Live Like You Won the Lottery

by Tracy · 11 comments

Describing what you’d do if you won the lottery is always a fun topic of discussion. Most people have a fairly good idea of their wish list if tens or hundreds of millions of dollars just fell in their lap one day. Most of us won’t win the lottery, but that’s no reason to deny your dreams from coming true, if on a less grand scale. Here are some of the most popular things people say they would do if they won the lottery:

1. Quit my job. You probably can’t just get up and quit your job today, but you can spend some time thinking about your career goals and deciding if it’s time for a change. Are you truly miserable in the field you’re in? Would you just like some more down time? Is there something else you’d like to be doing instead? Does starting your own business interest you? Do you want to retire early?

It’s easy to get caught in the grind and think that only winning the lottery will save you, but chances are excellent that there is a way for you be happier in your work and at the same time do what you can to make your retirement as comfortable as possible, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. I highly recommend the books Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields and Leap by Rick Smith to help you get started.

2. Pay off my house, cars and other debt. Chances are good if you’re reading this blog that you are actively and aggressively trying to pay down any debt you might have. It’s important to keep a positive attitude and remember that debt is a surmountable problem. It’s fun to imagine receiving a windfall to wipe it out completely in one go, but it’s also very satisfying to make a plan and see it all come together.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt, remember that the first steps are the hardest to take but once you do, it will become easier and you’ll feel more empowered as you watch yourself chip away at the debt that has been burdening you.

3. Help my family. Even if you can’t buy your parents a house or give all the children in your family a free ride through college, there are ways you can help. Perhaps you could contribute to a 529 plan for your nieces and nephews or help your parents navigate the confusing Medicare options. It sounds hokey, but the biggest help that anyone can give their family is to simply be there for them and encourage them through tough times and cheer them on to bigger and better things when times are good.

4. Give to charity. Even a ten dollar donation can help buy several meals at a soup kitchen or school supplies for a needy child. Big donations get a lot of attention, but even the smallest gifts matter. If you can’t give money, could you spare some time to volunteer at a school or a nursing home? Even something as simple as always looking for the opportunity to do a stranger a small kindness helps make the world a better place. You don’t need millions of dollars to make a difference.

5. Travel around the world. Maybe an around the world trip is out of reach, but don’t keep putting off travel if that’s what you’ve always dreamed of doing. Find a fun way to save, perhaps you could collect all your coins or look for opportunities to make some extra money to put towards your trip. Look for ways to travel on a budget, sometimes it can be fun to find the least expensive ways to see the world.

Don’t put off going for your dreams, a frugal lifestyle and careful investment don’t mean much if you’re not working towards a goal that will actively make you happy. I believe that a lot of the rebellion and unhappiness many people feel about money management is because they feel like it’s something they should do rather than seeing themselves as working on a goal that means something for themselves.

Be prudent with your financial choices but don’t forget that the quality of your todays matter, too. Even if you can’t have everything you want now, look for ways to make it a reality in the future. Maybe you’ll never get that Ferrari, but perhaps you could tool around in a Corvette someday if that’s what would really make you happy. You might not ever be able to take that $100K year long around the world cruise, but you could hike up to Machu Pichu. You might have to work until you’re 67, but at least it could be in a field you enjoy.

Are you living like you won the lottery or are you putting off going for your dreams until you get that winning ticket? If you are waiting, why?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Valarie Johnson says:

    THe Law of Attraction teaches the fundamental principle of “acting as if”…getting into the feeling space of having the ability to acquire whatever you desire to attract…to be, do and have. I really like this article as it serves as a reminder to stop waiting for “some day” and make today that day….and when you are in a feeling space of abundance you create the path to receiving those desires.

    My goal is to donate $1 Million to NPR…yes, based on today’s bank acct values I cannot do that but I can absolutely cheerfully donate $120…and feel good about it….

    If I can leave you with one powerful thought…take a step in the direction of your dreams and you have a new viewpoint to your future….take a few more steps and you open yourself to a new path to fulfilment……continue moving forward and what the magic of right circumstances take hold.

    It is achievable, today, if you believe.

  • Phil The Thrill says:

    This article is really stupid. You say to start off “live like you won the lottery” and then in each bullet-point you “maybe you CAN’T do x, y, z but….”. Well… isn’t that the point of winning a lottery? That you CAN do whatever in any way that you like? Otherwise, what’s the point?

    • Jamie says:

      Phil – sure, as long as your goal is to have a life where you dream of something you’ll never have while continuing to drudge through what you do every day. Otherwise, instinctively imagining what you’d do with millions of dollars can help you see where you should be directing your time now.

  • joann coupon says:

    thinking about something absurd has always excited us, and this one is no odd one.

  • Bob says:

    Playing the lottery is a bad idea, but thinking what you would do with large amounts of money is an excellent idea. The ideas you come up with (including the five listed here) can be done, even if you don’t win the lottery. Ning has the right approach.

  • Steve Jobs says:

    Not really living like I won the lottery, it is much like I am going to that situation by saving my money. Living like I won the lottery is my goal and I think it is much sweeter to spend the money I saved rather spend the money I won from the lottery (if I ever win the lottery).

  • peppy says:

    Good advice. Reading it I couldn’t help but hear the ‘undertone’ pointing to the simple fact that we are responsible for our life, the quality of life we enjoy each and every day. I find many want the quick or easy way out of their doldrums, meager existence, problems, etc. They look for an outside source as a solution instead of, again, taking responsibility for themselves and start doing something about it – a change in attitude, altering a particular course, setting goals and striving to reach them … implementing the points mentioned in this article.

  • KM says:

    I don’t think I would want to win the lottery. I like the feeling of pride I get with every paycheck because I earned that money and I don’t want receiving it to be easy – then it doesn’t feel ‘mine’. And I agree with Briana – I wouldn’t quit my job either because I would be bored. Well, I might if it was really crappy and I would use the money while I was looking for one that made me happy, or to take a break to travel, and then find a better job.

    I think if I did win the lottery, I would put it into an investment account and leave it to my kids at a certain age when they have learned about how to treat money with respect and with terms so they can’t everything out at once. But then again, if it’s millions in an investment account, can you imagine paying taxes on that sum every year when you make quite a bit less working honestly?

    • Jamie says:

      KM, what would you imagine is the age at which your kids would know how to “treat money with respect?” Most adults never come to understand money, and what would your children need with hundreds of millions of dollars that you don’t also need yourself?

      Regarding taxes, after settling the initial income, you pay taxes only on the gains, not the money. Simply holding the money in a money market or interest-bearing account system (like CDs) would quickly replace your regular income.

  • Briana @ GBR says:

    Contrary to popular belief, I wouldn’t quit my job if I won the lottery. I would be so bored. I would definitely take care of any debt and my family, then I will give back to charity. You brought up a good point: why wait? I should be doing what I can now. I can definitely give more to charity now. Guess I should start…

  • vered says:

    Excellent advice. I agree: it’s never a good idea to have a too-long “someday” list.

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