The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

April 20, 2013

Money and happiness

RICHMOND — I’ve got two tickets to Paradise.

— Eddie Money

When the body of murdered Florida Lotto winner Abraham Shakespeare was found, his mother said that on many occasions Shakespeare had said he wished he had torn up the winning ticket.

After lottery winner Jack Whitaker, of Hurricane, W.Va., went through a litany of problems, including the drug overdose death of his granddaughter, his wife, now his ex-wife, he said he wished he had torn up his record-breaking Powerball ticket.

Seems like a lot of lottery winners want to tear up the ticket. 

Some don’t verbalize the thought. They just run through the money as fast as they can.

Having unlimited wealth is a dream for many people. However, I keep running into others, like 9/11 widow Kathy Trant, who consciously or subconsciously hated the idea of being rich.

What is going on?

A lot of misery comes from not having financial systems in place. The winners weren’t ready for their 15 minutes of fame and the hangers-on who would want a piece of them.

People don’t really know what to do with wealth. Some dream of showing off or sticking it to people they don’t like. While “take this job and shove it” probably feels good for a day, revenge won’t keep you happy over the long run.

Money equals security for most people. Or, at least, it should. One of the primary reasons that people become entrepreneurs is to keep big corporations from running their lives. They want to be responsible for their own financial destiny.

Because money is the ultimate security blanket, it seems senseless that people fritter it away. Yet, it has been said that 90 percent of people who get a lump sum do exactly that.

Some people get tired of pursuing money for money’s sake.

I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity. Fuller became a millionaire at a very young age. His primary focus had been getting rich.

His wife was at the point of leaving him. He stepped back and took a look at himself and didn’t like what he saw. He and his wife sold everything and moved to a commune-like farm.  From there, he redirected his passion and business skills and built an organization that made a profound and lasting impact on society.

I’ve studied “Big Money” for all of my adult life, and most of the problems come down to a few areas.  

First is a person, like Abraham Shakespeare, who just couldn’t say no. He was the perfect mark for every con artist with a story.   

Usually, the person with a story isn’t a stranger. It’s family, longtime friends and newly found “romantic interests.” A lot of emotions get brought into play.

And money seems to flow out the door.

The second is having too much money all at once. Most of the lotto winners who get in trouble are the people who took all the cash up front.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t let lottery winners take a “cash option.”

If they took the annual payments, they would learn from the mistakes with their first installment or two, and would still have 18 or 19 more chances to get it right.

Most lottery winners eventually figure things out, once the money is gone. Or when they are at the point where they wish they had “torn up the ticket.”

The government figured it out a long time ago. We don’t give people a lump sum Social Security check at retirement. We don’t want them to run out of the money. The same used to hold true with pension plans. People received an annuity that lasted the rest of their lives.

Today, most pensions are 401(k) plans. Just like the lotto winners, people are running out of retirement money while they are still alive.

When you think about it, almost all of us have our own “lotto moment.” We make decisions about money that will either give us long-term security and happiness or bring on pain and regret.

Handling a lump sum wisely can be a “ticket to paradise.” Or, like Abraham Shakespeare and Powerball Jack, it can be a ticket to misery that they wish they would have torn up.

1
Text Only
Lifestyles & Community
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results