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What Would You Do If You Won The Lottery?

Each of us has sat around the dinner table and experienced the universal fantasy of how we would spend lottery winnings. That life changing moment when our winning numbers are drawn and a good 80% or more of life’s problems simply disappear.

What would you do if that really happened to you? Would you go after the big house and car, give tons to charity, stiff your brother-in-law, or just blow it all having an amazing year?

What does “Luck” have to do with it anyway?

Luck. Being in the right place at the right time? Or, are some people just luckier than others? Take the case of Bob Jaracz. During the Korean War, Bob’s plane was shot down — he survived. Lucky. But, he was captured by North Koreans and spent time as a POW. Not Lucky. But, he escaped, lucky again.

In 2005, Bob won $1.1 million in the New Hampshire Megabucks game. Lucky again. For most people, that would be more than enough luck, but not for Bob. In 2009 he won again. This time he won $1,000 a week for 20 years. That’s what I’d call job security.

Do the Numbers Matter?

Our lives are filled with numbers. Do they have special powers? Do certain numbers come up more often than others? Should you pick quick picks or pick your numbers and stick with them? If your numbers never win should you keep playing the same ones over and over?

Darren Morgan and Graham Muir from Dalkeith, Scotland played the same numbers in every lottery for five years and never won anything. So, they decided to pick new numbers and guess what? They won. Not with their new numbers but their old ones. Even though they played new numbers they could not give up the old ones. Can you imagine if they had not played the old ones too?

What about taxes and payouts?

Most large lottery jackpots give you the option of a lump sum payout, usually half the winning amount, or payments, usually over a 20-25 year period. Which is the better option?

Most money managers agree that taking the payments is the smarter decision. Lump sum payments have huge tax consequences right away and can also cause estate taxes down the road. With payments, it’s possible, in some states, to pass the payments on to heirs in case of death.

The other primary reason most people favor payments is discipline in handling money. Many lottery winners who have never had money blow through it in a matter of a few months and end up with astronomical debts and eventual bankruptcy. Learning to handle money over time will give the winners a better chance of adapting their lives to more success over time.

Some Final Thoughts

I must confess that I am an infrequent lottery player. I have won $300 twice in my lottery life. I have won $2 to $5 numerous times. So I guess you could consider me a lottery winner too.  Many refer to the Lottery as the poor man’s retirement plan. But gambling or not, it’s fun to imagine sticking your ticket in that little red machine and seeing, “Winner! Please See Cashier.”

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