Imagine this: today is the day you earn US$1 million – what is the first thing you buy?
While most of us can only dream about that day (come on, lottery win), for some 20.8 million millionaires, it’s their reality.
There hasn’t just been a dramatic rise in millionaires, but also billionaires. And it was 2020 that saw the most outstanding rise in wealth. Over the past year, one new billionaire was made every 17 hours.
In fact, altogether the world’s wealthiest are US$5 trillion richer than they were a year ago, according to Forbes.
Some of the biggest earners celebrate their thriving wealth with hearty comfort food while others opt for a life of extravagance.
Spending habits of the world’s wealthiest
Globally recognised simply by her first name, Oprah’s heartwarming journey from overcoming her traumatic childhood to becoming the first Black female billionaire is truly inspiring. And what she bought with her first US$1 million is exactly what you’d expect.
“That is a lot of money,” she said on her YouTube show O, The Oprah Magazine. “The first thing I did when I got my cheque for a million dollars was I took a picture of it.
“I love great towels. Towels that are so big and fluffy that you can wrap your whole body in. I splurged on really good Ralph Lauren towels.”
When Microsoft went public in 1986, it gave Gates’s stake in the company a market value of US$350 million. With this he reportedly paid off his US$150,000 mortgage.
One of the latest to join the exclusive billionaire’s club, Rihanna didn’t spend her hard-earned cash on anything extravagant. Instead, she ordered some Chinese food: fried wings and chicken fried rice.
“I usually do pork fried rice, but that day was chicken fried rice,” she told The Cut. And then she went back to work.
There is no doubt Musk is a man of vivid dreams. And luckily he has the bank account to support it.
The Tesla Founder has reportedly spent more than US$100 million on residential properties, believing that possessions “kind of weigh you down”.
“[I] don’t have vacation homes or yachts or anything like that,” he wrote in 2018 on Twitter. “About half my money is intended to help problems on Earth and half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens and we destroy ourselves.”
One of the wealthiest self-made women in the US, DeGeneres is worth a reported US$370 million. So what exactly does a talk show host do with all that cash?
“We never had a house when I was growing up – we always rented,” she told Architectural Digest in 2011. “The first thing I did when I made money was buy a house.”
It’s well known that the Oracle of Omaha leads a humble life. In fact, the 91-year-old investor still lives in the house he bought in the 1950s.
Despite having US$39.1 billion to his name, the Alibaba founder lives fairly simply. He reportedly drives an ordinary Roewe RX5 SUV that cost US$15,000. However, he is known to splurge on real estate including his US$23 million New York property in 2015, The Wall Street Journal states.
Soaring to prominence in 2010, the Puerto Rican model may have earned millions throughout her career, but she isn’t a big spender.
“I’m actually really good with money,” Smalls told Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia in 2018. “I splurge every once in a while on a great vacation or if I like a piece of jewellery … for the most part I save my money and think wisely.
“I’m kind of like a squirrel – I just love stashing things away.”