Finances Relationships

What I’d do if I won the lottery

No one can really know what they’d do until they had it sitting in their bank account… the thought of winning such a great sum can be a great mental exercise

With yet another looming Euromillions giant jackpot, my thoughts turn to pots of gold…

I’m a recurring lottery player, now playing like most people when the jackpot gets big (and newsworthy, and thus brought to my attention one way or another).

But once upon a time, I used to do a twice-weekly direct debit draw.

At £2.50 a draw, and thus £5 a week, that was coming up to about £260 a year. It wasn’t exactly cheap, and for someone who is usually extolling the virtue of budgeting and saving, surely I was contradicting myself.

This was a frivolous and careless expense.

It is. Ok, I did this for about a year, and I naturally felt a little guilty about it, and certainly, when lottery talk occasionally surfaced socially, I was ashamed to admit having this weekly draw – that’s how silly I knew it was.

The thing is, between Wednesday morning (when you found out you hadn’t won) and Saturday morning (when you found out again you hadn’t won), and then again between that Saturday morning and the following Wednesday morning, I was paying £2.50 for all the hope and dreams in the world.

I never expected to win, but I loved hoping I would. I thought the price was such a small amount to pay for that in exchange.

It felt good. Really good. It was almost addicting, to daydream of not just financial freedom, but personal freedom. To challenge and question your own identity and persona – would you be who you think you are now, or would you change?

Call me an overthinker, or a sentimentalist – but to me, it’s the extent of my imagination, the product of my daydreaming, to wonder. To dream: who would I be, if I won massive sums of funds?

“Would I be me if I won”, which implies: “am I even me now, or am I a version of me that has to be?”

I have run this thought exercise so many times with those weekly draws – and I have compiled a mental ongoing list of challenging questions.

  • How honest are you with yourself, about how happy you currently are?
  • Would money be able to change anything about your happiness?
  • Do I have enough friends? Do I care?
  • Do I love my family? How much? Would they get any money? How much? At what risk? Even with a small family, you could be looking at 8-10 additional people – and this is just counting immediate family and spouse’s family.
  • Would I be happier with more stuff? More expensive stuff?
  • Would I quit work?
  • Would I work doing something else, that I truly love?
  • Or would I lounge about?
  • I consider myself an experienced professional – would I save a lot? Invest a lot?
  • Buy a new house?
  • Would winning a large jackpot enable you to give back to your community? How much?
  • Would winning connect you spiritually, religiously, if you aren’t currently or are lapsed?

What are your top questions that you’d think would need answering before you won the lottery?

My answers … and hold me to them, when I’ve won!

  • I think I’m pretty honest with myself. I’m pretty happy with most things in life. I’ve worked hard and have had some unusual accomplishments to be proud of.
  • But… if I’m honest… I’m a dreamer. I always have been. I have big ambitions, and I always thought I’d do more with my life (there’s still plenty of time left!). I do think I’d really try to accomplish more with more funds – build more, make more of an impact. So yes, for sure, money would have a major impact on happiness. But it wouldn’t buy the fundamentals of life…
  • Like friendship. I have enough friends that I need to, and I don’t think friendship or relationships is even worth discussing when it comes to money.
  • Yes I love my family! I would definitely give my immediate family all some money for them to each feel comfortable and to buy what they want. BUT I would discuss with them and let them know that I had my own plans to build some assets.
  • No. I don’t want stuff. I’m actually pretty frugal. I enjoy occasional nice things, but I definitely don’t care too much. I’m not a shopper. And expensive toys like sports cars etc. would hold my interest for a brief while. I’d probably be more interested in hiring them when I felt like it, not plunk a ton of cash on them.
  • Work… I don’t think I’d quit my career. But I would start dividing my time up between my career and my other personal interests that I could then fund…
  • Yes! I would build. Assets, projects, a whole plethora of ideas that need capital. I’d treat this like the opportunity of a lifetime, to freely invest where I could.
  • Lounge about on holidays yes, but I’d be as busy as I am now, if not more so.
  • Yep, save, and invest!
  • I would love to be able to give back to the community. I’m a small donor for cancer research, and I’d love to be able to fund that more. Also, lower wage earning careers that contribute so much – teaching, healthcare… these need rehaul. I’d try to figure out how to funnel funds towards systemic change in this regard.
  • I don’t know… this is a really good question. Isn’t it funny, how we turn towards religion in times of need, or despair… but do we do the same in times of thanks?

Heres’s another thought exercise: would you take winning the lottery, if it meant that the majority of it had to go to your worst enemy?

I toyed around with this concept as well, and to be honest, I stumped myself. Here’s how it goes:

You can choose to win the lottery, but a split goes to you, and most of it goes to your least favourite person / worst enemy.

For example, you could somehow orchestrate winning the 100 million jackpot, but you keep only 1 million, while the 99 million goes to your worst enemy.

So, in tehory, like any jackpot, you are getting 1 million for free at no cost, except for the cost of personal bitterness because you’ve made your worst enemy far better off than you.

Turns out, for me, this thought exercise is linked to the proportion of winnings per person, AND to the absolute amount received:

1 million versus 99 million : NO

1 million versus 20 million: MAYBE

1 million versus 5 million: YES, LIKELY

But if the absolute values were far less, and therefore had no impact on me:

1 dollar versus 99 dollars – NO

1 dollar versus 20 dollars: NO

1 dollar versus 5 dollars: NO

A fun little thought for you when you’re out there buying your tickets.

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