Spoiler alert: we won $4.
And like a lot of people, during the days leading up to the drawing, I spent a few idle moments going on a mental spending spree with all my potential winnings. When I was younger, and being car guys, we’d talk about things like, “what are the first 10 cars you’d buy if you won the lottery?”, and what crazy places we’d live and houses we’d buy. Now that I’m older, and theoretically wiser, the fantasy runs down a slightly different path.
No matter how much money I won, I’m just not really going to be partying with supermodels in Monaco. I’ve got an awesome wife and two (often) wonderful kids. And realistically, the kids need to go to school, no matter what’s in my bank account. So if we’re keeping it real, Rich Me is still going to spend a lot of his time kicking it in one spot in the USA.
So, in the cold hard light of post-Powerball reality, I thought back about my fantasies. I noticed I hadn’t spent much time thinking about buying some palatial home. I like the house we’ve got; but it might get some renovations. Would I quit my job? Hell yes. I don’t hate my job, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t need the money. Would I drive a fancier car? Most likely. But I just don’t see some Jay Leno-esque 50 car garage of exotic cars. That seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Would we go on awesome vacations when the kids were out of school? Heck yes we would, all over the world. But overall, what struck me most was how close this fantasy life was to my real life. It really made me happy to see how attainable this ideal life was.
We can realistically renovate our house already. Maybe the 4-car garage with secret doors and hidden passages is off the table. But a new kitchen and maybe a hot tub are not ridiculous.
Fancy cars? Well, I like the cars we have. If I had a Ferrari, what would be different? The thing that keeps me from driving any faster than I do is the traffic in front of me, and fear of speeding tickets. I’d be driving just about the same with 500 horsepower. And I don’t know what kind of guy can drive a Lamborghini to the store without looking like douchebag, but I don’t think it’s me. No big loss.
Travel? With a little planning and saving, seeing the world is not out of reach for most people. Yeah, we won’t be taking private jets everywhere. But Rick Steves is right: the less you spend on vacation, the more of the actual local culture you experience.
So the one big difference between Rich Me and Real Me is the day job. If you win $40 million, you don’t have to show up at work the next day. But even without a lottery win, it’s possible to reach financial independence, well before age 65. Mr. Money Mustache did it, and I know other people who’ve done it. Live below your means, invest well, work on your side-hustle. Man, I’m pretty amped up to make my life better!
So I didn’t win the lottery, but the money I spent helped motivate me down productive paths. Cool.