View Full Version : If You Won the 500 Mil Lottery?

3-30-12, 10:05pm
They say 9 out of 10 lottery winners burn all their money in the first 5 years. They also say most fall in to depression. What would you do if you won the 500 million?

3-30-12, 10:38pm
Keep $5 million to invest very conservatively, live off the returns of the investment.

Place the rest into a charitable trust or foundation, and Do Good Things with the yearly disbursements. Ideally things that don't give fish to people, but teach people to fish.

3-30-12, 10:56pm
First, I'd pay off all debt that we have.

Then, put an amount into investment to live off the returns (as bae says!).

Set aside money for seeding business opportunities.

And then, create a charitable trust.

3-30-12, 10:57pm
As a whole and completely, I'm not entirely sure, but I'd want to help others, that much I know. IMO, no one person, should ever be graced with such a winning.

IMV, handing an average ordinary person such a sweepstake, would only promote self-serving stupidity and wastefulness.

3-31-12, 12:39am
I'd do pretty much exactly what bae suggests......there's a point where more money is just more money, and has much better use improving lives than buying bling. Sadly, most of the people who win these lotteries have no experience with handling large amounts of money, and most burn their way through millions and millions, uselessly, on crap.

I'd have a hard time winning, however, since I didn't buy a ticket. I'm trying to think. I remember we bought a lottery ticket once back when we lived in PA, when the pot reached a high number, mostly so we'd be "part of it", and our BIL usually buys everybody a handful of scratch off tickets for Xmas, but other than that, guess we're out of luck......we've always been the kind of folks who put those extra dollars to work in something that had better chances of paying off over time.

I don't blame poor people though, who are often the ones who play these lotteries most, because it is the only chance, however small, that they see for ever being rich. And we live in a society where "being rich" is a big goal.

iris lily
3-31-12, 12:41am
That's too much money, it would be a burden to manage. We'd have to spend too much time in our lives handling it responsibly, I'd think. While DH and I are old enough now to know what we'd like to do with the rest of our lives regardless of money, I can see where that kind of sudden windfall would mess with your head. It would change ones relationship with others. Ick.

I'd rather have $3 million, please. Thank you.

edited to add after reading other responses: I used to think I'd like to have a charitable trust, but now, at least this year, I do not want anything to do with people having their hands out. Right now my frame of mind is that I would not be a good steward of charitable monies. Perhaps that would change in a while. While I like handing out bits of money my mom left to me, my gifts are random and surprises, and that makes them fun. Having to actually oversee (no matter how far the distance) responsible gifting would be a chore and it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Just give me enough money to have a cushion for health issues, and DH and I will fix up little old Victorian houses and make gardens with our free time, pretty much what we do now.

3-31-12, 12:47am
If you have a Mega Millions ticket with the numbers 2, 4, 23, 38, 46 and a Mega ball of 23, you have nearly 640 million reasons to be excited. If so, be sure to come here to the SL boards and let us be the first to know......(and please, donate generously so the Simple Living forums can continue in good health for the non-winners....thanks) ;-)

3-31-12, 1:26am
You can hire someone else to manage the charitable trust -- truly. It's really just an endowment with your name on it, and then the whole kaboodle is run by other people. At the very least, a lawyer. At the most, you can have a whole board of directors, administrators of the granting process, all the way down to secretaries and office folks.

Though, it may be well enough just to divide it up and leave it to others.

Here are some other trusts that I might create:

Trusts for the members of my immediate family and DH's immediate family; smaller trusts for family members who are more abstracted from me (aunts/uncles/cousins/etc). Each trust would have it's own deals on it -- like it can be used to purchase a home, or get fertility treatments or fund an adoption or education for themselves or a child.

The benefit of the trust is that i can just set it up and people then have to go through a lawyer or some such to get it -- i don't have to approve or be asked, and it woudl be a set amount to be "fair."

I figure with those kinds of millions, it would divide up pretty far. but i'd have to actually *know* you.

