Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 11.15

The other day at work, several of my coworkers and I discussed the pros and cons of playing the lottery, which naturally led into speculation on what each of us would do if we ever came into a large sum of money. I’ve had this conversation with many people over the years, and I always enjoy listening to different people’s plans and ideas.

So I ask you, Skepchick reader, if someone handed you ten million dollars today, what would you do?

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66 Comments

  1. I’d use it primarily for tuition for myself and my family. Other than that, I’m afraid I’d rather boringly buy a great place to live and pile the rest into an investment plan.

    I’d continue to work in the job I currently have, but would be able to just take things easier.

  2. @fxnut: Except that no one actually READS the Bible. ;)

    Along that same vein, though, I’d like to rent some of those “from God” billboards.

    “Get a life! – God” or “Psst, listen to the atheists. – God”

    I’d also give a bunch to family and friends, and to skeptical organizations. Then I’d buy a small airplane able to carry my motorcycle and do some serious traveling.

  3. Skepchick calendars. Lots and lots of Skepchick calendars.

    Then I’d pay my debt off. Buy a house in the town my kid lives in and a downtown place here in Tulsa. Open a bookstore/adult education center. Start a theater/Improv troupe and an online weekly talk show/podcast. Market my one-man show more effectively. Travel. Donate to the Kucinich and Nader campaigns in season. Donate to arts organizations that are doing something pro-community.

    You know, stuff.

    Oh, wait. I’m doing most of that right now. Guess I don’t need a lottery to make my dreams come true!

    ‘Course, I still bought my ticket this morning.

  4. I’d pay off all my current debts (cars, credit cards, loans), I’d trade in both my cars for brand new, higher-level trim of reasonable, reliable, fuel-efficient vehicles (no luxury sports cars, but higher models of brands like Toyota or Honda, or even mid-range BMWs), I’d buy a house with a huge down payment in order to keep the mortgage payments comfortable (I’ve read advice that there are tax advantages to having a mortgage payment, so I wouldn’t pay it off entirely), I’d do a few nice things for friends and relatives, take care of a few luxuries I wouldn’t normally splurge on, and then I’d hire myself a financial planner and invest the rest.

    I’d do staggered investments to ensure that every three to six months some portion of my locked-up money becomes available should I need it, but the rest will end up in long-term, higher-yield investment options.

    I’d also ensure that my kids had secret funds that would be used to either pay for college or, should I feel that they’ve made legitimate and intelligent decisions with their lives that don’t include college, will go to them for other purposes (such as investment in a business they wish to start, or living costs while doing overseas travel or charity work, etc.).

    And then I’d go back to work (more people would go crazy not working than are willing to admit it), happy knowing that my retirement is covered, vacations are covered, I live in a safe, comfortable home with safe, comfortable vehicles, and that normal day-to-day hiccups would no longer throw my family into financial turmoil.

    Oh, and maybe I’d take some time off work to pursue my acting career again and see where that takes me.

  5. Pay my student loans, keep working but maybe part time with more vacations for travel. And home school my kids…the more I hear from my friends who are teachers, the more I fear public schools are no longer for actually learning stuff. I’d probably get a slightly nicer apartment, but not so huge expensive that it takes 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other and costs thousands of dollars in heating alone. Invest.

    Um…what else….I’d probably buy at least one thing that I always wanted to have but never thought I could afford. But ultimately I’m too boring to do anything too crazy. 10 million only goes so far. Especially after they tax the crap out of it. No MC Hammer mansions for me.

  6. Oh, yeah, that would be another good thing to fund!
    We are actually 3 mental health counselors under the required number at our university–no budget. (It’s some formula like 1/10,000 students.) It can take over 2 weeks for a student to get an appointment–which, if you have someone who is suicidal, is a major problem.
    :(

  7. Lots of good ideas here – selfless ones, too.
    Turbofool and I think alike. I’d pay off all my current debt (cc’s, school debt, etc.) except for a small, refinanced mortgage for tax purposes.

    Upgrade my computer to the best available.

    Set up education accounts for the grandkids.

    Pay off my kid’s college loans and houses.

    Fully fund my Sheltie Rescue with an amount sufficently large in an investment that it could run off of the interest.

    Set my wife and I up with a guaranteed middle class income for life with an amount sufficiently large in investments that we could live off of the interest.

    I live in WV, where the living conditions for most people are abysmal, so…

    Fully fund area food and medical banks.

    Assist the local colleges and high schools with endowed science student scholarships.

