If I had a few million dollars

By Mir
February 5, 2015

Otto picked up a handful of lottery tickets last week. The Powerball or whatever it’s called was up to… I don’t even know what. 250 frajillion? It was a lot of money. And while I firmly believe lottery tickets to be a tax on people who are bad at math, we could spare a few bucks for the fun of what-if-ing for a few days.

Spoiler: We didn’t win. My dreams of lounging on a divan all day—eating bon bons and directing underlings to peel grapes for me—have been dashed. (Related: We don’t own a divan.)

Lately it feels like Otto and I talk about money a LOT. Part of this is the looming college thing, and gearing up to complete a FAFSA so that the government can tell us that if only we were to stop paying our mortgage or eating, we could certainly afford to send Chickadee to any college she likes. Part of it is the fact that both kids will be licensed drivers before we know it (pardon me while I breathe into a paper bag…) and will we want another car? Another two cars? WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY CARS?? And our car insurance recently got confused and sent us a bill which covered having a licensed teen driver (neither of them are licensed yet) and said bill caused my face to melt off and me to suggest a number of high-earning but not entirely legal career paths to said expensive teenager. Part of it is that some dear friends of ours are about to begin a kitchen renovation and OH ENVY UPON ENVY, happy for them (for real), but we would like to redo OUR kitchen, and should we? Could we? The only thing that costs more than a kitchen renovation is, I don’t know, a combination face lift/tummy tuck/breast implant surgery, and Otto’s boobs are already beyond reproach.

We have enough money for everything we truly need, and then some, because “need” is not the same as “want.” I get that. No complaints; we are lucky.

This is all preamble to saying that I thought more than I should probably admit about what we would have done if we HAD come into a giant pile of cash. It’s ridiculous, because part of the reason we’re able to live as we do stems from my ability to out-cheap just about anything, and in general my wants are simple. Take the kitchen thing, for example. Strictly speaking, we could afford to do a kitchen renovation. We could come up with the money. But I am (at this point) unwilling to spend that money because… the kitchen works just fine (mostly) and there are plenty of other things we may need that money for AND I require a certain cushion in savings to prevent me from feeling like the sky is falling.

Similarly, every now and then, Otto tries to talk to me about my “next car.” This conversation stalls out the same way, every time, because my current car is paid for and 1) I refuse to take out a car loan 2) if I was going to spend a big chunk of money, I’d rather spend it on a kitchen renovation. COULD I afford a decent car? Yes. Am I comfortable upgrading when my current car works just fine? Not really. (He keeps trying to talk me into a lease on an all-electric car because “the rebates and tax credits make it practically free” but I think I might be allergic to leases.)

This is all reality. In fantasy-world—we-just-won-the-lottery-world—I can make different choices. Ridiculous choices, even.

So here it is, the preliminary list of Things On Which I Would Cheerfully Blow Cash If We Ever Won The Lottery:

Not for me; for the kids. Not that we won’t help the kids pay for college, because that’s the plan, but instead of “let’s look at the costs and the endowments and available scholarships” it would be more like, “Bring me an acceptance letter and write me a persuasive paragraph on why this is the right college for you and we will fund you as long as you continue to work hard and pass your classes.” And that would be it. No comparing/contrasting/number-crunching. You want it? Awesome. It would be my privilege to make it happen for you.

House Updates
I think Otto’s feeling is that if we came into a ton of money we should just buy our “dream house” (whatever that is), but I really like our house for all sorts of reasons (both logical and not). So yeah, I’d do that kitchen renovation in a hot minute, plus I’d have someone update all the bathrooms, and instead of constantly talking about how I keep not finding the time to paint my office, I’d just… hire someone to do it for me. WOO!

Garage Mahal
Poor Otto made a lot of compromises when we moved here, chief among them that every house HE liked was, like, 800 square feet of living space, but had a 4-bay garage (and then he would try to convince me why we could TOTALLY MAKE THAT WORK). We do have a garage, but it is utterly average-sized. I love Otto enough that if money were (nearly) endless I would totally grant my blessing on the building of the ridiculous garage he truly wants. Or maybe we could just buy the house next door, raze it, and let him have a whole complex for his stuff. I bet he’d like that. Whatever. WE CAN AFFORD IT in fantasy land, so what the heck.

I’m a homebody by nature, but Otto would happily take to the road on a moment’s notice and keep going. The logistical barriers to his wanderlust are plentiful (apparently I am supposed to take care of these kids and send them to school and stuff…?) even beyond money, but WITH money, well, I believe a second honeymoon is in order. And I am not even just saying that because our first honeymoon lasted two days and I was sick the whole time. I might even take the kids on a trip, too.

Fine, a new car
The conversation went something like this:
Me: … and if we win, I can totally buy a Volt!
Otto: If we win, you can buy a Tesla.
Me: But I would be afraid to drive a Tesla.
Otto: Really?
Me: Yes! It could be stolen! Or scratched!
Otto: Ooookay….
(Moral of the story: Fantasizing, I’m doing it wrong.)

