Everyone has the talk at some point, if not many, in their lives. What would you do… if you won the lottery?
My first response is usually, “the lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math,” followed by, “are you collecting? Here’s $2!” I’ve never bought tickets on my own, and have only participated in the odd office pool (do I need to mention we made about $7 back, so I’m still here?), but it’s never stopped my from dreaming about how much different my life would be, if I had millions at my disposal.
Everyone’s “lottery list” is different. The concept I’ve always thought made the most sense was, save a third, spend a third, give a third away. When dad and I talk about it, he has lists of cars and vacation properties already allocated. My list has always been fairly simple. Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely spend some stupid money, probably on a lot of things that would only bring me joy for a few minutes. Eventually though, the novelty would wear off and I’d come back to my original plan.
I think all lists start off the same; pay off debt, take care of your family, go on a vacation. We would purchase our own horse farm, and a few horses for myself and my family, but not a barn full. I’ve seen that dream come to fruition for friends who thought a huge barn full of horses was a dream come true, and here’s the reality, there’s still only one of you. What good is a whole string of horses, if you can still only ride one at a time? I’d have a few to choose from, so I could always invite friends or family to ride along, and horses for anyone in my family that wants their own. My rule is, no more pets than I can reasonably care for in an average day. I might have all the money to pay for a staff, but the horses are for me and my family to enjoy, not them, and allowing someone else to handle the basic care takes away from your awareness of your own horse. If I just show up to a groomed and saddled horse, ride, then hand the reins back to my barn hand, I’m not getting out of it what I should be. The time you spend with your horses, grooming, cleaning, riding, or just whispering to them… priceless.
If I had a big, beautiful farm, I’d certainly need a good truck, and probably two trailers. One smaller bumper-pull, and another with living quarters. When you need to get your horse in front of a vet in a hurry, having a trailer small enough to jockey around a medical practice parking lot… priceless.
Once all the important things for my immediate family were squared away, I’d make sure I had a nice chunk invested. As much as I’d love to believe I’d be sensible and manage my own money well, I’m smart enough to know that probably wouldn’t happen the way I hoped. I’d want to know that no matter how frivolous I was, my family and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything for the rest of our days. A good financial advisor and investment portfolio… priceless.
My next step would be making donations to all the charities that matter to myself and my family. The local humane societies, The Shane Center for Theraputic Horsemanship (where I volunteer), Licking County 4-H, to begin with. Maybe I’d even start my own foundation, named after Buddy of course! If I could start something that continued to generate funding for an important cause… priceless.
I wouldn’t be completely selfless though. A major shopping spree would absolutely take place, in New York City or Beverly Hills, maybe both. I could finally be as stylish as I’ve always thought I would be, if I could afford my taste! I see one or two vacation homes, somewhere tropical, and somewhere exotic, both where nobody knew who we were, where we could slip away quietly and stay for as long as we liked… priceless.
Lastly, I’d buy property, and have a show facility built in Licking County, primarily for the 4-H clubs to use, but available to rent for anyone. In the years that I showed 4-H, the horse people seemed to get short-changed a lot when it came to the local fairgrounds. The other animals and clubs had a higher priority for some reason. It would have several indoor and outdoor arenas with plenty of space to work and park trailers. There would be plenty of stalls, room for camping, and dorms, as well as space for food and retail vendors. Essentially, all the things we needed and deserved, but never had when I was growing up. It would be offered to the county clubs at a discounted rate, and to all others at fair market value, enough to keep it maintained and functional. The last thing 4-H clubs should have to worry about if they want to show, is finding a good location, and affording it. That would be my legacy piece of the puzzle… priceless.
As much as I’d love to be able to take care of myself and my family, I really would enjoy being able to do more philanthropic things. I suppose I should start buying tickets more regularly, to better my odds of being able to do that… What would you do?