When people start talking about millions and billions of dollars it can be difficult to get a real grasp on these large sums of money. While we all know there are a few 0s in the difference most of us are confused about the relative spending power. For example, as a child, I always dreamed of being a millionaire. Yet today I now realize that even if I had a million dollars, I would not be able to retire. A million dollars is less than the price of many houses in popular cities today. A million dollars is enough to survive for a number of years or pay off a large debt but it is not the end of working life. So when we hear that someone like Bill Gates has $76 billion dollars. Just how comfortable is he?
Gates is so comfortable that if he spent $1 million dollars every day it would take him 218 years to work through all of his savings. This hypothetical scenario is not even correct though because Bill Gates is so comfortable that his current savings make him approximately $11.5 million a day in interest. So if he spends $1 million a day and does not work, he still makes $10 million profit from interest alone. That is comfortable.
Gates is not even the richest person in the world. It would take Mexico’s Carlos Slim, around 220 years based on the same approach. While the 1% has been much publicized in recent times it is worth remembering that the richest 85 people in the world have the same amount of money as the poorest 50% of the world. This large imbalance is a struggle to understand when poverty is still so rampant.
We must note of course that people like Gates and Buffet are not sitting idly by on their throne of cash. Two of the richest people in the world are well-known philanthropists. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated over $36 billion to charitable causes with more than $4 billion donated in the last year alone. The pair has focused on global health, education, and poverty as the main areas of action.