How to Have Your Lottery Dream Life Right Now
No purchase necessary
Every year around New Years I buy lottery tickets. I rarely buy them at any other point in the year.
It could be that for whatever reason the jackpots always seem high right at the end of the year or that I end up with cash after the holidays and I hate budgeting cash. Or it could be that much like in making resolutions, there’s something about the end of one year and the beginning of a new year that feels magical — as if change and possibility hang thick in the air.
At the end of 2020, I bought tickets a few times, my heart racing a little each time the grand prize ticked up until it was bulging over the other side of $800 million.
As always, my thoughts were consumed with silent questions.
What if I won?
What would I do with that kind of money?
Of course, I was not the lucky jackpot winner. The most I’ve ever won is a few dollars from some scratchers I got for my 18th birthday.
But the questions lingered and they made me wonder how I could create a version of that lottery dream life now, no purchase necessary.
Money, they say, changes people. I don’t agree. Money exacerbates people. Whatever we already are is how we would be with money, just more.
I think of it like the Super Soldier Serum from Captain America. It didn’t make someone better, it made them more of who they already were.
If you go on shopping sprees and live beyond your means today, that will get amplified, but instead of splurging on a Fendi handbag, it might be a private yacht.
If you fight with your partner about pretty much everything, that’s not going to change with more zeroes in your bank account.
It might pay off your debt, but it’s not going to keep you from racking it up again. It might keep you from fighting with your partner about money (might), but that doesn’t mean the fissures in your relationship disappear.
Without meaningful personal change, money won’t fix your problems.
But in that sense, money is also aspirational.
When we think of receiving a life-changing windfall of money, we imagine a life better than the one we’re living. We imagine living our best lives with everything our hearts could desire.
When I was caught up in the fantasy of winning $800 million, I spent some time thinking and writing about what I would want to do with it.
Here are some of the things that I dreamt about:
- Pay off all my debt — I’ve got just under $30k left on my car and student loans
- Pay off the debt of my family & friends
- Become a patron of the arts and support my artist friends
- Invest in small businesses (especially those owned by LGBTQ folk, women, and BIPOC)
- Support causes I believe in like immigration reform, racial justice, youth homelessness, education & arts initiatives, and equal, easy access to voting
- Travel the world and meet incredible people
- Buy a house
- Invest in my own creativity
In looking through that list, some themes jumped out at me. Above all else, I craved financial freedom, creative freedom, and acting in service to others.
If you were to win $800 million, what would you want to do with it? What themes do you find?
Take a few minutes to answer these questions. This page will still be here when you’re done.
It’s an important step to take because this is where the magic is going to start happening.
Now that you’ve got your list of what you would want to do if you won a ridiculous sum of money and you’ve condensed those into a few themes, ask yourself another question.
How can I create more of those things today?
Go line by line of the things you want to do or start with the themes, but for each one, write down a few ideas for how you could start working on them today.
Here are some ideas from my list:
1. Use a debt payoff calculator (like this) to determine how many months I have left on each loan & play with it to see how small amounts affect that.
With my current payments, my car loan will take 47 months and my student loan will take 105 months to pay off.
If I add $10 to each monthly payment, the car loan only drops to 46, but the student loan drops to 97. And if I add $20 to each, the car loan drops to 44 and the student loan to 91.
By adding $20 to my student loan payment each month, I could shave over a year off my repayment.
It’s amazing how small actions can lead to huge results.
2. Earn an extra $20–50 this month to add to my debt payments
Normally, I’d find this in my existing budget, but I was recently laid off, so I need to get some income to cover that.
3. Brainstorm ideas on how to earn $20–50 this month (and every month)
Here are some of my ideas:
- Sell items on Mercari, Poshmark, or Facebook marketplace
- Pitch articles to at least 3 publications
- Sign up for a dog walking service
- Provide writing/editing/proofreading services on Fiverr or Upwork
1. Allow myself to be messy and bad
Seriously. I don’t know about you guys, but I get stuck in the perfectionist thinking that if it isn’t perfect right away (or at all) that it’s not worth doing.
I know that’s not true, logically, but emotionally it’s harder to get past.
I’m writing myself a permission slip.
You are allowed to suck. You are allowed to try new things or even old things and have them not be good. It’s okay. Anything worth being good at is worth being bad at.
As you work at it and get feedback and keep working at it, eventually it will suck less. Or not. It’s also okay to make things that are bad, just for the sake of making them and trying.
You can do this.
You can do your worst and I promise you the world will not end because of it.
2. Pick one creative project
I am the queen of getting an idea and then as soon as I start working on it, I come up with three other ideas that I definitely need to do right now.
Of course, as soon as I start one of those, you know what happens? You guessed right. BAM! New ideas.
Repeat until the end of time while I finish nothing.
Since my creativity likes to be a bit…all over the place, committing to focus on one project until it’s done is integral to finishing the things I’m most passionate about.
3. Work on that project for 10 minutes every day until it’s done
It’s easy to “focus” on one project when you’re not putting any work in. But the difference between an aspiring writer/artist and a writer/artist is not what’s in their bank account, it’s doing the work.
10 minutes is a small commitment, but much like that $20 a month, a little bit adds up over time.
In this case, a little bit adds up to a completed project.
Acting in service to others
1. Help friends with budgeting and answer financial questions
Since I paid off all my credit card debt and got my finances in order, I’m often the go-to person for all my creative friends for help with these things.
It’s been tougher since I haven’t been able to meet with people 1:1 in the time of COVID, but some friends have been asking and I would love for them to feel as good about their money as I do.
2. Ask my friends if they would like constructive feedback on any of their projects
I’ve been craving more creative work and one of my favorite things to do is help my writer friends with their stories.
I may not have millions of dollars to pay them a salary while they spend time on their craft, but I can offer my assistance in helping them hone it.
3. Volunteer my time and/or skills to an organization I care about
Especially as I’ve been laid off, I don’t have much money to spare at the moment, but that doesn’t have to keep me from being generous. These organizations are doing important work and I want to help where I can.
While you may not be able to buy that $25 million Malibu mansion you’ve been eyeing on Redfin, it doesn’t take winning the lottery to create meaningful change in your life.
You can start with small steps toward building the life of your dreams, regardless of how much money you have.
So tell me, what is your dream life and how are you creating it now?
Kate LaChapelle is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She is passionate about Frankenstein, developing writers, and helping people take charge of their personal finances.