GQ Sports has been doing a YouTube series called “My First Million” where they invite professional athletes to share how they spent their first million dollars that they earned in their respective sports leagues—the most recent episode was released earlier today and featured Will Hernandez from the New York Giants.
Now obviously, even with financial advisors, sports stars aren’t exactly known for being wise spenders. On the other hand, it’s almost become a meme at this point as to how neurotically I personally manage my own money. As a result, I’ve had a few people reach out to me and ask me to do my own version of “My First Million” as if I was also a superstar who had just made my first million dollars.
Those who truly know me know that my answer is actually astonishingly simple—I would save and invest all of it. But that would make for a very boring “My First Million” breakdown, so I’m adding in a few stipulations:
- I have to use all the money. Saving is acceptable if it is savings with a specific purpose, but I cannot just throw it in a general savings account or investment portfolio and leave it alone.
- I have to spend all of it on myself. This rule is actually mostly to protect myself from people who may see this hypothetical blog post and ask why I would spend money on this person but not on them.
With that being said, I can come to a few initial conclusions:
- There is no indication as to whether this is my first and only million, or my first million of many, so I will take the safer route and assume this is the only money I’m getting. This is generally a better approach for superstars to take anyway, because you never know when their careers may end.
- Because this is a high-profile sports contract, I believe I can safely assume that this income can be classified as employee salary, not independent contractor miscellaneous earnings. Thus, I am only responsible for my own half of FICA tax (i.e., no self-employment tax), and I am unable to take any operating expense deductions from my income tax.
- I already own a lot of stuff that I want, so a majority of these purchases will upgrades of what I already have, or luxuries that I don’t actually need but would be nice to have.
So, here is how I would spend my US$1,000,000.00:
Federal income and FICA taxes
With an income of a million dollars, I should expect to spend about $330,000 in federal income tax, as well as an additional $30,000 or so in Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax (which covers Social Security and Medicare). I have no state income tax because I am a resident of Nevada.
IRA & i401(k)
In the spirit of “pay yourself first,” and for the sake of my future, the next thing I would spend on is my retirement. I have an individual retirement account (IRA) and an individual 401(k) account; IRAs accept a maximum yearly contribution of $6,000, while i401(k)s accept up to $56,000.
As a side note, I know I stated above that this would not be self-employment income, but I already file my taxes as a sole proprietor from running my own business and my i401(k) already exists, and there’s nothing I’m aware of at the moment that would stop me from using employee income to contribute to an i401(k), as that kind of restriction wouldn’t seem logically sound.
2-bedroom unit in a high-rise condominium on the Las Vegas Strip
I actually had to think a bit on this one. I know for a fact that I’d like to stay in Las Vegas forever if I’m able to, so I can definitely commit to purchasing a property, but I wasn’t sure what type of property I wanted. I really enjoy the lifestyle of living in a high-rise condo, but I also appreciate the privacy and comfort that a single-family house can bring.
I ultimately decided to go with living in a high-rise. There are some very high-value units available in high-security, all-residential buildings like the Allure, Panorama Towers, and the Martin, and with housing prices already visibly falling in Las Vegas as a consequence of COVID-19, I think I can get a great property for a low price.
Now of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t have any more housing expenses and I can quit my day job. High-rise condominiums on the Strip have sizable homeowners’ association fees, and along with home insurance and property taxes, my monthly expenses will probably still be somewhat close to what I’m paying in rent right now.
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-breeze° king-size mattress
I’m sure you’ve all heard of how you spend a third of your life in bed, so you shouldn’t skimp on your mattress. I completely agree with that, so much so that I decided to actually itemize out my mattress and get the best one I could find that wasn’t completely unreasonable in price. I’m no mattress expert, but Tempur-Pedic seems to have a great reputation for great mattresses, so I decided to go with one made by them.
