Monday, August 23, 2010

25 million M & Ms

Someone in Ottawa has won $25 million in a lotto jackpot. It's an incredible fortune and that person hasn't come to claim their prize yet, but already, the web is abuzz with advice for the winner, the first one being that they should sit tight, keep the money in the bank and get a financial planner ASAP.

I can't imagine what $25 million looks like, but according to the planners, it aint what it used to be. A million dollars used to be a fortune, but is now pocket change for some of the world's richest people in a time where billionnaires are more common. I can't logically imagine what 25 million of anything looks like, so I'm going to try and visualize 25 million M & M's, but even that doesn't come to mind easily.

All that said, those 3 things are good advice. Sit tight, deposit the money, get a financial planner. These same planners say that it's bad idea to quit your job and go on vacation right away, even if that's your initial knee jerk reaction. Now, I'm not financial planner myself, but I have a feeling that even if you had a sudden windfall and millions of dollars didn't add up to financial freedom according to the accountants, I would still quit my job and take a vacation.

I know that you have to plan for that money, figure out taxes and all that other stuff and try to calculate your life as if you were going to live to a ripe old age and you need money for a funeral that's indexed to inflation rates in 50 years from now which would likely increase by 600%, but come on, send in the resignation letter and head for Europe.

The way that I see it, you'll need the time to decompress and recover from the shock. And you want to enjoy at least a little bit of freedom. A trip to Europe can cost as little as $3000. May as well take the kind of trip that you would take if you had your regular salary while mulling over your next steps. And even if you liked your job, what would be the chances of you going back to that same job if you suddenly won? May as well quit and take the time out to explore new options.

It takes the average person 6 months to find a good job after being let go or leaving a particular post. I think that it would be safe to say that you would have at least 6 months salary saved up with $25 million in the bank account, even if you minus the $3000 trip.

So assuming that you don't move and you don't go crazy upgrading your wardrobe with designer duds only, you could probably keep your status quo for awhile. Invest in some nice property, look into that career or education that you always wanted but could only ever dream about before and treat yourself to something that was always in the back of your mind, like a designer purse or a bottle of real champagne from France.

While people state the money is a burden in a lot of ways, I think that it's safe to say that life is even more of a burden without it. You have less choices and less freedoms without money. Most of us need to work jobs that we don't like in order to make ends meet or live in less desirable neighbourhoods. Others have to make sacrifices by living at home with parents or running a car into the ground because you can't afford to trade in for a new one. Money is a blessing and even if it can't buy you health or wealth, it's still pretty special.

25 million dollars is like 25 million M & Ms. You really shouldn't eat them all at once. And they're perfect for sharing.

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