What Would You Give Up For $1 Million?

As can sometimes happen when you’re hanging out with friends, you start asking each other hypothetical questions to spur on good conversation. Here’s one my friends and I were throwing back and forth the other day:

What would you give up for $1 million right now?


I’ll give a few examples.

Would you never play golf again for $1 million?

Would you give up eating hamburgers for the rest of your life for $1 million?

Would you forego ice cream forever for $1 million?

Would you stop exercising for $1 million?

Would you take $1 million right now to never listen to another Taylor Swift song for the rest of your life?

Would you never watch a movie or TV show again for $1 million?

Would you give up the ability to never watch another sporting event for $1 million?

Would you never step foot in any Disney amusement park for the rest of your life for $1 million?

The list of hypotheticals can go on and on.

Of course, $1 million means different things to different people. Although, regardless of your financial situation a free $1 million can go a long way toward accomplishing your financial goals. Also, that dollar amount is intentional; it would be difficult for anyone to turn down $100 million, no matter the activity you’d have to sacrifice.

While this is just a silly hypothetical exercise, I think it has some value if you take it semi-seriously.


Let’s say someone deposited $1 million into my checking account today, the only stipulation is that I can’t watch another movie for the rest of my time here on Earth.

That $1 million would feel great. I’d likely turn around and invest it for my family’s future and feel pretty secure in what that amount could compound to in a couple of decades. It would relieve a lot of stress surrounding saving and investing, possibly freeing up time and energy to pursue more things I’m passionate about.

However, when that first Friday night comes around, and I’m ready to sit down with my wife and some popcorn to enjoy a movie only to realize that’s not an option, how is that going to feel? And not only can I not watch a movie that one Friday, but also the Friday after that and the one after that into perpetuity. I would never be able to argue with my friends about what the best Christopher Nolan movie is.

Would the money really be worth it?

Now, you might go through this exercise and think to yourself that there’s no single thing you wouldn’t give up for $1 million. You would be comfortable finding a new hobby or switching your dietary habits.

Or maybe you have quite a long list of things you wouldn’t want to sacrifice.

Wherever you stand, I think this silly question can actually help highlight some areas of your life that you value more than a big pile of cash or financial security.

In our pursuit of wealth, it’s important to remember that money itself isn’t the goal; it’s simply a means to an end. It allows you to pursue whatever you care about.

Too many people treat their personal finances the same as corporate finances. While the purpose of corporate finance is to maximize earnings at all costs, personal finance seeks to maximize happiness and life satisfaction. The goal of personal financial planning isn’t to stockpile the largest amount of money by the end of your life, it’s to use money as a tool to live your best life.

I’m reminded of another hypothetical scenario I’ve posed to people on occasion.

If given the option, would you trade places with Warren Buffett? You get to access to his entire $130 billion fortune, but now you’re 93 years old.

Most people answer this question with a resounding “Of course not, there’s no amount of money I would take to fast-forward to being 90 years old.”

The fact that people respond this way proves that there are things that are more valuable than money. Things that we wouldn’t trade for any amount of wealth. In the Buffett scenario, it’s time. But maybe it could also be ice cream. Or the ability to enjoy a movie on a Friday night.

Thanks for reading!

Jake Elm, CFP® is a financial advisor at Dentist Advisors. Jake a graduate of Utah Valley University’s nationally ranked Personal Financial Planning program. As a financial advisor at Dentist Advisors, he provides dentists with fiduciary guidance related to investments, debt, savings, taxes, and insurance. Learn more about Jake.