What It’s Like to Be a Billionaire


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For the wealthiest people in the world, splurging on a $2 million vacation home would be like you and me spending $4.28.

This post by Len Penzo comes from partner site LenPenzo.com.

Who doesn’t dream about being rich? I’m certainly not afraid to admit I occasionally wonder how it would feel to be independently wealthy.

The other day I was reading an article on the world’s 200 richest people and stumbled upon a couple of surprising factoids.

The first surprise was that the richest guy in the world is neither Bill Gates (#2) nor Warren Buffett (#4); it’s America Movil SAB Chairman Emeritus Carlos Slim, with a net worth of $77.5 billion.

Sandwiched between Gates and Buffett on the rich-guy list is somebody named Amancio Ortega. I know. I had never heard of him myself, but it turns out that Mr. Ortega is the founder of the world’s largest clothing retailer, Inditex SA. Ring a bell?

It didn’t for me.

By the way, did I mention that Inditex SA runs a very popular clothing chain known as Zara? They do. In fact, there are 1,600 of them worldwide. Even so, I’d never heard of that store either.

I guess I really should get out more.

Anyway, that brings me to the second surprise. Apparently, Mr. Ortega earned a whopping $18 billion through the first nine months of 2012. For those of you counting at home, that comes out to approximately $66 million per day.

Assuming Mr. Ortega earned income at the same rate for the remainder of the year, that means he will have earned $24 billion in 2012.

Ever wonder what it would feel like to be a billionaire? Well, I’m going to show you.

The U.S. median income last year was $51,413. That’s just 1/466,808 of Amancio Ortega’s income in 2012. With those figures in mind, and ignoring the effects of inflation, here’s a very close approximation of what most people would experience – give or take a few cents – if their modest wages had the same purchasing power:

  • The average home in the United States could be purchased for 42 cents, based upon the current median price of approximately $200,000.
  • Of course, folks who feel like moving on up could bite the bullet and buy a spacious $2 million home in Vail, Colo., instead for $4.28…
  • … or, for just $49.27, close a deal on the Malibu beachfront mansion that Leonardo DiCaprio recently placed on the market, based upon his asking price of $23 million.
  • A four-year stint at a private college would set you back 37 cents, assuming annual tuition and other expenses of $40,000.
  • If you wanted to avoid the hassle of flying with the general public, you could buy a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for $428.44, based upon an approximate list price of $200 million.
  • Although, unless you already knew how to fly a commercial jet airliner, you’d also need an additional 53 cents per year to pay for a pilot, assuming an annual salary of approximately $250,000.
  • As for that pair of hockey tickets I purchased to attend the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, they would have only cost me a half-cent, based upon the $2,462.35 I actually paid for them. So I could have taken my family for a penny.
  • On the other hand, I could have also spent that same penny on two top-of-the line iMac computers …
  • … or 20 iPod Classics.
  • And really frugal folk could make that penny stretch even further by getting 100 iPod Shuffles instead.
  • Hungry? If you plan on buying anything from your typical fast-food dollar menu, you’d better be – a single penny would buy 4,762 items.
  • Meanwhile, those of you in the market for a luxury car could buy a 2013 BMW 750i – with a 445-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood – for just 19 cents, based upon the manufacturer’s list price of $87,195.
  • Then again, for the more practical types, a 2013 Honda Civic coupe would only set you back 3.8 cents, based upon an MSRP of just more than $17,965. Heck, that deal is so good I’d give the salesman 4 cents and tell him to keep the change.

Stacy Johnson

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