  8. Student loans for me and the brothers. My mother’s mortgage. A new car for each of us so we can finally say good bye to those poor, stitched-together things we each drive :-P

    Probably buy a small house in town. Invest in land. An endowment to my department. A nice gift to each of my favorite charities.

    Have I run out yet?

  9. @QuestionAuthority: You just had to one-up me with the philanthropy, eh? lol

    In reality there’s a lot of good I’d want to do, so in the end my own financial stability would make that a lot easier to make a reality. It would give me more time and more free resources to take things I care about and do more than merely care about them. It would also give me time to help figure out what causes matter most to me and which ones I can have the biggest effect on. Kind of like debt-stacking to pay off credit cards sooner, I could carefully evaluate which ones are closest to succeeding and therefore my efforts will have the most impact.

    But the first priority needs to be on my family and their wellbeing. The rest falls into place after that.

  10. I’d Give away 2 million to friends and family then i’d give another 2 million to charities or possibly my school. Invest 4 million. Then blow the other 2 that is left on all kinds of crazy shit.

  11. I’m sure the new President would demand that I share the wealth, so I’d have to give up 6-8 million for government redistribution. I’d use some to get a better truck, house, camera and computer. If I had any left after that, I’d try harder to get a date.

  12. I’d have a huge party with all my family and close friends and let them know that, without stepping on toes or going beyond what they would want, they have nothing to worry about ever again and their kids all have an education fund.

    Then everyone would book a month off (with pay from me, if not from work) in six months time and we’d all go somewhere great. This would be a once-a-year occurrence.

    There would be a lot more, but that’s the main stuff.

  13. You know, I think I’ve lived so cheaply, for so long, that I think I could probably do a lot of this on just one Mill.
    Of course, it helps that all my family are cheapskates…uh…frugal…as well.

    And we all live in the middle of nowhere, where costs are low.
    (Except, of course, where I work…which is too expensive for me to live anywhere near it.)

  14. You guys aren’t thinking clearly – although the lawyer comment was on target. Get thee a lawyer! Don’t tell anyone you have won. Then move. Don’t tell anyone where you are. Send your family a set amount of money. Tell them “That’s it, all you get and don’t ask for more.” The alternative is having every acquaintance and long-lost “relative” begging at your door.

    It’s no wonder why lottery winners mostly end up really poor and unhappy in the end. They started with nothing and got deluged and blew through it all too fast.

    I would not change much of my lifestyle (other than moving). I would quit this job for sure but would definitely work. It’d be so awesome to help out lots of charities and not have debt. I might buy that really expensive Scotch too. Just to celebrate.

    Of course, I can’t win if I don’t play. And, since I think the lottery is a tax on those who can’t do math, I don’t play that game.

  15. Pay off the house. (My only debt.) Drop a chunk for each of my nephews’ education. Then start a non-profit group to buy up abandoned houses in the area. Tear down the bad ones, and turn the lots over to the neighbors as a green space; Garden, Park, Playground, whatever.

  16. Had to get an account, just to answer this one.

    It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately anyway, for no good reason. I’d probably do the same as most, share the wealth with family & friends, give some away where it might do some good, but save enough ($1 mil should be more than enough), so that I can quit my job w/o losing my house, then go work for The Henry Ford http://www.thehenryford.com/ for free, if necessary, and spend the rest of my life learning how to take apart and repair steam locomotives, make parts from scratch to keep old Model T’s running, learn blacksmithing, tinworking, glassblowing, and anything else that they showcase.

  17. @Detroitus:
    I like were your going with this. The Balvenie has a limited cask 191, it retails for about $11,000 if you can find it. I would definately try to aquire a bottle of this. Outside of that take care of my mom 1st. As for me small house very large garage.

  18. Okay, I would create trust funds for my children so that I would know they wer safe. Then I would stop studying for the CPA exam and would return to school so that I could earn a PHD in biology and hope, that some day I could make an advance in science. If not I would hope that the foundation I created would help advance the cause of science and skepticism. Also I would drink only the best whisky and would travel like a sexy mofo on my holidays.

  19. Wow. And this is a bunch of skeptics. Under what circumstances would $10 million coming suddenly into your life would you believe it was legitimate. The first thing I would do was make very certain the money was real. Probably call the police first and a lawyer second.