You know how some people are all, “Oh, even if I didn’t HAVE to work, I would because I just love it?” I think those people are deranged. There are a lot of things I love about my work. There are a lot of things I do today for money (get your mind out of the gutter) which I would happily continue doing NOT for money just because I love doing them. But if I didn’t have to work for money, I wouldn’t. Full stop. I would write only for the love of it, not for income. I would spend whole days doing nothing. I would volunteer for causes I believe in and exercise more and read a whole book every damn day. But I would retire from this whole “working to put food on the table” thing IMMEDIATELY.

I would buy all of our groceries at the hippie crunchy grocery store and YES, I would pay three damn dollars for a single organic avocado whenever the fancy struck. I would not clip coupons or track sales, I would just buy delicious foods based on what I felt like eating. (Related: I’d probably end up weighing 400 pounds. But I would be an ORGANIC 400 pounds.)

Truly ridiculous shoes
I have no desire to become the next Imelda Marcos, but if we had unlimited money? I’d go buy these and wear them to every. single. school. meeting. Yes.

I feel like my dreams are fairly modest (except maybe for those shoes…). Tell me what you’d do if you won the lottery? This has become my favorite game.


  1. Hally

    Win the lottery:
    – take the kids to Ireland. Mostly because I want to see the inside of Trinity’s Library.
    – pay for half of each kid’s college/trade school/university
    – pay for a kitchen update
    – buy a kindle and load it with ALL the books for my trip to Ireland.


    • Mir

      ALL THE BOOKS. I could read a different one every time I eat an organic avocado.

      • Jennifer

        This post was exactly what I needed (I am a HS counselor trying to convince all my senior cherubs to file that FAFSA) AND +1 this comment

  2. Mandy

    We share several fantasy plans, but I’d also pay off the eleventy bajillion dollars I owe Sallie Mae for undergraduate and graduate school loans (bc I didn’t give them my firstborn).

    I’d love to have someone make and install custom bookcases, too.

    And maybe a horse. Or Italy. Or an Italian horse.

    • Mir

      I say go to Italy AND get an Italian horse. This is lottery money, after all!

  3. Sarah G.

    Multi week vacation to Austrailia and I would learn to surf in Hawaii. Plus we would go visit my brother in Alaska and see his adorable daughters.

  4. Patricia

    Every year I buy a few Super Bowl squares in the office pool solely so that I can buy myself a pair of Fluevogs with my bounty. I have one twelve year old pair that I still adore, though I rarely inflict high-heels on myself anymore.

  5. Barbara

    Cute shoes! I’d probably have them made in purple, though :)

    I’ve got a longtime lottery fantasy involving paying off houses for my parents, siblings, and in-laws, and doing the college thing just like you described for my kids & nieces and nephews. Then there’s the house in Tuscany and the apartments in NYC and Paris…everywhere else, we could just rent.

    Lately, though, I’ve been feeling the tug to give more (which is hilarious if you look at my bank statement, oh Target you philanthropy-impeding siren). I would love to be able to fund projects that tug at my heart, Bill & Melinda style.

    But don’t forget the purple dragon shoes.

  6. meghann @ midgetinvasion

    Oh man, I wonder if that’s something in the water or what. Money has been weighing heavily on my mind, too.

    If we won the lottery, the practical list:
    -new glasses for me and my daughter
    -new cars for me and husband, as both are on their last legs
    -fence for the backyard (owning a dog and no fence has been a THING)
    -pay off the mortgage
    -pay off the rest of our debt
    -college funds for all four kids
    -new stove and oven, since both are as old as I am. (only the two small burners work on the stove, and the oven only had 3 temperatures. 350, 400, 600.)
    -summer camp funds for all four kids

    Less practical
    -have the husband quit the army, and we’d just travel everywhere as a family and see ALL the things. The wanderlust is strong in me.

  7. Shannon

    Pay off all of our debts. Put money away for the girls for college. Buy new cars. Move to a Disney World Suburb. Yep. That’s about it.

  8. Michelle

    FINALLY someone who shares my lottery ticket philosophy! I am a math teacher for crying out loud, I get probability… but on occasion, we buy one just for the three days of fantasizing.
    1) Pay off our house.
    2) Buy modest homes for the people we love. Keep them in our names (investments!), but basically set them up to live for free.
    3) Teslas for my husband and I.
    4) Have more babies! Adopt some too! We have committed to only having as many kids as we can send to college comfortably. We both had zero help from our parents paying for school, and that was tough. So it’s a must for our family. More money, more kids.
    5) Once those babies are in school. Go back to grad school, go as far as I like, stop when I’m done.
    6) If it were the crazy super powerball… I might start a school.
    Wheeeeee! I love this game.

