Friday, May 22, 2009

Fifty Million Dollars

So this week, thirteen people won almost $50,000,000.00 in a lottery. I'm glad it was a group at least, instead of an individual. That would be an obscene amount of money for one person. The Lottery Corporation should break up those big jackpots. They could easily make 50 people millionaires instead. That's enough of a life changing experience.
I don't buy lottery tickets, but something like this always gets me wondering what I would do with a jackpot like that. At my workplace, they buy a ticket each week. I suppose if they win, I'll be the only one left working...
But to consider winning such a vast sum, even for a few moments, is staggering. You would begin getting calls from strangers, since your name is made public. Everyone would offer to be your financial advisor. Friends and family who never gave you the time of day would come out of the woodwork, expecting a handout, telling you a dollar amount that they think is reasonable, and cursing you if you refuse them.
You'd have to worry about security for your kids, and sleep would not come as easily, as you would have a whole new set of worries, like sheltering your money from taxes, and making it grow. Because if you gave away one million, then you'd only have 49 million, and who could live on that?!
Unfortunately, you can be selfish and greedy whether you're rich or poor. Proverbs says, "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet." I think that's true. If you work hard, can pay your bills and provide for your family, know that you've earned your money honestly, you don't have as many worries keeping you awake at night. One thing I love about my job is that, even though I work hard while I'm there, I don't have to bring it home with me. I have no "homework" or stresses that keep me from sleeping. My sleep is sweet.
I have to laugh whenever I hear a mega-lottery winner say they'll keep working. It's absurd. They must have no clue about how much money they've actually won. (You could buy a small island.) I love my job, but I would leave it in a moment. If I found out at work, I'd finish my shift, since I wouldn't want to be charged with abandoning my patients, but I wouldn't feel obligated to give two weeks' notice. Do they give you two weeks' notice when they lay you off?
But to ponder such an event is an interesting exercise, because how you spend your time and money reveals things about what's important to you. I know I would have a hard time giving lottery winnings to a charity, because they may have ethical issues about it. So let's assume instead, a large inheritance from the proverbial rich uncle who considered you their favourite niece or nephew. Here's what I would do; not necessarily in this order.
Take a vacation and think and pray about it and make some decisions.
Quit work.
Consult a lawyer, accountant, financial planner. Update wills, etc.
Pay off mortgage and other outstanding debts.
Buy a vehicle for everyone in our immediate family.
Make some goals/review my bucket list.
Keep our house, renovate and refurnish it. Make it available for missionary
families on furlough to use.
Give money to my local church to fix up our church to prepare to sell it, and purchase land to build a new one.
Research Christian organizations that I would like to support and arrange to
support projects or people.
Consult an architect and begin to plan to build our dream house.
Plan four trips per year.
Invest the money so it grows.
Give money to relatives.
Have a big celebration.
Buy houses for my children.
Set up trust funds for my children.
Take courses.
Write full time.

Then what? You'd still have over 30 million dollars left. See, most people have no clue. It's way too much money to spend on yourself. You'd have to become a professional philanthropist and look for things to spend it on. It's a big, needy world out there, and it's not all about you, or me.
So, since I DON'T have a rich uncle who will leave me a vast sum of money, I'll try to keep working hard, and practice contentment and thankfulness, because "Godliness with contentment is great gain," and "What do you have that has not been given to you?" and "We brought nothing into this world, it is CERTAIN we will bring nothing out," and "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul?"
I may only have a bungalow in Toronto, but I have a mansion in the skies. My sins are forgiven and I'm saved from hell. Those are true riches.

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