Three winning tickets were sold in the Mega Millions drawing March 29, 2012. The three people, or groups of people, will split more than a half billion bucks – the largest jackpot in lottery history. Will that ultimately be a dream, or nightmare?
With money comes happiness and heartache, celebration and harassment. You will know who your friends are, because you will take care of them. You know who your pseudo-friends are, because they will expect you to take care of them. People you haven’t heard from in years will contact you. You probably will have to move, which may not be a bad thing.
Above all else, act with caution and restraint. Jackpots like this always tempt dreamers to blow a lot of money on things they shouldn’t. Ask yourself: other than giving the money away to more people or causes, what could you do with half a billion that you can’t do with $10 million, in terms of lifestyle? As you buy things, ask: why am I doing this?
It’s not that you CAN’T buy that cool car you never could own before. But, restraint should rule when you win a jackpot. The more restraint you have in times of great emotion, the longer you will have your money.
If you are not used to dealing with large sums of money, get reputable, professional help. The temptation is to buy that Cadillac, that big new house and give a million each to your hundred closest friends and family. It’s better to spend a little of it for professional advice before going out and spending your fortune at will.
A TEMPTATION AND A CURSE
Money is not only a temptation, it is curse – in the wrong hands. If you plan to give some away, make sure you give it to people or organizations that will do things right, and do the right things. If you know someone you would like to help, but don’t trust that they will do right by the money, place conditions on the gift. Perhaps that child has to finish college first. Or, that brother or cousin has to first get his act together. Funding bad habits is a waste of good fortune.
Sure, there will be frivolity in spending – by you and by those to whom you give. But you want the gift to last a lifetime – even outlive you and your recipient. Don’t hesitate to place conditions on the gift, and restrain yourself in what you keep.
We all have our favorite charities. If they do things right, and do the right things, fund them well. You will get back so much more by giving generously. Besides, selfishness is not a good attribute, no matter how much you have. You want to take care of your needs and desires, but you also want to be carefully generous. If your charitable gift is big enough, put conditions on that , too. Make sure it goes to the actions you want to promote, and not wind up in someone else’s pocket. Not all people who work for charities are charitable.
When you hire that professional adviser, make sure he or she is not only qualified to advise you, but also won’t rip you off through, say, exhorbitant fees or unnecessary business churn. Some of these advisers make lots of money off rich clients and the clients end up with no money in the end. Look what Bernie Madoff and Jon Corzine did to their clients. Audition a few advisers and see whether your gut tells you they can be trusted. A good adviser can make the difference between your money outliving you, or you outliving your money. There’s a difference between reasonable risk and callous investing.
Caution, again, is the operative word. Restraint today will lead to more frivolity later. If you come in to lots of money, you should act pretty much the same way you would if you were frugally trying to stretch scarce dollars. Keep frivolity to a minimum, at least at the beginning, until you have all your money securely in the right places. Then, if you wish, be very selectively frivolous, without being wasteful.
Most state lottery proceeds benefit education. If you have a child or grandchild who benefits, or will benefit, from lottery funding, skip one drive-through cup of coffee a week and play your favorite game. If parents and grandparents did that religiously, lottery-funded education would never suffer. It’s also good practice for restraint if you win. And you just might get lucky.
If you are unlikely to win a lottery jackpot, there are many ways out there to make lots of money. To check out one of the best ways, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Average people have made above-average incomes, regardless of background, education or skills.
We’d all like to get rich. But the freedom money buys comes at a price. Be aware of the price, and always act with caution and restraint.
We are living longer. That’s good news.
We are living healthier. That’s good news.
We are living better. That, too, is good news.
What’s the bad news? All of the above.
Those who came into adulthood in the 1970s or later had differing definitions of family from their parents and grandparents. The result: families got smaller.
It made sense at the time. “Moms” didn’t stay at home as much. They went to work outside the home, as did the “Dads.” The advent of day care helped with the problem of caring for children, but the more children a couple had, the more expensive it became. Both mom and dad wanted to keep their jobs. So, they had fewer children.
There was much talk as well about overpopulation. China began restricting the number of children a family could have. It began selling its baby girls off to other countries, including the U.S., to keep its population at bay.
In the U.S., we witnessed economic downturns, layoffs and other prosperity killers. We wanted to keep our jobs, so we didn’t give them up to raise children. And, as older workers got shown the door before they wanted to be, we feared that more children — hence, more younger workers — would just hasten our retirements – before we were ready. If this has happened to you, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. It may be the best of many solutions to way-too-early retirement.
As for the aging parents and grandparents, more went to a nursing home, rather than moving in with their children. If parents were healthy enough, some of their children invited them in to act as baby-sitters for their grandchildren. But few wanted – or could afford — to take the time off work if their parents or grandparents needed full-time care themselves.
MANAGE YOUR OWN LIFE, DEATH
What will this mean in the future? If you become fortunate enough to live a long, good, prosperous and healthy life, and die quickly when you do get ill, that would be ideal. Theoretically, at least, you will not need a great deal of care. If you do, you’ll be able to afford it on your own. The few children that you had will enjoy your company. You might even want to baby-sit your grandchildren often.
But what if that long, good, prosperous and healthy life suddenly stops at, say, age 65? What if you will have drained your retirement savings for your care, to the point that you will need outside help to cover your medical and other care-related costs? What if the few children that you had – if you had any at all – can’t afford to help you much, because they are having enough trouble surviving on their own?
Ted C. Fishman, author of “Shock of Gray,” and “China, Inc.,” discussed this in a recent issue of USA Today. Next to Fishman’s piece was one by James Stacey Taylor, a medical ethics professor at the College of New Jersey, talking about how patients are unique and that one-size-fits-all medical solutions will tend to dominate medical care.
You can see that we are headed to a difficult situation, as the U.S., and much of the world, ages. Fewer young will be available to take care of the old. Fewer young will be able to fund care for the old.
How do we solve this? If you are anywhere between 20-something and 50-something, presume that you will get no help funding your old age – however you end up spending those years. Save as much now as you can. Invest well, with the eye of making sure you will have old-age income that will outlive you. And, have a Plan B in case your Plan A is disrupted by forces you can’t control (see link above).
Take charge of your own life. If a medical diagnosis and prognosis is going to render your life not worth living as you see it, and you wish to take measures to hasten your death, make sure your wishes are known. Take the emotion out of the decision for your heirs. You’ll actually be doing them a favor, even if they don’t see it that way at the time.
What made sense 30 years ago is bearing unintended consequences now. You’ll do well by yourself and those you love to leave as little to chance as possible. “Chance,” as Taylor points out, could mean a one-size-fits-all solution,that may or may not fit you.