Finances & Money

What would I do if I won the lottery?

Early this year, I explained why I buy lottery tickets. Some of us buy comic books, some buy art. I buy little slips of paper that have a slight, very, very remote chance of maybe having a small probability of winning back the $1 I spent to buy it.

But what if I actually won some sizable amount of money? What about the actual big jackpot? What would I do with the money? I’ve actually thought about this for years, and each year, my plans change depending on our current financial situation. So, I decided to outline my plans, based on winning different levels of money.

ASSUMPTION 1: To make my dreams somewhat reality, I’m going to use a base 40% cut in the winnings for taxes. This is just a rough guess at the maximum I would owe towards taxes, and makes calculations easier. Your local may differ. Also, I’m not getting too technical in this since they’re all just dreams anyway. Don’t be a nerd and try to correct my math or assumptions. No one likes a know-it-all, so leave my dreams alone.

ASSUMPTION 2: I’m assuming any of these amounts are cash options, not annuities.


This is the top amount I see on a number of $2 scratch-off tickets. I don’t generally buy anything higher than $2, and I usually avoid scratch-offs anyway, but sometimes that little high is just what I need that week.

If I won $30k, I’d get to keep $18,000 after taxes. I would NOT use it to buy anything new. Instead, I would use it to pay off our highest interest debt, which right now is my student loan. With the remaining $4,000, I’d either pay some of Stacie’s student loan off or just put it in the bank as an emergency fund. I may also put it all in next year’s Roth IRA.


Now we’re talking about some real money here. This is roughly the 2nd place prize in the multi-state lotteries. After taxes, I’d get to keep about $150,000. Knowing that we have $50,000 in non-home debt left, and about $75,000 on our second mortgage, I would pay both those amounts off. It would reduce our monthly debt obligation from about $3,200 down to about $1,800. At that point, Stacie could probably quit her job and we could live comfortably off my salary. Sure, Stacie could quit her job now, but money would get REAL tight, and we don’t want that.

The remaining $25k would be split into emergency savings, Roth IRA and then some other investments. No need to buy any new toys yet.


Wouldn’t Dr. Evil be jealous of me! We’re moving into the 7-figure range here. What would I do with 1 million dollars? After tax, we’d have about $600,000. That would pay off our entire mortgage and non-home debt, with about $160,000 left over. Part of that remainder would stay with us for investments and the rest (maybe $100k) would be split with our parents to pay off debts and/or go towards retirement funds.

We would have no monthly debt obligations, just utilities, insurance, property taxes, and other incidentals. We wouldn’t be able to just quit our jobs (except for maybe a year or two). Stacie could take time off and set up shop to do outpatient consulting or write for Building Nutrition. I still wouldn’t just quit my job, but I don’t think I would be so stressed.

Now, the question is whether we would sell the house in DC, move to central PA (closer to family) and try to find new jobs there. Cost of living is so low near our parents, so we could live comfortably for years with a half-million in our pockets. However, neither of us would be satisfied just sitting around, and we would want that money to work for us. We would get jobs (probably in the same fields we’re in now), invest the money for ourselves and our parents (and grandparents).

$50 million

Now, with $30,000,000 after taxes, we’re talking about retiring early. We’d get the heck out of the D.C. area and move closer to our families. We’d buy a good house, but not go overboard with marble floors and gold toilets. We would obviously pay off our debts, our parents’, grandparents’ and siblings’ debts, and invest money towards their retirements and our nieces’ and nephew’s college education.

Additionally, we would donate a few million ($5-10 mill) to Stacie’s alma mater and maybe to a few other charities or schools close to our hearts. We would both continue to educate ourselves and stay current in marketable skills, but more for launching our own ventures rather than working for someone else. We’d get to travel to Europe (mainly Italy, Ireland and Greece), and probably stay longer than 2 weeks at a time.

$150,000,000 and higher

Ok, this kind of cash is just ludicrous. We would definitely retire, veg on our $100,000 bed all day and watch Jerry Springer, Oprah and reruns of Seinfeld…in different wings of our $20 million house. Seriously though, we would donate a lot of the money to charities, and enable ourselves and our families to pursue their dreams.

