Monday, May 28, 2012

THE LOTTERY – do you really want to win?

There is a gambler in all of us. For some, not a lot; for others it’s financial ruin. We all like the thought of winning millions by investing near nothing; a few get lucky and the rest of us tear up the tickets saying: never again - stupid horse. The following week we exchange never again for 10 more tickets, because it really could happen – and we are betting on it – again. But do we really want to win?
Several months ago, here in the USA, a Mega lottery had 3 winners sharing a $650 million jackpot. Each got $160 million after taxes. A few lives changed that day, a lot of celebrations and expensive champagne and the feeling of unbelievable euphoria, no doubt. Just imagine what you can do with that kind of financial power – you shouldn’t run into monetary hardship, even if you lived till the ripe age of 400 (which would light up any cake, huh? Fire Brigade at the ready).
Okay, so I won and I’m off on the initial shopping spree. We buy a new home with room for horses, new cars, a huge RV and other stuff. We’ll travel and do anything our hearts desire and then some. After that initial frenzy and the spending-dust has settled, I will consult with my new financial advisor (I have seriously already picked one), as depositing the $160 million check into my checking or savings account, would seem silly – if not slightly impossible and weird - but still be so damn cool.
I’ll settle related financial and legal formalities and arrange agreements with a couple of charities that I will donate money to. That should finalize the basic mechanics of becoming a new multi-millionaire – and here come the tricky parts.
Buying stuff is a piece of cake; but there are some other situations I know I will have to deal with, make decisions about, evaluate and hopefully resolve without people getting hurt, jealous, envious or utterly pissed.
I am positive that whatever way I resolve any of these “issues”, people will still end up hating me while calling me all sorts of nasty names. You see, I believe people around us, family and friends have certain expectations concerning how much of my lucky $160 million should end up in their pockets. So considering this, I’m not sure how lucky that winning ticket really is.
Okay, I seriously know that our family is not expecting anything at all. I know that they will be so happy for us, support us in our bonanza of good luck – because they are all such lovely people – they really are. We will of course invite everybody on vacations and cruises or whatever – no doubt give each a nice amount of money and then hopefully everybody will forget about it and move on with life as if nothing happened.
You see, when I give money or gifts or cruises to anybody, I don’t want that to affect our future relationship. I don’t want anybody smiling a lot more at me, agree with every bloody thing I say or do, because I gave them money and stuff. I think Sigmund Freud said it rather clearly: “Please don’t kiss my butt” (in German, of course); couldn’t have said it better myself - thanks Siggy.
But in the cases where families are not as lovely and functional as ours, you can only imagine the fights over shares of your money. I hear it can get pretty ugly. And the point is that no matter how much you hand over, it will never be enough. This is a true no-win situation. Imagine Uncle Burt never talking to you again, which might actually be a blessing (until he needs more money, of course). The multitude of casualties left on the field of lottery money, will be fully blamed on you; you broke up the family by being a bloody cheapskate – shame on you.
And then we have our close friends and the swarms of new friends popping up all over the place. Just imagine your 684 friends on Facebook alone? (Luckily I only have 14). Now you are in deep deep poop, as you might not even have enough money - how about that?
We have two sets of great friends, people we have known for 30 years. We love them dearly, friendships built on respect, trust and appreciation of our relationships. Okay, so they are doing fine financially and have no need for additional funding, things, trips, etc. But of course we will invite both sets of friends on cruises, vacations and what not, as well as give each of them a million or so (after taxes). And I will feel good doing that, because they will not treat us any different after that. It’s not like they won’t appreciate the gesture, but they will more so make fun of it and be kiddingly mean to me – in that loving kind of way; and I’m totally fine with that.
But then you also have so-called friends and people you have never met before, who will pop up from nowhere, guided by the smell of cash. They’ll congratulate you with big smiles, great investment ideas and open pockets. I will say NO to all of them and they will call me names, but eventually they will go away - I hope. All in all, these situations are still easy to handle, compared to the next tricky part.
The real tough one is to decide how to “deal” with your kids. We have two children who are now adults. They are both in that part of their lives where careers are taking off and things are moving along. Now we can dramatically help them along financially, make all their future monetary needs disappear – but at what cost?
You see, the question is: Are we really helping them or are we removing some of the excitement of creating and establishing a normal life by themselves? Are we eliminating the exhilaration of that first new car-smell, scraping enough money together for that first “own” home? By giving them millions, that joy will either be killed or at least dramatically diminished. So this is something that must be approached with the greatest caution and sensitivity; don’t you agree?
No matter what you do or do not, it will affect their lives. So the decision is not easy, as you must evaluate how much, how little, now and in the future. You must find the best and healthiest way to help them along without making them pathetically lazy, because we gave them too much and they don’t have to do a damn thing – for the rest of their (boring?) lives. It is really a tough choice, it really is; also because you cannot negate giving them money. So considering that you might actually ruin exhilarating parts of your kids lives, are you sure you still want to win?
Last I checked, I didn’t find stupid painted on my forehead. I will gladly suffer through the person-dealings, the emotions and decisions (carefully). If the option is to win or not to win, I’ll take the winning ticket. Then I’ll try to make the best and the healthiest decisions possible. Did you have any idea that it could become this frustrating with $160 million under the mattress? (Sigh).
We will travel a lot as there are places we haven’t seen yet. But we will also sit back and enjoy the added freedom a bunch of dough in the bank can bless you with. We live a simple life now, without the wild urges of accumulating stuff, and that is the lifestyle we will continue with – in a bit nicer surroundings while watching the horses in the fields. Of course there will be some extreme changes - but our life will also stay the same.
Now it’s your turn to fantasize – so go buy those tickets today, huh? Let me know if you win – and I’ll immediately become your new best pal ever; in spite of the odds, how lucky is that, my new friend?
Till next Monday and Good Luck
May 25, I (quietly) celebrated my first full year of this blog. I have done what I promised myself I would do: publish a new post every Monday. As of today this blog has more than 3,400 readers from 44 countries. I am humbled and in awe, and I thank all of you for your time and interest. I hope my stories will get you back again and again – and I will keep sharpen my feather, again and again, to make that happen – hopefully.     

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