27 August 2009

How much is enough?

I wanted to take a break from the cars to ponder something I saw this morning.

There was a billboard advertising the MegaMillions multi-state lotto, and Friday's jackpot is $324 million dollars. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, that equates to...let's see, divide by 3, carry the 6...a helluva lot of money in anyone's currency. Even after a giant chunk of taxes is taken out, that's a lot of money.

I dunno. That's way more cash than I'd like to have. Since it becomes public knowledge (at least here) who wins these big jackpots, I suppose you could kiss your privacy goodbye. Got friends and relatives? You will after news of your big windfall gets out-and every one of them wants a piece of the pie.

I'd have to think that one would have to worry about family members being kidnapped for ransom. Add the cost of personal security for the immediate family.

Every charity would hound you even more mercilessly than they do now. Oh, and don't forget about retaining a lawyer, a financial planner, and an accountant. Best retain two of each so one of them doesn't get the idea to fudge the books or rob you blind.

Still enamored of winning that kind of money? Thought not.

I heard recently about a fellow from Kentucky who won a big lottery. He had some issues with the law before he won his prize. He moved to Miami, where he fell in with some more people that had legal problems. Long story short, he pissed away all of his money. At the end, he was living in a storage unit (essentially, a rented garage) in Miami. More than a few people win the lottery and end up miserable and bankrupt not long after.

Would I like to win a big lottery? Sure. I think I could get by with $2-3 million. That amount spread out over 20 years would be around $100-150,000/year. It'd force a person to keep working, but it'd be a good cushion in case of medical or crisis issues, and one could have enough to take a trip or do something cool in a given year. I think you'd be well-off but you'd still have to budget a bit.

I'm curious-and feel free to pipe up on this-for one person or family, is there a difference between, say, $100 million and $200 million? Doesn't it get to the point where it's only a number, an amount you can't reasonably spend in one lifetime? Maybe not, if so many people end up bankrupt a few years after the big winning ship pulled into port.

Perhaps I'm not terribly bright, but in a lot of ways it seems like a huge amount of money is more trouble than it's worth. Perhaps that's why wealthy families keep the cash 'in the family'. After a generation or two, the family members get wise to all of the tricks and loopholes necessary to hold on to the giant mountain of money.

At the rate I'm going, I doubt I'll have to worry much about winning a lot of money. That may not be a particularly bad thing.

yankeedog out.


  1. YD

    I always thought that $1 or $2 million would be plenty....until I started looking to buy a new house.

    To get a reasonably large abode (4 bedroom, 2 bathroom etc) here in regional queensland prices start at $400,000. If in Sydney or Melbourne you need to add 50% to 100% to that.

    Not withstanding that I still would accept $1 million if someone wants to give to me :)

  2. Depends on whether you get it as a lump sum or as installments over 20-30 years. In the latter case I can see it working out better.

    I think the best plan for dealing with winning several hundred million dollars in a US state lottery would be as follows:

    (1) Take the cash

    (2) Move somewhere else

    (3) Leave no forwarding address.

  3. I´m willing to take one for the team and try the large option, mind you it will take a miracle as I no longer buy tickets ;)

  4. How much is enough? A difficult question to answer. The answer is influenced by temperrment. Diogenes would answer it differently than would Epicurus. The answer is influenced by place and individual circumstance. An Indian beggar would answer it differently than Donald Trump. Perhaps time is even more important. When I was 18 years old I would answer the question differently than I do today in my early 50's and I am sure I would answer it differently today than I will 30 years from now - presuming I live that long.

    Who am I kidding. For me none of the foregoing matters. For me the answer has always been the same: I work for the future; I am the architect of Tomorrow; my efforts are limited solely by the amount of resource I can invest in my family. Therefore, I want all I can legally obtain. There is nothing that cements events and orders the future better than lots and lots of cash.

  5. Ausgaz-For $325 mill, I should be able to buy a good chunk of Queensland and park a house on it. I could probably buy all of my old hometown-and get $300 mill in change.

    Doc-Usually the lump sum/installment plan is how they do the payouts. I think for a huge amount I'd want installments.

    I'm not sure in this day and age that one can hide, at least in countries that are heavily 'on the grid'. Perhaps some island somewhere, which is where I'd be heading anyway.

    Bangar-Way to sacrifice yourself, troop!

    Paul-Well, welcome, sir. You have put a bit of thought into this! I'm thinking there's a number above which the amount is meaningless. But you're right-Trump could think of infinitely more expensive things to buy, see, and do than I could, or would want to do. So his 'critical mass' number might be in the several hundred billion dollar range. Mine is probably around $5-10 million. Reckon it does depend on the person.