Today we are looking at findings from my first 100 millionaire interviews.
And we get to talk about spending! Yay!
After I had completed several interviews, a reader suggested asking millionaires what they like to spend money on. After all, we need to enjoy some of our money while we’re earning, saving, and investing, don’t we?
So I added this question beginning with Millionaire #38:
What is your favorite thing to spend money on/your secret splurge?
And we’ve had some GREAT responses!
Let’s dive in and see how millionaires like to treat themselves…
Millionaire Secret Splurges
Before we get to the exact findings, here are the top-line results:
- 55 millionaires responded to the question (not everyone answers every question and some who did said something like “I don’t really spend”).
- There were 92 mentions of what millionaires like to buy/their secret splurges.
- The 92 mentions were made up of 22 different items (several millionaires mentioned the same items as we’ll see shortly).
- The top five made up 75% of all mentions.
- Even more concentrated, the top two made up 57% of all mentions.
I guess millionaires like spending on the same things!
Now let’s get to the specifics…
Top Five Splurges
In this section I’ll list the five most-mentioned millionaire splurges, make some comments on each, and then use a few quotes from millionaires to add detail.
Here are the top five in order:
This was the overwhelming favorite with 60% of millionaires mentioning it. It also accounted for 36% of the total mentions.
This result is probably not a shocker to most people, especially those who read the series, since it comes up so often.
That said, even I didn’t expect it to win by this much.
But it makes sense. People like to travel in general and millionaires certainly have the funds to do so.
Let’s hear why millionaires like to spend on travel.
We’ll begin with this from millionaire 50:
We love to give each other experiences, not presents.
Our big splurge last year was to fly to Colorado, land at the highest airport in the country, Leadville, spend a week with friends hiking and biking in Breckenridge.
We then took a flying, day trip to Torrington, WY to experience the total solar eclipse. Two bucket list items in one trip.
Sounds like fun, right? Colorado is awesome and I like Breckenridge in particular.
Here’s another from millionaire 70:
Vacation is my big splurge.
I take a vacation every 3 months and I like to stay at really nice hotels across the Mexico, Caribbean and Hawaii islands.
I refuse to short myself on vacation time or accommodations.
I can really identify with the quality comment. I would rather go on one nice vacation than two where I had to stay in a hostel.
I don’t need to stay at the Ritz (and wouldn’t prefer it anyway), but do like the place we stay to be nice.
Next is this comment from millionaire 77:
I love traveling. I spend about $45k a year just on trips.
I love going to a new country, learning about a new culture, meeting interesting people on my trips and, of course, the beautiful beaches!
I love a good beach myself!
Perhaps I’ll get up to $45k spending on travel myself one day, but I suspect that $20k is more my limit.
Here’s a different take from millionaire 78:
We love cruises – in fact, the header image on my website is a photo I took of the ocean from a cruise we were on. I did mention that we’re naturally frugal though and it comes into play with our cruises as well.
We don’t just pick one and go. We dig around to find a really good deal, but we always get a balcony (once you go balcony, you can’t go back!).
We’ll find a cheap flight and stay at a cheap hotel the night before. We don’t buy any upgrades on the ship and very little in the ports. But we do love the experiences and will go to restaurants in the ports and eat and drink to our heart’s content.
It’s a balance that works for us and we never feel like we’re missing out. However, it’s something that might not work for everyone and that’s Ok…to each his own!
This blends both travel and the desire to get a “good deal” which I can support 100%!
We’ve been on three cruises and like them a lot as well. I’m thinking a fourth might be in our near future.
And here’s a final thought from millionaire 95:
Vacations. In the last 15 years I have probably spent $20K – $50K a year on family vacations. My kids have been to over 35 countries and 5 continents.
Great times, experiences and memories.
The memories are priceless. Our trips are always among the most discussed memories in our family.
2. Food/eating out
This one was a bit of a surprise to me, but apparently millionaires like their fine food.
The combination of “food” and “eating out/restaurants” was mentioned by 35% of the millionaires and made up 21% of the mentions.
There were a couple different expressions of this answer.
Sometimes millionaires meant eating out and sometimes they referred to eating at home. I’ll give examples of both.
Here is a comment from millionaire 59 about eating out:
We both like to dine out and eat good food. This is our single biggest expense when it comes to ‘wants’ vs. ‘needs’. Hedonism has a price.