  9. Angela S

    Hm…Our small house experiment would be over the NEXT dang day. I’m 14 months into it and dearly looking forward to the job offer we’re hoping for in the next week simply so I can get out of this house!!!

    Food, lots of food. We have to eat organic/GF/DF/low sugar/low oil. Some days it blows. But, if my budget were gone and I could buy all the mangos I want, that would be easier to deal with!

    Books. I’d have my own library and I’d get to know my UPS man on a first name basis since he’d be seeing me every day.

    It isn’t about the stuff but more the not stressing about should I buy this book or put the money in savings.

    Oh, and I’d give, give, give. Give out the wazoo! It would be fun.

    Oh, I’d get a pathfinder. I love the get up and go they have while still being big and tough. My dented van is paid for and reliable so like you I won’t even consider anything else right now.

    Hm…oh and yes. Heck yes, I’d get a cleaning lady. Thank you very much!

  10. Niki

    Oh yeah – giving up the job right away. After we’d found and trained a suitable replacement me (which could be nigh unto impossible, but everyone is replaceable). Hubby would quit his job, and we would buy our little house on a mountain, with a wraparound rocking chair porch that overlooks a stream. And we might have an alpaca or two, and maybe a goat to keep the grass down. And we would help oldest with paying off school loans and youngest with finishing up school and even her grad school dreams. And maybe set them up in cute little starter homes. Then we would be hermits in our little house, except when we were out driving the mountains in one of hubby’s bajillion cars or traveling to the places we want to go.. And I could have all the yarn and shoes that I want.

    Yep, sounds good. I really need to buy those tickets.

  11. Aimee

    Oh, I do like this game! I would:

    — buy a house
    — pay off my sister’s mortgage
    — put money in a college fund for my nieces and nephews
    — stop writing my umpteenth book about internet marketing and write only what I want
    — go to Paris for a month — or four — learn French, write, eat good chocolate
    — put some money into causes that matter to me
    — buy those dragon shoes, because come ON, I am only human

  12. Amy

    In no particular order:

    -pay off my parents’ debt and buy them a new house.
    – ditto for my in-laws
    – fund an endowment at Murphy-Harpst Children’s Home so that they don’t have to worry about funding anymore
    – have a kid I used to babysit, but who is now an architect in Chicago, come to my house and completely redesign the living/cooking side of the house.
    -hire a driver to take me everywhere
    -buy an airplane

    And that’s it. I’d even probably keep working, for a while at least.

  13. Carla Hinkle

    Kitchen remodel! Completely new front yard/driveway/gate/fence! Pay off the house! Fancy ski vacation for extended family every single year! Give giant chunk of money to my kids’ school bc I love it so much! Ah, lottery fantasies. :-)

  14. Jen

    I was just daydreaming about this on my way to work this morning…
    1. We are in the middle of adopting our 2 year old daughter from China, so I’d throw a bunch of money at our adoption agency and say “put me on a plane tomorrow!”
    2. College funds for both our daughters and my nieces.
    3. Kitchen and upstairs bathroom over haul, new siding, new roof, new carpet, maybe finish the basement.
    4. New car for my long suffering husband who is driving a 14 year old car that sounds like a machine gun when he accelerates.
    5. Disney trip for sure.
    6. And then all the charitable donations… church, my friends adoption funds, charities we care about… that would be the fun part.

    Although, honestly, my real goal would be to NOT end up on one of those “I won 600 million dollars, spent it all on cheap beer and illicit activity and now I live in a hovel on some scrubland in Montana.” :)

    • Brenda

      That is a fantastic goal that I will also claim as my own.

  15. Karen R

    Second bathroom!
    Fix up the basement so there is a place for a second bathroom.
    Long, luxury cruise in the sweetest of suites.
    Upgrade my Kindle Keyboard to the latest and greatest, and replace all of my paper books with their Kindle versions.
    Bigger refrigerator now that the (recently) remodeled kitchen has room for one that is larger than apartment-size.
    Purchase a nearby home for an independent-living situation for my middle child.
    Buy my youngest a new car so her very-serious-boyfriend (working his way through college) can use her current car for internships.
    Luxury chocolate!

  16. Jean

    I think you should buy those shoes anyway…come on…DINOSAUR SHOES!!!!

  17. Karen in Michigan

    The only time I played the lottery was when we had a pool at work. I chose to view it as “team building” and yes, it was fun to speculate. Heck, even though I don’t buy tickets it’s an amusing daydream. I, too, would retire. I’d pay off my sister’s house and buy her a new SUV. I’d pay for her kid’s college. I’d pay off my own home, and do some remodeling. (I’m on the new kitchen bandwagon with you.) I might even buy a second winter place in Florida. And I would park my backside in the newly redecorated living room, or maybe the “library” in the second bedroom, and I would knit, and read books. And I would sew and maybe take up painting again. I would make the cats very happy by being home every day. Except when I went on vacation.

