The Money Shot: How much is a million pounds?

A gimlet eyed man, just out of focus, looks longingly at a big load of pound coins in the foreground
Miles was looking forward to a millionaire lifestyle of scrupulous budgeting
"Throw in a few extravagant holidays a year, posh cars and a generally trumped up standard of living, and you’ll have to count on living fast and dying young"
  • | by Derri Dunn

No, it’s not a trick question, although perhaps it should be rephrased to ‘what's a million pounds worth'?

The reason we ask is because the Guardian has published new data from Barclays which reveals that the ranks of UK millionaires has swelled by 41% in the last five years, meaning that one in 65 adults are now classed as having assets to the value of £1m.

Soaring property prices in some parts of the country mean many of the millionaires out there won’t have anything near the full sum just jingling loose in their back pocket but, even if they did, would it actually be enough to live on these days? Well, let’s find out…

Picture this: you’ve won the lottery, you’re an overnight millionaire, time to tell the boss to stick it and prepare to kick back, right?

Well, actually no. Not if you plan to live longer than 47 years anyway. With the average wage adding up to £26,500, that amounts to around £21,100 a year after tax. So if you were to live like an ‘average’, your million would keep you going for a shade over 47 years.

With the average death age standing at 81 and a half, if you’re aged over 35, there’s a chance you’ll be able to make your million stretch.

Thing is, if you’ve got a mill burning a hole in your bank account, you’re probably not going to want to live like us normos. So throw in a few extravagant holidays a year, posh cars and a generally trumped up standard of living, and you’ll have to count on living fast and dying young.

Of course, you could stick it in savings and live off the interest, but with the Bank of England base rate wallowing at 0.5%, that’s only £5,000 a year, before you take off the tax, which isn’t going to keep you in the manner to which you’ve become accustomed, either.

So if your assets fall a touch short of those enjoyed by that lucky one in 65, take comfort in the fact that you can at least make the most of your much smaller fortune by enjoying interest rates of up to 6% AER in the latest competitive crop of regular saving accounts and high interest current accounts. These offer decent returns as a trade-off for fairly low limits on the amount you can save – perfect for all us aspiring one-in-65ers.

Have you been making the best of some saucy savings rates of late? Tell us all about it on Facebook and Twitter

News in brief

Local authorities in England and Wales sent in the bailiffs more than two million times in 2014, according to research by the Money Advice Trust.

The Financial Ombudsman says it’s seen more complaints about packaged bank accounts in the first six months of 2015 than in the whole of 2014.

George Osborne has called for more starter homes to be built in rural areas.

On Covered mag this week

It’s dumbbells at dawn for our #Gocofitfam competition – win fabulous prizes! (terms and conditions apply)

Derri Dunn lets us peep behind the door of the animal house’s foster room. Warning: may contain kittens.

Join us next week for another number-wanging top-up of the Money Shot and, in the meantime, mail us your missives