Saturday, October 03, 2009

Thoughts on What I'd Do If I Ever Won the Lottery

So somehow this topic came up on the phone last night, and I've been thinking about it periodically since then. Let's just say that I won the lottery. Like the Powerball. And I came away 90 million dollars richer. What would I do?

(Let's note for the record that I am not a person who plays the lottery. In other words, the likelihood of me winning the lottery is even smaller even it is for people who actually play the lottery, i.e., I won't be winning the lottery.)

So FB (with whom I was having this conversation) has a variety of thoroughly considered plans for his lottery winnings (he is a person who does buy the lottery tickets, so I suppose it makes sense that he's given this a great deal of thought). The bulk of his plans are short-term, but they involve things like gifting various people in his life the highest amount that one can do without tax consequences (yes, he's even thought about the tax implications of his winnings/generosity, which is about five steps ahead of where I am in my "plan" for the lottery money that I will not win because I don't play), various locations in which he will buy homes and at what times of the year he would live in them, various philanthropic endeavors on which he would embark. Indeed, he imagines endowing a Fake Boyfriend Professorship and perhaps some Fake Boyfriend Buiding(s) to his current insitution, as well as putting his money (and energy) toward a variety of specific projects that have the potential to Change the World. All of these specific plans may have something to do with the fact that he's a Capricorn. Just saying.

So as we were talking, though, I realized that I had no fucking clue what I'd do if I ever came into a very large sum of money. As far as I can really get is the following:

  • I'd pay off my student loans (approx. $50K).
  • I'd pay off my car (like $13K).
  • I'd buy my parents a house (either pay off their current one or buy them a nicer one, depending on their wishes, so let's imagine that they want a new house and not the one they've got, maybe $250K).
  • I'd buy my own house (let's estimate $250K), and also probably some sort of a vacation home (let's throw out $250K as the figure for that as well, though I feel like I'd spend less on my vacation home than on my primary residence).
So, that puts me at 813K. And let's say I did some nice things like giving some money to some people and round it up to a cool million. And then let's imagine that I also spent (which I would) $100K to $2ooK or so on repairs/renovations to the ancestral home of G. in Lebanon. But if I won like 90 million dollars, well, that's just a drop in the bucket of my vast, vast fortune. And let's note that I have no idea where I'd buy my two houses, because of the following, which is the most important question here:

If I won the lottery, would I quit my job?

Would I quit my job? Now, on the one hand, I can imagine quitting my job. I can imagine no longer having this job, and instead spending my time attempting to write a novel, or being an independent scholar (for indeed, I wouldn't need travel money to present at conferences, and I could find a way to pay for research library access if I had 90 million dollars), or I could write a novel and be an independent scholar - no need to choose. I can imagine not having the service, not having the 4/4 teaching load, not having the stress of my current life.

Except. Except I'm really good at what I do in my current life, and I actually really enjoy the job that I have. I mean, really. But who wins the lottery and stays in a job that is so demanding? Only an idiot, right? Except... I really can't imagine upending my life because I came into a very large sum of money. I mean, I like my life. And, well, sure, I could go off and do any number of things with such a large sum of money, but...after a few years, how would I feel about giving it all up for that?

This is why I don't actually play the lottery. Because at the end of the day, I'm a girl who's about sure things. I don't need to win the lottery to be happy. I don't want to have to win the lottery to do what I want.

But what would you do if you won the big one? Because I clearly lack imagination.


Another Damned Medievalist said...

Pay off my bills, pay off the bills of my immediate family up to my first cousins, put money aside for all of the nieces and nephews for college and for them to have down payments for houses. Buy a house. Buy a house or flat in London near the family or near wherever nephew gets into uni, if it's in London, so he could live there during the academic year and I could have it in the summer.

Take nice vacations with the family and friends.

Give the car to The Kid and buy one that's greener.

Endow a scholarship at Grad U, and maybe one at Beachy U.

Endow a Chair in Late Antiquity or Medieval at Grad U.

