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Winning the lottery

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Have you ever thought about winning the lottery? Not just the "Woo! That would make my life so much easier!" thought, but what you really and truly would do? I know it's not a particularly useful or realistic exercise. My (or anyone's) chances of winning the lottery are just so, so tiny. This is compounded by the fact that I've never actually played the lottery.

Years ago, when my father was in declining health, I would dream about ways I could truly help his complicated situation. If I won the lottery, I thought, I could have a small guest house built out behind my sister's house for him and pay for 24/7 nursing and rehabilitative care. The idea of winning the lottery seemed to be the only real way of having the resources to actually do such a thing – none of us kids had the resources, even combined. And so, even though the idea of gambling makes me uncomfortable, I would dream of winning the lottery.

 

After Dad died, lottery daydreams continued intermittently. They were rarely tied to whatever current financial anxiety I might be having, but more to general life stress. I wondered what would be the right things to do to make such a windfall a long-term blessing, depending of course on the size of the potential blessing.

If I did win the lottery, I wouldn't tell anyone. Anyone. Except my husband and a financial advisor, of course.

I don't think I'd go out and buy a bigger house. I'd probably pay off the one we have and maybe redo the kitchen and basement, but I don't need a bigger house. Yeah, I'd probably quit my job, but not so I could be idle. I'd hope I would do it with an eye to finally figuring out what it is I really want to be when I grow up, and then going and doing it. I would do some traveling.

I'd set up an education fund for my kids and grandkids. I'd probably set aside some education money for my nephews and niece, too. I would set aside some additional money for my kids, but not too much. I read once some billionaire's philosophy on inheritance was that he wanted to give enough to his children that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing. That sounds pretty darn smart to me.

I'd probably try to secretly endow some specific dreams some friends have. That would be really cool.

I would, of course, set aside money for our future life. In moderation, again, because the enough to do anything but not so much to do nothing idea would apply to me as well.

Then I would set up a charitable foundation. I would make sure that a sizeable amount of the windfall would help bless others, and would continue to do so over years and years. Because, in all honesty, even without a big financial windfall, I have a good, full life.

I've already won the lottery.

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