3-31-12, 4:12am
We talked about this yesterday while driving. I would pay off my 2 brother's houses and install mom in a quality assisted living place. I would buy myself a more secure condo(with controlled access) here in town and maybe have someone come in and clean it and perhaps a part time chef that would come and make me dinner without having to go out. Other than that, we would have fun deciding what charitable things to do with the money.

For advice, I want to talk to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, especially who they recommend to help me manage the money. I could afford to bid on a lunch with Warren next year.

Seriously, it would make me a hermit. I would never speak to someone or some group who asked for money.

3-31-12, 5:04am
All the good stuff you guys say.

+ I'd move back to my beloved hometown and work to make it so no one would ever have to move away from there if they didn't want to (due to a lack of well paying jobs).

3-31-12, 7:12am
Yeah, I just don't get the psychology of people who don't bother buying lottery tickets for 3-4 million, but think, OH, now that it's 640 million, that's a different story!! Let me stand in line to buy a ticket that I have almost no chance of winning for more money than I know what to do with. I have never understood that.

DH bought a lottery ticket. I did not, feeling satisfied with the $1500 I won at the slot machines at Mohegan Sun last weekend on my 60th birthday!

But if I were to win that insane amount of money, I would just pay off my debts, and put "enough" away. Then I would become a ghost giver in charities that fight poverty. I would NOT want anyone to know I had won the money--I'm so afraid it would damage relationships.

In fact, winning the lottery is like playing with dynamite... not sure I'd want it, frankly. And I'm not just saying that.

3-31-12, 8:56am
I'd like to think my first instinct would be to do something noble, like setting up trusts, but I know in my heart the first thing I would do would be to buy a beach house somewhere on the Atlantic seaboard (likely Maine) and another house in the Sonoma area, or what the heck, buy a whole winery. After that, I'd take care of family and then maybe think about charitable giving, but it would be on the like of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where they fund projects that teach people to fish, and have definitive outcomes defined for the money.

3-31-12, 9:12am
Happy belated birthday, Catherine! I too will be turning 60 next month, fellow water dragon! Posted under frugals about lottery and we too would probably set up a foundation to give to people charities etc anonymously. BBC series called at home with the Braithwaites which was a fictional Mom who won an insane amount of $$$$$ in the lotto and basically how it messed up their lives.

3-31-12, 10:00am
It is a complicated thing in reality to handle that much all at once. I would establish trusts for the benefit of several nature organizations - Nature Conservancy, Audubon, etc so that they could acquire more preserves. It would be fun to have a couple of small houses in places we love and of course not to work until we are 65. I always wonder about the psychology of wanting to win the lottery. I guess there are a lot of people who aren't able to be happy with what they already have...the grass is always greener when they imagine a different life.

3-31-12, 10:01am
Well I believe it was $640M. That is such big money that there is no way someone could spend it all without a team of professionals helping.

Seriously, if you took everyone you knew and their mothers on a trip around the world that would amount to such chump change that you'd end up having more money when you returned then you did when you started out--even if you just put the $640M in a regular saving account while you were gone.

That kind of money simply begs to be allocated to a foundation--with me as the president! My foundation would be for animal causes. But even if, say, I decided I wanted to allocate the funds to spaying/neutering all feral cats in the US (very high on the list, I admit,) that still wouldn't get rid of the money. So I think I'd be compelled to spend the foundation's money lobbying on the state and federal (and even local) level for pro-animal legislation to be passed.

Also, while I'd want the foundation to be perpetual, I'd really want to plan the use of the funds to be exhausted about the time I die. I want to control where this foundation's money is spent, not some future generation who doesn't understand my positions on animal rights.

That said, I would take enough to pay off my house and have something for retirement (which I'd instantly do as I want time to run my foundation.) So I'm not completely selfless.

However, I just checked and the winner is in Maryland. Oh well, it's nice to dream...

iris lily
3-31-12, 10:02am
You can hire someone else to manage the charitable trust -- truly. It's really just an endowment with your name on it, and then the whole kaboodle is run by other people. At the very least, a lawyer. At the most, you can have a whole board of directors, administrators of the granting process, all the way down to secretaries and office folks. ..