  20. @TurboFool: “I’ve read advice that there are tax advantages to having a mortgage payment, so I wouldn’t pay it off entirely”

    There only microscopic tax advantages to having a mortgage. Mortgage companies would like you to believe otherwise, but in the real world the only thing that makes sense is to pay off your house as quickly as possible. Again: be skeptical. Work out the numbers for yourself. What the gullible prats who write books always forget is yes you can itemize your deductions and deduct the total from your taxes, BUT if you don’t have a mortgage you still get the standard deduction. My standard deduction is $10k. That means I really only get back about 1/3 of anything after the first $10k. That’s a very bad ROI. Or think of it another way. If you have a 6% mortgage every dime you put towards extra principal gets you a guaranteed 6% interest rate. I bet a lot of people had wished they had been doing this for the last 8 years rather than investing in the stock market. Not that investing in the market is bad, but 6% guaranteed is too good to ignore.

  21. @davew: dude. lighten up a little. can there be no room for a fun hypothetical discussion?
    maybe i should have asked instead what you would do if someone handed you ten million dollars that you knew was real and legitimate for super duper seriously.
    would that make you happier?

  22. I’d give a million or so to my parents, spoil my friends (which includes each and every skepchick) with whatever they would want or desire, buy a sailboat for myself, and donate the rest of it to help further scientific research studies.

  23. To heck with all this selfless philanthropy. I would buy an island in the carribean and establish my own empire. The only inhabitants allowed would be young ladies under the age of 35 with no moral standards. And of course wearing clothing would be declared a capitol crime. Next to my magnificant polynesian palace would be a luxurious guest house permanently reserved for Phil Plait and the Skepchick alumni. (I have no desire to see Phil naked so I would have to make some exceptions to my no-clothing law)
    It would be a stone groove man, a feekin bali hai!

  24. I’d use the money to finance a bigger heist. 10 million isn’t enough for an evil mastermind to retire on. It isn’t even enough to build my secret underground lair–let alone furnishings, staff, 50 years of food, OC-768 internet connection, etc.

  25. Fenced compound. Good farm land. Complete collection of Carl Sagan’s writing. Then wait for the ages of unreason to pass … I could be there a while. (If you have useful skills, you can apply for compound membership with an evidence based CV).

  26. @carr2d2: Apologies. I wasn’t trying to be heavy just honest. And skeptical. The problem is my real answer to this question is considerably more boring. If $10m showed up in my life through means I knew to be legitimate what would I do with it? Likely nothing. I have all I need for now. I love my job so I have no desire to quit. It would be nice to know that should my job go away I wouldn’t have to be concerned about finding another one.

    The problem with $10m is it isn’t really FU money. Not in this economy. It’s enough to make a big difference in a small thing or a small difference in a big thing. Add a couple of zeros and I could make a big difference in a big thing like Elon Musk. $10m might be enough to set up a scholarship for atheists/agnostics at a university. I’d look into that.

  27. I have actually thought about this on many occasions. After lawyer and all the other b.s. I would buy a plot of land and build about eleven homes in a gated community and name it atheist corner. It would have a single road named evolution circle. I would take applications from low income families and with the name of the complex they all would most likely be skeptics. After going thru the applications I would give ten of the homes away. I would invest the rest and go to school for the rest of my life. I might get a job some time but I could see myself never getting out of school. I would study everything I could.

  28. Pay off the debts, then donate the rest to my community college so they could expand the UNCW bachelor’s program to include Bio-Ed.

    Either that, or to the local high school so they could expand their science facilities and maybe include a planetarium, or at least get better labs. The high school only has one decent sized lab, and its equipment is in pitiful condition and short supply. With 11,000 Marines and their families and support staff and their families being moved here over the next few years, those labs are critically deficient.

    Hopefully, whichever of them got the money would be kind enough to see to the rest of my tuition.

  29. i’d pay off what little debt i have. i’d quit my job and go to school full-time (to be a teacher or something equally as unglamorous). i’d pay off my car, or more than likely, just get a newer one, but nothing too fancy… rent a condo downtown. help fix up my mom’s house some, help my dad rent a small house instead of the crappy apartment he’s in. help my family how i can… invest a ton.

  30. I would fund my high school, especially for the science department. Also, I would save bits of it to pay for my graduate and undergraduate education in the future. Finally, I would get books and cool technologies, if anything remains.

  31. No big changes. Quietly stop working and mumble something about early retirement to friends and relatives. And I’d start traveling a lot and make the neighbors wonder about how much time I have on my hands for golf road trips in the new ride. Buy a condo for me mum, set up trusts for the kids and fund some mental health intervention and fine arts programs for kids.

    And hook by iPhone with Elyse for a day of well funded debauchery!!! ;)

  32. Pay off my house. Pay off my tuition debt. Save money to pay for my future tuition and grad school.

    Then buy a new macbook and a mini cooper! I’d add an extravagant vacation as well, but that will have to wait until after finals. Cursed be the students!

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