“But ‘happily ever after’ fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales”
— Bruce Hornsby and Don Henley
“Someday I hope you have a chance, to live like you are dying”
— Tim McGraw
A Psychology Today article titled “What Will You Do if You Win the $550 Million Powerball Lottery?” caught my attention. Helping lottery winners with their money is my long-time gig.
The author, Galen Guengerich, Ph.D., is a minister who admits that he has “never been much of a lottery person.” He makes a point that I hammer on in two bestsellers, “Life Lessons from the Lottery” and “Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery.”
Money alone does not buy happiness. Although income is the highest predictor of increased life expectancy (higher income people can eat healthier, have time for exercise and have better access to health care), I have not seen any evidence that lottery winners live longer.
I’ve seen several cases like Abraham Shakespeare, who was murdered in Florida, and Amanda Clayton, a 25-year-old lottery winner from Michigan who died of a drug overdose, of lottery winners dying far too young.
Guengerich makes one conclusion similar to my own observations: Happiness comes from giving back to society and making a difference for other people.
However, I disagree with another of his points. He says that lottery winners should spend like there is no tomorrow.
Too many lottery winners already do that
For a decade, I have used a statistic I found that shows 90 percent of lottery winners run through their money in five years or less.
Jeremy Babener, a top notch tax attorney in Portland, Ore., has done extensive research on the subject of income dissipation and has convinced me that the percentage is more like 70 percent.
Either way, it’s still a lot of people. A lot of lottery winners may not live like they are dying tomorrow, but they like spend like they are.
Guengerich quotes the famous psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who said, “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
Although I’m a big fan of Kubler-Ross and understand, at some level, what Guengerich is trying to say, lottery winners are not a subset who should be encouraged to spend money quickly.
Every financial concept that I encourage, such as taking lottery winnings in annual payments instead of a lump sum, using lifetime annuities and investing in a way to “get rich slowly,” asks people to spend like they are going to live to a ripe old age.
I want lottery winners to have the idealism of Kubler-Ross in all their actions, but not to the point where they aren’t able to meet their own financial needs.
The last time we heard from lottery millionaire David Edwards, he was living in a storage shed, just a few years after hitting the jackpot. I am not sure if Edwards spent any of his money to help others, but wish he had spent more on helping himself.
Lottery winners may find the balance in an extremely hot new book called, “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending.” I plan to devote more ink on the authors, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, at a later date, but the two rising stars in the field of behavioral finance do a terrific job of answering the question, “Am I getting the biggest happiness bang for the buck?”
Lottery winners are not the only people who live by the Will Rogers adage of “spending money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.”
Winning the lottery has not always been the ticket to paradise. But if people use the money wisely, for a purpose, and with financial security being their number one priority, it might allow them to get closer to that elusive dream of happiness.
On the other hand, you don’t need to win the lottery to be happy. As Dunn and Norton show us, you just need to spend your money wisely, no matter how much you have or how you got it.
“But ‘happily ever after’ fails
- Lifestyles & Community
Victory through Stratagems: the Allied Invasion of Normandy France on June 6th 1944
Dr. Ralph Thompson a former chemistry professor at Eastern Kentucky University spoke on the “Deceptions of WWII” to the Central Kentucky World War II Roundtable.
When will the ordeal finally be over?
I was just thinking about the ordeal I’ve been going through since Sept. 19.
Life in Stringtown was full of hard work, simple pleasures
I had a chance to visit recently with an old friend, Alene Perkins Long.
Burning bridges and the importance of relationships
“Congratulations on your new job!” You tell a co-worker who announced she would be leaving in a couple of weeks. “Where are you going?” You ask her.
“I’ve landed a job that will put this place to shame! I am so excited about leaving here. This is going to be a great chance to advance my career,” the co-worker tells you.
Ensuring children develop a habit brushing their teeth
“Are you sure you brushed your teeth?” the father asked his son. His son solemnly nodded. His father said, “Let me smell your breath.” The son obligingly opened his mouth. Finally, the father said, “I need to check and see if your toothbrush is wet.”
This type of exchange happens in many households as children often do not brush their teeth, even when told to do so. This nightly inquisition can occur less frequently if parents establish a habit in their children to brush their teeth.
Saturated fat consumption leads to abdominal fat
New research from Uppsala University shows that eating more saturated fat in the diet causes an increase in the amount of fat stored in the abdominal area in comparison with extra consumption of polyunsaturated fat.
County’s oldest consignment sale begins today
The Little Ones’ Consignment Sale, Madison County’s oldest semi-annual sale of its kind, is open to the public 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today (Friday) and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the multi-ministry center behind United Methodist Church, West Main Street, Richmond. Marked items are half price on Saturday.
There’s more to do at the Village Trough
“I wish there was more to do here.”
Do you ever find yourself saying this sentence as you sit there bored out of your mind? Have you heard others ask it?
Well, there is something more to do now that Village Trough in Berea is staging shows with local and regional talent and preparing to open as a full dining and entertainment venue.
Let’s have a Mardi Gras party in Kentucky
It’s the time of year when the people in New Orleans celebrate a festival called Mardi Gras. Many states now do the same. Some call it “Fat Tuesday” which I have never understood till I went to New Orleans (five times) and saw all of the excitement for myself.
Beat the winter blues with meatballs
When it’s this cold outside it’s nice to warm up with some good comfort food.
I can think of few things more wonderful than the smell of simmering meatballs coming from the kitchen while I cuddle with my two young children, and a few good books, on a brisk winter day.
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- Victory through Stratagems: the Allied Invasion of Normandy France on June 6th 1944