Winning the Lottery: Rags to Riches, or Riches to Rags?

There's a story my Mom likes to tell, of how I picked the lottery numbers the Christmas I turned two. They had me draw numbers out of a hat, and Daddy went to the store to play the ticket. Apparently I matched four numbers and the power ball. Everyone was very excited, except for Daddy, who had changed my numbers on the way to the store. No lottery winnings for our family. I'm not sure I believe that story now, my childhood was too happy to be concerned about a phantom ten grand that probably never existed. All the same, for years I would wonder if I could do it again. There is no doubt that winning the lottery would change my life in many ways. Here are five ways winning the lottery would change my life.First of all, no more debt. My husband and I are working to pay off a mixture of credit cards and student loans. I desperately want to get all those debts paid off, and then never use credit cards again. If we could win the lottery and pay off our debt, we would have a surplus of money at the end of the month, rather than basically breaking even.

The second way winning the lottery would change my life is no more guilt. This goes right along with no more debt. I have chosen to be a stay at home mom, and I feel guilty for taking out student loans for a degree that I am not currently using. I also feel guilty when the doctor suggested buying a bumpo for my daughter, and I felt that it was too expensive. I don't want to buy her a ton of toys, but I do want her to be well provided for.

If we won the lottery I could have a car, and that would definitely change my life. It is difficult to play an active part in the lives of my friends and my community when I am at home without a car. I feel that I could be a more helpful person if I had a car.

I would also like to own my own home. This would change my life in ways that are both good and bad. I would be doing a lot more home maintenance, but my friends and family would always have a place that they could come to if they needed it. I could also have a garden, which I have always wanted.

Which brings me to the fifth and most important way lottery winnings could change my life. I could change other people's lives. My husband and I were talking about being in debt, and how it inhibits your abilities to give and do. We are learning more and more about tithing in the church and how important it really is. Sometimes I get caught up in worry, and our tithe is not what it should be. I would also really like to be able to attend the church mission trips. My dad and I used to talk about just walking up and down the road and handing hundred dollar bills to people. I think that would be a lot of fun, and I hope to one day be in a position where I can give to that extent. I would really like to be able to do something to show support for kids and babies in trouble, as I have always felt strongly about child welfare, even before becoming a mother.

Although I can't claim that I would turn down a lottery if I won it, this assignment has given me a lot to think about. Many of my ideas about how winning the lottery would change my life read like a letter to Santa Clause. Lottery winnings provide instant gratification, and I am not sure that would be a good thing. There are many stories out there of lottery winners who ended up much worse off than they were when they started. You can read some of those stories here. This MSN article tells of the bad fortune of eight lottery winners. Perhaps the five categories listed above are simply things I want to do once I get out of debt. Here are the five real ways winning the lottery would change my life.

I'd have additional family members begging for money. All 8 of the people in the MSN article mentioned family members begging for money and suggesting business deals. Is it coincidence that none of these business deals were profitable? This man, in an article by ABC news, says he had become everyone's Santa Clause. It's a good feeling and a good thing to have, but you do want to have some control over who you give your money to.

I'd buy things I didn't need and waste money foolishly. This is something else that all 8 of the people in the MSN article admitted to. Gambling and taking out additional loans became a problem. Even buying a house can be a bad idea when you think about how much it would cost to keep up and furnish the house. I guess it is true that the more you have, the more you want to have.

I'd be sued by a lot of people. Anyone who has watched Nicolas Cage in It Can Happen to You knows that when money is involved, so are lawyers. This is an extremely common malady for lottery winners. This movie and the ABC Article are both good illustrations of how a lottery winning can lead to bad things, even if you have good intentions.

I'd declare bankruptcy.I can't find exact figures, but a quick search through Google will show you dozens of news articles about lottery winners who have over spent and had to file for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy will not only effect you material life, but may make it very hard for you to get a job when you need one again.

Worst of all, my family would fall apart. This is something else that 7 of the 8 people in the MSN article complained about. There is no point in having money if you lose everyone important to you in the process.

So, in short, Thanks Daddy, for changing those lottery numbers. We didn't need it anyway. There are very few people who are glad they won the lottery years later. If you can't be smart with a dollar, you probably don't know how to handle 10,000 or 10,000,000 of them. Winning the lottery can certainly change your life, but changing your life does not equal getting everything you ever wanted.

Resources
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MSN

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