Oh. You didn’t win the lottery? Bummer. Me neither.
OK, fine. You don’t play the lottery. Neither do I. In fact, I have a really hard time doing anything other than sinking a few pennies in the slots in Vegas and cashing out right away.
I like my money. Sue me.
But still, it’s fun to daydream. Or at least it’s supposed to be, right?
So what would I do with a multi-million dollar windfall? Probably exactly what you expect, which makes me wonder if I even know how to daydream at all.
Am I Doing This Daydream Thing Right?
Whenever anyone asks what I would do with a giant windfall, my first reaction is one that should surprise absolutely no one.
Pay. Off. My. Mortgage.
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I know I could do other things with those dollars. I know I could make more money in the market (not this market tbh, but in the long run I will). But that’s the mathematical approach. That’s the sheer numbers stuff. And when has this ever been about straight logic?
It has never been about that.
Psychologically speaking, paying off my mortgage is hugely motivating for me. Ever since I bought the Jimmy Choos of my dreams, my only real motivation to keep side hustling was to slay debt. I’m not doing to burn the candle at both ends and down the middle to add $100 or $200 a week to my taxable account. It’s terrible to say, but I’m just not.
It’s not just my weird brain. It’s science. People are more likely to take a small but certain reward as opposed to something bigger but less certain. And you thought you weren’t going to get any STEM action here today.
Ok, so that’s step 1 of my daydream. Beyond that, I get really stuck. Sure, I’ll do the responsible thing like invest well and pay my dues (though if I can’t figure out how to smartly put myself at a tax advantage with my piddly freelancing efforts, there’s no hope for a big win here. You’re welcome again, Uncle Sam). But when it comes to having money to burn, I honestly don’t know what I would do.
The other day, I was live tweeting from a grocery store that has an actual oyster bar in it. And a wine bar. And a sushi bar. And a smoothie bar, oh my! It’s like Eataly (but without significantly fewer varieties of cheese) had a baby with Whole Foods and it came out looking like an organic avocado that costs $3.
Yup. It’s fancy.
While I pushed my cart around the store, I started to think about what it would feel like to load up my shopping cart with whatever I wanted at a store that was at least 200% more expensive than my beloved Aldi.
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I am so bad at daydreaming that I couldn’t even fulfill the fantasy. Because honestly, why do I want expensive delicious groceries when I can get my hands on cheap delicious groceries just down the street?
So if I’m not willing to beef up my grocery budget, maybe I would buy more things. But it’s been such a painful process to declutter the things that I do have, there really isn’t anything that I need or want, especially since I now force myself to make room for things.
Where My Money Would Go
If I’m not buying Spendypants groceries and I’m not looking to add a few hundred pairs of shoes to my closet (again), what am I doing with my windfall after the mortgage is paid and I’ve invested in our family’s future?
For me, it comes back to traveling some and giving more. I’ve written about it before that I would love to get involved in more literacy initiatives either globally or stateside. But I also have to come to an important realization of late:
One of the last areas of my budget that I tend to grow is charitable giving. We do give every month. We view it as a non-negotiable. In fact, I just insisted that I don’t want to get where we are going without giving along the way.
That is certainly true, but I also realize that if giving to causes is important to me with a colossal windfall, it should be important to me now even with the teeniest of windfalls. While I haven’t landed the kind of raise that would equate to a PowerBall ticket, if my savings increases even the slightest, my giving should, too. Honestly, I work harder to battle my Comcast bill than I do to beef up my charitable giving, and that’s a problem. It’s one I intend to address.
Final Thoughts on Lottery Daydreams
I didn’t win the lottery. That statement will be evergreen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t indulge in a daydream from time to time.
If daydreams are supposed to be the stuff of glamorous fantasy and tantalizing wants, well, I’m really bad at that. If daydreams are meant to help you discover what’s really important and let you take a little bit of that back to real life, maybe I’m not so bad at daydreaming after all.
So Tell Me…What would you do with a MEGABIG windfall? Is there part of your budget that you value but haven’t beefed up lately?
I never entered a lottery so I haven’t won either but I did inherit an amount that was sufficient to early retire with all by itself. But the thing was I already had several times that amount saved and invested and a paid for house and no debt. So I spent a few percent to upgrade a couple of toys and added the rest to my portfolio. I didn’t even quit my 9 to 5 because it was still fun at that point. It really had no impact on my life. Now maybe 100’s of millions would be different, but I think once you are financially independent more money means very little. We were already spending every dollar we wanted to spend so adding a big chunk of additional money had no effect on our lifestyle.
This is awesome. When you’ve built a life that you don’t need to win the lottery to escape from or radically alter, that is success. 🙂
I agree with you on giving to literacy causes. If I won the lottery I’d be like
“And YOU get a library! And YOU get a library! And YOU get a library!” ?