Granted, we would need to ensure they don’t try to take advantage of the sweet life and lose any of their skills. We would need to be strict with any “allowance” we would give to our families, and make sure we’re not trying to control their lives with our money. I can see how many people winning this amount of money might wish they never bought that lottery ticket because of the problems it probably causes.

I dream of winning this much money, but in reality I’d be very worried about my and my family’s safety. As I get older, I dream less of winning this amount and more of maybe $25 million and lower. I think we can accomplish our rather mediocre dreams with much less money.

What Would YOU Do?

I invite you to share your dreams with any level of lottery winnings, however far-fetched. If you’re a blogger, I also invite you to write your own similar post and feel free to link back here so I can check it out!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • If i won the lottery…I would not tell a soul except my hubby and daughter.I would get to live the life of a secret agent. i would buy a house and insist that i’m renting it. pay it off.taxes and utilities for a decade upfront,because i plan on living there for the rest of my life. Go to school put away college fund for my child as for my parents and siblings get i’d be a good lookout if they have problems come up with excuses to help them. I know it seems selfish wouldnt want to take away drive and determination from my family but whatever they need i’m coming in like superwomen to help as needed. I would like to own a coulple of old school cars fix them up.cds’s and investments policys.Of course pay off all my debt I would love to travel a bit and keep a hold of my faith.I ‘ve never had much so it would be nice to just take it all in…..when the education arrives and with a diploma at hand i could help my family more and more.Also a sense of responsibility and patience assumming i wasnt up to my eyeballs already. Keep us safe with Jesus prayer and faith. Clothes are a must but my priority would be my Family and crib. Furniture, pool ect.. around 250,000-300,000. If God is willing I’ll win…and ill see u folks down the block…lol

  • if i won a lot of money i’d buy wmd’s and blow up the planet because it’s mostly full of evil people.

  • When I win the lotto I am going to open up my own company and mall.I have some really great ideas for companies that will tackle certain demographics that are lacking in the area. In that company and mall I will employ all my closest friends and family and give them a huge salary and benefits. I’d give out bonus’s and all but at the same time they will be helping me keep my money. It will be a win/win for everyone. and btw when i say nice salary i mean they will be well off for life.

    I will clear all my debt (which is only 7k atm) and pay off all the mortgage on my parents home and my fiances family home. I’d hire a group of financial advisers and id have them put my money to work on a variety of things. But mainly i want to involve myself in the buying and renting of homes.

    I would, after all thats taken care of and my ventures are running smoothly immediately have a baby and put into its college fund. I am gonna be smooth sailing and I will also be able to help my entire family financially and have something to pass down to the next families in my tree. I wouldnt donate to a cause because I am always not quite sure who really is recieving the money so id instead start a no kill pet shelter and a really huge orphanage type place that will really, and i mean really treat those children the way they deserve to be treated and give them the tools they need to gain confidence and succeed in the world. I’d probably spend 90% of my time there mentoring and doing what I can.

    Winning the money is about doing what makes you happy and helping others along the way. I am truly happy if I am helping a child that needs me. I am happy if I can take animals that have been abused and neglected (with good temperaments) and give them a good life and a second chance. Sipping margaritas in cancun for the rest of my life wont help anyone, and wont fill the gap in my heart.

  • Well…
    Let’s see:
    I will not talk about anything like 30k or near because is an irrelevant amount (useful in some ways, but not in my target range)…
    Getting the Big Buck…
    First of all, my situation:
    .age range:20-25
    .no debt
    .living: in these harder times, living from my savings(done in better economic times-if you remember that advice with emergency savings enough for 6 months, i took in consideration and i took it further so i saved money for one year expenses) +some money from parents+waiting money to come from some of my past activities (money that will be good for another 3 to 5 months of expenses).
    .unemployed for the moment, but not looking for in near future
    + an important detail: i am not living in US, so the sums will not match the US market, but my country market and they will be in Euro. 1 euro=~1.5 $

