Does A Million Dollars Make You Rich?

A million dollarsIn a world of ever shrinking guaranteed retirement benefits, how much would we really need to feel secure about our long term financial stability. I used to think having a million dollars would make me rich. When your reach that milestone, you get to belong to a new club, the millionaire’s club. Millionaires lead the luxury life we all dream of right? If you were given a million dollars tomorrow, would it make you rich?

Becoming rich by having a million dollars depends on several things.

How Much Debt You Have

Having a million dollars would not have gone very far for us about a decade ago. With a residential and commercial mortgage, business loan, student loans, auto loans, and consumer debt, we were almost $750,000 in the red. A cool million would have paid that off and left us a nice chunk of change to build on, but I wouldn’t have considered us rich.

Will You Ever Earn Any More Money?

If someone gave me a million dollars today, tax free, and I never worked again, lets see what sort of lifestyle that would allow.

I’ll hide it under my mattress because I don’t trust those evil financial planners, and I think the stock market is too scary. I’m almost 40, so let’s say I’m planning on living to age 80. That leaves me a handsome $25,000 a year to live on. For that amount, I could eat lots of rice and beans and maybe have a steak on my birthday if I hit the early bird special at Shoney’s. I’m not feeling very rich.

Investing My Million Dollars

If I ignore the lifestyle inflation that must come along with belonging to the millionaire’s club and continue to work as I do now, I can invest that million dollars. If I can earn 6%, and leave the million there for another 20 years, I would have just over $3.2 million dollars beginning at age 60. You can play with rates of return and amounts of time, but if I don’t go hog wild with my million dollars, I’ll feel pretty rich in 20 years.

Is A Million Dollars Enough?

If I asked most people that I interact with on a daily basis, I think the answer would be that a million dollars is enough to make you rich. The thought of seeing all those zeros in your bank account would be amazing, but the reality is that the money might not get you very far if you don’t use it wisely. It would also be a rare fluke for most of us to get a million dollars given to us as a lump sum, so the point of this post is probably pointless.

Before you berate yourself for going through this whole exercise, I would challenge you that anyone can be a millionaire. Yes, it’s true. You don’t have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth or win the lottery. Anyone who can invest $508 dollars a month with a 6% return for 40 years will be a millionaire. Obviously, you’ll have to invest more if 40 years doesn’t fit your time frame, but you can’t argue with the math.

Why Most People Will Never Have a Million Dollars

If everyone started investing their $508 a month as soon as they had their first real job, I bet most would never miss it. The problem is that we rack up all kinds of debt before getting that job or we start filling our lives with things we don’t really need when the paychecks start to roll in. It’s hard to catch up if you put it off for “one more year” or “until I get xyz paid off”. What would happen if we fit our lifestyles around what was left over after we made sure we’d be millionaires?

Whether you think a million dollars makes you rich or not, I’m sure most of us would like to attain or surpass that number. Money certainly doesn’t buy happiness, but it does make life lots more comfortable and stress free.

Do you think a million dollars makes you rich? Do you agree that anyone can be a millionaire?


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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


    1. Thanks for your comment, but I would have to disagree. If you are looking at financial blogs, you are likely thinking of ways to improve your financial situation. I think dreaming big is a huge part of changing that situation if you are not happy with it. Thinking of a million dollars tomorrow is probably not the best idea, but you have to start with some sort of small goal and build up from there. There are tons of ways to earn an extra $500 a month, which is what you’d need to invest over a 30 year career to have a million dollars. Too many people have done it to think it’s impossible.

  1. A million would not make us rich right now, but it would certainly place us more firmly on the path we want to be on. (I’d use it to pay off all debt, buy the second house we want, and then use what’s left to fix up the current house to become a rental property.)
    Though not having to pay a mortgage might make me feel rich, since that’s a lot of extra money we get discretion over each month.

  2. I think a million is in reach for most, but certainly not easy for everybody. Depending on your income and expenses you’ll get there more or less quickly.

    A million would certainly come in handy and ease the pressure, but it’s probably not enough to call yourself rich unless you really live a minimalist life. I could make it work, but I think I’d keep working and saving.

    1. It also depends on when you get to a million. If I’m old, it would go much further. Right now, I’d keep on earning money at least until all my debts were paid off.

  3. One million bucks would make you rich if you lived a sensible and frugal lifestyle before you hit it rich, as you’re going to be MUCH more likely to continue that lifestyle afterwards. On the flip-side, people that rack up debt and don’t save will burn through a million faster than you can say “MC Hammer”.

    1. I was waiting to see if anyone would mention professional athletes and how broke most of them become after their glory days. I guess MC Hammer fits right in with that, although I guess he found God, so he might feel rich anyway.

  4. Sadly, I think if most people were given a million dollars, it wouldn’t last them a year. A million isn’t what it used to be and after they bought a new home and a couple of new cars, took a vacation or two and bought a few other toys, it would be gone. If someone handed me a million dollars (thanks), it would definitely make me feel more secure. Although I always consider “rich” to be more determined by how you use your money, than by how much you have. I’ve worked with “rich” people who were very miserable and felt “poor” and with people who had very little but felt “rich”.

  5. Living in NYC, where a house in a decent neighborhood is over 1/2 a million, one million doesn’t sound “rich.” But it still is a whole heck of a lot of money. It still feels like a lot of me because I don’t need to spend that much. Though I’m not sure I could quit my job and continue living in NYC, but I can do a lot of things that I can’t do right now.

    1. A million in LA wouldn’t go as far as a million in rural Colorado, but I think I’d still keep earning if some handed me a million tomorrow. I would only see nice patients, though. Mean ones could go somewhere else.

  6. I don’t think a million dollars necessarily equates to being rich. I do definitely believe that anyone can save a million dollars over the course of the year. For me, I could probably live on 25k a year but I wouldn’t feel rich.

    1. I could live on that amount if everything was paid off, but I certainly would not feel rich. Now if I could keep my million in investments and keep earning enough to live, I’d be set.

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