  18. Jen

    I would by new ( I am talking NEW, not just new to me!) cars for my husband, myself and my kiddos. A new house and a new RV to go all over the place in! Also college funds for my kiddos.

    • Jen


  19. Carrie C

    all of what you would buy, plus I’d have all my clothes tailor-made to fit this short, awkward body.

  20. Brenda

    1. Pay off all my debts and all the debts of my parents and siblings and medical expenses for other family members.
    2. Help my church fund the building we’re working on.
    3. Buy a car from this millennium. Maybe even this decade.
    4. Take my best friend on a trip to the UK and my entire family on a cruise or three.
    5. Buy a house that can have a library. In fantasy land, it would be like the library in Beauty and the Beast. In realistic fantasy land, it would have at least one wall of floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall bookshelves.
    6. Season theatre tickets at all the big theatres in town.
    7. Quit working and spend my time doing whatever the heck I want, including volunteering.
    8. Fund a theatre company so I can play whatever role I want in whatever play I want.
    9. New wardrobe. I hate shopping for clothes, and fashion is not my thing, but I’m well aware that if I spent more time and money on my clothing I would look so much better. I would also probably pay someone to do most of this part for me so I can reap the benefits but not have to deal with the horrors of shopping.
    10. Become a benefactor for artists who are doing great things but making very little money.

    When I dream, I like to dream in long lists. :)

  21. Billie





    Seriously. I would probably buy a really old Library and convert it into my home. Because it has ALL THE BOOKS and it WILL be pretty and fancy. Why would I need to send my kids to college if they had ALL THE BOOKS?!

  22. Rosie

    Funny, I was just thinking about that this morning. After I blew a bunch of money on a vacation home somewhere warm and European vacations, et cetera, et cetera…I remembered an article that I read about a village somewhere in Scandinavia (Sweden? Denmark?) that was built for Alzheimer’s patients. Completely safe and enclosed with a full staff, but it feels like the kind of place where they grew up, and they can wander to their heart’s content and chat with the same strangers every day. I would build that here, place my mom in it, and invite a world of kind people who live entirely in the distant past.

  23. Brooke

    LOVE the SHOES!!!! ;)

  24. dad

    I love the Stepalesaurus pumps but they don’t look like something an organic hippies would wear. Maybe a viking hippie.

    Hold it!
    I think I totally meet the your retirement requirements to be classified as deranged!
    A little weird maybe but not deranged.

  25. Grace

    I’ve never even bought a scratch-off! Still, I can do the fantasy thing!

    Dragon shoes in green AND purple.
    Move to the vacation house on St. Simons Island, GA
    Pay someone to organize my closets, pantry, etc and get rid of stuff I keep holding on to just in case.
    Entire garage castle for my husband with a gym upstairs for me. Hubs would want a Shelby Mustang (original, probably a Hertz Shelby since it’s fantasy time) plus an actual drivable convertable, say a Beemer. I’d want a Maserati. I don’t need no stinkin’ electric car since I can afford petrol.
    I would start saying Petrol instead of gasoline.

    • Mir

      “start saying petrol” +1

  26. Nelson's Mama

    My husband, the CPA, always plays Powerball and he has plans for each dollar!

    -pay all all our debts, parents debts and siblings debts
    -trust funds for children, nieces and nephews
    -pay off homes of certain close friends
    -trust fund for me to “save the world”
    -travel the world
    -$1M to Michael J. Fox Foundation with request for lunch with him

  27. Ann Garniss

    Every week I have this fantasy. Every week.

    Zero debt (and tell the bank that holds our mortgage to suck it).
    Redo the back yard, including that hot tub we keep dreaming of.
    Redo bathrooms and kitchen.
    Buy a cottage with a garage for all my husband’s toys so I get to park in our garage. A fantasy I’ve had since 1997 (the parking in the garage part).
    Trip to China with husband’s entire family, who are Chinese. Plus add on extra at the end to go to Korea to train in Kukkiwan (tae kwon do) and Japan (Ninjitsu) and Australia and New Zealand (just because they are awesome.

  28. Jen_A

    HEAR FUCKING HEAR on the retirement thing. I like my job. I’d still rather not have to work for money and do whatever I wanted to do. And I’m only 37 – I have a long road ahead of me before actual retirement (unless we win 250 frajillion dollars in the lottery and then I bet with wise investing I could retire even now). I would also read a book every day and watch TV and movies and putter (I am a devoted putterer) and volunteer and volunteer and volunteer.

    I like our house a lot and I love the town we live in, but I would like a slightly more spacious house painted/renovated/decorated to my specifications with no care for money and with a bigger, fenced-in yard for my toddler and dogs. And I want a maid service so badly I can taste it.

    Private school when she’s old enough (I cannot even with public schools and learning standards these days – in our area, at least, I think the result has been significantly worse education) and any college her heart desires (provided she does her work etc. etc.) for my kiddo.

