I was talking with a colleague at school about what we would do if we won the lottery. We are part of a group of 10 people who collectively buy tickets whenever the jackpot gets sufficiently high to motivate our organizer to go buy tickets. Today the prize is over 200 hundred million so we are all in. Let’s just say we won and had to pay half the prize into taxes that would still give the 10 of us a tidy sum that could pretty easily carrying us all for the rest of our lives if we managed some degree of self-restraint and long term thinking.
I asked my colleague if we won how many of us would come to work the next day, the next month and the end of the year. We figured a good portion of us wouldn’t be working the next day and maybe all of us by the end of the year. Whether we would need to work again, well, some most likely would. We know the track record for big winners is not all happily ever after.
We talked about what we would do if we won. I told him that buying the ticket allowed us to have this conversation. For our $5 buy-in we had bought the time to fantasize about what we would do if we won. Since pretty much everyone loses, the one thing you know you can win is the time to think about what you would do with the money. Most of us don’t get the opportunity to dwell much on what we would do if we hit it rich. That fantasy gets taken away for most of us by the time we end our 20’s if not well before. So, for a few dollars you can dwell on what you would do if you had big money.
So let’s just pretend. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning and found that after taxes you had 10 million dollars that was all yours.
Suppose you paid off all your bills and were free and clear. For most of us that wouldn’t put that much of a dent into the 10 million. Let’s even say you were prudent and put 5 million into some safe investments that garnered you 5% which would pretty much guarantee you an income of $250,000 a year. For most of us I think we could be happy there. Although from what I know and hear no matter how much you have you wish you had more.
But, even so, let’s just say you socked away a fair proportion of the money to insure your long-term viability, what would you do with the rest? According to this simple example you would still have over 5 million play money. Your debts are clear. You could clear some other people’s debts and share the money with those you love and care about. You could donate some to worthy causes you admire. You could go on a pretty decent shopping spree. Buy a house, new wardrobe, new car, new this and new that. You could travel here or there. See this, go to that. You could do any number of things.
And, since it is all in your imagination you can change your mind. Re-order your priorities and think of all the wonderful things you can do. Enjoy that dream. You paid for it.
And most likely tomorrow when you wake up, you will have to put that dream aside. At least until the lottery numbers start calling to you again. Allowing yourself to fantasize can help you realize your priorities in life and while you may not be able to make them happen at the 10 million dollar level perhaps you can find ways to make some of your dreams become your realities. If you don't dream you can't have dreams come true.