Letter to Aimee: The myths about winning the lottery

My dear dutch friend

As I have recently chosen you as my favorite discussion partner, I would like to run some thoughts over with you. I mean, I would like to set off a passionate monologue and you can just sit back, relax, and pretend you are following my train of thoughts.

So here’s the thing. The other day, when you and I were sitting and listening well-behaved to the much older (and much more experienced, so they like to make us think) ladies in our volunteering class, I heard something strange. The teacher had these get-to-know-each-other-cards with embarrassing questions about your everyday life, state of mind, emotional capability and so on. (I thought this was actually getting too personal but luckily we were allowed to choose the question we’d like to answer. So I chose an easy, not too deep and personal one so I wouldn’t be forced to tell about myself. My question: which is your favorite moment of the day? Hard one.)

Anyway. This one lady chose this question: What would you do when you’d win the lottery? I was like, you kiddin’? What kind of question is that? Easy: I would buy new shoes, a house and a nice car of course. Who wouldn’t? I mean, I know that some people maybe wouldn’t, but you get the clue. When you have money, you simply don’t think about it so closely. When you want to buy shoes, you just do it, because you can! When money is tight, you will think about it twice, turn every penny you own before actually buying.

So this woman, an older lady with, as I said they like to stress, a lot of life experience, says without blinking once: “I wouldn’t do anything different. I wouldn’t change a thing. I would just be able to give more to charity and put the rest on a bank account.” And everybody was full admiration for her wise words.

Bam. There are still good people in this world!

I invite you to think this over again. Assuming you will be strong enough to stay the same is a very naive response. As long as you are not that lottery winner, as long as you don’t actually have that much money, it is indeed easy talking. I do believe that this lady really meant what she said, but she should think about it again. How can you stay the same with, let’s say, a good 5 million? How can you assume that? Doesn’t everybody some day want something that they don’t buy because it is too expensive? Wouldn’t you finally get yourself that new kitchen you always wanted?

You will still give to charity of course. But when you have money, it’s not that big of a deal. Even when you give 1 out of 5 million to charity, you are still extremely wealthy. It doesn’t matter. It will not mean anything to yourself, because it doesn’t sting as much as giving a hundred when just work your 9 to 5 days. It’s not in proportion.

If you say that you will not be living the rich life and you will just have it on you bank account, consider this. Like I said, you won’t have to think twice about buying new shoes or eating out. Gradually, you will become habituated to this unconcerned lifestyle, even though you won’t notice it. It will become easier to buy more or expensive clothes and you can still be thinking that you stayed the same. It’s just not true.

Even if you don’t buy expensive things, you will buy what you (think you) need. Even if it is only buying a new sofa, hiring a cleaning lady or going to the movies more often. Also these decisions have been enabled by this money you won. It changes your life inevitably, if you want it or not.

Dear Aimee, I don’t speak out of experience, but all this lottery propaganda just seems very wrong to me. People think they don’t care about all this money but why then are there so many people trying to win it? Even myself, I would love to win the lottery. The husband and I have this tradition of buying some random tickets every anniversary. Without any luck, of course. How else would they be able to collect such a large amount of money anyway?

Sincerely,

G.

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