 lenses recommended from thewirecutter.com


Productivity Stuff
Apple iPad Pro (256GB)


Productivity Stuff
Apple Pencil


Productivity Stuff
Apple AirPods


Productivity Stuff
Apple MacBook Pro (512GB)


Productivity Stuff
Apple Mac Pro


Productivity Stuff
Adobe Creative Suite (5 Year subscription) $80 per month package


Productivity Stuff
T-shirt Screen Printing Machine 8-color press


Productivity Stuff
Misc Art Supplies


Productivity Stuff
Medieval Madness Pinball Remake


Fun Stuff
Go Pro Karma Drone with Hero 5 Bundle Extra Battery and Propellers


Fun Stuff
Coin Collecting Starter Fund


Hobby Stuff
Coins Magazine Subscription (5 years) $23 per year


Hobby Stuff
Troy 5-100 lb dumbell set plus rack


Health Stuff
2 Tailored Suits


Style Stuff
Devon Tread 1 A Watch


Style Stuff
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Event Tickets + Hotel (3 people) Based on premium Rio 2016 package via TheStreet.com


Tokyo 2020 Flight (2 adults, 1 child first class) Based on cheapest non-stop price this year on Google plus 25%


Tokyo 2020 Snacks, Food and Souvenirs $250 per day, 16 days (just a guess)


48-State Road Trip Class C 26’ Motorhome rental (6 months) $1,675 per week via Pleasureland RV


48-State Road Trip Gas Money 13,699 miles, $3 per gallon, 10 miles per gallon


48-State Road Trip Greasy Spoon Budget $150 per day


48-State Landmark  and Campground Admission $75 per day


Summer Cruise to Alaska (Suite for 3 people, 11 days) $5,848 per person via Norwegian Cruise Line


January Annual Domestic Warm Weather Winter Trip (5 years worth) $10,000 per year


Luxary European River Cruise Amsterdam to Budapest (Suite for 3 people, 16 days) $10,799 per person via Uniworld


Round-trip flight to Amsterdam (business class) Based on cheapest flight (2-stops)


Minnesota Twins Season Tickets (5 years, Behind Home Plate) $15,795 per season


5 Year Netflix Subscription Premium $11.99 per month


Weekly Dinner And Movie (5 Years) Premium burger or steak place plus ultra screen experience ($150 per week)


Caribou Coffee Gift Card


5 Years Current Base Spending $4,000 per month


5 Years Health Insurance $15,000 per year (high deductible estimate MNSURE exchange Minnesota)


5 Year Meal Subscription Plan (for 3) Blue Apron family plan (4 nights per week), $139.84 per week


Weekly House Cleaning Service (5 Years) $150 per week


Refinish Wood Floors $4.10/square foot, 850 square feet


Home Improvement
Scrape Popcorn Ceiling (repaint on our own) $1.53/square foot (removal) 500 square feet,


Home Improvement
Additional lighting and ceiling fans 4 can lights in living room, 2 pendants in kitchen, 2 fans in rooms


Home Improvement
Rewire House according to my brother-in-law


Home Improvement
Redo House Exterior (HARDIE siding) 40×25 footprint, 1 story, 12 windows and doors


Home Improvement
Redo House Exterior (low energy windows) 9 double-hung, 1 bay


Home Improvement
Redo House Exterior (steel doors) $750 each (estimate)


Home Improvement
Redo House Exterior (steel roof) estimate


Home Improvement
Small Backdoor Deck (composite) 150 square feet, top quality


Home Improvement
Landscaping Budget estimate


Home Improvement
Basement Refinish $35/square foot, 850 square feet


Home Improvement



  • $120,208 on “Stuff”:  With this kind of money, I could get a lot of stuff to enhance my productivity, hobbies, health and style.  And I could finally get that new car I’ve always wanted.  I’ve driven a beat up Honda for most of my adult life, so a Tesla Model 3 would be plenty.  My favorite purchase of all would be the Medieval Madness pinball remake for $8,495.  If you haven’t had the chance to play it, it’s the single most addictive pinball game of all time.  Hours and hours of fun.
  • $281,996 on “Travel”:  Oh man, I could travel in style as a millionaire.  I’d go first class all the way to the Olympics in Tokyo.  The Olympics is something I’ve always wanted to do.  An RV trip across the U.S. has also always been on my bucket list.  I’d definitely do some trip across Europe (maybe the river cruise is kind of an old man thing to do, but it was easy to put a dollar figure to and it looks like relaxing fun).  $281,996, though?  Let’s be honest.  With all the travel hacks out there, I’d get far more than what I’ve already listed for that kind of money.
  • $509,078 on “Lifestyle”:  Actually, I ran out of steam filling out this list, so I cheated a little.  I lopped off about $300,000 for the kind of Runway Retirement I talked about in one of my other articles late last year.  5 years worth!  What’s more important than buying back free time?  I also got some premium Minnesota Twins season tickets (I’m a huge fan), a significant slush fund for dinner and entertainment, and someone to clean my house.  Not too shabby.
  •   $88,718 on “Home Improvement”:  Our little house is plenty for us for now, but some upgrades would be nice, especially to the basement.  After all, that’s where my Medieval Madness machine is going!

