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Would You Rather… $1 Billion or 15 years of life?

by J. Money on Friday, April 4, 2014

So I know we just did some fun would you rathers the other week, but a friend of mine just shot a new one randomly my way (probably because he was bored at work), and I couldn’t help but share it with y’all. This is the same friend who got duped by that fake $100 bill a while back, haha..

Here’s the question he posed - I thought it was a pretty hard one after thinking about it for a bit:

“Would you rather have $1 billion dollars now …OR… be able to go back in time to re-live the last 15 years of your life?”

Now at first those 15 years look AWFULLY good as that’s a lot of extra life to get back, especially during your prime if you’re in your 30s like me!), but after taking a few steps back I realized it’s not *as* sexy as it may sound.

For one, you’re messing around with the whole space time continuum or whatever it’s called. The whole “step on a bug and your entire future changes – as does everyone else’s around you” type deal. Just like that Simpsons episode or even that (freaky) movie The Butterfly Effect ft. Señor Kutcher. And I’d hate to go back and F up my past 15 years only to get back to my 30s and have a worse off life than I did. Especially knowing you blew a chance at $1 Billion dollars to top it off!

This would also put me back to my late teen years when I was lucky enough to come out alive during some of the stupid things I did back then. Like drink myself to oblivion or hang out in areas I really shouldn’t be at with people I really shouldn’t have been friends with. I’d be a lot smarter going back in time with the knowledge I have with me now, but that could be even more dangerous ;) Though also very lucrative! (I’d be able to make tons of $$$ before the internet boom, and crash, and boom again, avoid the stock market during the right times, and even know the answers to most big sporting events!). I’d probably become filthy rich and then end up dying on the side of the lone lonely missing all my friends and future baby would-be’s since they’d only be memories of days never to come.

At this point I change my mind and tell my friend I’ll take the Billion dollars now, please :) In hopes of bettering my future instead of screwing up my past (plus: I happen to like how my life turned out so why go back and re-live it?). Of course a billion dollars comes with its share of problems too, as Puff Daddy P Ditty Ditty and B.I.G. once so eloquently stated, but hopefully everyone reading this blog is much much smarter than they were before they got to this site ;) So I’d have faith any of us would be able to safely enjoy a nice future with tons of money in the bank like that.

So as it stands, my answer would be the solid $1 Billion dollars.

Changing it up a bit…

I then threw my friend for a loop and asked if it would change anything tacking on an extra 15 years of life *going forward*, instead of  backwards? So, either $1 billion now, or an extra 15 years to live later?

This brings up a whole other set of variables such as “would you *really* want to live an extra 15 years if you’re like 90 and grumpy??” and “Wouldn’t $1 billion allow me to live a much happier life than extending it for a little while longer?”.

Again it comes down to a question of happiness and the odds of our own mortality. As it stands, any of us could wake up tomorrow and die on impact (I’ll let your imaginations figure out how). So even if you got that $1 billion all your doing is dying a lot richer. You take that 15 years, however, and you just *guaranteed* yourself that you’d be living at LEAST until 2029. And more than likely much longer than that since most of us will still be around this time tomorrow :)

So today I pose two questions for your brilliant minds to ponder.

1) Would you take $1 billion dollars now, or go back in time 15 years and relive your life again?

2) Does your answer change if you gained the 15 years *ahead* vs behind?

I’m still sticking with the $1 billion for question #1, but I’ll happily opt for the extra 15 years for question #2. I don’t think a ton more money would make me as happy as a ton more of time – especially as our babies continues to grow – and it would be nice to secure a daddy for them for at least another 15 years :) And with any luck I’d be able to turn that extra time into more money anyways.

How about you? Which is more valuable to you right now – time or money?

—-
PS: For more fascinating would you rathers, click here.


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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

1 a terrible husband... April 4, 2014 at 5:51 am

Billion. No doubt. I’m happy with the last 15 years. Like you, I wouldn’t want to F things up. Sure I could put $10,000 into EMC (which I believe was the best performing stock in the 1990s) and then sell (and go short) on the tech bubble, coming back w/ Apple and other stocks to get the Billion (assuming I’d have that level of knowledge). But I have no idea what else that would change. So I’ll take the Billion with the life I have now….

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2 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:37 pm

What about the future 15 years? Does that change anything?

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3 a terrible husband... April 5, 2014 at 8:38 am

15 healthy years at the end of my life? I’d take that over 1Billion for sure. Easy decision.