    Beach house. Because I love the beach and I know other people who love the beach and why the hell not? Family and friend gatherings galore whenever we want with no one having to pay for accommodations. Lending it to family and friends whenever they need a vacation. And paying someone to maintain it.

    Personal trainer. Because I am a heavy person and I hate exercise and love chocolate, and that’s a big part of why I’m a heavy person. I need someone to kindly, gently kick my ass and make me exercise every day.


  29. My Kids Mom

    My kids and I have played this fantasy before, but I can’t remember anyone’s ideas, so in the random order which is my brain:
    – lift up my house, dig a basement under it and then put it back down. I love my house and my neighborhood but a basement would be so nice.
    – move my backyard hill back further away from the house. Maybe terrace it. Maybe buy out some of my neighbors so I can cut their trees and get sunshine in my house and have a little sunny reading nook. The backyard is holding my attention, I see.
    -let my kids go to any college that feels right for them (but I like your contingency about grades)
    -travel both with kids and without
    -make sure my in-laws and parents are totally comfortable for the rest of their lives. And, sure, sister too.
    -give to all those charities which do such good things with so little. Maybe help them influence Washington, since we all know what dollars can do. Give them good dollars for good things. I’m sorry I thought of this after the backyard. My priorities are usually better.
    -I have the electric car already (yes, Mir, you really SHOULD lease one before the incentives end) but a Tesla would be fine. Sure.

  30. Sheila

    Those shoes are REDONKULOUS. You should buy them IMMEDIATELY.

    I would pay someone to grocery shop and cook delicious, healthy meals for me and my family for as long as I shall live. (I’m prepared to fork over a lot of cash for this.)

    • My Kids Mom

      Where do you live? I’m all over that! (you know, the forking over of lots of cash!)

  31. Cindy

    Oh I love this fantasy exercise as well. It might work better if I actually played the lottery but still, here’s what is on my list.

    1. Pay off my debt. With many praises to the Lord!

    2. Pay off my daughter’s debt, who just lost her 32yo husband to a brain aneurysm for which they were woefully unprepared.

    3. Set up a college trust fund for my grandaughter. (See #2)

    4. Offer to send all my boy children (and pseudo children) to college

    5. Set up some kind of organization that helps at risk men and boys learn a trade, get a job and become functioning members of society. Preferably in a location that is not my house. (see #4, because I am outnumbered and tired of saying things that I intend to be encouraging but somehow come out more like “get a job or at least look for a job and if you can’t do either, you WILL fucking volunteer because if I can’t sit around with nothing better to do but eat bonbons, then NOBODY will.)

    6. Quit my job and eat bonbons all day, preferably while lounging by the brand new pool and hottub in my back yard.

  32. jodi

    Well, ALL the shoes. Obviously.

    I’d send Michael to private school.

    I’d quit my job.

    And I’d go on SUCH a dream vacation.

  33. JoniB

    So I too think about this periodically. Some things have changed over the years but not much.

    1. Pay off my house
    2. Buy the house next door, remodel it and move my parents in.
    3. Hire someone to landscape and maintain my yard.
    4. Donate to my church so after 40 years they can finally build a decent kitchen.
    5. Buy the whole family new cars of their choice. No bargaining, no worrying about mileage, just pick the one you want most and it’s yours!

  34. BKC

    Debt, college, a car that ALWAYS starts…but if I had lottery money (or a genie?) here are my three wishes:
    1. A weekly standing appointment for a full-body relaxation massage.
    2. A personal chef to prepare three fresh healthful meals every day to help get my family back on track.
    3. A dream vacation where I rent an entire all-inclusive resort (preferably on its own island) and invite my friends and family for a perfect beach week. And send them home with Visa gift cards equal to a week’s salary so they don’t end up behind when they get home. Perfection.

  35. Chuck

    Tell Otto his pec implants look stunning.

  36. Chuck

    Also – If I decided to keep living in this area (or even if I moved somewhere) I might buy a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I might finally get my private pilot license, and buy a plane. I might buy my own vacation resort and pay someone to manage it for me when I wasn’t there (hey, why not think big?) I’d definitely travel more, and work less. Probably get a dedicated sports car also. But honestly, I make a decent salary and I’m single and I have pretty adequate time off and (space available) flying benefits, so – a lot of this stuff I can work on already, other than the Frank Lloyd Wright house/sportscar/plane/resort purchases. And I like my condo fine.

  37. Issa

    A house where there are no tweens/teen girls sharing a bedroom because holy shit that may drive me insane before much longer. I rent and I’d love to own again. A brand new house that no one has ever lived in with ALLL the bedrooms and a lovely big kitchen. Travel. Lots of travel. I’ve never been to Europe. Hell, I’ve never even been to Canada. I’d also do IVF and try and have a baby. One more wee baby. If IVF didn’t take, I’d do private adoption. We’d go out for sushi a lot more. Ha. Those are the things that I know. Guess I should buy a ticket before Saturday. It’s up to a ridiculous amount of money right now.

