Saturday, January 16, 2016

Lottery Fever Lingers

Image result for moneyAs you know, the Lottery Fever that had been gripping the country lately has been cured. Meaning that someone finally won. Actually three someones each won over a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000!!!). Now just a few days later after the drawing, people have quickly moved on. Back to reality and dealing with the same amount of money they had yesterday.

However, thoughts about the lottery are lingering with me. Like many others, Ward and I had a conversation about what we would do if we suddenly came into a large amount of money. It seemed like a silly exercise, but it was interesting all the same.

We started with the big picture and moved inward. First, we said that we would give most of the money away. Now if truth be told, we wanted to do this as much as to avoid the hassle of everyone wanting something from us as doing a good deed. But if we were going to  give it away, how would we do it? I saw an interesting show once that interviewed some very rich people about philanthropy. They said donating money to good causes was much harder than it looked. First there was no end to the people that would like a slice of your pie and everyone believed their cause was the most worthy. Second, they wanted to give their money to people who would actually spend it well and not have a large overhead in their organization. That took a lot of work to figure out.
Gates Foundation

So we decided that maybe we'd give a large amount to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Many of the issues they support such as improving the health of children around the world, we were in agreement with. And they certainly knew how to deal with large amounts of money. (Of course, we'd have to check into the statistics of how well run their organization was.)

Next we made the circle a little closer and thought about other people we'd like to help. One was providing dental care for people in Appalachia. We talked about the grants we'd give to understand and implement a program for this. We also wanted to help rural libraries. Another idea was to provide scholarships for needy kids to get tutoring. After discussing a few more things such as new camping equipment for the local Boy Scout troop, we moved on.

Then we narrowed our circle more and talked about the extended family. Luckily, most of our relatives are in pretty good shape and don't need much. Maybe a little fun money would go their way or maybe a family vacation. The exception to this was to make sure our elderly relatives had all the money they need to get the best care.

Now down to our immediate family. We want our kids to find their own way, so we wouldn't be giving Wally and Theo much. Maybe some help with health insurance and or a low interest loan to set up a business that has been mentioned. Maybe there would be a trust for them that they could access in a decade or two.

Image result for muppet chef
Swedish Chef
Then finally ourselves. We'd keep enough of the money that the interest on it would provide us with our current standard of living. Well, maybe a little better. A personal chef and tailor sounded pretty good.  And Ward would build the workshop he has always wanted and I'd have some professional landscaping done on the yard. We'd also keep enough to pay for good health insurance so we could take early retirement if we wanted.

Not very exciting discussion, was it?  Especially since a billion dollars was involved. But the reason that this conversation is lingering with me is the very fact that is was not exciting. There's not much on this list that is beyond our ability to do now if we put our minds to it and do some creative thinking.

So we didn't win the lottery, but I'm glad there was lottery fever which prompted our "what if" conversation. Unknowingly, our talk gave Ward and I a chance to revisit our priorities. So, we're off now to start our lists and do some creative thinking.

Did you have a Lottery Fever discussion? Did you have fun imagining some exotic things you'd do with the money or were you more down to earth?