And another from millionaire 68:
As I mentioned, food has never been scrutinized in our budget. It’s something I love way too much to compromise on.
We eat out more than we should and over grocery shop, but I’m okay with it.
And a final one from millionaire 81:
We also enjoy gourmet dining experiences; I don’t blink at spending $250/person for a meal every couple of months, but consider paying $60 for 4 of us to get hamburgers a total waste.
That must be some really good food for $250 a person!
Now let’s move to those who like to spend on food eaten at home:
Here’s millionaire 53’s comment:
Food is our favorite thing to spend on by far.
My wife is an excellent cook and we all have a lot of fun trying new recipes.
We also like our cookbooks (America’s Test Kitchen) and Pressure cookers.
And a similar one from millionaire 63:
The one thing we don’t skimp on is food and wine.
You’ll always find meats, cheeses, seafood, red wine, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lots of dark chocolate in our kitchen.
Yum! I want to head over there for a visit! 😉
We’ll get to wine in a moment too…
LOL! Pretty stereotypical that millionaires love their cars, huh?
But there’s a big drop off here from the previous two responses. Only 15% of millionaires mentioned cars.
Let’s begin our comments with a response most people would probably expect when they hear “millionaire” and “cars”.
Here are thoughts from millionaire 39:
I have a Ferrari, Porsche and old Corvette.
My philosophy is to enjoy my cars now because when I retire I will get rid of the exotic cars (keeping the old Corvette) as they do drive up my monthly expenses.
And another from millionaire 58:
I love German cars and always have 2 for myself.
I’m wondering what someone does with multiple cars? Drive them on different days? As it is, I only drive my car once a week or so these days!
What’s the point of wealth if you can’t treat yourself? From millionaire 67:
In addition, after driving a small import for about 14 years, I recently paid cash for my dream car: a domestic, convertible sports car.
Finally, here’s more of what ESI Money readers would come to expect from a millionaire car owner — having a great car but buying right and making it last. From millionaire 99:
Luxury cars…however, I keep them for a very long time and buy them pre-owned.
My rule of thumb is to get a vehicle 3-5 years old at about 50% the original MSRP.
I currently own a luxury SUV (16 years old) and a luxury car (11 years old). Together, they are still worth about $30k.
I normally pay cash for my vehicles, but I did get a 5 year loan on the car because the rate was 1.49% (paid it off this year).
My next vehicle will probably be a pre-owned Tesla and I will probably downsize to just one vehicle.
I can appreciate a good car, I just don’t think I’d like to own one. I’d be worried someone with an older car like me would ding it. LOL!
As promised, we’re now coming to wine.
Some say it’s hard to eat a great meal without a great wine, so you’d kind of expect this to be high on the list.
That said, only 9% of millionaires mentioned wine as a splurge.
Millionaire 48 listed it with the following:
I secretly would like to own a large wine cellar. That can become a very expensive hobby but we are trying to keep it in check by keeping it to one bottle a week and a few special occasions a year.
Good food and good wine are our secret splurge.
Millionaire 49 is a wine collector:
I have approximately 50 bottles of wine (nothing too expensive, I bought all of this while visiting wineries during our travels).
And finally a more frugal response from millionaire 85:
I enjoy the taste of good wine, and I do splurge on expensive bottles now and then.
I also like to save it and let it mature in my full size wine refrigerator.
Saving, aging, and anticipating is part of the fun, and it keeps me from drinking it too often which is good for both my health and my pocketbook.
I’m not a wine drinker but I’m sure many of you can relate to these thoughts.
Surprised by this one? I go back and forth whether I expected this one or not.
Only 7% of millionaires mentioned clothes, so it’s not a big percentage of the responses.
Millionaire 41 left the following comment:
I also splurge on clothes, partly because of my management type job, partly because I like cute shoes!
And millionaire 79 agrees:
I love buying new clothes, especially when they’re driven by losing weight! Wearing a new suit to work with a new shirt and tie is exhilarating.
Uh, ok, we will have to agree to disagree.
Wearing a suit and tie anywhere is not exhilarating to me, but this is coming from a guy who wears shorts and athletic gear most of the year, so take my comments with a grain of salt. 🙂
There were many other items mentioned that didn’t make the top five.
Here’s where we get to see a bit of personality/diversity in the millionaire ranks.
