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The Lesson at the Liquor Store 

So, I’m standing in line at the liquor store, holding 2 bottles of a Chardonnay on sale for $3.99. (Who can refuse a bargain like that?)

An elderly woman is paying the clerk. Behind her, in front of me, a scruffy guy with a bottle of Jack Daniels fumbles with the Lottery machine.

“Maybe I’ll win,” he says to no one in particular.

I say, remembering an article I once read, “Did you hear about the couple who won a $20 million lottery and gave it all away because they didn’t want it?”  I recall, at the time, thinking: why anyone would do that?

The elderly woman whips her head up as she takes her package from the clerk and says: “I’d give it away too. What would I do with $20 million?”

And the scruffy guy agrees: “So would I. Hell, I’d probably just spend it all on booze anyway.”

Refusing the temptation to ask him why, then, he was buying a lottery ticket, I proudly declared: “Not me. I’d give some of it away, but there’s a lot I could do with that money.”

You’d think I told them I was about to shoot the Pope. There was a collective gasp, a look of shock, and for a split second, I actually felt ashamed to want millions.

And then I realized—

People are about as rich as they want to be.  For many, wealth is more a burden than a blessing.

But the real epiphany came when I turned to the woman behind me and asked what she’d do.

 “My first thought,” she said, “was I’d have enough money to paint my house.” Then she chuckled, and added, “It then occurred to me how small I was thinking. I mean, I could buy a brand-new bigger house with that money. Maybe I need to start thinking bigger.”

Maybe we all need to start thinking bigger!  So, in the spirit of the liquor store lottery, let’s play the What-if Game. Ask yourself this question: What would you do if you won a $20 million lottery? 

Want bonus points?  Answer this: What steps can you start taking now to bring those dreams to life…even if you never win a lottery???

I’m betting you, my dear readers, will have a different reaction than the liquor store patrons. Am I right? Leave me a comment below.

Comments & Feedback

  • Katie Adler

    First, I would get financial advice on the best way to receive the money, one lump sum or installments. Then, I would need help finding the best place to park it and receive dividends for six months while I get financial advice to make a plan.

    I would call Vanguard first and get their advice. Before parking it, I would take out 1% (200,000 dollars) to take care of any upgrades I want for my home and life. Finally, during the six months, I would make a sound financial plan for the money I have parked.

  • Christi Harsono

    This is very easy for me, because I know exactly what I want to do with that money. I will pay off my modest house and my children’s houses. Then end homelessness by creating modest homes to house the unhoused . Somehow this crisis has to end because I believe that everyone has the right to live in a housing unit of some kind, regardless of income or FICO scores etc.

    • barbara huson

      That’s a lovely use of the money, Christi. I love your passion for helping people find homes. So beautiful!

  • Lisa

    It would have ruined me to win 20 million in my 30’s! I think I would use the money to do many different types of things, because I have a big, living heart. One thing I wouldn’t do is buy a flashy Ferrari or a 12 bedroom mega mansion, because it’s just not me! I like to be out and about in the city. I like feeling like part of society!

    • barbara huson

      That’s an interesting thought, Lisa…how one’s age impacts their behavior upon receiving a windfall! I hadn’t considered that before! Thanks.

      • Lisa

        Thanks for your nice reply Barbara,

        During my 30’s, I went through a “lost decade” where I was very unclear and wishy washy about life. Had to go threw it though to get to where I am now . If I scored 20 million, I probably would have got an astronomical tax bill, went on lots & lots of shopping sprees and stuff like like. A little bit of of that is good, but as you know there are so many more meaningful things you can buy with money. I don’t think age matters, it about emotionally evolved you are as a person. Probably receiving it in increments during 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s is better, so can can focus on what you’re going to spend it on during that phase of life.

  • Rene

    I’d use the money to study around the globe, taking part in courses and classes I normally wouldn’t be able to afford, visiting new, strange and beautiful places, staying in unique places and meeting interesting people.
    Oh, and I’d take my beautiful friend, Denise, with me because she’d love to do the same thing 🙂

    • barbara huson

      That sounds amazing, Rene, and such a fun way to celebrate winning the lottery!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Barbara Alpher

    After taking the steps Katie A so neatly laid out, I’d buy a house where my grandson lives (with his parents, of course:-)! I love that area and would be happy there and able to be nearby and enjoy them as he grows. There are some groups I’m aware of that are nonprofit and functioning well, so I’d donate to them. Traveling would be on my list. I’d like to spend a month or so in different places, thus having a chance to become familiar with them and not feel rushed. I’d put enough away to pay for my grandson’s college education.
    That’s just a start. Obviously, I’d have plenty left over.

    • barbara huson

      What a beautiful, well thought out plan for making the most of your lottery winnings, Barbara. I love it. I wonder where you can start taking small steps to start now, bringing at least pieces of that plan to fruition.

  • Misty

    Half would go to taxes. That leaves 10 million. I would give two million to The God of Israel and to Israel. Then I have eight million for my retirement account and my first beautiful house and my beautiful Abyssinian babies. I have been homeless for the people on this planet and I deserve a safe private house with two hundred acres and the Shalom of God. God BLESS you.

  • Anonymous

    I would buy back my great grandmother’s little cottage on a lake and make it a year round residence or another home on a lake. Save enough money to live comfortably.

    Make a scholarship for youth who want to study social psychology to help individual overcome generational abuse and addiction.

    Make a scholarship for woman, who survived domestic abuse.

    • barbara huson

      What a lovely way to use lottery winnings…for your own benefit as well as helping so many others. You’ve got a big heart!

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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