Possibly buy a flat in Big City for people to use so they don't have to drive back to Dabbaville after a night in town.

I'm thinking that might cost about $3-4 million, because endowed chairs aren't cheap, nor are London flats.

So that's $86 left?

Take most of it and put it into a foundation that would:

Build a no-kill shelter in Dabbaville.

Give a lot of money to the local women's shelter, and try to get them to do more outreach to the Hispanic and African-American communities.

Give a grant to the local Boys and Girls club for the refurbishing they need.

Grant money to SLAC and the local library.

Set up a scholarship fund for 1st generation college students who are willing to get good grades.

Probably cough up a bunch to the local NPR station, because I kinda owe them.

And I'd probably keep about $10 million in reserve, because who knows what will happen -- my parents might need to be put into care, for example, or someone might get hit by a car and need nursing. And then, when I die, whatever's left can go to my family and maybe even a scholarship fund at SLAC.

And no, I don't play the lottery. But I could spend it.

Of course, if you win $90 million, you only get about 50%.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Oh, and duh. I wouldn't quit. But I would probably spend longer times doing research, rather than 3 weeks in the summer.

Susan said...

I have all sorts of plans for my foundation (after I've done the small stuff for my parents/sibs/stepchildren etc. -- but we've established that takes about $1 million, roughly). I might renegotiate my contract to make my work load lighter or more frequent leaves -- but still get to teach/advise grad students/whatever.
My foundation would:
a. support humanities research, particularly in periods of time before the 19th C
b. support programs for women and children in the various places I've lived
c. provide special support for students with special financial needs that appear during the semester
d. Travel fellowships for grad students in the humanities not at rich universities

Oh, and ADM, an endowed chair runs (I think) about $5-10 million.

I figured this out when I used to get the Publisher's Clearing House things about the $whatever million I might have won and wouldn't win if I didn't send in the thing where you don't HAVE to subscribe to magazines, but it's a whole lot easier if you do.
I don't play the lottery, so absent a rich uncle I don't know about, my foundation will not come into being.

rabs said...

I've had this thought before. I'm only a grad student at the moment, but I *like* what I do. Winning the lottery would certainly be nice -- to pay off bills, not worry about travel grants, be able to spend money without as much worrying -- but it wouldn't make me drop out of school.

I've always decided that means that I'm doing the right thing.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I would:

1) pay off credit cards & law school loans

2) pay off second car (actually, I bet we'd trade in the current cars and buy ourselves new ones - NLLDH covets a Lotus Elise though I don't know if he'd actually buy one; I would either get a curvy Lexus or a modest-ish BMW, because my dad loved BMWs. In fact, I'd buy the BMW that my dad bought himself for his 80th birthday off my mom, because she doesn't like paying for its upkeep, and I'd buy her a nice Honda Accord or the like).

3) BUY A HOUSE!!! (not a mansion, probably somewhere between $300-500K - which is pretty nice around here, but not superfilthyrich nice)

4) buy my sister a house/condo (depending on what she preferred)

5) maybe buy my sister some horses/a stable (though this is an area in which you can run through even $90 mil fairly quickly, I suspect). Maybe just set up some kind of trust where she has a reasonable income coming in? I don't know what the annual interest is on a sum like this, but it would have to stretch to that, I'd think. (She makes/has no money.)

6) if my mom wanted, buy her a new place in Florida or get her current one redone.

(The rest of my surviving relatives are pretty good on money!)

7) go on some nice vacations (I recently upset NLLDH by saying wouldn't it be nice to travel somewhere with enough money that we could eat pretty much wherever we wanted, without worrying about it?)

8) BUY LOTS OF GORGEOUS CLOTHES AND SHOES (yes, people, I would. I like to think by gorgeous I mean Ann Taylor rather than Yves St Laurent or Chanel, but you know, my standards might go up if I had that much money). Hell, I might just get ALL MY CLOTHES MADE FOR ME.

