My friend and I were on a longish car ride together. We were chatting about life and love and the whole darn thing as one does on longish car rides with friends. We talked about our families, our futures and the hopes we had for both. There was talk of bigger homes, where our kids might go to high school and the possibility of adventures abroad.
“So basically what I’m saying is, I think I need to win the lotto,” I concluded.
We laughed. Wouldn’t it be amazing? What would we do if that actually happened?
And then we did the most fun thing ever. We chose a prize amount, deducted a huge whack of it for tax purposes and then we went about mentally spending it.
We bought a dream house, two new cars and put money into trust for the kids. We put aside funds for private secondary education, we gave our parents huge chunks of money, we paid off mortgages for dear friends, made a big donation to a favourite charity and then we all went on a fabulous family holiday to Fiji. It wasn’t real but the pleasure in sharing a financial windfall felt wonderful all the same.
When I got home, I wrote the whole thing down and put it up on the fridge. It’s still there now and every time I walk past it, I smile. It makes me happy to think of being on solid ground financially. Perhaps even more so, I love the idea of sharing the good fortune with others.
But there’s a little problem with this lovely fantasy. I don’t play the lotto. I just don’t like the odds. Of course, people do win but I have always had the strongest sense that my good fortune will be the product of determination and hard work, not amazing luck.
So I started to think about what I can genuinely do. Will I ever be able to give my mum a million dollars? No. My goodness, I would love to do it. But I know that’s not really what she wants from me. Time with me and her grandkids is what is most important to her and the power is already in my hands to make it so. I need to get in my car and make the trip to see her. All we have is now. And understanding this makes me realise I haven’t a second to lose.
I would love to send all 3 of my kids to a private secondary school. But at around $30,000 a year for 6 years TIMES THREE, we’d be looking at more than half a million dollars. And that doesn’t cover uniforms, text books and the myriad of extra-curricular expenses. When I look at the numbers realistically, this little dream is deader than dead. It’s a sobering thought. Disappointing. But on the flipside, we live in an area that has a number of public high schools with excellent reputations,so I feel grateful. Life does not always go as we originally plan. Our dreams are not static but ever-shifting. Circumstances change but so do priorities.
And this lead me to look at my list again and think about what really matters. We may never be able to donate a million dollars to our favourite charities but we will keep on making our small and regular contributions because even though it feels like a drop in the ocean, if enough of us sign up to be a single drop, collectively we keep that ocean full.
The house I would buy with Lotto winnings is very different to the house we will actually buy in the next few years. Vastly different. But it will be ours and we will have earnt it and there is joy in that. What we want and what we genuinely need are not always the same thing.
And then there is the fabulous Fiji holiday. Do I NEED that? Well, you know what? I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say yes. Yes, I do. We do. Our family of five has never been on a holiday all together. Like ever. We don’t camp but even if we did, camping doesn’t count. It counts to many and for them, I say camp your little hearts out. But from where I’m standing, a holiday involves sun,sand and sparkly water. And a kids’ club. There MUST be a kids’ club.
We could scrimp and save towards that holiday but the way things are going right about now, it might take us a couple of years to get those funds together. But life is short. And we needed a holiday five years ago. So sometimes we need to weigh up the situation,decide whether waiting would be prudent or whether seizing the moment and turning that dream into reality is the better choice.
I did that once in my twenties. A work friend was heading to the US on a university exchange and we chatted about the possibility of travelling together for a few weeks before her school year started. LA, Vegas, San Fran, New York – we giggled and googled cheap accommodation and flights when we should have been working. I looked at my finances and worked out what I could save between now and the proposed departure date just six months away. I knew I could save enough for spending money and some accommodation but not nearly enough to cover the flights as well. So I applied for a small personal loan to help fund my holiday. Six months later I was dancing in a club on Sunset Blvd when a guy asked me if I had any African heritage because I didn’t “dance like no white girl.” Life made right then and there, thankyouverymuch.
And just last year, Bren and I borrowed money in order to pay the balance of our wedding. There were some who questioned our sanity. And yep, I could totally see their point. Who in their right mind borrows money for a wedding when they’re trying to save for a house deposit? Well, I’ll tell you who. A guy and a girl who’ve been together almost fifteen years, engaged for 9 and who really, really want to call each other husband and wife. Did it make good financial sense? Probably not. But we weighed up our priorities and we knew in our hearts that if we didn’t do it then, we would never do it. We wanted a wedding and so we got one in the only way we knew how. When I watch our wedding video back, I can’t begrudge those fortnightly repayments at all. We seized the moment and we made a dream come true.
So I’ll keep that little dream list on my fridge and if I ever happen to win the lottery, I’ll know exactly how to distribute the funds. But in the meantime, I will patiently plug away at those dreams even though they will take hard work and time, I will accept that some dreams may never be and reshape them into a suitable alternative wherever possible. And for those dreams that seem more like whimsy or things we probably don’t need/deserve, I will consider a personal loan for whatever need arises in the future because life is short. And everyone deserves a little moment in the sun.
WIN a $150 Prepaid Visa Gift Card
To help you on the way towards your own frivolous dream (new winter boots, anyone?), I have one prepaid Visa gift card worth $150 to give away. Oh, I love giving away stuff to you guys! It makes me happy.
So all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what you would spend the $150 on if you were to win. It could be absolutely anything – hopefully something just for you – but then again, if you would put it towards bills, I understand that, too. Boring but I totally get it. The winner will be randomly drawn so whatever your answer happens to be, you have an equal chance of winning. Yay!
- In the comments below*, tell me what you would spend your Visa gift card on.
- If don’t already, follow me on Facebook.
Conditions of entry:
- Entrants must leave a comment below (not on Facebook) and be contactable via email. One entry per person. Australian residents only please.
- Entries close: Saturday 4th of June 2016 at noon (AEST).
- Winners will be chosen by random.org, notified by email and announced on this blog post.
- The prize will be distributed by People's Choice Credit Union.
- Prizes are not redeemable for cash.
- Prizes are not transferable.
- The Promoter is not responsible for prizes once they have been dispatched to the winner but please shoot me an email if you do not receive your prize within two weeks so I can investigate for you!
Promoter: The Little Mumma, PO Box 159, Montmorency, Victoria, 3094
* I know some of you hate the commenting system, Disqus, with a passion but once you set up an account, it should be pretty straightforward to log in and comment from then on – I use it regularly on my phone as well as my laptop without a problem. :)
This post was written in collaboration with People’s Choice Credit Union. One of Australia’s largest credit unions with 345,000 members across Australia and branches in South Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, Western Australia and Australian Capital Territory, People’s Choice offer a genuine alternative to the major banks. If you’re in the market for a new car or have another goal you’d like to reach faster, check out the Personal Loan Calculator to see if People’s Choice can help with their competitive interest rates and to ensure you get the right personal loan for you.