What To Do With 10 Million Dollars in Cash

Congratulations, you just won the lottery! Sorry to wake you up from your dream, it certainly is mine. How nice and sweet would it be to be just that little bit lucky and claim such a fantastic cash price?

Mentally, I have already gone through the process of thinking about what I would first buy or how I would give money to the people who are important to me. 

The next step would involve a bit more thorough longer-term and tax-related planning on how best to invest this windfall of money and therefore secure not only my future but also the one of those who I might leave behind someday. I could imagine this to be a quite stressful exercise but for now, let’s dig in and analyze what you could do with this kind of money. These are all ideas, of course and they don’t consider individual circumstances at all!

Can you live off 10 million dollars?

Me? Of course, I would be retiring and I hope most people reading this would give a similar answer. The key question, of course, is what lifestyle these 7 digits should be supporting. If you would suddenly change your lifestyle and spend $500,000 a year on luxury travel, watches and parties, that amount of money would probably not see you to retirement. Likewise, the wrong kinds of investments and getting bad advice can equally draw that money relatively quickly out of your pocket. 

If you have never watched the 30 for 30 ESPN series “Broke”, I would highly recommend you to watch it. It basically follows the story of mainly former NFL players who have gone broke despite earning multiple million dollars during their careers. You’d be surprised to hear that a high percentage of players (78% to be precise) are under financial pressure or bankrupt. Crazy, right? But again, it all depends on your lifestyle and the quality of advice you receive. 

We are not in the business of giving financial advice but there are some basic rules on whether you can live off the bulk money you have just received.

First, make sure you know how much money, after tax, you will need to spend per year. Say it’s $200,000 per year. Many tables and articles have been written on sustainable lifestyles and I am sure some people here have read about the 4% rule.

Not boring you with details, but it would assume that you can withdraw “safely” 4% of your total investment pool each year and still have enough for the rest of your retirement. So, reverse calculating gives us a necessary minimum pot of $200,000 / 4% = $5,000,000. Crazy if you think how much money that is. 

Is a net worth of 10 million a lot?

What To Do With 10 Million Dollars in Cash
Source: www.uscurrency.gov

According to overall statistics which is collected by the Federal Reserve and available to everyone here you can unequivocally say that in relative terms, a net worth of 10 million dollars is undoubtedly regarded as quite a lot.

The US central bank is updating this data set every 3 years with the latest statistics coming from 2019. This is based on around 129 million families and a new record wealth of $96.1 trillion dollars which sets the average wealth per family at roughly $745,000.

The distribution, however, is far from equal, with a higher degree of wealth belonging to the few. To be calling yourself to be in the top 10% for example you would have to have a minimum of $1.22 million of net worth with the average of those families being a whopping $5.66 million.

Meanwhile, to belong to the glamorous top 1%, your net worth would have to be on average $24 million. According to Forbes, to be long in this club, your net worth has to be $10,374,030, so sorry but you just missed out!

Can you withdraw millions in cash?

Not sure what cash machines are spitting out in Las Vegas these days, but in our previous article, we estimated that an average cash machine has $450,000 when it’s fully loaded. So good luck finding 22 complete cash machines that will allow you to cash out these amounts. 

Joking aside, it is very unlikely that any bank will let you withdraw this cash on short notice. You would probably be advised to transfer it to an account of your choice, but loading your bags with this amount of cash is only portrayed in certain films. 

How big is 10 million cash?

We previously looked at US Dollar notes and what famous faces are normally portrayed on them. You can also find quite a bit of history around notes on this useful website

Let’s go into a little bit of math. Let’s take a $100 or $1 bill. The typical size of those bills is 15.6 cm wide (6.14 inches) and 6.63 cm in height (2.61 inches). They typically weigh 1 gram. 

So imagine you have your $10 million in 100,000 $100 dollar bills.

Arranging them all length-wise would give you a total distance of 15.6 km or 9.69 miles. That is roughly the length of 171 football fields or walking the length of Manhattan. In terms of weight, you’d probably have to have worked out quite a bit in order to move that amount of cash around. 100kg or 220 pounds certainly would mean you would have to have a trolly or alternative help to shift your money around. 

Needless to say that we won’t do the same calculations with $1 bills. Simply multiply all numbers by a factor of 100 above. Scary isn’t it? 

Can you live your life with 10 million dollars?

As we have elaborated further above, by most living standards $10 million dollars should be enough to live your life. This, however, is highly dependent on your lifestyle. Can you go broke with that amount of money? Yes, of course. So plan your expenses and lifestyle directions wisely. If in any doubt talk to a financial adviser on how to best structure and invest your savings and how best to protect it and pass it on to the next generation. 

Is a 10 million net worth considered rich?

Statistically speaking, in the US you will belong pretty close to the top 1% in the overall wealth distribution with your 7 digits net worth. So, yes, congratulations you are rich. 

As in many things, rich is mostly also a relative term. Will you be able to afford a super yacht and compete with billionaires for berths around the Caribbean islands around Thanksgiving? No. 


How much interest would 10 million dollars earn in a year?

According to MarketWatch, the current 1-year US T-Bill rate stands at 3.33%. So, if you were invested in this government security, you would earn $333,000 in interest before taxes a year. 

Looking at bankrate.com you are able to get savings rates from around 2% which means an interest income of $200,000 per year. Not bad as this will go a good way towards financing your life. 

How long can 10 million dollars last a person?

There are relatively simple and more difficult answers to this question. Simply put, and assuming no investment is being generated just divide the 10 million by your yearly needed cash. So say you need $250,000 a year, this should last you for 40 years. 

The more complicated answer involves varied assumptions on inflation and future investment returns in order to estimate what the optimal withdrawal rate of your capital should be without ever really running into money problems until the day you pass. 

There is various research on the subject with the consensus going for a 3-4% withdrawal rate depending on your age and circumstances. Fidelity has some good analysis on this subject. 


Assuming you have just won the lottery and received 10 million dollars in cash, there are various things you could do with this money. Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to live off this money or invest it.

If you want to live off the money, you need to make sure you know how much you will need to spend per year and make sure you have a plan to sustain this lifestyle. 

There are various rules on how much you can withdraw from your investment pot each year, but the general consensus is that you should withdraw 3-4% of your total investment each year.

If you want to invest your money, you need to make sure you get good advice on how to invest it and how to protect it. You should also consider how you want to pass this money on to the next generation.

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