9) probably buy a cute little vacation house on a lake somewhere

10) learn how to ice skate, kayak, try white-water rafting, maybe even try skiing, probably take some yoga classes

11) donate to LOTS of animal welfare causes (but not PETA). Maybe set up a no-kill shelter, maybe just give the shelters here lots of money.

12) have someone in to clean and maybe cook for us (when I have more spare time, I like cooking, but I could also get behind someone presenting me with delicious and healthy food)

Yes, the vast majority of this is SELFISH AS HELL. Yup.

I think in terms of more charity stuff, I'd put money into early education programs, grants and so on to strengthen public schools. I feel like that's where a lot of the gap develops between the kids who go on to great schools and the kids who don't, or the kids who thrive in school and those who don't. Am not really feeling giving money to higher ed at this point, to be honest.

I think I'd finish law school, although it would be nifty to do it on my schedule and only do a class or two at a time. And I think I would work. Working would be much more fun if I could come home to my nice house and not have to worry about cleaning it or cooking.

(We do actually play the lottery, not every time, but relatively regularly. We had a semi-big fight once over whether to take the lump sum or to get the yearly payments - NLLDH was originally advocating the yearly payments, but I brought him around. Still, it was an amazingly intense fight given the chances of the possibility ever ACTUALLY occurring.)

Ozma said...

Why of course I'd just fund my own chair and teach one class a year. Then, to avoid resentment I'd buy out courses for my colleagues on a regular basis. Maybe some free massages.

Linda said...

The nice thing about the lottery is that your chances are pretty close to statistically equivalent whether you play or not. I mean, someone could give me a ticket for my birthday, right? So I dream about it without spending money. It works well for me.

I, too, would pay off my school loans and hand out some dough to my family. I'm in grad school, and it would be really nice not to work while I wrote my dissertation.

I would still pursue my chosen profession, but it would take a little of the pressure off of the job search.

I think a lot about how I'd give the money away. I also think about how cool it would be to walk into a bookstore and be able to buy any book you wanted.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

D'oh. Well, it would still be worth it to endow a chair in DV's honor. Actually, it would be in DV AND his Esteemed Spouse's honor.

And looking at NK's list, I have to admit, I would also probably pad my income with about $25k a year -- which would pay for the trips and learning to do stuff. Dunno if I could manage a cleaner -- the idea bothers me a little. But if I see it as providing a well-paying job with benefits? I could probably do that.

And maybe hire a personal trainer till I lose 20 pounds

Sapience said...

One of the nice things about that sort of money is that even if you pay half of it in taxes, only 2% interest will get you almost a million each year. So, ideally I would refrain from spending very much capital, but I would keep my job and spend the interest. So some of these projects wouldn't happen right away, but would be a few years out.

Money would go towards:

1. Buying a house. Something with a giant front porch (at least 8 feet deep).
2. Paying off the mortgages for the houses my church owns and uses to support low-income families who are having a hard time finding safe, affordable housing in our area.
3. Give several thousand to the local public library on the condition that at least half of it go towards improving their sci-fi and fantasy holdings.
4. Give a large amount for the building of a new Humanities center at my undergrad school.
5. Endow a series of scholarships for English majors at my undergrad, one for a student planning to go to grad school, one for a student doing creative writing, one for a student planning on doing some sort of "real world" work.
6. Endow a fellowship for one Renaissance/Early Modern grad student at my grad school.
8. Help support a variety of charities with regular infusions of (relatively) small amounts of cash.

(And no, I don't play the lottery.)

Maude Lebowski said...

I've thought about this a lot, too. SB buys tickets. I generally don't.

I think I'd end up a bit more frivolous than what everyone else is posting, but I'll go for it.