All the other items mentioned are:
- Art/art supplies
- Dark chocolate
- Outdoor gear
- Sporting events
Those are the findings — the secret splurges of millionaires!
Surprised? Suspicions confirmed?
What do you think of the millionaires’ spending choices?
P.S. For those who prefer a video version of this post, see the ESI Money YouTube channel.
Razorback 14 says
Very nice —- thanks for sharing this information!!!
In about 21 months, we’ll be ready to really take a good look at this list. Retirement is looming!!
Thanks! Good stuff
For me I would say I definitely follow the top 2 choices to a T.
When I travel I try to get the best accommodations because I think it really takes the experience to another level. This usually means spending in the low 5 figure range each time for a week vacation for 2 (sometimes 3) people. In fact I am excited to go on a Disney cruise shortly and got the ocean deluxe suite with balcony just for a party of 3 (think it can accommodate 6).
Food is definitely my weakness as well. I love traveling for the purpose of eating and have planned trips because of wanting to try local cuisine. I believe the most expensive meal I had worked out to about $300/person. My favorites are the chef wine tasting menus as you typically get professional pairing of food and wine rather than trying to do it on your own. And I also love the Omakase chef tasting menus at sushi restaurants. Well worth the price to have a multi course meal prepared by a sushi chef for you as you will eat stuff you typically would never have tried.
I tend to hold my cars long to (last one was driven 11 years before I bought a new Tesla which I plan to hold long term as well).
My splurge priorities would be as follows:
1) Housing – maybe not technically a splurge, but we occupy far more housing than we need, to the point that I’d call it a luxury. But it adds immeasurably to our quality of life. At least it is a storehouse of wealth to some extent and has mostly enhanced NW. We do travel less since we bought a weekend home, but it turns each summer weekend into a resort vacation and it will probably become our primary residence some day.
2) Food, both groceries and eating out – We’re not foodies, but we do spend a lot on eating out or ordering in. And organic produce and such is insanely expensive. We don’t see this so much as a splurge, but as a convenience that gives us more time for other things as well as a health issue.
3) Clothes – Big city MegaCorp career has required I look the part, which means fine suits, ties, etc. I find that mostly, the good stuff fits better, lasts longer, and feels more comfortable. I don’t shop very often, but when I do, I go for very high quality and use it until it falls apart and them some. Spouse has similar profile.
4) Wine and spirits – I’ve got a nice collection of about 60 bottles in two under-counter wine fridges. It requires frequent replenishment :-). But my idea of a really expensive bottle is ~$35. If we eat out I usually don’t buy a bottle. I also like my whiskies and scotches, but again don’t go too crazy on that.
5) Travel – This one really comes and goes in cycles depending on what else is going on in our lives, and to some extent cash flow (i.e. good year, bad year, etc.). Spouse finds all manner of transportation, especially flying to be aggravating (which means its front seats on long trips). I am more used to it and can zone out on planes, as I’ve been a road warrior for a good part of my career. Fortunately we collect up lots of Amex points to apply to upgrades and such. After a few years hiatus, we are now in the mood to travel, and probably spending about $20-30K a year on travel. We realize its probably a good idea to travel now while we’re still healthy and mobile.
6) Cars is dead last on the list, partly because we only need out car to get to our weekend house. I do have a mid-range German luxury vehicle, but bought it used, and its pushing 10 years. Plan to drive it into the ground. If we were retired, we’d need an extra car or two (I’d like either a convertible Porshe/Audi/MB or a tricked out Ford F-150 or Raptor as the 3rd option). But, who am I kidding… I just can’t bring myself to blow more than ~$30K on a depreciating asset!
#1 is an excellent point MMiguel. Although home isn’t in the top items listed, I bet that most of the millionaires live in large houses. It amazes me when I see houses that are 4000+ ft2 and there are 2-4 people living there. Crazy!
As for why “home” isn’t listed higher, my guess is that most people don’t think about the financial impact of owning a large house. Owning a house larger than you really need (which is probably about 2000 ft2) is definitely a luxury. The cost, interest, heating and cooling, filling it with furniture, cleaning, yard expense, insurance, taxes etc. can become a huge wealth suck.
Guilty as charged! But, you are absolutely right about the expense – it cost a lot to maintain any sort of home, much less 2 sizable high-end homes. Something’s always breaking, leaking, shorting out, etc. Critters and insects are constantly trying to share your home with you (who can blame them, it’s nice in there). I’m pretty handy, but my work is very demanding, which means hiring people to do a lot of the stuff I just don’t have the time, or as I age, the energy to get done.
