Posted by Allison on 4 April 2009, 10:03
We're not just talking about a few thousand pounds here – we're talking about millions. Maybe nineteen or twenty million pounds. That is a huge sum of money by anyone's standards and while it is what many of us dream about as we go to and from our boring jobs every day, how good would it really be if it did happen?
Many countries have some kind of lottery which has a huge jackpot every week or month, and while the rate of exchange in force can sometimes mean that becoming a millionaire in one currency is worth a lot less in another one, a millionaire by British standards is deemed to be quite a feat.
There is no doubting that a sum of money that large would change your life, probably forever, but it is essential to think about how you would use it before making any rash decisions.
It is true that there have been many lottery millionaires in the past who have gone from having to scrape by on a day to day basis to winning millions, and then in a few years they are back to square one again, with all those millions gone or spent or misused in some way.
So what happens? This isn't unique to Britain either; there are people from all over the world who have been on the receiving end of a huge jackpot in their own currency and squandered it all in what seems to be a record amount of time.
Perhaps we should look at the lives of the people who don't cope well with large amounts of money as they were before the jackpot came up. What do they do for a living? How do they manage their money? Do they have savings? Do they have a responsible attitude to money, or do they tend to fritter it away and always end up wondering where it has all gone?
If they aren't good with money in the first place then it is very unlikely that they will be any better when they have even more to waste. Some of these people also tend to end up setting up businesses of their own that they know nothing about and don't have the discipline to make them work properly. In short, they are applying all their skills, knowledge and lack of discipline to a larger amount of money than they would ordinarily be able to waste.
Some people think that the lottery jackpots are too large and ought to be restricted in size. In this way instead of having a single jackpot worth millions, there might be eight or nine prizes worth a million pounds each. A similar strategy could be put into place with the usually much bigger Euro jackpots as well.
But is it our choice to set limits on these albeit horrendously big jackpots? After all the main reason that most people enter them is because they have such big jackpots in the first place – regardless of how well they would cope if they ever did win. The fact remains that the lure of such a big prize is extremely tempting and if it were made much smaller then there is a big chance that much fewer people would even try to enter in the first place.
So if some people just aren't cut out to handle winning it big, what of the ones who do take it in well?
If you look at a snapshot of these people, many of them bank the cheque and then sit back and give themselves time for the news to sink in. They might go out and treat themselves to something small – which may seem absurdly small considering the size of the jackpot they have just won – but that will be about it, until they have really thought about what they want to do with their money.
They will normally spread some of it around among their family and closest friends, but other than that the key word which describes their strategy for using the money is to invest it for the future. This is the one thing that really sets the winners apart from the losers. Winners soon realise that if they play their cards right they will never have to worry about money again for the rest of their lives. Losers on the other hand seem to have a compulsive urge to spend, spend, spend until the money suddenly runs out. They won't buy rationally, they will be extravagantly instead. For example, why buy one brand new car when you can buy several?
It is therefore not the size of the jackpot that matters, but the attitude of the person who wins it that really makes the difference. What would you do if you won millions? Which group would you fall into?
The truth is that many of us will never know. There just aren't enough lottery jackpots to go around and even if you buy a ticket every single week for the rest of your life you would still only have a tiny chance of ever winning the big prize.
But it's an interesting thought, and one that many of us think about when we buy a lottery ticket. It's a common enough game for us to sit and wonder how we would spend so much money, but dividing a virtual amount up in our heads is far different from having that amount in real life.
For the moment at least we are sure to keep on hearing about people who have won vast amounts in their own currency in different countries around the world, and the same stories about some of those people squandering all that cash will still come forward from time to time.
Would you be among them if you did hit it big? Or would you spend it wisely and save even more of it to protect you in the future?