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?