Friday, April 6, 2012

10 Things I Would Do With the Mega Millions

One week ago today, I did not become a multi-millionaire (and chances are, neither did you). Having just been laid off, to say I could have used the money is an understatement. If I recall correctly, the cash value was $394,000,000, leaving $295,500,000 after 25% Federal taxes. Split 3 ways, $98,500,000  per winning ticket (except that now, the “winner” in Maryland is claiming that she lost the ticket).

In going through my wallet this morning to find stamps to mail my unemployment insurance claim form, a  slip of paper fell out with the following written on it: Psalm 122:7 “Peace be within you walls, prosperity within your palaces.”

Yeah, I really like this picture.

Maybe there’s still a big fat jackpot coming my way of a net $295 million (Yes, I go to a psychic. She hasn’t been wrong yet and she’s described 2012 as my “money year”). That being the case, this is a PARTIAL list of what I’d do with the money.

1) I have friends who need new homes or improved homes, but have had the kind of financial issues that make getting financing tough (not because they were idiots. They got hit upside the head with the economy). I would sit these families down and offer the following deal: You find a house that you like THAT YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO AFFORD IF YOU COULD GET THE FINANCING (PITI – Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance). I will purchase the house for cash. You will rent it from me for $1,000/$1,500 whatever per month (we’ll figure it out). This money will be put in a savings account and in 2-3 years (we’ll figure out a time frame), you will be able to finance purchasing the house from me because a) you will have at least $24,000 seasoned funds to use as a down payment and b) you will have a spotless Verification of Rent showing you making the payments. In that amount of time, I trust you will have taken other steps to improve your credit.

2) I would not open a charitable foundation (unless instructed to do so by a financial pro). Giving to charities that support your causes gives you a good feeling and tax deductions; opening and running your own charitable foundation gives you a headache (ask Greg Mortensen of “Three Cups of Tea.” His is in trouble. So is he). The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has a program for people with fruit trees in their backyards (one in four LA area homes. It’s like the zucchini of the Southland): contact them and they will send people to pick the fruit (it’s a donation to the food bank). This way, your neighbors stop screaming at the site of you coming at them with a bushel of lemons, you don’t have a backyard full of rotting fruit and you help your less-fortunate neighbors get the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

3) I would work with the food banks, the regular banks that have a lot of properties on their hands that are starting to show signs of neglect from being unoccupied and some colleges with strong agriculture programs (my alma mater, UVM, for example). Here’s the deal: we buy some of the properties, knock down the decomposing houses and turn the sites into community gardens. The ag students get a scholarship (work for us for a year and we’ll pay your tuition for that year) or we make a deal with the Feds for loan forgiveness in exchange for work for x number of years. They’ll be helping people learn to grow food, save seeds, make compost, preserve food and get a toehold on independence. We’re Americans: (and yes, I know the narrative is slanted in favor of white European settlers) Our ancestors wore calluses and dirt under the fingernails as badges of honor. Our favorite stories are the ones about someone landing at Ellis Island (or similar) with 89 cents in the pocket and working long enough and hard enough to turn that into a major fortune (that his grandchildren and great grandchildren squander on hookers and coke). We did it before. We can do it again.
4) Yes, I know there are a few of you who have big needs right now. We’ll work something out.
5) I know a few entrepreneurs who could use an investor. Give me a rock solid business plan (and I know a few of you are constantly working on yours) and we’ll play “Shark Tank” on a small scale. I’ve got $295 million to play with.

6) It’s not enough money to buy the Red Sox, but maybe a minor league team. Baseball is America’s pastime (Basketball can suck it).

7) I know some really great musicians and filmmakers. I’m thinking I can pick up a couple of empty warehouse buildings pretty cheap and convert them into studios (one for music. One for film). The People magazine that covered the Oscars had stories about lottery winners. One woman won $112 million and opened her own production company (among other things. I don’t see myself buying a lot of Hermes bags). Sounds like fun.

8) I would buy a theater and have some of my friends set up an improv school/troupe. One that teaches the skills without sticking a vacuum cleaner into the students’ wallets.

9) I might buy my own gym. While I recognize the benefits of having to move the 45 lbs. weight plates left behind by the self-absorbed muscle heads at the gym, it’s getting old. So is all the old, dead chewing gum left on equipment, the loud, stupid cellphone conversations or people just sitting on machines and texting rather than working out. This would be a gym for grown-ups.

10) And I’d get a kitty. Like this guy.


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