What I would NOT do if I won the lottery

The last couple weeks I've been involved in a thing or two only because I need the money. I'm not talking drug peddling or prostitution or any other equally unsavory deed, just things I really wouldn't be doing if I didn't need the money.

Which has gotten me thinking about a few other things I wouldn't be doing if I had more money.

If I won the lottery, I would no longer:

• clip coupons for grocery shopping.

• go to the grocery store, for that matter; I'd shop online and have my groceries delivered.

• drive to Denver each time I fly somewhere; I'd fly out of my local airport, no matter the cost.

• drive my dinged-up 1998 Ford Explorer...to Denver or anywhere.

• feel like my blog photos are inferior; I'd have a better camera and take photography AND Photoshop classes.

• be without cable television.

• buy my dog's food at Walmart.

• feel guilty that my piano has not been touched in months as I spend nearly every waking moment on tasks that might make a penny here and a penny there.

• delete without viewing the weekly e-mail newsletter announcing upcoming concerts and performances.

• deal with obnoxious neighbors; I'd build an 8- to 10-foot-tall fence (height depending on ordinances I've not yet researched). Or I'd move.

• turn down invitations to cover interesting events because I don't have the travel budget to get there.

That said, at least I'm able to buy groceries and dog food, have a vehicle to drive, can fly to see my daughter and grandsons now and then, and receive invitations to attend interesting events.

Yes, things could indeed be far worse.

Still, it sure would be awesome to win the lottery.

Or Publishers Clearing House.

I'm not picky.

(Just a complainer now and then.)

Photo: MS Office

Today's question:

If you won the lottery, what would you NOT do?

Cutting back

In celebration of spring, I'm cutting back on quite a few things. Okay, it's not really in celebration of spring, it's out of necessity — financial, physical, and sanity-saving necessity. I've survived and dare I say even thrived (in non-financial ways only, of course) after corporate cutbacks. Now the time has come for a few personal cutbacks.

Here are the ways I'm cutting back:

Telephones — This week, Jim and I officially drop the land line and go to cell-phone-only mode. Which is fine by me, as I loathe phones ... and loathe even more telemarketing and political phone calls. Good riddance, home phone.

Cable television — This week we also drop all cable television and will rely on Netflix, Hulu and television networks (thank heavens for HDMI cables!) for our television fix. Farewell, DVR and On Demand.

Screen time — Not only am I cutting down time in front of the television screen, I'm cutting down time in front of the computer screen, too. I have a life ... I need to live it, not let it pass me by while I'm blogging and commenting, tweeting, e-mailing and Facebooking.

Idle time — Less screen time equals more active time: gardening, cooking, crafting, reading, playing piano, walking the dogs. And plenty of time to figure out if "Facebooking" can legitimately be used as a verb.

Dog food — Speaking of walking the dogs, they're officially overweight. The vet says Mickey weighs twenty pounds more than he should. Which means Lyla surely rates the same in rotundity. So not only do I need to walk the dogs more, I need to feed them less. Per the vet. Which is hard because they love snacks. And we love giving them snacks.

People food — Jim and I love eating snacks, too. But we're cutting back, working toward a more healthy diet. So we not only look better, but so we feel better, too. A lovely, thin, and healthy friend of mine recently recommended YOU: On a Diet. So I'm reading it, taking it to heart, implementing some of the suggestions, such as replacing white rice with brown, enriched flour with wheat.

Sugar — Per the suggestions in YOU: On a Diet, the cut causing the most trepidation has been sugar. Because Jim loves his sugar. I recently purchased for the first time ever a package of Splenda. It sweetens my iced tea and Jim's chocolate brownies just fine so far, so I plan to continue buying it ... as long as my pared-down budget allows for the outrageously expensive sugar substitute. Or until Jim cries "Uncle!"

Spending — Jim and I, like most of those living above the poverty line, have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle — a lifestyle unnecessary filled with stuff. Too much stuff. Stuff we don't need. So I'm paring down and no longer spending as much on stuff. Stuff of any sort. I've committed to grocery shopping every other week instead of every week so there's less food stuff. I resist temptation for all non-food spending by refusing to look at the bright and shiny ads in the Sunday newspaper, and I immediately delete e-mail offers from Overstock.com and — heaven help me to continually find the strength! — Amazon.com.

Photo: stock.xchng

Today's question:

What have you managed to — or plan to — cut back in your life?

If I had a million dollars

Related Posts with ThumbnailsWhen Jim and I were first married, we were pretty darn broke. We stayed home nearly every Friday and Saturday night, playing backgammon and gin rummy and dreaming of better days to come.

"If we had all the money in the world," I'd ask, just to break up the monotony of me him winning all the time, "what would you want to be doing right now?"