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4 NZ Muse April 4, 2014 at 6:25 am

Dude, billion now. Why would I want to relive my teens?!

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5 Dave @ The New York Budget April 4, 2014 at 7:40 am

When I first read the title, I thought for sure that I was going to choose the 15 years. I figured that the choice was between the money and taking 15 years off the end of your life. But seeing the setup, I have to go with the billion dollars. If I had the chance to go back and relive the last 15 years or receive nothing, that would be a tougher choice for me, but I think I would still go with just living my life the way it is.

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6 Dave @ The New York Budget April 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

Oh – and I realize that lopping off 15 years is different from your second question of ADDING 15 years, but in both of those scenarios I take the extra time, no doubt!

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7 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm

I’ll tell the magical genie if I ever see him :) Her?

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8 MG April 4, 2014 at 7:53 am

I would go with the Billion either way. #1 we have all thought about going back 15 years with the knowledge we have now and changing some things but in the end I would want the same things and just have made better investments (Hot Tub Time Machine anyone) But the 2nd option add 15 years. I definitely value time over money however, if I add 15 years I still have to work and do my side hustle now which takes up a ton of time. If I have a Billion now, I would no longer have to work and my side hustle can be toned down and I would have a ton of quality time with the family now. So in my mind a billion now gives me more quality time than the 15 years would tacked on to the end of my life. (Unless I get hit by a bus tmrw…). Love the blog J Money, it is a great way to start off the day.

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9 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm

GREAT answer :) And thanks! So glad you like it! Come back again!

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10 Dee @ Color Me Frugal April 4, 2014 at 7:59 am

I would definitely take the billion! I don’t think I’d necessarily want to change OR re-live the last 15 years. Going forward, getting an extra 15 years, that one is a little tougher for me. I’m honestly not sure, although I have to admit that the billion sounds tempting even in that scenario…

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11 Jon @ Money Smart Guides April 4, 2014 at 8:00 am

I’m with everyone else and would take the cash. I’m happy with where my life ended up. Sure I could go back and get rich a la Back to the Future 2 by knowing all of the outcomes of sporting events, but I don’t want to risk screwing up what I have now.

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12 Holly@ClubThrifty April 4, 2014 at 8:11 am

There is nothing anyone could pay me that is worth 15 years of my life. That’s time with my kids! I would rather have time with my kids than all the wealth in the world.

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13 a terrible husband... April 4, 2014 at 9:01 am

BOOM! Holly for the win!

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14 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm

(I’m waiting to see what Greg would say about it ;))

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15 No Nonsense Landlord April 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

If I could keep today’s knowledge, I would go back. I would wind up with a billion by now anyway…

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16 Brian@ Debt Discipline April 4, 2014 at 8:36 am

Totally agree. If I keep all the things I know now back 15 years, look out!

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17 John @ Sprout Wealth April 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

I’m with Holly on this one – there’s no wealth worth the extra time with my kiddos. That said, taking it now vs. going back 15 years would be tempting, but if I went back 15 years we could start a family sooner, start investing sooner and start our business sooner. I’d hate to see me at 90 with another 15 years as I’d hate to be some grumpy old man, but that extra 15 years with the kids would be worth it.

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18 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm

True, but your kids wouldn’t be the *same* kids, if that matters? :) Unless you have super powers and can pick the exact same winning sperm!

(Bet you didn’t wake up today thinking J. Money would be talking to you about sperm, did you?)

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19 theFIREstarter April 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Ha ha ha!!! That made me chuckle J!

I’d pick the Billion I think, I wouldn’t want to mess with the past (especially having just watched the trailer for the butterfly effect) and I am planning on living till a ripe old age anyway (call me an optimist I guess) so the Billion would come in the most handy!

I need to watch that film but I have an extreme aversion to Ashton Kutcher! Might have to make an exception on this one though as it looks pretty good.

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20 J. Money April 7, 2014 at 10:49 am

I didn’t want to watch the Steve Jobs movie because of him too, but MAN he was good in it. Totally look at him differently now – great actor.

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21 Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life April 4, 2014 at 8:56 am

Definitely the billion. With all the years ahead of me, I’d be able to do lots of great stuff. And my teens were a bit on the harsh side, so they are done and over with.

