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What would *you* do with $640 million?

by Karen on March 30, 2012

With the Mega Millions jackpot up to $640 million now, it seems like the whole country has been hit with lotto fever this week. I’m not a big believer in gambling — I think in most cases it’s throwing good money at extreme odds. Though in this case, I don’t think it hurts to spend a buck on a ticket. It’s only a dollar, and your chances are as good as anyone else’s, so why not?

Tony and I didn’t buy a ticket. We did have a fun conversation about what we’d do with that kind of money, though. Who hasn’t had the “what would we do if we won the lottery?” conversation?

What did we decide? Well, for philosophical reasons, we honestly don’t believe anyone should keep that kind of money to themselves. In my opinion, there is far too much need in this world for one person to hang on to that kind of wealth. We would continue to live a modest lifestyle for the most part. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t benefit personally from winning a jackpot, though.

Here are a few things we’d do for ourselves:

  • Pay off our mortgage, remaining student loan debt, and our car loan.
  • Set up college trusts for Judah and our hypothetical future children.
  • Invest enough cash to net us $150k in interest every year for the rest of our lives.
  • Do some improvements for our house. We might remodel our kitchen or add on.
  • Buy the items that we’re currently saving up to get (a riding lawn mower, new bedroom furniture, a new mattress, new laptops).
  • Travel more. I figure, if we won the Mega Millions, we could at least afford to take a nice vacation once a year.

Here are a few things we wouldn’t do:

  • We wouldn’t buy a huge new house. We may decide to move eventually, but it would be to a relatively modest home. For right now, we’re happy where we are, and we love our home. Being mega millionaires wouldn’t change that, and our family just doesn’t need a giant mansion.
  • Tony wouldn’t quit his job. He loves teaching. He might not want to work full-time so we’d have more time for our family and travel. I know he’d want to continue teaching in some capacity, though.
  • We wouldn’t go out and buy a bunch of new cars or ridiculous toys that we don’t need.

We’d also use the money to help our families.

  • Pay the remaining mortgage debts and student loan debts for our parents and siblings.
  • Set up education trusts for our nieces and nephews.
  • Ensure that our parents will have a comfortable retirement.

The rest of the money would go to charitable contributions. We had a lot of fun discussing which causes we’d support, and how we could use that kind of money to really help people who need it.

I would want to set up a charitable foundation to help the families of children with catastrophic illnesses pay medical bills, replace lost income during treatments, and help with any other expenses they might incur as a result of their child’s medical care. Tony would like to support the arts by offering a grant for young writers. We’d both like to contribute to our alma mater, Indiana University, and support organizations like NPR or PBS because we’re big consumers and supporters of public radio and television.

What would you do with the jackpot?

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