Of course, but when my money starts going to causes I DON'T APPROVE OF because I'm not keeping a close enough eye on or the original charter is loosely written, that's bad. There are a LOT of do-gooder orgs I don't like! They won't get my money even if I'm out of the decision loop! ha ha. And $500 million will overwhelm or corrupt about any animal charities I'd pick even spreading it around. If I don't pay attention to the workings of the trust, how do I keep corruption there down, keep officer salaries and board perks down?

I guess I'd just have to walk away from it all if I put it in a trust.

3-31-12, 11:14am
Iris Lily, that is exactly where our discussion led us.

3-31-12, 11:35am
Happy belated birthday, Catherine!

Dispersing my winnings to start-up trust funds and foundations, absolutely not. (Not even close to being an option for me). I've learned by watching, how, for instance, the Cancer Society abuses it's publicly donated monies, so I definitely would not at all be interested supporting such groups and ventures.

No, the help I'd give would come from me (and me only), not some fat-cat sitting behind an office desk who I don't even know, collecting an executives salary to spend "my money", while strategizing which of his or her close friends and acquaintances should get a slice.

To be perfectly honest, money (greed) makes my stomach turn...

3-31-12, 4:58pm
it's really funny because my friend who is running for judgeship actually runs a number of trusts. He is in no way a "fat cat" who is only giving to his friends.

granted, many of the trusts are familial -- a family set aside money for a minor which can be accessed at a certain time and under certain terms, and then also managed. but, several of them are charitable, though, as well -- and he has to make sure that they meet the legal requirements of the trust, many of which are quite specific.

For example, you could assert that no monies would be given to charities of a certain size (only small charities), and then only certain kinds of charities (poverty, environment), and so on. So, my friend runs two trusts of this sort -- which are specifically designed. If a person asks for a grant, he gets the paperwork, checks to see that it meets the criteria, makes sure it's worthwhile, and then will grant or not grant.

The thing about it is that he got paid to set it up, and then he gets a small annual "management fee" which is based on the actual TIME involved in running the trust. Which means that if he spends 6 minutes reviewing the trust and another 12 minutes are spent on getting the financials together for the family at the end of the year, and another 24 minutes spent writing a report of the review and financials, then the trust is often 'charged' for the 42 minutes at the appropriate rate.

So in trusts where he has to take the time to review a grant in detail -- he'll bill for more hours based on the number of hours that it takes.

I don't think that any of the trusts run the kind of money that we are talking about here, but there are several that run multi-millions of dollars for private individuals or for charity.

But he isn't "claiming an executive salary" on it, or giving it in some crony way to his friends.

3-31-12, 5:55pm
It's actually pretty easy to set up and administer such things, and avoid long lines of people with their hands out, and not waste funds on adminstration.

If any of you happen to be big lottery winners, drop me an email, and I'll point you at how to get started, and I won't even charge you :-)

3-31-12, 6:54pm
After paying the taxes, paying off my family's bills and mortgages, giving money to some organizations that I know work on issues I'm concerned about...then I'd buy myself my fantasy car - a Plymouth Prowler. I'd move to London and use that as my base to travel the world. I'd finally take lessons to learn to play the drums, after sound proofing my condo on the Thames so I wouldn't disturb the new neighbors, and I'd buy the world's largest collection of fabric for my state of the art deluxe qulilting studio. Yup. Fun car, drums, fabric, sewing studio, London and travel. That'd do it!

3-31-12, 7:42pm
You know, it is so much money that I cannot get my head around it. I'd be calling Bae :laff:
I don't need the hassle.

4-2-12, 7:08pm
Keep 3 million or so after tax. Give the rest organizations involved in preserving nature (nature conservancies that type of thing) or other environmental organizations I think. I don't really think my giving would be focused on people (except that I do think conservation is in the human interest, very much so). If it was I don't think I'd care if it taught people to fish. Maybe I'd just give some random miserable wage slave a million apropo of nothing - and certainly not any fishing - because I've been in their shoes. To win money from the lottery which is by definition an utterly random gift of fate - by definition not earned, I mean it's the fricken lottery - and expect people to work for any charity they get from you is just very bizarre.