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22 Petra April 4, 2014 at 8:58 am

I’ll take the $1 billion, give 99% away, and live on the remaining 1%. I would probably have 30 years left to live, so I would quit working, and use the remaining $10 million to buy a reasonable house, live, and enjoy a few trips every year.

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23 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Pretty cool that even if you DID give away 99% of it you’d be left with a nice chunk still :) It’s hard to even fathom, really!

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24 Norman April 4, 2014 at 9:17 am

Show me the money!

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25 Mortgage free Mike April 4, 2014 at 9:21 am

Definitely a billion rather than going back to re-live, but I too would give up the billion for an extra 15 years later on.
Think of all the extra memories that could be made.

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26 Liz April 4, 2014 at 9:24 am

hmm could we negotiate? I’ll go back 7.5 years and take $500 million : ) That would be a win-win in my book : )

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27 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Hah! I’ll ask the magic fairy next time we meet…

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28 John C @ Action Economics April 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

I would take the money, first of all I also don’t like to play with the space time continuum, I think there could be some horrible consequences, And overall I’m happy with how things have turned out, (Think of the song Led me to This by Darius Rucker). As far as extending life on the other end, My life expectancy is already fairly long. If I could live to say 100 instead of 85 I would pass. I have seen a parent bury a child and I want nothing to do with that, that extra 15 years of life makes it much more likely, especially with me being a young parent.

With $1 billion now, I would only keep about a million. That is enough to buy myself options in life, buy everything I want, and help give my kids and nephews a good start in life. I don’t think the extra money over that would buy me much more incremental happiness. I think $999 million could do some good in the world, I would probably apply it to ensure the final eradication of guinea worm disease, or polio; which to me is worth a lot more than those extra 15 years.

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29 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm

You’re a scholar and a gentlemen, good sir!

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30 Mariah April 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

Definitely the billion!

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31 Becky @ RunFunDone April 4, 2014 at 10:13 am

Take the money! I am genuinely happy right now, so taking back that 15 years might serious change my future (or my now…depending how you think about it) and mess up my happiness! :)

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32 AndrewsDad April 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

If I take the 15 years, do I get to keep my knowledge? If so, give me the 15 years. First off, with what I know now, I could earn way more than a billion just on sports betting or stock investing. More importantly, I would be able to have my now 14 year old son diagnosed properly and get treated for his condition way earlier than we did and save way more than a billion dollars worth of hardships.

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33 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Yes, you’d bring your knowledge back with you, I double checked on that for you ;)

And, like I mentioned to Johnny boy up there, I also hope you’d be able to figure out the exact sperm you used to make your child so you can make sure the same one’s born again :) Unless your wife would already be pregnant exactly 15 years ago? We’d be cutting it close…

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34 Debt and the Girl April 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

Of course I’ll go with the billion! There’s no more reason to live again in the past, that’s why it’s called “past”, it already taught us a lesson for us to use and see a better look to our future. Also my answer in question #2 is the the with the one I mentioned earlier.

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35 Andrew@LivingRichCheaply April 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

Very interesting question…at first I didn’t realize you meant to “relive” your past 15 years. I’ve always thought about that and many times have wanted to relive and fix the dumb things I did in the past. I’d really be tempted to go for that! But I just had a son and I’m enjoying life now…the past is the past and it led me to where I am now. I actually like the Butterfly Effect movie though it seems the ratings aren’t that great. I wouldn’t want to go back and mess things up. And as for the 15 years tacked on at the end…yea…it might not be worth it. I’d probably go for the 15 years though I don’t know which method. Oh and if I relive the past 15 years, Imma invest in Apple and Google before the stocks went crazy! I want to have my cake and eat it.

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36 Catina Mount April 4, 2014 at 10:32 am

More time with my son for sure!

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37 Catina Mount April 4, 2014 at 10:33 am

REMIX: More time with my son & Budgets Are Sexy for sure! Ha!

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38 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I owe you a beer for that if we ever meet up in real life one day :)

Btw, have I ever mentioned how beautiful your name is? I really like it! You should let your parents know that, hehe…

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39 Catina Mount April 5, 2014 at 12:23 am

Sweet and THANKS! It was Catina or Sunshine after a horse…so glad momz didn’t go that route! Ha ha!

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40 J. Money April 7, 2014 at 10:50 am

HAH!

