How Would You Spend Your TIME if You Won £5,000,000

Not what would you BUY

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Often when I talk to clients about their retirement plans, one of the most obvious questions is “When would you like to retire?” They’ll often laugh and say something along the lines of “as soon as possible”. The interesting thing is that when I push them a little on this, most quickly backtrack! Faced with the prospect of actually being able to retire at 50 or 45 or even earlier, most of us balk at the idea.

Why is that? It’s because we don’t know what we would do with our time. If we don’t know what we would do with our time, to me that means we don’t really know what the end goal of our financial plan is. We don’t really know what our ideal life looks like and what we are working towards.

As I always say, your money is just a tool to help you live the life you want. If you’ve never really, properly thought about the life you want, there’s no way you can construct a financial plan to help make you truly happy.

One of the prompts to help with this is to imagine a world where you’ve won £5m on the lottery. The reason why its £5m is because in my opinion, that is an amount of money that for most people would mean you never have to work again. At least not in a job you’re doing just to collect a pay check!

£1m or £2m sounds like a lot but after you’ve paid off a mortgage and maybe raised kids for a few years, you’re going to struggle to make that last 30 or 40 years without living a pretty frugal lifestyle!

The first place people’s minds usually go when dreaming of a lottery win is all of the wonderful things we could BUY. A brand new Aston Martin, a huge house in the country or a wardrobe full of Birkin bags and Louboutin’s. But in this thought experiment, you aren’t allowed to buy anything material. No clothes, no tech gadgets, no new cars.

What you do have is the freedom to spend your TIME however you want.

With £5m in the bank, you don’t need to worry about how much you spend on the shop at Tesco. You don’ need to worry about the price of petrol. You don’t need to pour over your utility bills and worry about the council tax notice.

With that goes the need to work a job to pay for all those things. So many of us fall into the trap or working for companies we don’t like in careers we didn’t choose, because we have to earn a pay check. 40 hours a week is spent doing things because we need to do them.

Without the need to do this, all of a sudden you have at least 40 hours a week to do with what you please. Now I would suggest that we all agree that sitting on the sofa and watching Piers Morgan and Loose Women isn’t going to (or shouldn’t at least!) keep us occupied for the next 40 to 50 years.

Without money as an impediment, we can start to think about what we would actually do with our time. The possibilities are literally endless, but it can be hard to get into this mindset.

Are you a golfer? You could spend 40 hours a week practicing and playing golf. If you wanted to, you could tackle it with the verve of a full time job, maybe even try to win some tournaments.

Are you a keen baker? You could open up your own little bakery and spend 40 hours a week creating cakes and biscuits without the stress of needing to sell enough cookie dough to pay your gas bill.

Love to travel? You could plan and go on multiple trips a year. Maybe document your journeys or write reviews on the places you stay.

When you start to think about things this way, you start to realise that true financial freedom doesn’t actually mean living like the Kardashians. Don’t get me wrong, I like a new car and a 5 star hotel as much as the next person, but those are not the things that are going to provide you real, lasting satisfaction with your life.

The other interesting thing about this is that the objectives all of a sudden start to seem more attainable.

Working out what exactly we would do with a spare 40 hours a week creates a picture in our minds of what our financial plan should be working towards. There are actually so many ways to achieve the kind of lives we want to live, but we need to be able to actually know what this looks like first.

Once you have an understanding of exactly what that looks like, we can start to talk money. We know what the end goal is, so we can pick the right financial tools for the job. If it’s the bakery goal I talked about before, what does this look like financially? How much would it cost to set up? What would be the ongoing costs? How much would you need to have in investments to make sure you didn’t have to rely on the bakery for your groceries and bills?

It’s then simply a case of working backwards, finding out how much you need to save, what return you need and what level of risk you can afford to take. You’re no longer on a treadmill for more, more, more but actually working towards an ideal life.

With so much uncertainty in the world, now is as good a time as any to stop and do this exercise. Really think about what you want your life to look like. Really think about what you’d do with 40 free hours per week. Is your current plan getting you closer to this goal, or are you just running as fast as you can, without knowing where your end destination is?

Disability Dad. Expat. Financial Planner. (Very) Amateur Filmmaker.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store