What We Can Learn From Our Lottery Dreams

Recently, the Powerball lottery jackpot reached an almost unimaginable half a billion dollars. And, as tends to happen when there’s a big jackpot, everyone had big plans about what they would do with all that money.

Now, many of us know that winning the lottery is often not the magical cure to all of life’s woes; in fact, winning the lottery often proves to be the worst thing that can happen to a person. But the conversations about what we would do with a sudden influx of more money than most of us could imagine have always interested me.

I had a lot of these conversations in the days leading up to the Powerball drawing (spoilers: I didn’t win). And what I found was that while there’s often a lot of wistful wish fulfillment in people’s post-lottery plans, you also tend to prioritize your passions. Aside from paying off personal debt and the debt of loved ones (which was a sadly all-too-common answer), I found that people would use their massive winnings to fund their dreams. For example, one of my friends would start a foundation to empower girls to learn skills and gain opportunities to make a larger difference in their communities. Another would fund abortions for women in areas where they are inaccessible or difficult to obtain. My lottery dream includes a giant, state-of-the-art facility to double as an animal shelter and a training facility for service animals.

I feel like we can learn something from our lottery dreams. Sure, without millions of dollars, many of our wishes will have to remain “maybe someday”s, but perhaps there’s something within them that we, with our overextended lives and very limited resources, can still achieve. Maybe I can’t open up Tiny Stampedes stray chihuahua ranch, but I can give, either of my time or my money, to local rescue organizations. Maybe my friend can’t singlehandedly empower girls to run the world, but she could get involved in a local mentoring program.

We all use “if I only had the money” as an excuse for a lot of things, but I really believe that within our pipe dreams live our passions, and no matter what our financial situations, we can always find a way to work what we’re passionate about into our everyday lives.

What would you do if you won the lottery, and how do you think you could translate some part of that into your current, non-kajillionaire life?

8 replies on “What We Can Learn From Our Lottery Dreams”

I’d get a better home for my kiddo and me (probably a 3 bedroom condo- which just sounds dso freaking yuppie omg -, because I’m lazy and don’t want to mow grass), get myself a better car (something similar to the Taller Half’s awesome 2004 Hyundai), set up college funds for my daughter and niece, share with family and friends, donate some to my pet causes, and toss the rest into some kind of interest bearing accounts and good investments in the stock market or whatever.

I’m so boring.

Oh man. I would pay off my debt and my parents’ debt. I would pay for my dad to retire, and buy him a house on the beach in his home country and a house on top of a mountain in his home country. I’d fund myself to go be a legal officer at the ICTR until the residual mechanism kicks in. Then I’d pay for myself to get a PhD so that I could begin a research clinic on best practices in monitoring and evaluation for development work. I want the lottery, please.

My lottery dreams are so boring. I mean, I’d kill to go back to Hawaii but there is no way in HELL I would do that flight with a 3-year-old in tow. I would get the fuck out of my mother-in-law’s house, but I don’t even know where I’d want to move. No matter what, I would make sure that I got an entire room for books and I’d fill it the fuck up!

I would pay off student loans, buy a house (not a mansion, but one of those spacious/cozy types with enough bedrooms for hypothetical future babbies and current desires to have a dedicated office/library), pay for grad school, make sure all of those basic financial needs are met, help family/friends pay off bills, save a good chunk, and find places to donate (like local animal shelters, Planned Parenthood, after-school programs).

And maybe travel a little bit and buy more books and pretty yarn.

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