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41 Brit April 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

I’ll take the billion please! Loved my last 15 years though good and bad times. I don’t want to go through some tragic stuff again so … billion it is. :)

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42 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life April 4, 2014 at 10:52 am

Oh man, 1 billion is A LOT of money. I really am not a big fan of these kinds of hypothetical questions. I know they can be illuminating in identifying your values, but I find getting grounded in reality and making stuff happen for myself much more satisfying.

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43 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Well aren’t you little miss serious today ;) I thought you were gonna say you didn’t want to answer in case you jinxed something!

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44 Zee April 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

1) Go back 15 years…. I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t meet some of the biggest people in my life if I went back and relived it again.

2) Adding 15 years to the back end of my life…. Ehhh… no thanks, give me the money!

What if there was a third option: 1 Billion Now, or 15 extra years of life at your current age, after those 15 years you continue aging in the usual fashion. That is something I would consider. Technically if I saved enough during those 15 years I could still retire at my current age! But everyone around me would get older so I’m not sure. Okay so if I added another twist (since we’re already messing up the laws of relativity here by not aging), what if I could prevent the people I wanted in my life from aging too, that way my friends and parents wouldn’t age with me. That I would do! If I had kids I would let them age as usual though, I mean young kids are cool, but a perpetual 2 year old for 15 years would drive me insane I’m sure.

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45 Jenlarson79 April 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Zee – I love your third option/twist! I’d take that one, if I could :)

Otherwise, I’ll take the money. Then we can enjoy this time now with our kids, without having to go to work, and still have plenty left over to help others. I wouldn’t want to change our lifestyle, too much…so I’d even be happy with a million! Not having the stress of working a job they’re not happy with, would probably help most people live longer anyways!

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46 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm

HAH! Now I’m just plain confused. I see my 21 y/o self in the mirror every time I look anyways – and also in my head ;) I’m okay living a lie as-is without any motivation of money, haha…

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47 Quinn @ Wealth Out West April 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

On #1, I’d take the $1 billion. But for #2, I’d much much rather have more time on this earth than money! I’m confident I can keep myself healthy and active enough in my 90s to make that time worth it!

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48 Yana April 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

Time for more life is so much more valuable than money. Nothing exceeds life in value.

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49 EL @ MoneyWatch101 April 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I would take it now, as I am ok with the last 15 years. We all have little regrets here and there, but overall I enjoyed my past and learned from it. Living another 15 years depends, if I’m destined to go at 50 then yes give me the years, but if I’m destined to go at 76 then I would take the money. Give me the free lunch. LOL.

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50 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm

You don’t get to know the risk/timing of your end on this Earth, that’s what makes it hard!! :)

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51 Cathy April 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I’m going to have to go with the money either way.

I have no desire to relive the past 15 years, once was enough. And as my dad quotes Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” My knees decided at 30 that I’m already having too much fun, so at this rate, I’m not sure my body would survive that extra 15 years.

Money for more fun it is!

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52 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm

You dad sounds like a really FUN dad :)

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53 Cathy April 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

He’s a blast. He also plans to gorge on twinkies when he gets old; since they have a shelf life of 50 years, he figures he can self-embalm himself and save the family some money.

You know, when we joke about that in person, it’s a lot funnier. Writing it down for strangers makes it seem morbid and gross.

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54 J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Hahaha…. not to worry, it still sounds pretty funny to me :)

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55 Jordan L April 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I think it’s more interesting to ask if you’d take $1bn but if you took it you would instantly lose 15 years off the end of your life. If you happen to be slated to die in 6 years, you die instantly kind of thing.

Or if that’s to extreme, take off 10 years, or 5 years, etc.

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56 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Now THAT would be freaky, haha… I’ll take a pass on that game.

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57 Richard Anthony April 4, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Your time vs.money scenario reminds me of a joke, Guy at a fortune teller; she peers into her crystal ball: “I see good news and bad news.” “What’s the bad news?” “You will endure many hardships. You will suffer an incurable disease. You will make a fortune, but lose it and never regain it. You will marry a beautiful woman but she will leave you, and you will never find love again. Your friends will all betray you and revile you; you will be ill, penniless, friendless, loveless.” Guy interrupts, “But what’s the good news?” She beams, “You shall live a long life!”

Moral: we have no control over what happens to us in life. Please give me my billion in gold bullion;)

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58 J. Money April 4, 2014 at 4:55 pm

ZING!!

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59 Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen April 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm

A billion!!! I’m pretty happy with my life now and I wouldn’t want to mess up with what I have in the present by changing choices I made in the past. It would be great to be able to do things differently/possibly better but I’d rather learn from the past than try to fix it!

