Dreaming Of A Lottery Win

A survey done by Capital One Canada showed that one-third of respondents admit their financial plans include a future injection of good luck, either by receiving a large inheritance (10%) or by winning the lottery (18%).

Surveys like this have been done from time-to-time for several decades and it continues to surprise me that, even though the odds of winning a lottery are about 1 in 16 million, the percentage of people expecting these riches always remains pretty similar.

Related: Are you counting on an inheritance?

Our Canadian jackpots don’t go as high as the U.S.’s Mega Millions and Powerball, but our Lotto Max regularly hits the $50 million mark.

I came across these questions at MSN Money and I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts if I won this major prize.

1. Would it change you?

I’d like to say that I would stay my fabulous self, but think about it.  Money is a magnifier.  Whatever your personality traits are now they will increase.  Thus a generous person will be more so to the point that they may give it all away, a person who seeks approval may become prey to scammers and needy “friends”, lonely people would still sit at home, a controller will give everyone ultimatums, and a miserable old coot would be – well, you know.

Related: What does wealth mean to you?

Research shows that a large majority of people who receive windfalls revert back to their original financial status within a few years.

I’ll change my answer to – I hope I would become a better person.

2. Would you still work?

I would never again work for another person (or company).  There are a lot of non-paying activities I’d like to do such as hobbies and travelling the world.  I’d create a charitable foundation that would keep me busy, and taking care of my investments would take up some time, also.

Related: Does your job define you?

3.  Would you share with your family?

This is a tricky question because both sides of our family have always been much better off financially than we are.  I would give our brothers $1 million each to help secure their retirements.  My parents wouldn’t need a lump sum, but all their possible future needs – medical equipment, private nursing care, etc. – would be taken care of.

My children would get only a token amount each, maybe enough to pay their mortgages and a few fun purchases.  I wouldn’t want them to end up like the folks in this story.  Sorry boys, you’ll have to wait until I’m toes up for the rest, if any.

I would set up trust funds for all my grandchildren.

4.  Would you splurge?

I have to laugh when I see interviews with big lottery winners.  They all say they will stay working, buy a new house and vehicle, go on a trip and share with family.  Are they really that boring – or are they keeping their real, and exciting, plans to themselves?

I’d definitely splurge on some things I’ve been eyeballing but I’ve been too frugal to buy.  I’d upgrade a few things such as staying at the Hilton rather than the Super 8 when I travel, maybe a classier watch than my trusty Timex, give better quality gifts – things like that.  I’m pretty easy to please and don’t need a ton of stuff.  I wouldn’t blow it all like this (now famous) winner.

5.  Would you live on a budget?

I would still budget, but I’m sure the numbers would look a bit different.

Related: Why budgeting is not a waste of time

It may be hard to fathom, but even several million dollars can run out.

Final lottery thoughts

I’m sure every one of us has thought about receiving a windfall at some point.  Go ahead and dream a little.  What would you do with the $50 million jackpot you are about to win?

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  1. Simon @ Modest Money on October 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

    This is a thought that crosses my mind from time to time especially when I hear of someone hitting the jackpot.
    Am actually afraid that the money would change me in a fundamental way, maybe I would become obnoxious or stop being me somehow…as much as money magnifies…a windfall might rock the boat too hard.
    Apart from investing part of the money, I think I would also intensify my giving efforts, even with family and of-course travel the travel and gain some more fun experiences.

    • Boomer on October 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      @Simon: I see you want to intensify your giving. If that’s the case I don’t think you need worry about becoming obnoxious. It sounds like you have a fine plan.

  2. Denis on October 23, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Funny enough, they don’t sell lotto tickets in Bill Gates’s neighborhood!

    Millionaires know that the lottery is a scam to move the money from your pocket to the government’s pockets. Chance of winning is 1 in 17 million? Very good odds! NOT!

    • Boomer on October 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      @Denis: It’s true that they say lotteries are a tax on the poor.

      But I have also seen big winners that continue to buy tickets – and some have won 2 or 3 times!

  3. Penelope Graham on October 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    The lottery phenomenon really is amazing. We did a similar post a while back on how as much as a third of lottery winners spend it all or end up in financial trouble within the first 5 years! I think that if you’re lacking a foundation of money management knowledge in the first place, a large sum won’t magically fix it – it’ll take you longer to run out, but history proves that it’s inevitable!