  38. Mary K. in Rockport

    Ditto to EVERYTHING SINGLE THING YOU SAID – plus the built in bookshelves.

  39. NancyR

    I agree with all of these, but would definitely stay active. I firmly believe a ‘sloth-like’ retirement = a quick trip to the grave. Morbid, sorry, but it’s kinda where my life is right now. Stay active, lottery winners! :-)

    • Karen in Michigan

      Don’t worry, Nancy, I have a “plan” for that, too. Once I get bored with reading, knitting, sewing, painting, and petting the cats, I will go back to work doing something that allows me to work less than 54 hours a week and has less stress and fewer people yelling that things aren’t being done fast enough. I might be a docent at a museum or hand out towels on a cruise ship. And if people start yelling at me, I can quit without worrying about paying the bills.

  40. Meri

    First, I’d call a financial planner because I wouldn’t want to be one of those stories you hear about in gossip rags.

    – Pay off all my debts
    – Pay off my parents’ house and give them enough money to finish the %}%^ addition already!
    – If I really had enough $$, buy new houses and cars for all my siblings.
    – I want a house with a library and garage that’s not just for tools and a housekeeper and cook and gardener. Because why not?
    – Take my whole family to Disney World for a week because we never did end up going, then go to the Caribbean for another week.
    – Endow chairs at my undergrad and grad schools and the state school.
    – Donate enough to my choir so that our music director’s position is effectively endowed and require as part of this that they offer some actually affordable tickets to students.
    – Donate to a charity that helps poor kids transition to college and learn workplace skills and etiquette for situations they haven’t had the opportunity to have before.
    – Travel for as long as I feel like, then buy a new car when I return home.
    – Hire a seamstress to sew up all the clothes I have patterns and fabric for and to alter a few of the ones I already have.
    – custom fit shoes with the insoles made using my orthotic mold
    – Lasik
    – new mattress!

    • Sassy Apple

      That program exists and would definitely benefit from more money. It’s called AVID. It starts with low SES kids in elementary school and works with them through high school to help get them to after high school job training/college.

  41. Annie Mouse

    After I do the responsible junk (pay off bills), I have a list of people to whom I’d make that one-time tax-free gift of 10k. Because 10k is a LOT of money for a LOT of people. Life changing money.

    – Donate to COPD support locally and in the hometown of my friend that passed away last year. I’d always had it in my mind that if I won, I’d pay for his (very intense) surgical and post-op care, as well as living funds. Now that he’s no longer with us, I want to allocate that money to support others that find themselves in the same position he was in for so long.

    – I want to buy a substantial chunk of land in the mountains, with a waterway of some type, and create a self-sustaining, permacultured life. We’d rent a portion of the land to festivals and events. (This also includes building a house for not just us, but also my mother and step-mother, both of whom my saint of a husband has agreed can live with us. Said house includes solar electrical and water harvesting.)

  42. Brigitte

    Some of our lists are similar. I would pretty much want to raze this house, but keep the same footprint; just hire a foofedy architect to design it fir space efficiency and book shelvage, and have it constructed post and beam with all the best, nice little touches. And it would be SOOO nice to buy new clothes that aren’t Salvation Army/Walmart. And, and, and!!

  43. chris

    Yes, must buy a ticket tonight when I take the 8 yr old to basketball practice.

    1. Pay off my mortgage and add an addition to our house with a huge master suite. Also, renovate the existing bathrooms and kitchen and replace all flooring that needs replacing (75% of it needs replacing).
    2. Get a cleaning lady.
    3. Buy my parents a little house near Chicago so they can live closer to my sister and me.
    4. Pay off our siblings and parents outstanding debts.
    5. Get myself a new car (mine is 12 yrs old, but reliable and I can’t let myself get a new one just because)
    6. Set up my kids’ college funds and I would add the stipulation about their having to pass classes.
    7. Give my friend who had a liver transplant 3 1/2 yrs ago an anonymous donation to completely pay off her surgery related debts. She would not let me give her a large sum of money so it would have to be anonymous.
    8. Travel a bit and invest the rest.

  44. Sassy Apple

    OH, this is my favorite game/fantasy/daydream!

    1. My husband’s and I deal is to split the money into thirds. One third for each of us to spend HOWEVER we want and one third for us to discuss and spend together.

    2. Give my money to friends and family so everyone wins.

    3. I’m with you Mir, quit my job IMMEDIATELY. Hubby feels the same way.

    4. Buy an apartment/condo in the same town my brother lives with my fabulous nieces, so I can make lengthy stays and make it available for other family to stay when they go to visit them as well.

    5. Find a reliable person to dog sit/house sit while we visit every place we ever thought we’d like to live during the winter. Then buy a place once we make a choice.