I can handle most things for the city home, but the rural weekend home requires regular visits from a housekeeper, a property manager to check in once a week and after big storms, a grounds tending outfit to look after a lawn, meadows & landscaping, a pool company, a pest control company, alarm company, etc… you get the picture. I should also add that the more upscale the neighborhood/town, the more contractors are inclined to charge – it’s clearly a bit of a sliding scale.
Plus, a nice home(s) is a bit of a creative canvas, so of course there is always new landscaping, additions, etc. or interior upgrades to be had.
So, bottom line, absolutely, housing is a huge cash suck and yes, anything more than 2,000 sf is a luxury for all but the largest families. Housing is hands down my biggest luxury – BUT – fortunately I’ve made so much on value appreciation and rental income (we rent part of our townhouse) on the city house to come out net positive as it has literally quadrupled in value over the past 16 years and still climbing – my biggest single financial home run even after subtracting cost of renovating.
And the ongoing expense of the city house, after rental income, is much lower than if I had to rent even a much smaller space. And I’ve been able to leverage all that value appreciation to (prudently) borrow to fund business and investment ventures that have made money. So, it all kinda works out nicely despite the painful upfront rehab.
I’ve had similar, though not quite as spectacular gains in other r.e. endeavors. Rural house has appreciated in value but barely enough to cover what we’ve put into it in terms of upgrades, so we’ll see but I think it is likely be a modest net loss someday.
Anyhow, this all goes to say that there are a lot of different ways to approach things (even splurges) in a financially beneficial way.
For example, I have an acquaintance who’s big thing is cars – very very expensive, unique, collectible high end cars. He likes to buy two at a time – one to drive and one to store on blocks. He hold’s the investment vehicle until the price has appreciated sufficiently and sells it. His “hobby” is profitable enough that the sale of the investment car pays for the fun car and then some. This guy hardly needs to make money on this hobby, but its his way of taking his “splurge” and financing it prudently.
Debbie in Texas says
I have 2 cars and I will tell you how I decide which one to drive. My 2002 Acura was totalled by a hailstorm and would cost more to repair than it’s worth so I kept it (unrepaired) because it still drives great…and I drive it to work or errands when I’m alone. I can’t sell it, I would have to donate it and it’s my old friend, I just can’t part with it. I bought a (3 y.o.) Lincoln SUV and I drive it whenever I am with anyone, need to haul stuff, or road trips….I love the adaptable cruise control and the hands free phone and other stuff. It is hard to park though, I never get it straight the first time. I had intended to buy an Acura SUV but the deal fell through and I never found another good one at the time I was shopping.
I’m not sure I would call it “secret” or “splurge”. It is really a lifestyle of someone that is Financially Independent. And why not? Money is not something to accumulate forever, but to be used as a tool and to enjoy. For me my FI lifestyle allows me 3 things: Travel, Beautiful Large Home, and a Second Home. For Travel we spend over $100k per year and like to do luxury ocean cruises, river cruises, adventure travel, upgraded hotels, and to spend not one week but 3 weeks away at a time. Our Home is our enjoyment place. It is more than we need (7200 sq ft), but it has all the amenities (theater, bar, exercise room, all bedrooms with ensuites, large lot, gated/guarded community, etc.) that are enjoyed by family and friends. We also have a Second Home, which is in the mountains and is a nice place to get away and enjoy serenity and a slower pace. I think many millionaires would also say that their home and second home would be near the top of the list.
The $250/person meals are definitely delicious :)! They are truly “experiences” and we enjoy the creativity of chefs who pour so much passion into their edible works of art. At this price point, the places have some Michelin. Getting ready for a couple of these meals as we travel overseas next month!
Not surprising at all. Travel is definitely on my list for retirement. In fact, my social security check is slated to be my T&E budget. Cars is on the list too. Probably one nice comfortable one for road trips and one “beater”, probably electric, for around town. Food is also good, but I’d probably top out at $100 per person, given the law of diminishing returns.
While some people might consider my two Porsche’s a splurge, I don’t really think of them that way. I bought them both used when they were over 10 years old, paying cash. The older one is on its way to doubling in value; and the newer one (a 2003) is not likely to go down in value from what I paid for it.
