Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Would you really want to draw the winning lottery numbers?

While it might seem to be a dream come true, winning the lottery, no matter how much money is involved, might not be all that its cracked up to be. There are plenty of arguments against playing the lottery at all- that it's a fantastic leap of faith that you could ever win the lottery, much less make it worth the money many people sink into the games of chance, that it's addictive, that it is immoral to some folks, you name it. But really, don't most people figure "why not?" It’s not taken seriously because they figure the odds are so astronomical that there’s no way they could win! They just figure that the dollar that they spend on a ticket now and then couldn't hurt, helps out schools, and sure, if it really doesn't affect your budget much, so what's the harm? The truth is that there could be a lot of harm, depending on whether the lucky numbers you choose really hit or not. Don’t believe me? Murder and mayhem are only the beginning.

Every so often, lottery winners grace the front page of national newspapers with sensational headlines, and people wonder “how could they let that happen?” Usually the money’s all gone, the family has scattered to the four winds, and all the friends have disappeared. For example, A story came out of Great Britain a while back about a young girl who won the lottery, and through buying gifts for friends and family, as well as a few bad deals, found herself in debt to the tune of 2.5 million dollars and living back at home with her mother. Nothing a nice bankruptcy filing and liquidation of all her assets wouldn’t fix, right? 

For every total loss story, though, there’s also a sadder story. A man from Chicago once won the lottery, and before he even could claim his winnings, passed away. It seemed to be an inexplicable amount of bad luck (heaped on the good luck, mind you) until the medical examiner took a closer look at the autopsy. As it turns out, he died of Cyanide poisoning. 

If you do happen to find yourself in the enviable (or unenviable) position of having hit the lottery, there are a few tips that most financial advisors recommend to not only protect yourself, but your family and financial well-being, as well. First off, hire an accountant and/or financial advisor with a good reputation, and listen to what they have to say. They’re going to tell you to limit the gifts you give, because (in the words of a great children’s book, ) “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s probably going to want a glass of milk.” Put another way, there’s always going to be a hand out, or a “business venture” to invest in, or some other such thing. Saying “no” doesn’t come easy to some, particularly when it’s family who you’re saying “no” to. 

They’re also going to tell you that you should invest most of the winnings, saving money rather than following what is likely your first impulse and going on a spending spree. That’s a good thing, though. After all, if you buy a Ferrari in every color they’re available in, all that money isn’t going to go very far. However, if you set a budget for yourself, and then live within that budget (albeit comfortably,) you’ll find yourself in the position of being able to manage all that money without a problem. When you can learn to do that, you’ll never have to work again, and chances are good you won’t have to worry about being poisoned. Maybe. Then again, maybe you’d better watch your back just in case.

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