I don’t think I had this problem when I was a younger child, but as I grew older, I’ve developed a strange back pain problem. I’ve tried quite literally 5 or so different mattresses of different brands, firmness, and construction, but none of them seem to be the perfect mattress. In fact, I actually sleep pain-free for the first few nights on a new or different mattress, then my back pain returns shortly afterwards.
My current mattress is a little over $1,000, and I imagine that just buying increasingly expensive mattresses isn’t going to magically fix my back pain problem, but with the great reviews that Tempur-Pedic has, I figured it was worth a shot. My current mattress isn’t bad, though—I’d just use it in the second bedroom of my new condo.
I actually own an incredibly low amount of furniture. Since moving from the Chicagoland suburbs to the Pacific Coast, I’ve always minimized my possessions because I moved a ton within Southern California and Las Vegas. But now that I’ve just bought a property, I imagine I can safely assume I won’t be moving again anytime soon, so I can start buying some furniture.
When I get something done, I want it done in the best way possible, so if I’m going to buy furniture, I want it to be furniture that I love. I have a mild obsession over ultra-modern design, so I would actually want everything to be in white leather and glass.
Of course, that’s going to be far more expensive than a boring brown fabric couch, so I’m allocating about $40,000 for the cause. Combined with the little furniture that I do already own, that should probably be enough to fully furnish the two bedrooms, living area, and kitchen.
Ram 1500 Rebel
Now here’s where the fun begins.
You may already know that my “dream car” is actually a pickup truck, and it’s the Ram 1500 Rebel. The only reason I don’t actually have one already is because I’m concerned about Fiat Chrysler’s historically catastrophic reliability—I don’t want my truck to randomly break down in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t have the time and money to constantly have my truck in the shop. But, seeing as I’m outright buying this vehicle (and paired with the fact that I just made a million dollars), I’m sure I can afford to get a Ram and pay the extra maintenance costs when the truck inevitably breaks down.
The particular configuration I want MSRPs at just over $60,000, but I’m sure I can get some incentives and dealer discounts to bring that price down. I threw in an extra $10,000 in modifications, like ceramic window tinting, matte black vinyl wrap, metallic gold accents, a conservative lift kit, and meatier tires. I’d just need one vehicle as my daily driver, so I’d trade in my current truck, which knocks about $25,000 off the price.
I am a strong believer that you should only buy things if they serve a purpose in your life, so if I already have something, I usually won’t buy “duplicates” unless I have a really good reason to. I don’t think buying another gun is necessary, but I think having a million dollars to spend is a pretty good reason to buy another gun.
Glock 43s are subcompact pistols that are generally used by concealed carriers who want to hide the fact that they have a firearm. The firearm itself goes for around $550, but with modifications, the price can climb pretty quickly. I threw in an extra $450 on the price to account for things like a slide cut, Cerakoting, and custom-colored hardware.
Exotic leather goods
I’m not 100% certain what exactly I would want yet, but I would allocate $2,000 into buying more exotic leather goods. If you find a good private leatherworker instead of going for designer brand names, you can get pieces made at a very affordable price, so this budget should be enough to get me two high-quality pieces. One of them might end up being another stingray belt in a different pattern, possibly dyed a different color, with a sterling silver buckle.
Naming rights to a room in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s new Reality-Based Training Center
Yes, this is technically just a charitable donation to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation, but seeing as I made a stipulation that I had to spend the money on myself, I found a little loophole. LVMPD is in the process of constructing a new training facility, and donors are able to purchase naming rights to different rooms in the building. Thus, this is my way of “buying myself something”—but also contributing to a good cause in the process.
I also know that some of you who know my past history have been wondering this entire time how I’m going to figure out a way to give some of this money to a law enforcement charity… so here it is.
Day-to-day miscellaneous expenses
And finally, I’d save $25,000 of the million to cover day-to-day expenses. This covers stuff like food, self-care, health insurance, and pretty much anything else that may come up in my everyday life. I mostly keep my daily expenses slim, and seeing as I just spent $543,000 enhancing my life and another $62,000 to put into savings, I’d imagine that an extra $25,000 would be sufficient to account for everything else.