1) I'd probably buy my parents a new house and give them one mil to invest so they can retire. I'd do the same for my in-laws. I'd also probably pay off their vehicles so that way they could just be retired and not worry. And I also pay off the house in Home City and just give it to the Roommate. And I'd do the same for my grandparents.
2) I'd pay off mine and the SB's bills of course.
3)We'd buy a house on the river front here. It wouldn't be a huge house, but it'd be expensive just since it's on the river front. But it'd have a big enough backyard, too, so that I could have lots of dogs.
4) I would pay off my sister's and my brother's debts.
5) I would set up college funds for my nieces and nephews.
6) I would donate to charities for cancer research, environmental/sustainability causes, and animal rescue.
7) I would set up some sort of endowment for the college, and then I'd make some sort of donation, too, so that I could teach one or two classes a semester in my field, though I'd probably be resented for that because it'd be obvious that I get to do that because I have money, but I'd try to set up something for others in the department to have more research support.
8) I'd probably work out with a trainer 3 times a week instead of one.
9) I'd buy really really nice bras and panties and whatever shoes I wanted.
10) And here's the really frivolous thing--I'd collect cars and first editions. I mean, obviously, I'd have someone to help invest the $ so that I make money off these winnings, because I love cars and I love to collect things.

I would probably, too, take a year off of teaching to travel, do research, visit family, enjoy the winnings. I would probably go back to work under the conditions I listed above, and I think the SB would quit/retire from the military. I'd send him to culinary school so he could be my chef. :) Or he'd finally be able to open the coffee house he's always wanted to.

Dr. Crazy said...

I knew you all would have lots of ideas! You know what I think part of my problem is? It's that I really feel like I've got most of what I want right now. I mean, I'm slowly but surely almost out of credit card debt, I'm about to begin house-hunting once that's done, I pretty much travel where I want to travel and buy what I want to buy.... I think I just don't think big enough when it comes to material things.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

On my way to work, I pass a billboard for the state lottery that announces the current amount you can win, so I think about this sort of thing a lot. I'd do a lot of giving to various institutions, the sort of thing other people have mentioned, and buy places to live in San Francisco and Paris. I'd keep working, but would buy myself out of a course or two a year, and take a sabbatical every 3rd or 4th year. And I would hire a driver, so I could work, read, or sleep during the long commute.

undine said...

Great topic! You've inspired me.

rented life said...

Buy the car I want, the car my husband wants, pay off student loans, not worry about paying husbands ever growing student loans, pay off all other debt. Sell house and buy land, build dream house. WRITE!!! Set up retirement for me, brother, parents, husband. Adopt a child (because it wouldn't seem "so expensive" then. Travel lots and lots. If I was at my old job I would have quit. And that to me it's what's most interesting about your post--whether or not to I would quit my job. There was too much about being at Private College that I hated, having money like that would allow me to do anything. I'd probably just adjunct, and be ok--because I wouldn't have to worry about living off of that.

Thoroughly Educated said...

Ooh, I too have thought about this. Not in terms of whether I'd quit my job, because, erm, I seem to have done that already :-) So I think about what I would do beyond what I can do now. My list:

- Supplement my mother's retirement investments to be sure the funds would be there for long-term care if she needed it (even though she insists she'd opt for an ice floe instead).
- Set aside enough in a trust to fund my nieces' and nephew's education, with the income to be used for any educational purposes they wanted until age 35 or so and then be at their disposal.
- Buy the very vertical, antique-y house of my dreams in my favorite, expensive city neighborhood.
- Build the very horizontal, modern house of my dreams in a nearby waterfront vacation town.
- Endow a fund to support performing arts education for kids in my city.
- Endow a much smaller fund at the college where I used to teach to allow students to do summer courses in languages they can't take during the year.
- Give a lot to a pet-centric charity, or several.
- Stay in really nice hotels when I go to New York to go to the opera and London to go to the theater a couple of times a year.
- Leave a large chunk in my will to the two funds my family already set up at my alma mater, one a scholarship fund and one an endowment for the department I majored in.
- Collect books.

Janice said...

What a fun topic! I suppose, if I ever won the lottery in a big way (enough to pay my way for life without worries), I would quit my job because I would feel guilty about denying some other needy scholar the chance at a t-t position. (That, of course, would depend on my institution replacing me in some way, shape or form.) And the hope to endow a chair, somewhere, would be high.