Plus…c’mon a billion dollars!!!!!

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60 SavvyFinancialLatina April 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm

1. I would take the $1 billion. No one can pay me enough to go back to my teen years.
2. I would still take the $1 billion. I mean if my life expectancy is 100, dying at 85 to have the billion dollars is okay. My life after 85 probably won’t be the greatest since I may start losing motor functions, etc. My great grandparents lived past 100. And I’m pretty healthy and take care of myself.

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61 Kevin Vesga April 4, 2014 at 7:01 pm

1. I’ll take the billion dollars. Even if I relived the last 15 years with my current knowledge, I don’t know if I could easily make the billion dollars. Also I’m young so my last 15 years is just school anyways!

2. Would still go for the billion dollars. I don’t know what my life will be like in the future. If I end up miserable or in poor health, I would not want to extend it by 15 years.

In either scenario, the billion dollars would be more than enough to live comfortably. I could easily share the money to my family, friends, charity, you, etc.

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62 DC @ Young Adult Money April 5, 2014 at 1:05 am

I’d take the billion for sure! The things I could accomplish with that type of capital….

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63 Izzye G April 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

I rather take the billion in a heart beat! No need to revisit the past, its gone, it served its purpose.

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64 Todd April 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Do the results change if the question is “i’ll give you a billion dollars for 15 years of your life”. But one is possible today, there are hundreds of people who could make this happen almost without thought. The other may not be technically possible. With a billion dollars I could retire now, gaining, what, 8 years. If offered 8 years ago a million dollars would have given me 15 years of freedom. If I were much younger I should have taken even a million dollars, as it would have given me 15 years of free time. At that point it seems I could have my cake and eat it too.

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65 J. Money April 7, 2014 at 10:55 am

I’d say NO WAY JOSE to the giving up 15 years of my life for a billion dollars. Or any dollars for that matter. Even if that meant I could retire now and live better for the rest of my life I’d still be out 15 years!

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66 debt debs April 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Money ~ I’m destined to be a philanthropist only by cash flow is not aware of this fact.

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67 Crystal April 7, 2014 at 12:07 am

$1 Billion either way for me. I like my past years and have no idea if adding 15 years on the end would be while I’m healthy or not. So, I’d take the billion and max out the life that I have right now.

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68 Pengepugeren April 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm

If i had the money I’d PAY a billion to not go back 15 years :-)

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69 J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

HAH!

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70 Liquid April 8, 2014 at 12:14 am

I agree with Holly. A billion dollars is too mainstream. I would go back in time and risk messing up the space time continuum. Time is more useful to me than money since I can always make more money with time, but not the other way around. I wouldn’t change my mind if the 15 years were added to my future. I’m confident in my ability to make enough money on my own in the future to live a meaningful life so in this situation, time would be the more valuable commodity. Have you watched “The Wolverine” movie that came out last year? Spoiler ahead -> I think the moral of that story is that even if one had all the riches in the country he will still be willing to trade it all for the ability to live longer. I agree with that crazy old man’s thinking :)

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71 J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

I just told my wife I’m not watching any more of those comic movies, but now you’ve sort of intrigued me :)

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72 wes@GenWiseWealth April 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm

To answer this question, you must define the end purpose of having wealth. Is your wealth to benefit you or others? After you’re dead and gone, one might ask, “what does it matter”?

I believe that those who are equipped with the gift of financial prudence and have thus achieved a substantial position of wealth in life should look to give back…give money and financial knowledge to your kids and relatives. Provide them the skills and knowledge to know how to be appropriate stewards of capital. Give to your community, to your church, and to your charity! At the end of the day, wealth should be created by you and protected and grown for the benefit of others including the people and institutions you love and hold dear!

I’d take the money in a heart beat, knowing I could pay it forward and benefit society. What could be better in life?
-Wes

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73 J. Money April 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

Yup, you could do a lot of good even when you’re gone too – depending on how you set things up for your departure. I know a lot of people who want to spend every last penny before they move on as well, but man – then you couldn’t help anyone going forward? Even your family who then needs to pony up money for funeral, taxes, and whatever else you have to do w/ this stuff. So hopefully they leave enough to at least not put their family members in debt.

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74 FI Fighter April 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

That song is my jam from 96′!! Man, I get nostalgic everytime I hear that…

Bad boy get mo’ money than you can count!

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