    6. Renovate our home to include a beautiful Master Suite, updated kitchen and Garage Majhal, which my husband also gave up when we got married.

    7. A convertible and a more ‘sensible’ car. Brand new, right off the lot.

    8. Develop a program that provides books for low SES children (similar to the one Dolly Parton has set up in her home county)

    Thanks for the fun!

  45. ccr in MA

    Those shoes are amazing!

    My brother says that when you buy a lottery ticket, what you’re buying is the fantasy, so I am all over this idea. And my mother has worked out bouts of insomnia in the past by planning exactly how she would buy her neighbor’s condo and renovate the two into one perfect place, so clearly it runs in the family.

    I would quit my job, absolutely. It’s a good job, but the pay is woeful and the hours feel dire sometimes, versus the time I get to do the things I want to do. I would also be tempted to throw my alarm clock away altogether, though probably I would just take great joy in not setting the alarm every day. I can see myself turning it on at night, then laughing as I turn it off. (I never get enough sleep.)

    I would have to live somewhere bigger, with more room for books and yarn. I would hire a cook, and a housekeeper, and whatever other staff I felt the need for. Since I would never have to shovel snow again, I guess having a garage wouldn’t matter, and since someone else would do the laundry, I wouldn’t care about having machines in-unit (instead of in the basement).

    I’m a homebody, but I do like to travel once in a while, and would I ever fly first class, or maybe hire a private plane. As for locally, I don’t know that I’d really want a chauffeur, as I sometimes fantasize when traffic is bad, but man, do I want a convertible again. What I really want is the ’69 Caddy that I had in 1986, but surely I can find something that feels that fun.

  46. TC

    Dude. It might not be today, but those shoes are not so expensive that buying them will impact your ability to send Chickie to college. I say you get them for yourself, when the time is right. Just BUY THEM. And WEAR THEM. A LOT.

    [Back around 1990…ish…I broke up with/was broken up with by a guy I’d been dating for SEVEN FREAKING YEARS. It was, in retrospect, a good thing, but when it happened, it threw me for a complete and total loop, the likes of which I’d never experienced before. I was living in Brooklyn then, and working in Manhattan, and the next day, I walked into Barneys as if under a hypnotist’s influence. I walked into the ladies’ wear section and immediately bought myself a GORGEOUS black blazer that cost, if I’m remembering correctly, $350, to wear to a dinner I had to go to that night. I had never spent more than $50 on ANY piece of clothing. EVER. And I was working as a magazine fact-checker, i.e., no need to EVER wear that blazer again after the dinner. But I bought it. And I kept it. And every time I looked at it, for months and years after, it made me smile. It was my treat to myself. It helped. I don’t know why, but it helped.]

  47. djlott

    We don’t buy lottery tickets, so the odds of this happening are even worse than yours!
    – Help the married kids who are going to school with what they need.
    – help the unmarried kids with schooling and better living situations.
    – Remodel the master bath, main bath, kitchen, and add an elevator for the grandmas to get up to the guest room.
    – new sewing machine, maybe a fancy embroidery machine. Better storage in my sewing room.
    – new SUV
    – hubby could retire and we could stay in So. Cal.
    – church mission with hubby
    – I’d get the dragon shoes custom made with a lower heel!

  48. Rita

    I would become a professional rambler. I’d sell the house, buy a lovely RV and travel wherever the road would lead… When I’d encounter a large body of water I’d find a way to cross it and just keep going. My husband would be with me, of course, and my children would be safely ensconced in their semi-grown up lives (at college at least) and I’d fly them to wherever we were when they had time to visit.

    I’d also knit to my hearts (and hands) content, listening to all the books while I was knitting.

  49. Brandy

    We rarely buy lottery tickets, but love to play the fantasy game!
    I would:
    -Build my dream house, which wouldnt be huge, but would have built in bookcases everywhere AND a dedicated library. Plus a nice kitchen.
    -Pay off my jeep and trade it in on something a bit bigger. (My twelve year old is a growing boy and his knees are up around his armpits in the back of my jeep.)
    -Buy my FIL a brand new truck as we have had to borrow his for the last four months.
    -Pay off every bit of debt we have.
    -Donate to an animal,rescue organization.
    -Buy our daughter her own vehicle so I don’t have to share with her. :)
    -Visit Scotland. I’ve never been out of the U.S. and would like to see where my mothers family hails from.
    -Have money in the bank and not be scared of paying bills.

  50. Full Spectrum Mama

    College for my little Full Spectrums – that’s #1. I’ve been so kerfuffled by raising two high needs kids – partly as a single mom – and putting food on the table that I haven’t anything saved.

    House fix, car fix, SHOES.

    Oh and travel – still dreaming of India and Scotland…but just a warm beach would do.


  51. Heather

    Are you aware that as residents of GA you guys benefit from the HOPE Scholarship if your kids go to an instate public college (UGA!)?