Otherwise, I'd pay off our debts, set aside money in trust funds for both girls and buy a nice home in grad school city.

Oh, and two horses. One for me and one for eldest.

Dr. Crazy said...

A joke from G. that he told me not knowing about this conversation or post.

So a Polish guy goes to confession. And the priest tells him, I had a conversation with God, and God says that you're going to win millions of dollars in the lottery in the next few days.

So the Polish guy goes home, and he's waiting to win millions of dollars. But he doesn't win the lottery. So a week goes by, and he still doesn't win the lottery. So he decides he should go back to the priest to find out what's going on.

So he says to the priest, "could you ask God what's happening? He said I was going to win millions of dollars, but nothing's happened." So, the priest pauses, and then he replies, "God says you were supposed to buy a ticket."

harrumbump :)

canuck_grad said...

I'd do everything everyone else mentioned - pay off debts, houses, retirement funds, college funds, travel, money to charities, etc.

The one frivolous thing I'd do that no one else has mentioned is take a trip to New York and pay for a "what not to wear" consultation with Stacey and Clinton, a make-up consultation with Carmindy, and a hair consultation with Nick (not won over by the new guy yet).

Shannon said...

Oh man - you definitely need to think BIGGER. With 90M, you really should spend more than 250K on the house. Fund LOTS of charitable ventures. Buy into one of those luxury travel time-share kind of things - allows you to stay in POSH hotels all over the world. Because really, if I won that kind of money, I would be on a jet plane A LOT. Not very green of me, but it's only a dream.

Also, there was some interesting research recently that showed buying a lottery tickets and dreaming about what you would do lights up the same pleasure centers in your brain as actually doing enjoyable things. The conclusion was that spending a dollar on lottery tickets every once in a while is actually a really cheap, efficient form of entertainment! I indulge in this every once in a while when the prize gets big, and it sure is fun to think about. But I'm not at all disappointed when I don't win because, like you, I'm pretty darn happy with my life.

Kyley said...

I would immediately quit my job (selling textbooks) and apply for a PhD in English. (I am, at least, applying to graduate school right now without the millions of dollars so hurray for that.)

I would buy the nicest condo available at an assisted living facility for my grandparents.

I would give my aunt and uncle enough money to finish the house they are building themselves, and then retire.

I would also pay off all my parents, brother, cousin, and BF's debts.

I would spend 6 months hanging out in Europe, learning French, and going to art museums, and being cool. I'd also travel to Japan, India, Brazil. I would pay for various friends to come and partake in this vacation of wonder.

I would buy my brother and my cousin new trucks and guitars.

Oh, and I would definitely donate tons and tons of money to my first choice PhD program--an endowed chair in my great aunt's name perhaps--so that they would then accept me.

Perhaps I should go buy a lottery ticket...

Ann said...

Late to the party, sorry!

I would set up a free health care clinic for Dr. Mister. He'd work there and look after the increasing number of children who are living in poverty in my county. We'd hire an adult medicine person too, at least part time, to look after people 18+. Depending on the size of the win, we might be able to hire more and expand.

And, p.s. to Dr. C: My word verification is "repro!"

Belle said...

Pay off bills. Pay off bills of needy friends. Pay off house and then have fun with some remodeling. While that's being done, animals & I move into something really posh for the duration. Give a grant to SLAC library to update collection til the end of time.

Establish a foundation for working women willing to work for grades and full support. Special funding for non-trads trying to get into new lives. Full support includes child care, health insurance, travel to broaden outlook.

Flat in Paris or London. Cottage in Greece. Quit work? Nah. I like teaching; I'd hire somebody to do the grading though. It's not like there aren't thousands of unemployed PhDs out there.

Belle said...

Oh. And fund no kill shelters.

JaneB said...

Going part time would let you have both worlds! And think of the bargaining power shift once your institution knows that you CAN just walk out that door if they oush you too far...