Quit my job of course. Travel, become a full time student, perhaps do some work paid or volunteering but not driven by the stupid need to make money. I don't think there is a darn thing in the universe I want to buy with it (beyond travel and education), I honestly don't care if I do rent 1 bedroom apartments for the rest of my life - the money will more than cover it :). HOWEVER, I have always wanted to buy up some land to start community gardens though, so possibly that.

I can easily see how that much money could throw people into ... existential crisis really. Alls I really want is enough money to quit this job. :)

4-2-12, 10:22pm
first I would help my family and friends, many have fallen on more difficult times through no fault of their own. I would not distribute millions, however would pay off cars and mortgages, student loans and for those that were frugal to start with help with some "fun money" which they would probably bank. the purpose here would not be to let them live a life of luxury but let them breathe a little easier.

Then I would set up educational accounts for those that were young. Not only in my family but I have some friends that are hard working and who will never be able to afford college educations and I could give them that opportunity. I am thinking of a friend whose husband ran out on her and she has not received a penny in child support despite court orders, and has done a great job raising responsible kids. It would also be nice to set up some scholarships at my high school.

I would set up meeting with some of my local organizations. Like my fire department, library, police department, food banks, battered womens shelter etc. I would ask what would help them most to provide service to the most people. Wouldn't it be great if the police and fire departments in your areas had the latest and greatest equipment to help them do their jobs without paying more taxes? I would set up some kind of endowment to planned parenthood to pay for birth control and prenatal care.

I would get some large space in my town and set up a quilting studio with a variety of high quality machines and long arm quilting machines. I would hire some friends to manage it and develop it into a quilting retreat space with classes and emphasis on learning for a nominal fee. This would not be for profit but for the benefit of my good friends to be able to work doing what they love.

I would buy a few properties for vacations. One near a ski slope (I would let my kids pick this out) and one near a southern beach (my sister would be good at this one) for family to use. I would add some rentals to this list, and would start some kind of company and hire my BIL to head it to manage properties. He is a great guy and has been downsized and works like a dog to support his family.

I would buy large parcels of land for farming. I am not sure how I would do this but I am thinking there are a lot of people who would love to farm but just cannot afford land. I could lease the land for a nominal fee so they could live their dream. There has to be a way to do this. So many people have this dream here that it has to be a reality.

I would support organizations that look towards helping those that have the greatest need. There are people in refugee camps, people that watch infants die due to no clean drinking water, no immunizations, people that are held as slaves. This would require some work to determine where to spend the money to make the biggest impact but think of the lives you could save.

4-2-12, 11:10pm
I'd give about $25K to NRF to keep these boards running for the next ten years, put $630M in a trust to do good things with, call Bill & Melinda for a little advice on how to most efficiently do good things, pay off my brother's house (he's a special ed teacher, that would be good karma all around), buy my kids plane tickets home for a bbq next weekend, then buy a six pack of really nice beer and a good cigar and go sit on the dock with my toes in the water for a while. Come to think of it, I'm going to do that last part even without the lottery.

4-2-12, 11:20pm
Like most others, I'd keep a few mil to live on. I can't think of any huge changes I'd like to make to my lifestyle. I've always liked the Pablo Picasso quote, "I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of of money". Maybe I'd buy a second home next to Bae:). It has always sounded liked a cool place from his descriptions.

I've always admired the way Paul Newman set up his food products line, with a good and decent product that would self-perpetuate profits for sometime, and all the proceeds going to charity. It's sort of a win-win proposition. I'd probably like do something like that with the rest, rather than send it off to charities outright.

4-3-12, 8:54am
I'd first of all probably give half to my extended family. Then, besides some to live off the investment, I'd want to set up scholarships. Or really I think it would be fun to randomly pick young grads and pay off their loans every year. Well not randomly, there would have to be a process, but invest with the proceeds doing that each year. Actually I like that idea better than scholarships. That way the young person has already proven themselves by their work in school and after, so it would be helping those who have already helped themselves. No money for partying at the frat house!