So that means I get to drive these amazing cars, attend outings with the local Porsche club, and pay very little in insurance, gas and maintenance while doing it, knowing all the while that I’m driving a car that is appreciating in value.
The newer one gets driven in all weather, and I don’t mind where I park it. The older one is my “weekend” car, only going out on sunny days for a nice drive in the country. They’re very different cars in terms of the driving experience, and both put a smile on my face whenever I drive them.
As they say, “crazy like a fox.” At least, that’s how I think about it.
This is the actual Ferrari I purchased:
I always second guess the purchase, but the drive is exhilarating, especially out with like minded enthusiasts.
I also have a BMW M6 convertible and a 750Li for our daily drives. Let’s not discuss the minivan. We are now purchasing a white MB for our daughter’s 16th birthday. Son wants an Audi when he starts driving in 2 years. All vehicles were purchased used.
Overkill? I’ve been accused of spending too much, and I’ve been accused of spending too little. So I must be spending just right! You only live once, never mind the gossip.
Not sure I consider this a splurge though, given our income and NW. They are also one time purchases, not recurring expenses. Keep in mind I also leverage the equity in the vehicles to finance (<2% loan rate) income producing investments so the vehicle depreciation can be leveraged to additional income. That's how the wealthy find opportunity others may not focus on.
That Ferrari is SWEET!!!!!!!
Speaking of cars, I recently drove thru the craziest weather I’ve ever seen in my life – howling winds, lightning, torrential downpours, and dense fog. My 4WD German SUV handled it like a champ – at no point was I ever in doubt of losing control – stable as if glued to the road. And on the final leg, we had to climb uphill, thru rain and fog on a rural dirt road aka mud slide with no margin for error given the obstacles on each side – no problemo. The car has saved me many times in deep snow, icy roads, mud slicks, boggy grass, you name it. Of course you might question the common sense of being in those situations to begin with, but sometimes the unpredictable just happens. So, I’m subtracting my car from the splurge category even though technically its a luxury make/model.
I know MMiguel gets it!
Anyway, everything on this list is on my list, except wine (gives me headaches). It must be all relative, I haven’t really considered these things splurges since I only spend about 15% of my gross income annually.
Save for tomorrow, but live for today. When I sell these luxuries I probably won’t replace them, but I know I’ve experienced them in my youth and now choose wisdom and charity over repeating past purchases for fulfillment. Travels will surely continue though, there are always new destinations to explore. But not excessive travel, that’s a sign you’re unhappy where you are (geographically and in life).
I personally now find more charity a sign of contentment, happiness and peace. This may sound cheesy, but this seems to be the new growing splurge for me, because there’s a greater purpose in life about no longer focusing on…me. This is the ultimate truth and wisdom of the faithful, and probably feel is where is have felt most lacking and repentant. Here’s to a newly discovered splurge on the Spirit. Perfect balance in this moment and in this place, no longer chasing the grass on the other side may be a splurge to consider unto itself.
You are a good man.
Totally agree with the top 5. I used to spend more on clothing when I really couldn’t afford what I was wearing. Nowadays, it’s jeans and a polo shirt.
My splurges are as follows, and I think it will increase as our net worth grows:
… still to come (ABC’s)
Life Outside The Maze says
This list seems pretty intuitive and it should. Being a millionaire today may not even be enough to retire on let alone live the lifestyles of the rich and famous. It might be interested to see at what net worth level do people really start changing up the lifestyle in a way that looks different than just doing a little more eating out and travel than average Joe/Jane. Like at what point do you get a personal assistant and start buying $400 shirts? Is is $10M, 25M? One thing that I write a lot about is that keeping lifestyle way below means is real freedom. Upping lifestyle equally as net worth goes up just keeps you dependent on that income and provides little real happiness according to my research anyway. Keep up the research, I’m interested to see more of your findings
#1, #2 and #3 are right in line with us. I lump skiing in the travel bucket (local trips count in my book). Another big splurge for us is “home”. New hardwood floors, custom shelving, new counter tops, etc. Seems like every year for the past few years, the wife wants roughly $10k in home renovations per year. Good thing I’m still working. Hopefully we’ll get at least 1/2 of it back when we sell the home.
This time next year we are moving to our retirement home. Your list got me thinking about what our splurge in retirement will be. I decided I can pretty much sum it up with one thing and that is our HOA fees at the new home. It’s hard to really think of them as a splurge since the fees and our property tax will be less than half of what we pay now in property tax in our high tax state but they are fees we could have eliminated by choosing somewhere else to live so I am considering them a splurge.