    • Boomer on October 24, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      @Penelope Graham: As I said, studies have shown that most people who receive a large windfall revert back to their original financial circumstances within a few years – or even declare bankruptcy!

  4. Kayla on October 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I don’t buy lottery tickets, and I’m not expecting an inheritance (I very much hope that my grandparents give all their money to charity when they pass, because I know of some family members that are probably expecting it to go to them… sad). But I do sometimes daydream about what it would be like to win such a large sum of money..

    To answer the questions:
    1. Would it change you? Most likely not. If anything, I would become a better person, and give more than I currently do (donate to good organizations, charities, etc).
    2. Would you still work? After first receiving the money, I wouldn’t. I still have university that I need to finish, and I would also like to travel to many places. So I would probably spend the first 3-5 years focusing on that. I could see myself going back to work though, just because working and advancing in a career is a very rewarding feeling for me and I enjoy it, too.
    3. Would you share with your family? I would share with my dad, only because he struggled with finances when he was raising my brother and I as a single parent, and I appreciate how hard he worked to make sure my brother and I were taken care of. The rest of my family, probably not.
    4. Would you splurge? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t? I would probably splurge in the form of moving to NYC and living there for a while, though, not actually buying “things”.
    5. Would you live on a budget? I feel like I still would but the budget would be more relaxed than it is now.

    • Boomer on October 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      @Kayla: Thanks for your candid responses.

  5. Ed on October 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Buying a lottery ticket is a great way to allow yourself the use of your own imagination. Lotto 649 has had me for years although I buy a ticket when I get the urge.

    Bon chance

    • Boomer on October 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      @Ed: I very rarely buy tickets, but it’s nice to dream isn’t it?

  6. Anne @ Unique Gifter on October 24, 2013 at 8:38 am

    My financial plan includes receiving an inheritance… but only because that’s a reality, not because it is necessary for me financially.
    I would love to win the lottery… the only problem is that requires buying tickets, which I don’t do.
    Withdrawing 4% of 50M is still 2M a year, which sounds like an awful lot to live on 🙂 I could do that quite happily!

    • Boomer on October 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      @Anne: For sure a person would (or should) be set for life.

  7. MoneyAhoy on October 25, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I’ve only ever bought 2 lottery tickets. Once when I turned 18, and once when the jackpot hit the highest historical on record about 10 years ago.

    There is simply no real reason to play it unless you like flushing away money.

    I also am not counting on any inheritance at all. I plan to go as self-funded as I can. If something comes along, then I’ll consider it a bonus and invest all of it without any splurging 🙂

  8. Bryan Jaskolka on October 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I can’t believe that such a large fraction of people – one third! – plan on winning the lottery or an inheritance for their financial security. I have to say, I do buy tickets every now and then, especially when there’s a big jackpot at stake, but I certainly don’t count on it to take care of my future. And as for any kind of inheritance…well, I try not to think of my relatives passing in any way.

    • Boomer on October 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      @Bryan Jaskolka: While it may seem reasonable to expect an inheritance (depending on your family situation) I find it strange that some people actually expect to win a sizeable lottery amount.

      It’s fun to think about, but the chances are pretty slim.

  9. Kat on October 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    While people argue about paying $2 a week for a lottery win is silly, it’s a form of entertainment for me and something that I choose to do so, as long as my budget allows for it.

    First off, I would pay off all debts, max out my TFSA, max out my RRSP, pay off my parents’ mortgage then give them $2M to do whatever they want with it. I would also set up a healthcare fund for them as well.

    I would also set up a charity foundation to distribute the income to select charities each year at my discretion.

    My biggest splurge would be buying the 1970 Mustang Shelby GT350.

    After that, set it up so that I will get $100K a year annual income. 🙂

    I would still continue to work because I love what I do but I would not need to worry about trying to find full-time work. I can actually relax a bit.

  10. Steve on October 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Same as you, would never work for anyone else ever again. Would start small businesses and charitable organization and/or non profit. Spend the rest of the time travelling, eating good food, and being generous!

  11. Boomer on October 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    It’s nice to know that Canadians seem to be very generous. Even the lady who had nothing left of her millions after only a few years gave a lot of it away.

    Ultimately, having financial security for yourself and your family, something meaningful to do with your life, being generous, and having some fun is what a good life is all about.

    And you really don’t need a big windfall to achieve that.

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