Wednesday, November 28

Money Can't Buy Me Love (But It Can Buy Other Stuff)

I don't often play the lottery, but I spent 10 of my hard-earned dollars on five Powerball tickets yesterday.

And I wasn't alone.

The line stretched probably fifteen people deep out of the News and Snacks store -- people chatting about what they'd do with the winnings and laughing over the odds. I thought about it in line too. Let's face it: that's the fun part about buying the ticket. Chances are way, way less than one in a million that you'll win, but until that number is drawn, your shot is as good as anyone. So I mapped out my newly-minted millionaire life while I waited.

First of all, I'd keep my mouth shut until I talked to a lawyer (duh). Only Kyle, Bailey, Teddy, and our parents/siblings would get the happy news -- and everyone would be under strict orders to STFU. After sorting out the legalese, I'd turn in my ticket ("Hi, News and Snacks clerk, I'd like to cash this slip for $300 million dollars please") and we'd meet with a financial planner. I can tell you a few of the first things we'd do: pay off our house and our school loans, donate to a charity or two, and share a nice chunk of change with our immediate families.

Then we'd immediately list our house for sale and start scouting out a new place. It wouldn't be super insane and extravagant -- remember my dream house? It would be brick, with lots of land, a big fenced area for the dogs, and tons of fireplaces. Something roomy but cozy. We'd definitely get help with decorating and renovations, but we'd still do some work on it ourselves and make it our own. Pottery Barn shopping spree!

We'd get ourselves new cars. One black Range Rover for me, please ;) Lot of room for dogs and babies.

I don't really know what else I'd buy right away. A new Mac laptop, some boots, a nice purse. I'd go get a great massage and a weekly manicure/pedicure. Maybe we'd plan a vacation? (Maybe we'd wait until next summer, because money or no, I don't want to deliver anywhere "exotic"). 

What else would we do? Invest. That financial planned better be good, because I'd want at least half of the money set aside as a trust for our children. And boy oh boy, would we have a lot of children. Six? Seven? Eight? When asked how many kids we want, I always say we'll see how the first one goes (and as revealed yesterday, I'm no longer loving being pregnant, so several rounds of this process is eh) but I do love the idea of a big family, and if money was no object, there would likely be a holy terror of little Stevensons running around. Which might be scary to some, but it sounds nice to me! We'd be like the Kennedys, except without the alcoholism and affairs and tragedies, one hopes.

Still, the more you think about it (and clearly, I have) suddenly coming into lots of money brings up lots of tricky questions too.

We'd have to have serious conversations about how to raise our kids. I think I'd still want them in public school, for a number of reasons (although little kids in uniforms are pretty cute). They'd grow up with nice stuff -- fun vacations, whatever activities they wanted to try, whatever college they wanted to attend, maybe studying abroad -- but they wouldn't have the best and newest of every material thing all the time, no sir. I'd still buy baby and children's clothes at Target and TJ Maxx, in addition to more upscale stores. They would pay for their own wild spring break trips should they choose to take them, they'd work over the summer in high school and college. They'd get their money later, after they held a real job for a few years and knew how to handle it (say, at 25, the age I am now, haha!)

We would also need to have a plan for the sticky personal relationship stuff that comes up with money too -- if other people were facing hard times, for instance. On the one hand, it's a pretty well-established fact that lending or giving money to friends or family can ruin relationships. On the other, being flush with cash and not helping loved ones seems pretty heartless. After sharing with our parents, grandparents, and siblings right after we won, my initial idea would be to just carry on with no changes to our other relationships, just being generous about picking up the tab at dinner or hosting parties, that sort of thing. We're not paying people to be our friends, after all. But I'm sure it's easier to think about it in hypotheticals than it is to be faced with a real situation.

(That's a prime reason people say it's actually difficult to be a lotto winner).

One thing is certain: I probably won't win tonight, and that's okay. I really do have all I need, plus some extras... and for that I count myself very, very lucky indeed. Winning millions of dollars wouldn't change who I am as a person -- it wouldn't change what I ultimately want out of life -- it wouldn't change the things that make me happy. It would make a lot of things much easier, but a few things much harder too. 

So when they draw that first number and I realize I'm already out of it, I won't shed a tear. I'll go snuggle my dogs who have no idea about such things and count my blessings. And maybe think a little bit more seriously about that idea for a novel, because there have to be other ways to make millions -- and becoming a writer is a solid get-rich-quick scheme, right?

And if I do win tonight, you might not hear from me for a few days. I'll be busy setting up my newly-minted millionaire affairs and figuring out how in the world I'm going to keep this a secret.

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