    A) 1mil. and some Euro after tax
    1. put 500k in a current bank account and for the other 500k split in two savings accounts 250k in Euro (it is way better than in $ for the following year ) and 250k Euro value in my country currency.
    Why this?
    Simple:for the first 250k i will get near 5% return in a year and for the other 250k near 14% return.
    So, in a very inaccurate way of summing up, i will make something like 34.5 k Euro (~ 51.75 k US$) by doing nothing and with my full preserve of my initial 500k.
    [i did a very simplistic summing, without inflation and so, to not get you guys bored].
    Now, those 34.5k on year will come on another current account being paid monthly (something like 2.8k monthly).
    With those money i will pay: mortgage at a very nice apartment near park(~1k/month ); 0.5k leasing/month for a good car, like Audi Q5) and the rest for current monthly expense.
    At one point i will start a small business also.
    Getting back to the other 500k from the current account:
    .150k for my sister and brother in law
    .200k for my father and his family
    .150 for my mother and her family
    All this for very objective expenses (homes, cars etc.)
    It’s detailed but not very (i can do it even more detailed :))
    *keep in mind that the prices are way different than US prices.
    In my opinion, this is the best way to deal with this kind of money. At least the safest way, because they are not that much to afford to get to excited.
    So, i will get a home (now i am renting), a good car and the money for daily biases without spending my savings and without working.
    My close relatives will get their primary problems solved and i will follow one of my principles: giving back generally as much as i get 🙂 [500k me, 500k to others]
    ps: sorry my English, but i am not a native speaker.
    ps2: i will come to say you about the other levels, when the things are getting a lot more exciting 🙂

  • Is it me, or does other people feel the same way..
    The thoughts of wining the jackport really does horrify me.
    Say I get $50 mill after taxe, that is way too much considering what I need to live life.. I think for me, anything aove $10 mill after taxes is too much for me.. Money brings a lot of trouble and the more you have the more trouble you are in for. Not to mention the good folks at IRS will be your own personal watch dogs. lol

  • well, lets talk about the 50 million jackpot

    i would not tell no one..i have already plotted 90% a year in advance what to do with the money so the hardest part is over with
    i would just tell my wife for right now and i would change my number then i would talk to a real estate/developer/broker whoever i want a house to purchase to move in the house for now and pay the cash when the smoke clears everything will be verified before this to give me credubility the reason for this because we have to act like boy george…move, move, move away because you would fear for your safety and you will get harassed and jealousy and things like that i would disconnect all phones and get a cheap trac phone at family dollar and give it out to the appropriate friends and family and tell them to contact us and tell them where we moved to..the mansion as i stated above until further notice my wife will take a leave of absense, then take a 2 week notice, then quit because its the right procedure to do and we have a lot to do while she is out of work
    i would delete all the hotmail, yahoo,inbox, website, blopgs,,,accounts right now and make new ones and then tell the realible family members my new accounts once i register them
    i would make a copy of the ticket and hide it i would not need a lawyer unless we need one for the blind trust but i would definetly need a certified CPA to figure out taxes and a finacial advisor but for both it will be free consultations if i cant do that then i will research online …which is how i got to this section in the first place
    now we go to the lottery office and get ready for the lady gaga latest single….papa..paparazzi… which unfortunatly in my state we have to smile and say cheese and put our name in the lottery database which to me is more dangerous than a person on a sex offender registry list

