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Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't let the Internet talk you out of buying a lottery ticket today

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I really wish I could make money on bets like, "Someone will post/print/air a story today telling people how futile it is to try to win the $540 million Mega Millions lottery drawing tonight."

Oh, look here! Someone did.

Here's the deal: It's not only OK for you to buy a lottery ticket today, it's probably a good thing. Buying a lottery ticket does not mean you or I actually think we're going to win. It is a wish-fulfillment exercise, one for which I'm spending $1, or $3, or $5, or whatever. Is that too much? I have spent more money than that on iPhone apps to make my shitty pictures look artfully shitty. I think it's OK that I plop down a few bones for this.

Again, I don't do this because I really think I'm going to win — I understand math. I do this for what comes next: the dreaming.

I think it's a very healthy thing to imagine exactly what you would do if you won. Starting with, would your really quit your job? The answer is some variation of "of course!" — but in what way? Would you agree to consult, freelance, find your replacement? I think this tells you something about why you do your job, and how attached (or not) you are to it. I think that's healthy. You also do this with other life choices: Would I move? Where to? Why? If that's where I want to be, then why don't I start taking steps today to someday get there? Would I tell anyone? Would I start life over as my alter ego, Reece Hawks, continental badass?

Then, the not-as-fun but necessary part: dividing up the money.

Let me save you some trouble, because I've done this a million times: the first thing you'd do is hire someone to be your money person — invest, distribute, deal with everyone, etc. This is a must. Then you would come up with a plan with this person. You'd figure out who gets money as gifts, what family members need to be taken care of, who gets trust funds, etc. You'd pick a charity right then, and that would be the only one you'd ever deal with. You'd force all your friends and relatives you want to help out to set up appointments with your money person so he/she can determine their debt, retirement needs, etc. (You wouldn't just hand them chunks of money.) And you'd help them in such a way they would have to keep working. Except for your closest friends, who, if you're smart, would get accounts they could draw on, but ONLY to do fun things with you (Vegas trips, golfing, whatever your thing is). That way you can hang out with them and not feel like you're always paying for everything, even though you are. It gets complicated. Inherent in this exercise is figuring out how much is enough for you.

Again, I think this is healthy. You'll see that once you decide to help people, the money runs out faster than you think, because the ask gets bigger. (Really? You're only gonna give Grandma $100k? Cheapskate!) So you might just want to skip the country.

And then you get to decide what you would do. What would you buy, where would you travel, who would go with you? Would you start or buy a business, and which one?

Not that this will happen. We know that, Internet asshole. But it's good to do this exercise, and if you do it without a lottery ticket in your hand, they call that "acting insane." If you do it today, after dropping a few bucks, they call it "being prepared." And there's nothing wrong with that.

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