What are we getting in return? Several of the items on your list. Resort living and feeling like we are on vacation year round. A gated community in the woods, surrounded by wildlife, situated on a 28 mile lake. A newly renovated state of the art fitness center, two outdoor and one indoor pool,a large tennis and pickle ball court complex, newly renovated golf course, pontoon boats we can rent if we don’t need want the expense of boat ownership, a fully renovated club house with a bar, dining room and bistro, endless activity groups, social events, walking trails and more. Did I mention the wine appreciation group who meets monthly with the chef to pick a menu for the dinner then with the local wine emporium to select wines to pair with the dinner? Were looking forward to finding some new favorite wines since the new home has a temperature controlled walk in wine cellar.
Aside from splurging on the HOA fees we’ll be enjoying good food, cooked at home or dining out, good, reasonably priced wine, curling, with some travel to compete with other clubs and maybe splurging on some tickets to a few Clemson football games.
Sounds like my home state South Carolina! I’m a Greenville-ian but live in the north east and looking to return closer to family…I digress, where is this paradise you’re teasing us with?
Hi Tim, you are correct! Keowee Keys, on Lake Keowee is the community. About an hour from Greenville which is developing an amazing food scene as you probably know. We are in the Northeast too on Long Island, land of outrageous taxes, counting the days until we relocate. Reach out if you have any specific questions about KK.
Yes Greenville is quite a different place these days. My parents are still there and I visit often. Also spent a bit of time on Lake Keowee.
Agreed, NYC metro is/has become a burden and I think the burden is quickly exceeding its benefits/trade offs in quality of life. I’m in Manhattan—spouse works as private chef so hard to find work outside metro areas but ESI every penny to hopefully split in 3 ish years, maybe the Keowee keys!?
Just curious to know what the male/female ratio has been on the millionaire interviews? I haven’t read them all, but they tilt towards males, even though most also seem to be married couples. So, the splurges in the interviews also tilt male.
Thanks! I read this at the time but have forgotten
Debbie in Texas says
Yes, 90% men. My number one splurge as a female is my housekeeper every 2 weeks. And my SECRET splurge is my diamond earrings. I told no one, not even my husband.
Jim D says
I find that after a lifetime of ESI frugal living that I struggle with spending lavishly even though money is not an issue. I still seek bargains, avoid luxuries and tend to live modestly. I can afford the best but feel angst when I spend more on things i feel I could have had for less. When I eat out, I never order the costly entries. I always travel on bargain deals. I dislike shopping. I buy slightly used vehicles. Learning how to spend after a lifetime of savings and frugality is a real challenge for me. I wonder if others find this to be true?
This is one question I’m asking in the new Retirement Interviews series…stay tuned.
Jim D – I would say 90% of how you describe yourself is applicable to me as well. I think there is a self-selection here, for folks who follow blogs like this, we tend to have similar characteristics as shown by the millionaire interviews.
May seem odd to others, but makes complete sense to me!
It’s funny that I don’t know many people who think/behave like me in regards to finances, but online here and in the Bogleheads Forum – I have found comfort in realizing I’m not the “only” one who is like this and I am happy to have found so many kindred spirits.
Debbie in Texas says
Yes, you are totally normal. If you read “The Millionaire Next Door” most of the people studied were very frugal and not wasteful even after they became millionaires, because that’s how they became one in the first place.
Razorback 14 says
This is the same fear I have —— after years of being a dedicated SAVER —— I often think about how well I will live life as a SPENDER.
My wife tells me not to worry about it. She’ll teach me all about the world of the consumer ❤️
Jim D says
Razorback- I think frugality becomes a learned trait and a part of ones personality so that it isn’t easy to suddenly start spending lavishly even though the means to do so are now available. Someone said “once you win the game ,why keep playing”. This makes good sense, but even though I have reached my financial goals, I can’t stop being frugal, saving and investing the same way I did for over 25 years. I’m making small strides with changes and hopefully will continue to do so. Seems like a strange problem to have, but as long as I’m happy and enjoying my lifestyle, having more money than what I can spend is a good place to be.
I am living for the millionaire who financed a car! I know PF likes to bang the drum about never financing, but at that rate, I’d imagine he or she was doing other things with their money and financing really did make the most sense!