    • Mir

      Yep, we know. Not complaining, it’s free money, but it doesn’t cover everything (and it’s pretty limited if you don’t want to go public).

  52. Corey

    My best friend and I had this conversation just last week, but about minor lottery winnings (like extra salary-and-a-half per year level). If I upgraded to mega winnings, I’d:
    Quit work in a hot minute; fill my time with exercising, volunteering, reading, napping, and learning more about things outside my personal world (since upkeep of kids can crowd out even best intentions of maintaining high awareness of global events or even geography)
    Buy an SUV so I could donate my minivan for one of those bash-a-car fundraisers (or just stress relief)
    Buy a house with 5 bedrooms (no sister bedroom sharing + a guest room), a moderate garage, and a large fenced yard
    Vacation to national parks + select parts of Europe (mostly with the kids) and engage in serious internal debate about whether it’s best to buy my own beach house or to rent at various other beaches
    Pay for college x 3
    Get the tummy tuck, but probably not the boobs
    Buy those awesome shoes for you and for me

  53. Sherry

    1) Buy a super-swank travel trailer and a big-ass truck to pull it with. Live life on the road.

    2) Buy a cozy beach house. For when life on the road needs a break.

  54. jwg

    Aside from the obvious, I’d hire a gardener and build a green house and have fresh flowers all the time without having to do any of the work. I have a deadly thumb which makes a black thumb look benign.Never mind expensive shoes, they never come in XXW. I’d have all my shoes hand made.

  55. Chris

    These are some fun lists but I think I must be fashion challenged because the shoes do nothing for me (but I appreciate the flair and total lack of practicality)

    1) pay off debts
    2) Fund college for kids and trusts for grandkids college
    3) Buy a beach or mountain house

    If anything was left, I would like a housekeeper – not just cleaning lady- but good old fashion help keep the entire house running type.

    Does it kill the fantasy to say I still hope I may get to actually do some of these things? Somehow that gives me more joy/hope believing I might be able to make one of those things happen than playing the lottery game (even in my head – but it may be the problem of too much math knowledge)

  56. Carmen

    Ooooh, fun game. I’m going to assume a gigantic power-ball sized jackpot, just to make it fun. None of this measly 15 million stuff:

    1) Pay off mortgage, then demolish house. Build new one as per my specific needs and wants. Or, might sell house, buy a better lot elsewhere & then build dream house.
    2) University for the kids
    3) I’d get the Tesla. For sure.
    4) Vacation with kids to Tahiti or somewhere snorkelly with thatched huts right over the water
    5) Cleaners every week. Ones that change the bedsheets, wash & replace them.
    6) Summer cabin on a lake in the middle of the mountains
    7) Winter chalet at ski resort
    8) Invest TONS (obviously)
    9) Visit some of the places I’ve already been, but this time not in a discount hotel. Greece, Italy, Switzerland, etc.
    10) New wardrobe of clothes that fit in a style I love, rather that the mishmash I have now of stuff that I bought because it sort of fits and I can’t find anything better.

    My goodness. I feel like there should be more exciting things to fantasize about, but I can’t think of anything else.

  57. Debbie

    My husband and I also love this game! My latest addition is to go on those National Geographic family world vacations. They look AMAZING (we get the brochure because of our subsciption) and so easy – everything is planned for you! Local guides! Bring the kids! But, alas, they cost about a bajilion dollars, so without the lottery, we will never experience such a luxurious vacation! But when I DO win the lottery, that will be how we take every quarterly vacation until we’ve seen the whole world :-).

  58. Ann R

    I would quit my job in a minute. I have even fantasized about my exit stratagy. I do canine musical freestyle (I dance with my dog) and I work in a chicken plant. I would rent a huge chicken costume and choreograph a routine with my border collies to “Take This Job and Shove It” as I was dancing out the door.

    Then I would tear down the current house and build one I love and spend all my time hanging with my dh, training the dogs, baking and running. To never have to worry about the cost of a new pair of running shoes again….heaven.

  59. elizabeth

    So I’m late to the game, but let’s start with excellent educations for my kid and my siblings children, meeting all special needs and desires (violin lessons? you got it. Rock climbing? Also.). Move all parents into wonderful care homes at appropriate stages as needed. Have their homes appropriately wired so we can videochat with ease. Something wonderful for my aunt who is taking care of my Grandma while working full time in special education…

    A puppy, and a puppy walker.

    A home on the Amalfi coast, the upper west side (of NYC), and a Mexican beach house, all three of which self clean and come with a happy chef. Additionally, Gyrotonics daily, getting my feet fixed, and then actually attractive custom shoes that don’t hurt.

    I don’t mind working, but maybe I’d cut back to three days a week to spend more time with my kid. (Oh, more vacation time for all the houses) My husband could take off indefinitely to pursue music, then go to back to work when he gets tired of that.

    That’s it for now!

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