After last week, when the Mega Millions jackpot climbed to a record-setting $640 million, many of us were thinking about it. It’s hard not to. I heard that even best-selling novelist Anne Rice bought tickets.
For me, though, the lottery hasn’t been a once in a while kind of thing, where I only think about it when the jackpot pushes up into the nine digit range. It’s something that probably crosses my mind every few days.
I think about things I’d like to do, places I want to visit and, of course, things I’d like to have. It’s not all just a materialist, or even hedonistic, series of stuff I want. I also think about people and causes I’d like to help. I think most of us do that, and would help those we could.
I mean, $640 million is a lot of money. I could be quite comfortable, and so could my family and friends, and still have plenty left over to try and make a difference, or even just support others who are making a difference.
And I’ve thought about all this often enough, that I even have a plan.
I know how I’d split up whatever amount I won. I know how I’d take myself off the grid, or at least far enough off to protect my family. I know the bills I’d pay off, the things I’d fix and the things I’d replace.
I got interested in the lottery when I lived in Florida. It was the first state I’d lived in that had a lottery. I came up with a secret system that I was sure would work. While I don’t want to give it away, I can tell you that it cleverly involved the birthdays of loved ones.
Ingenious, right? I bet no one else has ever thought of that!
Shockingly, though, that didn’t work. In fact, it kind of backfired on me. Se I played the same numbers. Twice a week. Then, one week I didn’t get tickets in time. And I was sure that my numbers were going to come up. What a nightmare.
I actually watched the drawing that night, in a cold sweat. Thankfully, my numbers didn’t come up. I can’t imagine how sick I would have been if they had.
From that point on, I only played quick picks, letting the computer randomly pick my numbers. Not really a system, I know. But it got the lottery monkey off my back.
So I play once in a while. I’m not a fair-weather player, only getting tickets when the jackpot is humongous. And I’m not a twice-a-week player, either. Just once in a while, every so often, when the stars are in alignment and the universe seems in harmony. And when I’m at a 7-11 or gas station with a few one’s in my pocket.
I play the lottery for the same reason I think most of us do. I’m not stupid. I do get that the odds of winning are almost exactly the same whether you buy a ticket or not. But on those days when things are rough – when the job’s getting to me and the car is in the shop and the mailman brings nothing but bills – it gives me a little hope. It gives me a chance to dream.
Actually, for a few bucks, it buys me a dream. For the entertainment value alone, it’s worth it to me.
I think there are a lot of us in the same boat. We have different reasons for playing. Some altruistic. Some purely selfish. And most, probably somewhere in the middle.
I’ve envisioned myself winning. Making the calls to those I’d cut in. Celebrating. Buying stuff. Taking trips. Sprucing up my life. Being a good steward of my new-found wealth and helping others.
But then what? After several months or even a year of crazy spending and traveling and celebrating. What would I do? I’m sure there’s only so long I could lay in a hammock, alternately watching the ocean and reading my Kindle. I’m pretty sure.
So what then? How would I live this new life?
Lots of people say that this kind of money would bring its own host of problems. Since I already have a host of my own problems, I feel like that’s a trade I’d be willing to make. I’d have to get smarter about money, and find appropriate help to grow and protect my investments, portfolio, etc.
And I’d need to figure some other things out. Do I write? Do I pour money into my record label and my station? Do I invest in some new kind of career/hobby?
Big questions, but that seems a little superficial to me. I should look deeper.
I’d like to think I’d work on being a better person. Not that money would make me a better person. But it might give me the time I don’t have now for more things that really matter.
Like my family. And my friends. I work so much now that I feel like I rarely have much time for either.
I’d make time for causes I care about. Not just writing a check, but actually doing something to help make a difference. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I would be able to spend the time finding out.
I’d also take better care of myself. I’d eat better. I’d exercise. I mean, it wouldn’t make much sense if I finally had the time to do those other things, and then shortened the time because I couldn’t change some of the behavior that’s not so good for me.
It’s a little hard to see past all the spending that would happen after the initial windfall, but in looking at some of these things, I get the feeling that I could actually start doing some of them today.
I could be living like I already won the lottery.
Okay, I couldn’t replace my ’98 Chrysler with a brand new Camaro convertible. And I couldn’t fly my family out to specially rented cottages at the Hotel Del Coronado. And I couldn’t buy my own ocean front property and have this house custom-built for me.
Live like I’ve already won the lottery.
I’m sure it’s easier said than done. And I’m going to use this blog to flesh out the idea. This can be like a diary of my journey. Change is rarely easy, but having an outlet to chart progress, and sound out ideas, might make it a little less difficult.
I think first, I need to get past the initial spending. Maybe make a list of, I what I’d first do. With that out of the way, it might be a little easier to get to the next step.
I think one of the first things I’d buy would be a new car. I love my Sebring, but it’s ready to be passed down and loved by someone else. So I think I’d get this...
How about you? What’s the first extravagant thing you’d allow yourself to buy if you suddenly had that kind of windfall?
I look forward to seeing if anyone else has thought about this, probably not to the extent I have, but still, if it’s rolled around your brain once or twice, please join in!
And, of course, I’d welcome any insight anyone else has to give. Suggestions, encouragement and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated. Comments intended to mock, ridicule or offend will be removed (practice your Freedom of Speech on your own blog).