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I Won the Lottery!

Last updated by on January 16, 2016

With the Powerball lottery reaching a record $1.3 billion this week, I thought I’d re-work a favorite post from a few years back. Funny thing is, not much has changed. Enjoy!

I won the Powerball lottery! … in my dream.

And the dream looked something like this:

1. Took the lump sum vs. the annuity.

2. Divided it equally into conservative fixed-income, low-risk investments. Didn’t touch the principal. Exciting dream, right?

3. Stopped going to work. Didn’t call. Didn’t play around with the idea that I’d continue doing what I’m doing (those who are not financially independent who say they will are either insane or lying). Just stopped going. No FU roll calls. No pack my bags. No departing speech. Just stopped going. Similar to Office Space, but no going in the next day after the change.

4. Bought an old Airstream, renovated it, and a truck. Modified the truck to run on vegetable oil. Sold my house. Then I drove across the entire U.S. at a VERY slow (6 months, maybe a year) pace to take in the local flavor. Ate the local fair while they filled up my magical veggie oil tank. Hike/biked a lot. Returned. Sold the RV…


5. Moved to a small, humble home somewhere near a beach. No mansion. No building a new “dream home” (despite this being my dream). Just a comfy house with enough space for the occasional visiting family/friends. Modified it to be off grid and energy independent.

6. Sat on the beach and meditated often until I was consistently comfortable being in the present moment.

7. Reconstructed major parts of how I spent my time. Bought and rebuilt an old steel frame road bike and started biking 20-80 miles per day. Occasionally much longer. Exercised at least an hour per day when not biking. Went on long backpacking trips. Became a master gardener and grew a lot of my own food. Taught myself to cook really awesome food. Hung out more with friends and family. Read more books. Built more things from scratch. Volunteered more for local causes I was passionate about. Got really good at a few things and if I loved them, kept doing them, if I didn’t, moved on to my next interest. Worked on stuff I enjoyed, and even made a bit of money at it.

8. Traveled occasionally and cheaply. Sometimes for years at a time. Came home whenever it felt right.

9. Donated to the causes that are closest to my heart (might become a full-time job).

10. Washed, rinsed, repeated.

The ironic thing about my dream is that it wouldn’t take winning the Powerball or Mega Millions to live it. No multiple million dollar homes. No vacation homes. No million dollar cars. No expensive vendettas enacted. No ridiculous parties. No maids or waitstaff. No luxury suites at the football stadium. No new tech gadgets. No shopping sprees. No reckless spending.

The most precious asset instant millions would buy me was time.

The thing is, time can be bought for much cheaper than lottery millions.

In fact, what I depicted is more than a dream to me. It’s a vision that I hope to make a reality within the next few years.

You have the power to do the same.

The question is: what does your vision look like? And is your vision forever relegated to dreams, or will it become your reality?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Michelle says:

    Re: #3 – next time, please call. Courtesy is priceless.

    For a split second I was happy for you. And then jealous. And then chagrined. When I got to this line: “It’s a vision that I hope to make a reality within the next few years,” I went back to being happy for you. I look forward to being particularly inspired by those posts. Thanks for a fun start to the morning.

    • Nick says:

      The toughest thing about winning 1.3B would be that giving it away would turn into more than a full time job. I’d be very tempted to donate a huge portion 90%+ of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (because there’s no organization I could as easily trust to do good with the money).

      It’s really just too much money. If you care even a little, that much money is a job no matter how you look at it. Then even if you don’t care, and just hire a random money manager to deal with it for you. You’ll still have every friend and family member you ever knew, plus thousands of strangers asking you for money.

      It’d really be rather torturous.

  • Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    I really think I would finish my PhD (my version of work) if I won (not that I played). I think I might take some time off and consider it carefully, but if I didn’t finish after getting to this late stage I think I would regret it. In fact, I might complete other academic degrees as well, just for the sake of learning.

    • Curtis says:

      Good point Emily… would be so nice to study out of pure interest and curiosity, and not have to worry about whether that degree will land you a decently paying job in the future.

      • Michelle says:

        I got my law degree regardless of the debt (enormous, six-figure debt). I don’t regret it – it was a life dream for me – but I entered law school in the law school price inflation bubble and graduated into the crash. The crash was long overdue, and I’m glad it happened, but economically I’m paying in major opportunity costs.

        In my 30’s I’ve mastered identifying and taking the risks that make my life worthwhile to me, spotting those ships worth going abroad – or down – with. So no regrets about the debt, although I look forward to getting rid of it.

        With lottery winnings, I’d certainly pay off those student loans first thing. Third on the list would be contributing to the scholarship funds that made the law school loans a little less onerous, and the earlier degrees possible. I think though that I would focus on scholarships not affiliated with specific schools, to not interfere with incentives for schools to lower tuition costs.