His response and our discussion to follow usually went far beyond what we'd be doing that night if we had money, evolving into how we'd spend the entire stash if we won the lottery: fancy dining experiences, fast cars, hip clothes, trips to exciting/interesting/exotic places, attending concerts across the country of our favorite bands.

Fast forward 28 years.

While we no longer stay home every Friday and Saturday night, we do still talk often about what we'd do if we won the lottery. And those conversations are where we really show our age.

Here's the list of things Jim and I are adamant about doing if when we win the lottery, in order of priority:

  • Tithe
  • Pay off our gargantuan PLUS loan we took out for the girls to get the educations we didn't.
  • Pay off our gargantuan house loan.
  • Support our moms.
  • Pay for lots of things for the girls (cars, homes, etc.).
  • Hire a weekly housekeeper -- who, at Jim's request, would do the windows every other week.
  • Dole out one-time cash gifts to our siblings plus a few nieces and nephews.
  • Buy the house next door and totally raze it, allowing us to have back our view of Pikes Peak and making way for the most awesome play area for the grandkids.
  • Put a 10-foot fence around our property.
  • Buy a cabin in Flagstaff.
  • Visit the Pacific Northwest ... often.

I'm sure we'd do a little clothes shopping, a lot of book shopping, a little dining out and add trips to NYC, DC and Bruges. But on our current list there's nary a mention of fancy cars, fancy clothes, wild and exotic trips.

Nope, the majority of our plans for the load of cash revolves around making life a little more comfortable on the homefront and for our family. We're getting old, it seems, and relaxing at home and knowing our family is safe and financially sound is really all we're looking for at this point.

Although ... those concerts mentioned years ago ... we'd still shell out bucks to catch concerts across the country. We're not that old yet!

Today's question:

If you were to win the lottery (regardless of whether you buy tickets or not), what is the very first thing you would buy once you claimed your prize?

My answer: Dinner at a NON-fancy restaurant after picking up the check at the lottery office. We're not fancy restaurant kind of people; a modest restaurant that serves excellent steaks and even better lemon-drop martinis would be our ideal celebration spot.

It's just money

Megan was offered a new job a few days ago. Well, not a new job, just some additional hours, work -- and pay -- tacked onto the job she already does.

Megan is a pre-K teacher, working five mornings a week at a private elementary school. The new offering involves taking on an extra class, extending her Monday, Wednesday and Friday workdays to full days in the classroom ... full days with four-year-olds.

Now, I'm definitely not one of those women who swears moms should be home with their kids and cries that there will be irreparable psychological damage to the kiddos if Mommy puts on her big-girl panties each day and keeps a firm foothold on her career path.

Nor am I a flag-waving proponent of working moms and all they do and stand for.

I've been in both positions as a mother: I've worked full-time and I've stayed at home with the kids. There are downsides -- and upsides -- to both. I can't say one is better than the other, and I truly believe most moms do the best they can under whatever circumstances they're facing, and make choices based on those circumstances ... and what is best for their children ... and for themselves.

And those choices are their right, their business, and not fodder for judgement no matter what their choice may be.

That said, I cringed when Megan told me about the job offer.

"Don't do it, Megan!" I wanted to shout and cry and beg. "Unless, of course, you move near me so I can take care of Bubby on a daily basis while you hang out with the four-year-olds!"

But I kept my mouth shut. It's a decision she and Preston have to make ... not me ... no matter how much I still want to control and direct the lives my kids lead. So I just shut up and waited to hear back on what decision they made.

Like all young parents -- heck, all people lately -- Megan and Preston could use the extra money. They're struggling, to a certain degree, like all the rest of us of late, and a few extra thousand dollars could certainly come in handy.

But it's just money.

I think Megan has found the perfect balance with the part-time gig she's got going on. She's making use of her (expensive) college education. She's maintaining a social network independent of the mommy circle. She's bringing in a chunk of change for the family coffers. Plus, Bubby's hours in daycare socialize him to a degree not likely to come from once-a-week playdates.

It's the perfect balance. And I hate the thought of her giving that up.

I've been there, done that, been out of balance in terms of career versus family. Heck, it took me until my daughters were in high school to find my balance! So my heart just sings at the balance Megan found early, a balance that works for her, for Bubby, for the family finances.

What she'd be giving up isn't worth it, I think.

And Megan told me yesterday that she and Preston think the same thing. She turned down the job.

I'm so thankful -- for Bubby and for Megan.

It's just money. And proof that Megan and Preston have learned well and learned early that life isn't just about the money.

I'm proud of you guys! <cue the Mr. Rogers "Proud of You" song.>

On another note ...

Today's question from "The Christmas Conversation Piece":

If you could take a how-to course in anything related to the Christmas season, in what course would you want to enroll?

My answer: I'd like to learn how to feel like all I've done was enough. I never feel like I bought enough gifts, made enough cookies, put up enough holiday decorations. Any therapists out there offering such classes??