I had fun reading this entire analysis.
No surprises from my perspective. Travel is definitely our #1 splurge since FIRE-ing two years ago. In fact, we sat on a sand bar one mile out in the ocean today, just off the coast of Islamorada in the Florida Keys. It was incredible and beautiful! It’s hard to argue that isn’t better than sitting in a conference room watching directors show Power Points on blown budgets!
A little of 1,2 and and almost 4 (if you count whiskys!). Need to do more travel but my desire for a Porsche is going to make #3 the biggest splurge for me in recent years. We’ll see if I can pull the trigger.
My cousin just traded in his Ferrari F12 for a beautiful blue Porsche 911 GT3RS not unlike the one below.. He also has a blue Cayenne Turbo for his daily drive.
Pull that trigger when you can!
Oh my. Those GT3RSs are a thing of beauty. A little out of my league at least for now. A couple of my car buddies are pushing me to a 911 but even slightly used are big bucks. I’m thinking 718 Cayman for now. Keep my Dodge truck for winter in the northeast!
JeffB MI20 says
We haven’t spent more than $40K on cars, but we do travel a ton. We are going to London in June, me mainly for the MLB Yankees vs Red Sox and the wife to see a Shakepeare play with some of her girlfriends and then we are going to hit Ireland for a week. My wife likes to eat at top 50 restaurants. In Barcelona last year when we did a stupid cheap 14 day cruise from Spain to Florida, we dropped $500 at Tickets, which is a top restaurant. I have bought expensive clothes, but try only if it is truely unique. Our travel budget is ramping up to over $30K a year and we haven’t even retired yet. The wife has a 60 bottle wine fridge, but nothing horribly expensive. i have about six bottles of scotch I paid more than $100 a bottle for, but again, nothing crazy. We did have a celebration dinner in New Orleans a few weeks ago with six of our friends and we decided to buy dinner for everyone, since we can. 🙂
We need a Scotch thread! Balvenie 12 is my new favorite! I’m a noob though.
JeffB MI20 says
You should start with Scotch from the Speyside region. Dalmore, Macallen, Glenfiddich. I can’t do the Islay Scotch from Laphroig or Laugavulin. The Balvenie Rum Cask is really good. You should go check out the podcast https://whiskycast.com/. Great information. Also check out Single Cask Nation.
Also check out the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society of America. https://www.smwsa.com. Irish Whiskey is very smooth as well. I like Red Breast 12.
Oh no… more temptation. I have Macallan 12 (and others). Just picked up Hibiki Harmony and since you suggested- I got a bottle of Red Breast 12.. never tried Irish Whiskey. Good lunch break… but don’t worry… no whiskey during working hours! I’ll check out those sites too.
JeffB MI20 says
It is a deep and fun rabbit hole. We went to a Whiskey Festival in Chicago a few years ago and you get to try a whole bunch of Whiskey for a decent price. Also, you should try and get to Louisville and do the Bourbon Trail. Lot’s of fun.
Bourbon trail is already on the short list!
Manjit Singh says
As I read this, I start thinking about has anyone really thought of what is the real meaning of life and purpose of a human being on this? Is it money, wines, houses, cars and so on? I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun trips, dinners, wines and so on but sadly it seems no one gets it. The real question should be how many are truly happy? What do we have to account for when we leave this temporary place called Earth?
Meaning of life… reading ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ currently. Yes I think about it quite a bit actually. Just lost my Uncle and cousin within two weeks.. yep. Doing soul searching.
I think life if about having fun with friends and family and helping others when possible. Money sure makes some things possible/accessible for sure… but it’s not happiness in a bottle by any stretch. I’d rather have more than less honestly…
Why do you think no one gets it?
The real question should be how many are truly HOLY? Happy is just another emotion that is merely the opposite of sad and one of many emotions, not enough to be the ultimate question. People are so often disappointed precisely because we often just seek happiness, and it’s often shallow and fleeting where we expect it to be more visceral.
There’s nothing wrong with the items on this list giving us some happiness, so long as they do not become your master. The truly faithful know, without a shadow of doubt, where to go when we leave this temporary place called Earth. I touched on this in a previous comment above. Funny we both raised this question in a discussion on splurges.
I agree splurges make me think what am I really doing all this for? Is it for money, vacations, wine, possessions? No, they’re just a by product of my efforts to help others but they’re still okay. So long as the eye stays on the ultimate prize upon leaving this Earth.