        (Second on the list is giving to my life partner and other family members.)

      • Bichon Frise says:

        Does one have to attend school and earn a degree to learn? Not being flippant, I enjoy learning, but I also enjoy doing it on my own time and at my own pace.

      • Emily @ evolvingPF says:

        I do learn on my own (time permitting) but I think there’s a lot of value to going through a structured curriculum for a baseline knowledge. Also, I’m kind of lazy, and I benefit from external motivation like deadlines and homework. If I didn’t have to earn a living, I’d probably get an assortment of master’s degrees – epidemiology, theology, public policy… My PhD is in a rather useful/applied field and I would enjoy learning about things that I probably wouldn’t want a full-time career in.

  • Curtis says:

    Sounds about right….my ideal, financially free life would look pretty similar. My wife and I met while traveling in East Africa, so I’m pretty sure it would involve some significant time spent back there, also. Giant houses, gi-normous SUV’s, and too much attention because of the money don’t really appeal to me. Besides investments, I would try and live as inconspicuously as I could….cash purchases, plenty of travel, not a big electronic impression.

  • Mike says:

    Buying a money bin. Converting a good amount of my cash into coins to fill up the bin. Swimming in the money bin like Scrooge McDuck.

  • Laura says:

    I love this post! Thanks for sharing your dream and vision. 🙂

    Couldn’t have said it better: “The most precious asset instant millions would buy me was time.”

  • Trevor says:

    So you said you would invest it and never touch the principal? In real life (making an annual salary) you would need to do that to get to your dream one day. But this hypothetical can be had for a couple million or less as you stated. So this begs the question if you did win the mega millions what would you do with the principal if you truly never touched it?

  • Michelle says:

    I once rolled around on 10K of cash (paper = softer landing). I’m embarrassed to admit that but entirely glad I did it.

  • Darrell @ Debt and Buried says:

    Yup, fantasizing about that ticket in your pocket is the best entertainment you can get for a dollar. But great perspective in that for most folks, good planning and hard work can get them most of their basic dreams.

  • PTazzle says:

    I really like this post! I did a quick and dirty FaceBook poll of my friends last week, and most people wanted to 1. pay off debts (student loans, mortgages, etc.), travel, donate to charity, and live somewhere easy to take care of- not a mansion.

    I especially like the part where you mention mediating on the beach until you were comfortable enough in the here and now. It is so much harder to be in the present than to just talk about it!

    Good luck to everyone in attaining their dreams 🙂

  • alec says:

    As an expat, a majority of my income is not subject to taxes…however, I still take a “loss” and put some money into my 401k. What would you suggest I do with the income/savings from my pay that is not subject to federal taxes?

  • Ornella says:

    I liked how you started your post with your dream…great way to attract your readers. You are right about time…good point

  • Ron Ablang says:

    My wife mentioned to me her dream of going back home (where the cost of living & homes is cheaper than the U.S.) and buying a mansion staffed w/ help, and investing in businesses over there.

    Apparently, it is easier to make money when you have money.

  • Marby says:

    Enjoyed your dream as well. I think it would be fun to also bless people in real need like a secret Santa. That may inspire others to do random acts of kindness.

  • SD Lurker says:

    I like your ideas. I am in the late stages of life so I have no personal use for 1.3 billion or whatever is left from that after taxes (maybe $700 million?).

    I would set aside $10M to live off of. The remaining $690M would go to the following:

    1. Set up a business to employ vets and homeless people to restore their dignity.

    2. Create a modest trust fund safety net for my millenial son who works in construction.

    3. Visit about 30 global destinations on mu bucket list.

    4. Buy a winter residence in Cyprus (where my spouse hails from) and where can get a EU passport and a summer residence in south Sweden where I have about 30 lovely relatives with whom I enjoy spending time. Perhaps even a small island in obe of the many lakes in Estonia where free market capitalism still lives.

    5. Maybe buy a Tesla S or a Chevy Volt (a Ferrari would be nice but I can’t bring myself to waste that kind of money on an exotic car)

    6. Send about $5M each to my three nephews in US, 10 cousins in Sweden, and my nephew and niece in Cyprus.

    7. Everything that’s left over (a lot) will be donated to the following charities:
    a. Heritage Fund
    b. Red Cross
    c. Salvation Army
    d. American Enterprise Fund
    e. City College of NY in gratitude for my tuition-free education (’59-’64)
    f. Scripps Research Institute
    g. UCSD Moore Cancer Center (where spouse’s non-Hodgkins Lympoma was cured)

    That’s just my off the cuff thoughts.


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