    once we done all that i will put money into a blind trust which i would set up 2 blind trust accounts and both wont be in my name
    i would change my name as well
    i would payy all the past due bills i owe, get ready to set up a cheap online billing with probably with getting a debit card at walmart to use this just to pay our future bills from now on
    the taxes, i assume since we will get taxed 50%-60% will be paid up front so we are find there
    our credit will affect this as well about 50% then the rest we will pay off in full
    then we will find ways to build both of our credits so both of us will be at 800 credit score wise
    a real keen decesion is to see if we need to moe out of state this is the only biggest decesion i see
    i would give 12 people 1 million dollars each as in gifts so it wont get taxed twice in the same year(tax reterick whatever that means, hmmm i guess i do need to take to a advisor,huh,..)get the blind trust out of the country or the state i live in
    we will have our own real estate buisiness this will set up the future for our only child so when he grows up he will be ceo/owner/landlord, etc of his own business we will edducated him real young and in the summer time when he writes reports he can tell the class what he has done on his summer vacation which is be an entrapenaur because his name will be as one of the owners and founders of the business
    our son will have his own trust fund which will build up intrest so when he is 21 he will be straight for life, he is just 2 now so we expect he will be a millionare 20 times over
    i dont want him to work hard at these punk ass jobs like we have done i want him to succedd thats the whole purpose of this he will work..belive that, but not hardcore he will be a leader and a entrpaneur
    we will have vacation homes in ashville sc by the biltmore and boston ma
    we will probably have 7 cars one of them a drop top mercedes
    if my son wants to goto school he will have money for that to pay for it and he wont be in debt
    back to the mansion we will have on hand security which we will hire and we will be online shopping 24/7 because in a house with the 12,000 feet you will never finish shopping and you can best belive it wont look all bland and empty like those stars cribs you see on MTV cribs but mre like the house in Florida Design
    research money market accounts,cd, stocks, bonds mutaul funds, in other words… and will be my best friend
    my wife will be married to the best husband ever

    says toney vegas…king of las vegas

  • Everything that I’d want to do has been mentioned in some form or another by other posters, except one: I’d finally be able to answer my phone without worrying it was someone saying that I was late on a payment.

  • If i won the lottery i wouldnt tell anyone except my wife until i got my bearings and head straight for the new life. secondly i would get out the military and would buy a modest home nice 4 or 5 bedroom on the beach or something not a mansion but something nice you know wouldnt want to bring to much attention to myself. i would buy a nice mercedes benz or a bmw nothing crazy just a plain ol nice car and maybe a motorcycle.i would open a small business like a barber shop\saloon, or a landscaping business or wedding planner. i would get finacial help from a reputable person to invest some of the cash so i could make money off money i have i would be afraid of going broke my biggest fear would be living lavishly and going broke.and having to work so investing would be a must. i would buy my parents a modest home and a modest car.i would dontate to a homeless shelter annoumously. and i would enjoy a life low key free of debt humble and modest trying not to draw attention to myself. i would liver in a small normal community i would take vacations every year and enjoy life travel. buy a few small toys here and there flat screen tv’s, guns etc just my dream lol i guess ill get back to reality lol

  • I’d like to say that I’ve dreamt about winning a huge sum… $250 mil +. All I want for myself would be about 5 mil. The rest would go into my town. I would visit the area college and get kids (who want to go into this business) to put forth business plans for the downtown. Every viable business would be given all their up front money and a store front to conduct their business for a year. All the owner has to worry about is their paying the real estate taxes on the property (as their rent). After the first year they would assume the responsibility of overhead and taxes. After the third year, should they be making a profit, they would assume more resposibility and I would get 25% of the profit (all determined by an accountant who is acceptable to both parties from the beginning). I belive this plan would revitalize the town which really needs some help. I belive this would cost about 75 mil.. Now with the rest of the money I would build a resort about 3 miles out of town, near a lake, where an ATV park has already been established. This resort would have a 27 hole golf course (designed by Tom Watson or Rees Jones). The cart paths would be used for cross country skiing in the Winter. The ATV park would be the Summer attraction and Snowmobiling would be the Winter attractions to those trails. I would have 4 Tennis courts (ice rinks in the Winter), a swimming pool, Horse back riding, Sleigh Pulling in the Winter, all attached to a 200 room (expandable) complex. Complete with restaurants (1 with fine dining). I would build a few spec homes along the golf course as vacation homes or rentals with all the amenities. This would bring tons of tourists to the area and help the downtown be even more successful. The Spring and Fall would not be forgotten since this Lake is in an area where the 4 seasons are a pert of life…. Won’t you come visit us when I complete my project? Hope to see you there….

  • If I won millions of dollars, I would take the lump sum. I would pay my taxes and put the rest in safe bank accounts with good interest. Every year, I would use what I needed to survive and pledge the rest for feeding the hungry, and helping those who are otherwise ignored by those with power. Imagine, If I had five million dollars a year in interest, how many people I could save. If only!


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