Why“What would you do if you won the lottery?” is NOT the question we should be asking…..

Not that wanting to buy your parents a house or pay off all your bills are bad things to consider. But as the Powerball jackpot grows to unprecented amounts many of us are wondering what we would do if we won over a billion dollars.

got a no. 2 pencil I can borrow?

We are missing the point

If you are willing to create a list of desires that would be fulfilled if you were to experience a literal overnight windfall, why not take a moment to understand what is driving those wants and needs. You may find that you can take steps towards making your dreams a reality, even if you don’t win.

Even if you don’t buy a ticket

At 18 years old I was making $9.00 an hour as a prep cook for a fern bar that my older brother worked at. That was a decent wage in 1990 for a recent high school graduate, and a $2.00 an hour raise from what I had been making at the burger joint. After a few months I was able to land another gig, at a high end seafood restuarant, and based on a slightly glorified reccomendation from my room mate was made “grill cook/line leader” making $19.00 and hour.

This sudden boost in income was soon bolstered by my first introduction to a young man’s game: over-time. The lobster establishment I was stationed at was located within walking distance from almost 100,000 hotel rooms and at the time was the busiest location in the company. The need for help was always great, and the allure of almost $30 bucks an hour was too great to ever turn down.

The windfall was quickly followed by some changes to the living arrangements. My $400 a month studio was quickly replaced by a $1500 a month gated condominium with fitness facilty (before they were cool) and giant hot tub (before they were un-cool). The problem was I was never there to enjoy it.

‘fun flies when you have no time’ — b2

The trap

Much like I pined to make the big bucks, and quickly watched them slide through my fingers, many of us fantasize about how we would spend our imaginary lottery winnings. Some of the most written about include:

  1. Buy a house for my Mom and Dad
  2. Pay off all my debt
  3. Quit my job
  4. Live somewhere exotic
  5. Travel

The real question

You can find dozens of articles about what you should do if you win the big prize (and even what you should NOT do). What about for all of us out there that won’t be presented an oversized lottery check at a press conference? What do we go from here?

Time to analyze that list and investigate the real desires that are feeding it.

Buy a house for my Mom and Dad

What sounds like a sincerley nice gesture could actually have deeper undertones. MetLife estimates that nearly 10 million adult children over age 50 now care for an aging parent. Are you excited about the idea of helping your parents fulfill a life time dream of a mortgage-less home, or are you subconciously worried about who will take care of them?

$1.3 Billion or not, it may be time to have “the talk”. Find out what they want. Discuss openly with your siblings. Bring this difficult conversation to the forefront and you may just find that steps can be taken today to elimenate at least some of the unknown fears that surround this topic.

Pay off all my debt

There are plenty of ‘experts’ out there that will gladly tell you, or sell you, solutions to elimenating your debts. I’m not one of them. I will, however, tell you this: if your bucket is leaking your shoes will remain wet no matter how fast you try to scoop out the water.

A part of any personal finance plan has to include steps to stop the bleeding. Stop bringing on new debt. Stop living a life beyond your means. Simplify, downsize, go without. Here endeth the sermon portion of this rant.

Quit my job

I’m not going to tell you to go ahead and quit your job. I am going to challenge you to start doing something different on Monday to make it more fun, rewarding, or easier to cope with. Oh, you tried that several Monday’s ago and you are still miserable? Spend some time really searching (not for a new job) inside yourself for what it is that you really want, and does it exist? If not, what would it look like to create it. Part time.

Live somewhere exotic

Reread the paragraph on “Quit my job” and replace the word “job” with “town”.

witness relocation cabin

Travel

Think you can’t afford to see the world, or even your country? Well then, see your county. Take a walk, get on a bus, ride a bike. Or, if all ese fails — check out the discount airlines practically giving away flights to both Florida coasts.

Living the dream

Sure, it’s fun to imagine what all you could do with a billion dollars. It’s also fun to take steps today towards living the life you want today, with out it.

-b2