So, have you purchased your Mega Millions ticket yet? There are only a few hours left to snag a chance at the record-breaking $640 million jackpot. Yep, $640 million. That’s over half a billion dollars, for anyone as mathematically challenged as myself. Half a billion. That’s a frighteningly enormous amount of money. According to a 2008 article in the Anchorage DailyNews, that would buy you “179 million Big Macs, 23 million toasters, 12 million tires, 200,000 flat screen TVs, 83,000 sets of diamond earrings or 1,500 houses.” Granted, it still wouldn’t put a dent in our national debt, but that’s a freaking lot of Big Macs.
I started buying Mega Millions tickets several months ago on a whim. Call it a low cost, non-guaranteed investment plan. I buy one ticket per drawing, which amounts to two per week, and I play the same set of numbers that my children selected months ago for every drawing. The dreamer in me hopes we’ll hit one day and be instantly and permanently freed from any and all financial stress in our lives. The pragmatist in me grumbles over the two fewer dollars I have available to add a biscotti to my coffee once a week. (I often wonder which would do me more good.)
So I bought my two tickets on my Monday grocery run not really paying any attention to the frenzy surrounding the climbing jackpot, and now I’m almost a little scared. Not that I’d actually win or anything—according to experts, I’m more likely to get struck by lightning, eaten by sharks, fatally stung by a bee and elected president all in the same day. But, seriously, could you imagine winning $640 million? What a massive responsibility that would be. The mere idea of it is almost crushing. You would have to remain anonymous to avoid being hounded day in and day out, not only by the press, but neighbors, Facebook friends, old roommates, your bridal party that you haven’t talked to in over a decade, the guy at the gym who only ever talks to the hot young chicks…(I know what you’re thinking—I’d never have that problem because I don’t actually exercise. Ever. You’re on to me.)
But how do you keep a $640 million secret? No matter how hard you try, someone at some point is going to notice that your faded, outdated wardrobe has somehow miraculously been entirely updated, that your tired-looking house is suddenly getting new siding, an addition, fresh landscaping, and has, for some reason, a Dumpster sitting in the driveway filled to the brim with household items that seemed acceptable only a week ago but are now deemed too trashy for human use. Oh, and next to the Dumpster are two shiny new sports cars to replace the rusted out, 100,000+ mile junkers that sat there only the day before. It would be somewhat obvious, I would think.
I’m not going to spend too much energy worrying about the anonymity strategies I would engage, or how I would convince the neighbors that our refinance proved slightly more profitable than we expected. Instead, I’m going to take a minute to dream of what I would do with all that cash. So here’s my top ten list, in no particular order:
1. Pay off all debt.
2. Secure funds for retirement, education, emergencies, etc., so that our family will never have to worry about money again.
3. Get everyone in my and my husband’s family out of debt.
4. Give gobs and gobs of it to charity.
5. Take my and my husband’s entire families on an all-expense paid trip to Disney World for as long as everyone can get away.
6. Replace both of our not-so-gently used vehicles.
7. Hire a contractor to complete every home improvement project I have ever dreamed up.
8. Hire a contractor to complete every home improvement project my parents have dreamed up for their house.
9. Set up a fund that will pay for every vacation we can dream up forever.
10. Live happily ever after J
How about you? What would you do?