$1 million question
>I just won a million dollars. Seriously. I won it on a scratch-off ticket. So my question to you is this: What would you do if you just won a million dollars?
—Got Rich Quick
The Omniscient One says: Walk around your neighborhood and identify five to 10 potential locations for start up businesses. Then offer $100,000 to $200,000 investment to anyone who can propose a viable idea for a new business. They get 50 percent based on sweat equity and you get 50 percent based on your investment. They have the option to buy you out. You help rebuild your neighborhood and might have ownership in some stable businesses. Hopefully, some people end up with successful locally owned businesses. Some will fail, but they could not even have tried had you bought a worthless scratch-off ticket.
Dr. Sigmund Fraud says: I would set aside $500,000 to pay for my assisted living and end-of-life-care. The other half-million dollars I would set aside to pay for my wife’s assisted living and end-of-life-care. Woot!
Smart Money says: Congrats! They’ll either pay you in installments or you’ll get the present value of the dollar less taxes…approximately a third of the million.
Pay off your debts and don’t quit your job. Set a portion of the funds aside for fun stuff, but plan for your future as well. I would advise meeting with a financial planner to help you. Don’t make any crazy investments and stay out of the stock market! Good luck. And let us know whose advice you took. It better be mine!
The Straight Skinny says: With all due respect for Dr. Fraud, the elder care industry is going to strip us of everything we have between the time we step into the nursing home and the time when we shuffle off this mortal coil. This windfall is for you and yours; better spend or invest it now, instead of signing it over to the nursing home later.
How to spend it depends on who you are. I know a guy who could happily maintain his current lifestyle forever with that kind of money, never working another day of his life. More likely, it’s an opportunity to pay off your mortgage, maybe buy a better car. If you have kids, you might want to but some aside for college tuition.
Take a trip around the world. That’s what I would do. And I’d use that travel time to assess how happy I am with the current trajectory of my life. Am I living where I want to live? Do I love my job? A million dollars may not be as much as it used to be, but it’s still a lot of money—enough to buy you a respite from the financial realities that make it difficult to contemplate changing careers, going back to school and learning a new trade, or pulling stakes and opening a used book shop in Ko Samui.
A friend of mine works at a bakery that I frequent. He routinely (bit not always) gives me free coffee and a free cookie to my eight-year-old son. That’s very nice of him, but the owner of the bakery is a friend, too, and I worry that my accepting these gifts is unfair. I’m not sure if the employee pays for the stuff he gives away, or if he’s allowed to give away a certain amount of product in order to win customer loyalty. And I’m not about to ask either the employee or the owner any questions about the practice—I don’t want to offend the giver of cookies nor betray him to his boss.
—I Feel Like a Cop in a Donut Shop
The Practical Cogitator says: Only accept the coffee and cookies every fourth time you go in. It’s wonderful that the folks at the bakery are offering you items on the house, really. Later have your son write a thank-you note and draw a picture and mail it to the bakery. I’m sure they’ll love receiving snail mail that isn’t an invoice. You’ll be teaching your son manners and the shop folks will all know what’s happening.
The Omniscient One says: Jesus, there’s no need to wrestle with your conscience over it. Just say thanks, but insist that you pay for the coffee and the cookie. How hard is that?
Smart Money says: Buy other stuff. Offering freebies is a way to instill loyalty in customers.
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