Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

If I Were a Rich (Wo)Man…

Tudor Style House in Berkeley Place Neighborhood

Image by StevenM_61 via Flickr

Sometimes, I hate posting on Friday. I mean, seriously, how can I follow Mandy’s ultra-altruistic post yesterday? Oh well, I’ll do my best…

I like to think about what I would do with millions of dollars. Frankly, I can’t even comprehend that much money.  My first priorities would be practical – pay off the huge amounts of student loans that I have accumulated, the credit card debt that I am actually making some headway on, and pay off my car.  I’d buy myself a nice Craftsman or Tudor style house in North Seattle, preferably within walking/biking distance to school. Unlike a lot of people, I wouldn’t quit my job. I feel that I can do a lot of good where I am and I worked hard to get here. It would nice not to worry about the salary aspect of teaching. I would also pay off my sister and brother-in-laws student loans and buy them a new house.  I’d pay off my mom’s mortgage and buy her a new car.

However, being a teacher leaves some nice chunks of time to travel.  I doubt I would be anywhere near home during the summer, I would spend my Christmas breaks with my East Coast family, and I’d spend the President’s Day week someplace much, much warmer. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, especially since Amanda studied there years ago.  I also would love to travel to South America.

Unlike me, my mother hates her job. Not the job so much, but she’s tired of working at a stressful job.  I would buy her some property somewhere – likely closer to my sister – and let her fulfill her dream of opening a dog shelter for those dogs who don’t have forever homes.  She would do a great job helping these unfortunate dogs whose only crime is existing.  I would start a philanthropic foundation and put Amanda in charge. Then she can fund her fantastic idea for revitalizing urban areas.

Now for the frivolous – I’d buy a studio apartment in Manhattan.  That way I’d have a place to stay when I’m in town. When friends needed it, they could stay for free.  I’d also buy a beach house large enough for family and friends to all come when they choose.  I’d make a significant donation to my school, particularly in the area of technology and to the library.  I’d also have a fully stocked classroom with the most amazing classroom library you’ve ever seen.  I’d like to go back to school to work on my doctorate in a few years. I’d commission someone to make a dog chew toy that Toby doesn’t destroy in less than 10 minutes.  I’d take up dance classes again and finally learn to play the cello.

And I’d definitely fly first class.

Now you can get this stuck in your head too…

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Figured it out

Several months ago, after a giant jackpot was making headlines, I wrote about what I would do if I won the lottery. My responses were similar to most of the other posts this week: taking care of family and friends, having a splurge or two and donating money to charity. In that post, I was struggling if it would be better to “spread the wealth” and give smaller donations to a lot of charities or focus on just a few charities and give a more substantial amount of money so they can make a greater impact. Since that time, I think I have answered my question. Allow me to digress for a moment.

My commute takes me through Newark, NJ. If you are unfamiliar with the area, let me explain that, to put it politely, Newark is not a nice area. In fact, is about as far from a nice area as you can get, or at least the parts I’m familiar with are. There are several abandoned warehouses and factories along the train lines that are covered in graffiti and are being overrun with weeds. It’s a depressing sight, especially if you can imagine back to a time when these factories might have been fully operational, employing hundreds, if not thousands of people with decent jobs that would provide for their families. I ride by these factories nearly every day and am always struck by what a tremendous waste it all is. Real estate in the NYC metro area is at a premium and I can’t help but think this land could be used more productively than as a canvas for local hoodlums armed with spray paint cans.

In recent months, there has been some building in the surrounding blocks. First a parking deck and now what appears to be a retail plaza. It got me thinking about how the abandoned spaces could be better used. I thought how great it would be if someone would build a homeless shelter that would provide much more than a bed to those in need. I started envisioning a modern, airy space that felt more like a home than a prison or dormitory. I imagined a secure playground for children to play in and an onsite day care that would allow parents to go look for work with the peace of mind knowing that their children were safe. I saw a training classroom where residents could get assistance on building a resume and learning computer skills, or improving their literacy. I saw English language classes and trained counselors that would visit regularly to help diagnose and address mental health issues. I thought about how incorporating green technologies and could help the shelter save money and lead to a healthier environment for the residents. And I thought how all of these things together could combine to create a respectful environment where people who have fallen on bad times could get the assistance they need, and actually might have a chance to break the cycle of poverty.

I’m not naïve enough to think this would be a panacea for Newark’s problems. But I’d like to think that a model like this shelter I’m envisioning could have a significant impact on some people’s lives and could truly help them succeed in life. So after much debate and thought, I think I’ve found what I would do with my millions if I won the lottery.

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My diamond shoes are too tight

Every day, a man prays to win the lottery.  He does good deeds, he’s a good person and he prays really hard.  Weeks and months and years go by, and his prayers are unanswered.  Finally, one night, instead of praying to win the lottery, he asks God why he hasn’t won yet.  God ends his years of silence by saying, “You never bought a ticket.”

I don’t usually buy lottery tickets, the 1 in 200 million odds just aren’t enough to motivate me to shell out my dollar.  But I do dream about what I would do and buy with that kind of money.  Of course, my dreams, as ever, are tempered by practicalities.  It would be the amount after taxes, after all.  And my spending habits would depend on whether I decided to take the lump sum payment or the annualized amount.  I’d probably opt for the lump sum, do some investing and only pay taxes on my interest, in case you were wondering. 

I would quit my job.  Lots of people wouldn’t and I understand, but I don’t think I could focus on my work if I was dreaming of my 5pm-9am life of luxury.  I’d buy a couple of houses.  One in New York City, a nice town house in Brooklyn or the Upper West Side.  I wouldn’t live there full-time, so I’d see if my friends wanted to stay there, keep it up and enjoy a rent-free life. 

I’d buy our lake house from my father and his brother, tear it down and build my dream house there.  A Craftsman style home, with a big patio, outdoor kitchen and big windows to watch the water from. 

I’d take a luxury vacation and I’d bring my favorite people with me.  We’d spend the first day getting pampered in the spa, fresh haircuts, new clothes.  Then we’d dance and party and swim (or ski, depending on where we went) and have a grand time for a few weeks. 

I’d make some donations.  Some organizations do wonderful work, and I’d want to support that.

I’d start a business, something to fill my time, employ a few people and make my life fun and interesting.  Maybe I’d help my sister start a business for herself.  Get her the capital and start her off right. 

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.  So, I suppose I should buy a ticket already.

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