Fire in the hole
I would start a foundation to give to causes I care about, and would also anonymously help out family and friends who could use some $$.
The weird thing I would do is to NOT tell a single soul other than my spouse. Meaning, no one, not even family, would know I won. Even in states where you cannot remain anonymous, there are ways to accomplish this – you can set up an LLC or a trust to claim the prize. (Just do not sign the back of the ticket if you want to remain anonymous – there’s a recent court case on this.) Every story about someone’s life being ruined after winning the lottery involves what other people did to the winner. But if no one knows you won, problem solved! No one asking for handouts, no heirs trying to kill you to collect your winnings.
the Budget Epicurean
We’re talking MEGABIG windfall, like millions/billions? Pay off our current house house, turn it into a rental, then find and move to our dream farm. Say, 80 acres, with mountains, streams, a lake that’s at least 3 acres so you can boat and jet ski on it, pick up a small herd of horses and a cow or two, plus a flock of chickens, ducks, a pair of turkeys and some quail. And a few pigs for fun. Plant a massive garden, a vineyard, and several orchards. Buy a tractor or two, a pickup truck (because loads of manure and whatnot), a cattle transporter, and build a dream farmhouse with walk in pantry and root cellar / slash most high-tech smart home mansion you ever saw. With indoor/outdoor swimming pool, high speed fiber internet, voice activated lights, indoor theater, huge Virtual Reality space, and all the other required doo dads to tickle the boy’s fancy forever. Build an insulated sound proof recording studio, and a woodworking workshop. Oh and the world’s hugest most drool-worthy kitchen with 2 freezers, 2 dishwashers, 2 ovens, an island with built in touch activated sink, miles of counter space, and a brick pizza oven. And then never leave it. Except maybe once a year for like 2-3 months when we rent it out and travel. How’s that for a big audacious dream? 😀
Mrs. Picky Pincher
Shoes are a great way to spend lotto money. 😉
I think about this from time to time as the lottery gets into the crazy-high amounts. It’s so crazy how people will build it up into this fever pitch over money.
As for me, I’m right there with ya. I’d pay off the house first thing. Then regularly max out retirement contributions, work only when I felt like it, and prioritize travel. I’d like to be able to help out my family more, too.
But since there’s a greater chance of getting struck by lightning, instead of playing the lottery I’ll just put my funds towards debts and investments. 😉 At least that’s more of a sure thing!
I always wonder about this when I read about how the lottery is reaching record numbers like recently with Mega Millions and Powerball. I think I would buy a home in full and invest the rest including our son’s 529. Nothing really fancy, just want to accomplish our money goals.
Gary @ Super Saving Tips
I’m right there with you when it comes to beefing up my giving category. I remember talking with my wife about this at the beginning of the year, and low and behold, it’s nearly the end of October and I’ve done little to nothing about it. So sometime in the next week, my wife and I are going to sit down and figure out where and how much our improved giving is going to go.
By the way, I’m with you on the mortgage payoff as well. That mortgage is my last debt and I’d love to see it gone.
I came into some money recently (a lot less than the lotto) and a friend asked me what I was going to do with my newfound (relative) wealth. I was like, duh, I’m going to put it in an ETF that tracts the S&P 500, its gonna be lit! Apparently this was not the kind of thing my friend had in mind. It did get me thinking of how I would “spoil myself” if I was determined to. I settled on using the money to improve myself instead of my possessions. Do a homestay in Mexico to improve my Spanish, go on a meditation retreat, work with a personal trainer for a while. Or buy Mr. T style chains.
Bahaha. Mr. T-style chains. I love it!
Self improvement is definitely always an investment, isn’t it? 🙂
If I won a significant windfall, I would:
1. buy a golden visa for Europe and move to the south of France;
2. set up a portfolio that gives me a ‘guaranteed basic income’; and
3. with whatever is left, I would use it to provide seed money to others trying to make their company/artistic endeavor/organization/dream come true. It’s not quite charitable giving – more like giving entrepreneurial people a chance to reach their potential.
Sadly I’ve not realized a large lottery win (yet. I do, occasionally buy a ticket). But I am trying to realize my ambitions/goals/dreams none the less. I’m currently living (on a short term visa) in central Spain. Close, but not exactly where I want to be. And I’ve cashed in my real estate assets and invested them in the stock market to try and create a ‘guaranteed basic income’, although the market seems to be hell bent on vexing me on this part of the plan.
As for No. 3, all I can offer at the moment is a pittance. Like buying a copy of someone’s first, self-published novel to help them off-set their publishing costs. And to (hopefully) inspire them to keep going.
Ah well. At least I’m trying.
That is actually huge, Veronica. I am making it a point to do more to support the creatives in my life. I used to just read financial books from the library, but I figure I can buy a copy to support a blogger buddy and then gift it to someone who needs it/wants it.