Bonus… It turns out, it does add up.  I calculated out the cost of everything Barenaked Ladies wanted to buy in their hit song.  You can get it all for $1 million with room to spare!  Well, as long as we can substitute a life-sized replica T-Rex skeleton for John Merrick’s remains.  Check it out:

A House U.S. Zillow Home Value Index March 2017 ($196,500) plus 5% closing costs and fees


Furniture For Your House 25% of the price of the house


A K-car 1989 Chrysler LeBaran Convertible plus tax, title, license and fees


Build A Tree Fort 16’ Octagon Treehouse Building Kit


Tiny Fridge For the Tree Fort GE Spacemaker 5.6 Cu. Ft. Compact Refrigerator


Prewrapped Sausages and Things For the Fridge (50 years worth) Monthly Meat and Cheese Club ($389.95/yr)


Faux Fur Coat From Vogue article, fashionable faux fur $451-$5,700


A Llama or An Emu $1500, plus care for 20 years (~$2000/year)


John Merrick’s Remains Impossible.  How about a replica life-sized Tyrannosaurus Skeleton instead


Limo trip to the store, “because it costs more” $500/trip, 1 time per month, 50 years


“More” Kraft Dinner (lifetime supply: two boxes a day for 50 years) Kraft Mac & Cheese ($.99/box), butter ($.62/box), milk ($.05/box)


Dijon Ketchups (Ketchup for every meal. 1 individual bottle x 3 x…. 50 years) Is it “dijon” if it’s in cute little individual 2.25 oz bottles? $39.49/case of 60


A Green Dress (well, not a real green dress) Oscar de la Renta floral dress from Saks Fifth Avenue


A Picasso or a Garfunkel “lower-to mid-six figures (USD)…” for a masterpiece drawing


A Monkey Capuchin, like the one Ross had ($8,500), plus care for 45 years (~$2,000/year)


Extra Spending Money!



What’s your million dollar spending list?  See how much $1 million buys for you.  It really puts things into perspective and it’s kind of fun.  Let me know how it turns out in the comments section.

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  1. I love that you’re willing to pay for all the work and scraping of the ceiling but you’re going to paint it yourself. Classic. 😉 Awesome take on an old song (can I say old? It came out my first year of college…). I think these days they might say 2 million or even 5 to make it as exciting as a million sounded back then. Either way, you did a lot with the dough!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hell yeah, I’d have someone else scrape the ceiling! I’ve scraped one before. It sucks… bad! My arm almost fell off 😉 I thought I could paint, though. You know, just to say I did something.

      Here’s the thing about inflation that I didn’t really get into. Technology really compensates for rising costs in some areas. That makes the $659,000 in 1997 dollars figure I gave a little misleading.

      Travel would actually probably be much less than the 90’s, due to proliferation of travel websites, travel credit-card hacking, etc. I really didn’t even try to compare costs on travel websites. Just went with what Google said and added an arbitrary surcharge to travel during the Olympics.

      And, I probably purchased the productivity power of what a NASA supercomputer was in the mid-90s (no idea really. don’t quote me) for less than $10,000. And you could argue that I overspent by quite a bit.

      I think people forget about this when they think about the dwindling value of money.


  2. Pay off my mortgage (there goes about half of that million already!) I think I’d spend maybe $100k on another RTW trip (or 2 or 3) but way more epic this time than our backpacking version. Maybe $20k on renovations. Buy a boring but reliable car!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah. I thought about paying off my mortgage, but I’d rather have the 5-year runway of spending money at a low interest rate than lock too much money in my house. Plus an $18,000 watch 😉 Honestly, the mortgage payoff was just less fun. It would definitely be a consideration.


  3. It’s like the line from Austin Powers where he wants to hold the world for ransom for one million dollars. Thinking about how to spend it all in one go is hard for sure. But it’s still not retirement money for most people. I read an article a few months ago that basically stated wealthy now truly begins at three million…


    • Austin Powers… Classic!

      Yeah, I know. To feel totally secure in “retirement”, $1 million doesn’t seem like much. But, I think it goes a lot further than people give it credit for. Even today. $1 million (if it’s in your hand after taxes). That’s 30 years with basically a $45,000 salary, counting the taxes you’d pay on that salary (oversimplifying at 25%). That’s just flat math, no interest, under your mattress stuff.

      And I don’t think the inflation figures we get truly reflect all the costs that technology has and will bring down for us. Dump the cost of your house (hopefully it’s paid off by 65), commuting costs, etc… more and more of the million starts to be free cashflow. Healthcare being the biggest wildcard, of course. Hopefully tech will start to finally bring those costs down too.

      Thanks for the comment and the Dr. Evil reference 🙂 !


  4. If I had a million dollars…I’d be FI 🙂

    Really cool to see the list you put together. We’ve done so much paring down of stuff at this point, I had a hard time picking out “stuff” to buy but once you got to the travel list, my brain started churning.

    Truth be told, if I had a million dollars, I’d buy a plot of land, build our small house, and then we’d use the rest of the money to fund a FI lifestyle that balanced between living there and traveling the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great stuff, Chris! That slow-travel kind of lifestyle is pretty appealing. Yeah, I think we’d definitely be FI. Not in the traditional “retirement” sense (which I think people put too much emphasis on), but just having more than enough margin in our lives to head down any path we want. As long as you’re not way over leveraged already, $1 million is still a huge sum of money.


  5. Fun idea here!

    I think you’re list of stuff and first class travel really shows you how hard it is to actually spend a million.

    The only thing that would make it easy for me living in South East England would be to buy a half decently sized house, that could easily set you back half a million £ so that is nearly already 1 million $!!!

    Crazy times for house prices over here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Firestarter! I had fun doing this one…

      But, considering I spent close to a third of it on buying years away from work, I really did have a tough time coming up with ways to spend that kind of dough. Especially since I’m less and less into “stuff”.

      The house thing is tough. You can definitely burn through a chunk if you buy the house outright. In my little exercise I decided not to spend any on buying out the rest of my house (~$150,000). To me it would be more valuable to buy free-time on the front end and keep my mortgage with a historically low interest rate than lock up a huge chunk of cash in home equity.

      Thanks for the comment!


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