Don’t you shame me into selling the Ferrari or cancelling my Europe trip now 🙂
Kyle @ Sloww.co says
Thank you for conducting this research and writing about it, ESI!
So, the #1 most common splurge is travel (“overwhelming favorite with 60% of millionaires mentioning it”).
Here are a couple interesting quotes to ponder when it comes to millionaires and travel:
1) On millionaires: “People don’t want to be millionaires — they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy…$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.” Tim Ferriss
2) On travel: “Anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around. You’re traveling in order to be moved…some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life.” Pico Iyer
So, if the ultimate goals are “freedom” and “to be moved,” then I think we can all agree that you don’t need to be a millionaire to experience that.
Really, we can all consciously choose that now.
Of course! I really enjoy this thread since it really provokes us to think a bit on why most of us want to be wealthy. And honestly I’d question if anyone didn’t want more wealth.
I think the primary reason is freedom. But this means very different things to different people. It can mean not having to work for a boss that’s a dink. It can mean not slugging through an hours traffic each way to work. It can mean you never worry about being able to pay heating bills or having medical insurance. It can mean providing family and/or friends a great college education.
Once you get through some of these issues one has choices of how to live. Some choose modest lives… some like different ‘experiences’. I like cars and fun hobbies but don’t care about having a 5000 sq ft house. Some like extensive travel. Some give more to charity.
Of course you don’t need to be a millionaire or mega millionaire to have truly amazing experiences. I’m sure we’d give it all up for things you can never buy- Love of family and friends. Those things can never be purchased!!! Nor can you buy more time on this little planet- so love life now!
What was the average and distribution of net worth for your interviewed millionaires? Clicking some of the links they look like single-digit millionaires. How did the habits vary between someone with 1M, 10M, 100M?
Here are the numbers:
Father’s aversion to standing in lines ‘ever again’ following his service in WWII (Army) seemed to pass by osmosis . . . no in the family has the travel bug, strictly regional and local. The gf, meanwhile, traveled all across Europe and South America during her college years; her family limits themselves to Canadian destinations mostly, driving. No cruises, virtually no plane travel; after 25 years, they all know my no means NO. Several bouts of viruses worldwide, up to and including Coronavirus have patched our native habits into wisdom, a quiet blessing amid great chaos and suffering. Anyone up to international travel right about now?! Of course, I’m not a millionaire, though I do consider myself wealthy, within reason. Deposit five million into my account overnight, and you’d be surprised how little I change; it’s been proven time and again through various windfalls. If anything, I’d tend to work and drive less. Constants are part of the millionaire habit subsets, basically books, gardening, and dark chocolate (lol), the latter usually gifted. These days, gardening comes very cheap, the rewards sky high. Steady flow of organic greens and vegetables onto our table, so formidable savings for the general good, also max brownie points if you know what I mean; the gf’s diet is strictly organic. I grow almost everything from seed; Baker Creek packs free seeds with every order. Splurges usually fall under five dollars, for which I typically get two packets of non-GMO heirloom wonder, plus a third packet bonus; this week it was yellow pear tomato, something I’ve never heard of or tried to grow. Currently percolating in pots over a heat mat; we’ll see. That’s the life, forevermore; thoroughly local, only a stern eye toward what’s global.
‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’ — Cicero
Browsing through Forbes, I occasionally see ads for private jets, start to ooh and aah, fantasizing, until I realize there is no place to go, not one. Only to the hangar to possibly pet it, walk around inside, get the smell, then leave. If I could pilot one, like a business charter, well there’s something; not my work, however, and too pricey to get in, so no dream. Same thing with Ducatis and the like; the roads are often sketcky, people are mad, animals crossing in the night and so on. A gated community does sound nice, to keep out the rabble, with a couple well-armed spooks to drive me around. The gangster life or posh executive life, just without any crime, empire-building or decades of hard work to predicate it. I see that with 10 million, maybe, but then I don’t see that happening, so it gets parked in obscurity as unreal. So the most I’d get out of various trappings or such things is a kind of fetishistic admiration, with no currency in the life I actually live, currently, or even choose to. Behind gated walls, high security, a ride to anywhere, wandering mansion grounds, I’d still prefer the study, or library, see what’s happening in the gardens, thinking about dinner. Same girlfriend.