Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Million Dollar Game


Do you ever play the million dollar game? This is the mental game that goes “If I had a million dollars I would…” A variation is “If I won the lottery I would…” I think of an amount and I try to think of all the things I might do and how my life would change. It’s a fun game when I’m feeling down or blue or when daily life just seems like a bit of a grind. Sometimes a vacation into spinning daydreams is almost as relaxing as a trip, and it’s cheaper and easier!

Here’s how I play. If I won ten million dollars I would have to give about a third to the government (taxes) and I would give away one million to various charities that I believe are doing good work. So I would have about $5 million dollars left to play with. I always imagine a lump sum, not an annuity, because it’s not as much fun to play the game with smaller amounts. So what would I do with $5 million dollars? Well, I think I would set aside about $300,000 for my daughter’s future. I would give away $100,000 each to my mother, father, stepmother, sister, mother-in-law, father in-law, and brother in-law.  I would spend $500,000 to buy a house that I liked.  I would use two million to set up some kind of retirement fund for my husband and I, some investment at a decent interest rate (if there is such a thing anymore) that would let us have an annual income. I would like to take about $500,000 to take a year off work and finance a trip around the world so I can see all the amazing places that I’ve read about. After that I usually get stuck. What to do with that last million dollars? I usually come up with some plan to divide the money up amongst my friends so that everyone gets something and I get the fun of giving away.

I realize that in the end, I don’t really want a lot of things. I’d like to live in a paid off house, with enough money to pay insurance and taxes on it. That feels like security to me. It would be nice to have an option not to work, but if I’m honest with myself I probably would anyway after my year off. I mostly like my current job and while it would be nice not to need my job, I wouldn’t feel very good about leaving it forever. I don’t really want a whole lot of expensive things; I like the cars we have, I like my clothes, I don’t wear much jewelry. I love to buy books but I can only read so many in a period of time after all.

Which is part of the point of the game. It’s fun to fantasize about a few things I could do with a whole lot of money, but then in the end, it’s fun to realize that really I have a lot to be grateful for. I’ve been told, many times, that gratitude is the best cure for worry (including a recent reminder from a good friend). The million dollar game reminds me that even without a million dollars, life is very good.