Bill Forsey was twenty years old and starting to make plans. He sat down with a pen and a joint and he did the math on his retirement.
Twenty years old. He’d need enough money to last until he was eighty at least.
For a hundred thousand dollars he could buy a nice piece of forest, a mile to the nearest house, ten to a gas station, thirty to a Wal-Mart, fifty to a hospital. Clear enough land for a house and a little yard. A nice little house, big windows, hardwood floors, screened-in porch behind. Of course in a lot of places in America he could get a house for a fifth of that. But build from scratch and he’d have what he want. And he’d pay less for it, in the long run.
A hundred thousand dollars. So for tax he’d pay between $250 and $2500 a year. Call it a thousand bucks. Sixty grand.
How about upkeep on the house? A fresh-built house using modern techniques is not a money sink. But call it two thousand a year, year in, year out. A hundred and twenty grand.
Utilities? Five hundred a year for internet. Same amount for cell. Sixty for a life. Water and electricity, septic, maybe wood for a stove. Another thousand a year. Sixty for life.
So over a life, that house might cost four hundred grand.
What else would he need? A thousand bucks a month for food would surely be more than he would need. But call it that. Twelve a year. Six hundred for a life. And we’re at a million.
You’d need a car. So a new car every ten years, twenty grand, hundred twenty total. Thousand a year for insurance. Two in gas. Thousand in mainternance. That’s two hundred and eighty thousand dollars for a lifetime of driving a car.
You’d need technology. A new laptop every three years, that’s twenty grand worth of laptops. You’ll need the occasional new pair of headphones, cell phones, television, kitchen stuff. Call it fifty grand, decade to decade.
Clothing? Some, sure, here and there. Call it a thousand bucks a year.
Health insurance. Assume we’re on Medicaid, that could be zero. Assume we’re paying for it and that’s five grand a year. Call it five a year, three hundred for a lifetime. Add another hundred to pay out deductibles. And we’re at one point eight million.
Two million, then. That gives the barest margin of safety to live an entire life, alone, for the rest of his life. To own a home. To hunt and fish and play. To read and watch and listen. To cook and plant and harvest, as much or as little as he wanted.
Bill Foresy had more than that in his trust fund. But it sounded awfully boring. So he moved to the city and lived his life instead.