On my way to work yesterday morning, I heard from the radio that the Powerfall Jackpot would reach $500 million, the second largest in history. When I got to my desk, I texted Joe and asked if he wanted to buy a few tickets.
“Where to buy?”
“Gas Station?”

A few minutes later, Joe’s text included a picture of ten combinations of numbers.
“What do you want to do if we win the lotto?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”

Really, what can and should one do if $150 million cash (lump sum and after tax) fell from the sky and all landed in his backyard? Roughly one-third of lottery winners find themselves in serious financial trouble or bankrupt within five years of turning in the lucky numbers, according to Chelmsford wealth counselor Szifra Birke.

But since we are in dreamland, let’s just assume that I’d be wiser and anything is possible.

First and foremost, I’d buy a big and nice house for my grandmother (if she were still alive). Knowing she’d say something like “How long do I get to live? I am fine where I am now. Save your money for the future.” I would show her pictures of gorgeous houses and tell her she’d have to choose one. Then I’d take her, some of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to cruise around Europe. Oh, how much fun we are going to have!

The money will be divided three ways: a third for charity, a third for our three children to inherit and a third for Joe and me to enjoy now.

Joe and I have the heart for such charitable organizations as cancer research, Alzheimer’s research, Doctors without Borders and Salvation Army. For years we have been getting emails and newsletters from a non-profit organization called Overseas China Education Foundation (OCEF) founded in 1992 and run mostly by volunteers. Recently we attended one of their regional meetings and met a group of loving, dedicated and enthusiastic people. Over the years, OCEF has financially supported over 30,000 elementary/junior high and more than 3,000 high school students in the rural areas of China who wouldn’t have afforded school otherwise. It has also funded the renovation of 19 schools and added 300 libraries to existing schools. This is definitely a worthy cause to get involved in.

A portion of the charitable money will be dedicated to fund Jake’s buddy Anderson’s medical procedures. Anderson is six and a half years old and needs heart surgery (his heart rate can drop below 30 at night) and a few procedures to enhance his hearing (Anderson was born with only one ear). It has been my desire to help Anderson and his mom out.

The multi-million inheritance for Jane, Michelle and Jake would warrant a meeting with the best Estate Plan lawyer in town, Natalia Kabbe. As much as I’d like to believe that we have raised sensible and responsible children, the temptation is just too big and chance to screw up too high. So we’ll make sure that they’ll get the money at the critical points of their lives so that it will enrich instead of ruining their lives.

As for Joe and me, we’ll upgrade our life style a few notches and help out our families and friends in need. Even though my job as a business analyst comes with an attractive paycheck, great flexibility and the best boss in the world, I am going to quit my wonderful job. I’ll go back to school to pursue that degree in psychology. I’ll take it slow though so that I’ll still have enough time to think, explore and write. Maybe instead of self-publishing, publishers will chase after me for my next book. Jane, Michelle and I are planning to start a business next year to provide consulting services to the Chinese students who plan to study abroad in America. With the extra capital, we can launch the business with a bang and set up branch offices in the major cities of China.

Joe is a man full of ideas. He’ll be able to try out some of his new ideas and see where they’ll take him. We’ll travel around the world for fun.

But of course, we didn’t hit the jackpot, not even remotely close. What this mental exercise allowed me to see was that most of the dreams were reachable without winning the lotto. So the key is to keep living, dreaming, trying and having fun. After all, it’s the process not the end result that builds true character and makes life exciting.