4-3-12, 10:58am
Like the others I'd give a lot of money to family and charity.

I don't think Zach would want to quit working entirely because he really likes what he does, but it would be nice to take a year off while we have our new baby. I'd hire a housecleaner to come in twice a week after I have the new one too. OK, maybe before, too, so I can just sit on my butt and gestate this last month or so. :)

I'd speed up our plans to fix up the house and probably buy an RV and a sailboat. We'd stay living here, but buy a house in the neighborhood for a guest house for our family and friends when they visit. In dreamland, it would be the big Victorian house down the road with the giant yard and the lilac bushes that overlooks the lake and has lots of good garden space. It used to be the farmhouse when this area was a farm. That way we could use all of that lovely gardening space.

4-3-12, 12:14pm
Definitely paying off debts & set up an investment fund for DH & me to have a moderate yearly wage such that we still work, albeit at the things we want to do - DH is starting a photography business, I would like to start a B&B dedicated to providing affordable retreat space for nonprofit boards & staff who need respite time, and I would work with them to tune up their organizations, to be more effective & renewed in their work. Plus bake my signature killer scones for breakfast for everyone!

I've thought that it would be fun to pay off the mortgages of all my family members, as well as setting up a fund for friends who have struggled to buy a home to be able to do so - but anonymously. Plus there's a very cool, derelict mansion in Seattle I've had my eyes on for years... I'd like to rehab it and create a cohousing community for my immediate friends & family.

The balance would go into investments with Community Land Trusts in the Pacific Northwest, helping bring more homes into a portfolio of eternally affordable places for families of modest means.

Can you tell that housing and home are my passions? That combined with my call to hospitality is where I keep finding myself. No matter what challenges I am facing, making home, for myself & for others, is where I find my deepest satisfaction. And baking.

5-12-12, 12:33pm
This is fun to imagine.
#1--pay off my siblings' mortgages
#2--fund my nieces' and nephews' and step kids' college educations; pay off their loans
#3--set up a reasonable trust fund for my son and step kids (not so much that they don't have to work though!)
#4--set up a reasonable trust fund for DH and me
#5--spend major dollars renovating my church to make it structurally sound, environmentally sustainable, and handicap friendly (anonymously)
#6--fund a few children's libraries through the organization Room to Read
#7--hate to admit this, but would love to hire an organic chef to cook/deliver meals for us
#8--would like to support the arts, esp. projects that make music and art accessible to at-risk children

Thanks for this pleasant moment of fantasy!

pony mom
5-12-12, 9:27pm
After travelling, one thing I'd do is buy a place with a large yard and ground-level basement and adopt several older dogs that no one wants. There would be no stairs for them to worry about, the floor would be carpeted tiles, and I'd have enough money to pay for their medical expenses and the time to care for them until they pass.

Oh, and be able to pay someone I trust to care for them once in a while and give me a break when I need one.

5-12-12, 11:44pm
I would have no idea what to do. I'd stick it in the bank and hope I wouldn't be flooded with phone calls offering to help me manage it.

Of course, I'd like to think that I would "do good" with it, but I wonder if I would spend so much time worrying over what would be the best use that I would stress myself into an early grave.

I'm happy with my house, but I would start thinking that I could have another house if I wanted. I could have any other house. I could have a house anywhere.

I could see how difficult it would be to have soooo very much money.

Interestingly enough, I would probably mostly see it as a means by which I could live as simply as possible. Cut my possessions down to 100 things and live in a shack in the woods? Sure, I could do that easily if I had hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest piling up in the bank. I would not be as worried about being able to replace anything I got rid of.

Still, I'm happy enough with what I have that I hardly ever buy a lottery ticket.

5-15-12, 2:20pm
First I'd get a house with a lot of land. Then I'd get a bunch of cats and dogs to play on the land :) They would help me decide what to do with the rest of the money!!:laff: