Won the Lottery

It’s the fertile fodder for many a daydream and it’s a subject that gets revisited time and time again, even when we all know intellectually that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning twice than hitting the big jackpot. And yet, you can’t help but to wonder what you’d do if you actually won the lottery. How would you even begin to think about spending all these untold riches?

Fellow blogger, father and daydreamer Buzz Bishop shared one of his old blog posts on precisely this topic recently and it got me thinking. In that post, Buzz noted that when some guy from outside of Calgary found himself nearly $16 million richer, he had “no idea” what he was going to do with the money.

Clearly, that just demonstrates a lack of foresight on this part.

All kidding aside, when you consider just how many lotto winners find themselves bankrupt just a few years later, you really do have to wonder what you would do with the money if you won the lottery and suddenly had millions of dollars to your name. I approached this very subject several years ago and my life circumstances have changed since then.

I got married. I bought a house. I became a dad. At the same time, a lot has stayed the same. I’m still a freelance writer who works from home, likes to travel and values his freedom. So, what would I do if I won the lottery today?

1. Pay Off the Mortgage

A very common piece of financial advice is to pay down your debts as quickly as possible. I’ve had the good fortune of never going into debt — student loans or otherwise — aside from taking on the mortgage for the home that we purchased a few years ago. Owning our home free and clear would be a very gratifying way to spend the first chunk of change from my hypothetical lotto winnings.

2. Help Immediate Family

It would be unreasonable and unrealistic for me to go around and buy a house for everyone that I know, as much as I would like to do that. You have to remember that the average house in Vancouver is about a million dollars. Looking toward my immediate family, I would provide substantial help where I could. That is, if they’d accept it.

3. Commence Non-Retirement

A lot of people say the first thing they’d do if they won the lottery is they would quit their jobs. I’m not a lot of people. While it’s clear enough that the particulars of my business may change, I don’t foresee myself giving up writing as a profession. I may focus more energy on this blog or on writing more books, rather than blogging for clients. I might work more with non-profits and charitable organizations on a pro bono basis.

In this way, winning the lottery wouldn’t represent immediate retirement for me. It would represent a shift in mindset and focus. At the same time, I’d likely travel more with my family while simultaneously making appropriate plans for the future, particularly for my daughter. Everyone assumes that a few million dollars will last forever. It actually doesn’t stretch all that far and you can’t be frivolous with how you’d spend it.

Are you a daydreamer? What would you do if you won the lottery and found yourself upwards of $20 million richer?