Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

If I had a million dollars…

on January 11, 2011

With all the lottery hoopla last week surrounding the MegaMillions jackpot, I found myself revisiting a question I ponder from time to time: “What would I do if I won a huge jackpot?” I find my mind wandering to this question when I’ve had a particularly frustrating day at work, when any given lottery jackpot has gotten large, or if I want to splurge on something but can’t justify the expense. I consider myself to be a planner; I like to be prepared for all eventualities, so naturally, I have debated this topic. Here’s what I have determined:

  1.  Debt free, naturally:  Bye-bye student loans! So long mortgage! I wouldn’t just cover my own debts of course. Mortgages of our parents? To whom do I write the check? Sisters’ student loans? Taken care of.
  2. Getting our houses in order, literally and figuratively: I’d set up both of our sisters in nice, comfortable houses, paid for in cash so they don’t have to worry it. I’d also get my mom set up in a little house with a yard so her dog can play in. We’d also buy our very own McMansion for ourselves (actually, I wouldn’t want a McMansion, but a nice big house with character on a lot of property). I’d make sure our grandparents were taken care of so they wouldn’t have to worry about money and I’d set up college funds for my current and future nieces and nephews and my future kids. Maybe the kids of my friends too. I’d figure out something special to do for my dad’s family and my in-laws too. Maybe a vacation house in Jamaica for dad to make his annual trip a little bit more comfortable.

Last week’s MegaMillions jackpot was over $300 million. If you took the cash option, you’d be left with about $150 million. Take off taxes and let’s assume you’re still walking away with $100 million. To me, that’s unfathomable. I have no idea how to conceptualize $100 million. My plan above would only take about 4 million dollars (only!) and I’m probably overestimating too. If I were to win a mega jackpot like the MegaMillions jackpot from last week, that would leave me with a whole lot of money. On occasion, I’ve asked my friends and family what they would do if they won a huge jackpot. One of my favorite responses came from one of my friends who said he would get all his friends together and go on a cruise and just party for a week. Sounds like a plan to me! Still, after accounting for various splurges there’s still a lot of money to spend.

I’m sure I would give lots of money to charity. The trick would be to determine who would get all this money. There’s a lot of debate in the philanthropic sector in how to best allocate money. Does it make sense to give fewer large gifts or lots of smaller gifts to a variety of organizations? Personally, I don’t know. I guess when it came to giving away my fortune I’d think about a few causes I really cared about and find organizations with the capacity to really make a difference. In any case, since I wouldn’t have to work I’d have plenty of time to think and do my research and find organizations that could make a real difference with my money. It’s a burden I’d love to bear.

 So….what would YOU do if you won a mega jackpot?

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One response to “If I had a million dollars…

  1. Samantha says:

    With that much money, you could give large donations to a lot of organizations, thereby negating the smaller-many vs. larger-fewer debate! As for what I would do, pretty much what you said above – pay off debts (mine and family), buy a nice place to settle down, take care of parents, and probably spoil my dog even more rotten than he is!

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