Scroll down for today's Political SitRep. I published this article in 1999. I was going to post it before the Powerball Drawing, but it was created on a Mac. A friend opened for me. Enjoy. ~Bob
What to do when you hit the big one
By Robert A. Hall
"Martha, come here NOW and read these numbers to me!" Your hand is shaking, but you're not letting go of that ticket. Martha gives you a funny look, and reads last night's lotto numbers out loud. You repeat them from the ticket, then you read them again. Yup, still the same. The idea sinks in. You've hit the big one.
Or maybe you’re at your favorite casino. You feed another three dollar coins into the slot, pull the handle, and your jaw drops open as electronic hell breaks loose. Thirty seconds ago you were a working stiff. Now you’re a multi-millionaire!
You always knew in your heart you'd win—that's why you play—but the rest of you wasn't convinced. You turn up at lottery headquarters or the casino office, where they confirm the good news. You really are a big winner. Now what?
This is not the time to go wild. Winning a ton of cash doesn't bring happiness--it's what you do with your winnings and your life that makes the difference. If you can be calm and disciplined now, your life will be much happier. Here are eight suggestions to maximize your success--suggestions I plan to follow when I join you in the big winners column.
1. Limit the number of people who know you've won. Chances are, your winning will be public record, and the bigger the prize, the bigger the media splash, but decline any publicity you can. Tell no one you don't have to tell. This may include close relatives, friends and co-workers. Sure, you want to share your joy, but security comes first. Having money makes you a target for salespeople, charity fund-raisers, greedy friends and relatives and, worse-case, criminals. The fewer of these folks who find out about your good fortune, the better off you will be. You can always tell Aunt Agatha later.
If you have to inform the immediate family or distant relatives, caution them not to talk about your new fortune. They don't want their families to become targets either.
If you've won a really significant prize, you'll probably have to move. The attitudes of neighbors may change, as they expect you to share your wealth. Nor will you want the sharks mentioned above to be able to locate you. Regardless of how much you've won, others will think you are better off than you are, and want a part of it. Don't even leave a forwarding address--you can write or call those who really need to know. If you do move--after carefully selecting a location--don't let your new neighbors and friends know about your win. Tell them you were fortunate to take early retirement.
2. Don't make radical lifestyle changes. Even if you want to stay, the publicity of your big prize may force you out of your job because of greedy folks calling and co-workers attitudes. However, don't make any sudden moves until you've had time to think, and a chance to talk to people you trust. This is not the time to buy a boat, new house and three cars. Plan first. You can, however, indulge yourself in some small luxuries you've wanted, but held off because of finances. Buy that book, fancy dinner or coat you previously thought was too much of an extravagance. Treating yourself to small things will help you resist the temptation to make huge purchases without planning and thought.
3. Get away for awhile. Don't go someplace flashy and expensive. A quiet, calm location where you have the time to think and talk things over with your family will be best. Don't let anyone--or only your closest relative or friend--know where you are. And don't tell strangers at your hide away--they might have a cousin in the mob!
Think about what kind of lifestyle you want. Have you always wanted to travel? Where should you live to facilitate that? Do you prefer cities or the country? Do you want to write or paint? Now is your chance. Are you the type who needs to work? Now's your opportunity to make a difference through volunteering in a good cause. Plan for your new life, and then ease into it.
4. Get financial advice. If you are not experienced at handling large sums of money, professional help will be invaluable. Check out financial planners, without telling them why you need help. Select one you are comfortable with, who has good credentials and is well-recommended. If you are easily fooled by plausible con-artists, get help from less-credulous relatives or friends.
5. Remember your winnings are limited. Perhaps you've won a small lottery, and can only keep your current lifestyle--minus that job. Even if you've hit a major prize, it is not a bottomless well. You will still need to budget. Someday the money will run out, and unless you are already old enough to be sure you won't outlive the checks, you will need an investment plan for the future. You will still have money decisions and money problems--they will just be a better class of money problems. Back in the seventies, I knew a guy who worked in the building trades. He won a $1 million lotto--$50K per year for 20 years, a lot on money then, when as a State Senator, I loved on $12k a year. Six months after he won, he was back pounding nails, waiting for the next check, because he couldn't budget for a full year.
6. Get your legal affairs in order. Chances are, your will provides only for your spouse and kids (if you're married). If you now have a significant fortune, you may want to provide for other relatives and/or friends as well. Knowing this is set in writing will help you sleep at night--but think about it carefully first. (And if none of your relatives deserve the money, well, I'm a fine fellow!)
7. Treat yourself well. Even a wonderful lifestyle change like winning the lottery is very stressful, and stress is hard on your health. Watch your diet. Hold down the drinking. Quit smoking. Get exercise. If you lose your health, the money won't be worth anything. You've really got something to live for now. Money won't keep you healthy--discipline will.
8. Don't feel guilty. Deep inside, some people believe they didn't deserve to win. Of course you didn't--but you didn't deserve that nasty headcold you had last winter, either. Relax and enjoy your good fortune. Don't let other people put a guilt-trip on you either. Regardless of how much you've won, it's not enough to save the world, and that's not your job alone. Support those good causes you would have supported anyway. Nothing says you have to send me fifty thousand bucks to fight the tragedy of toe-fungus!
And congratulations! I can't think of anyone who deserved to win more--not counting myself, of course. Enjoy.