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Why Do You Want to Become Rich?

I’ve done the calculation and your chances of winning the lottery are identical whether you play or not. — Fran Lebowitz

Have you ever entertained thoughts of striking a big jackpot to become rich and famous overnight? We all have. I purchased a Powerball lottery ticket last week. As usual, I didn’t win and the jackpot now is over $250 million.

I also went to lunch with few friends last week. Our conversation drifted into our desire to win the lottery. Life has always taught me lessons on the street. This was one of those lessons worth sharing with you.

Often, we dream to strike riches but we seldom think why we want to become rich. It is that blunder of ignorance that brings more misery than happiness after winning a big dough.

Me: What would you do if you won $200 million jackpot, Roger?

Roger: I would buy a big mansion. I would hire a world-class cook. I would host a party every week for my friends and family members.

Me:  What else?

Roger: I really don’t know beyond that. I know that I will be the happiest person on this earth.

Me: That’s wonderful. What would you do if you won $200 million jackpot, Sam?

Sam:  I would buy a mansion in Vegas. I would gamble every single day. You know, I love Vegas as what happens there remains in Vegas.

Me: What else?

Sam: Nothing. I can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s my dream.

Me: Now it’s your turn Jim. What would you do with the sudden riches?

Jim: I would squirrel away enough for my children to make sure that their financial future is bright. I would buy a modest home with cash and invest wisely to generate enough to live happily. My main focus would be to do a greater good for those children who are less fortunate.

Me: That’s amazing. What would you do for those children?

Jim: I would start a foundation to provide college scholarships for those less fortunate children around the world. I also would start a foundation to encourage entrepreneurs who lack capital to start businesses and to create jobs. There is nothing more satisfying than to fund someone’s dream.

I was asked the same question. What would I do if I won $200 million?

“I learned today what to do and what not to do if I become filthy rich. While we all dream to become rich, we seldom focus on the fact that we want to become rich to find lasting inner happiness. Most of us have innate desire to please ourselves as it is evident from what Roger and Sam have dreamed of; only few, like Jim, can take the righteous path to seek inner happiness as it is less glamorous for most of us, ” I said solemnly.

There was stunned silence for a short while before Sam chimed in.

Sam: We are not different from those rich and famous, Shilpan! All of us want riches to live a splendid life.

Me: You are right Sam. Our biggest folly is to follow the foot steps of the rich and famous. I recently read that Vince Young, the third pick in the NFL draft six years ago, is broke and looking for work after being let go by the Buffalo Bills. I remember that Young was an All-Pro quarterback for the Tennessee Titans worth around $60 millions not so long ago. It’s not how much you make or how much you have; it’s how you take care of your money that matters most for your lasting happiness.

In our pursuit of happiness, we forget that money is just an enabler; it allows us to spend more time doing what we love to do most; it allows us to feel excited before going to bed and after waking up every morning. It allows us to think and care not only for our own happiness but also for those who need a helping hand to build their dreams.

It’s good to become rich as it allows us to become part of the force to give hopes and aspirations to those who have lost hope for a better life. Do you agree?

Readers:  What would you do if you won the jackpot? I know that odds are against most of us to win a lottery, but I never realized that buying a $2 ticket can make me think about a greater purpose if I ever win the jackpot. In fact, if you live your life below your means and invest wisely, you will win big some day; and that is the most satisfying way to become rich.


Being Thankful, Not Just for Thanksgiving  @ Modest Money

What’s Your Scariest Money Story? @ My Money Design

Broke, Desperate, and Stupid @ Work Save Live

Photo by: Lisa Brewster

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Comments (37)

I’d give half of it to my parents to live the life they’ve always wanted. The other $100 mil would earn $2 mil in interest a year and id be fine.


I really like your love for your parents. Hats off to you, Sam!

Without my parents, I would not be here, so I owe them everything at the end of the day :)

No one will believe this, but I don’t play lotteries with huge jackpots because I wouldn’t want to win hundreds of millions. I think it would ruin my life. There’s no way you could maintain perspective. From the moment you won on, you’d wonder whether people hung out with you because of your personality or your money. You’d be inundated with requests for charity, many of which would be worthy. How would you sort through them and choose whether to say yes or no? No thanks–I like my life the way it is.

You are a wise man, Kurt!

It’s hard to imagine what I’d do with hundreds of millions, but with just a few million I would love to invest in people and ideas. I love the show Shark Tank and would welcome the opportunity to help people with great ideas and hopefully profit a little while I’m at it.

Shark Tank is one of my favorite shows, JW!

Hey, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it! I have 99 problems, but winning a large sum in lottery ain’t one of them! :)

I like your perspective, MC! :)

I can’t remember who said ‘any fool knows that money won’t make you happy.’ Happiness is an inside job – when you’re happy and ‘following your bliss’ (Campbell), money will come.


Like Kurt, I don’t play and for similar reasons. Winning would attract people with the worst of intensions.

If I could play and collect anonymously, that would have more appeal. Although I agree with Fran Lebowitz whom you quoted.

But, if by some chance I wound up with a billion or a few hundred million I think Elon Musk offers an example I’d follow.

I wonder if you can request lottery commission to not reveal your name to the public. I agree with you on unintended consequences of winning huge sum. Nonetheless, you can double or triple your money in the current market by investing in under performing commercial notes with your windfall.

nope. part of the deal is they get to publize your name. my guess is they want to prove someone really does win once in awhile.

I just checked the site; jackpot is over $425 million. They definitely wanted to publicize the name to attract those who can’t afford to spend money on jackpots. What an irony!

[…] Street Smart Finance – Why Do You Want to Become Rich? […]

Winning the lottery would be a fun dream. To be able to secretly help so many people & organizations. & fix repair my house! I have a mortgage that I have been stupidly throwing away my $ on for two years. Cant live there because of water damage & let the house sit closed up. yuk. Been staying with friend. Waste of $$, makes me sick.

[…] Why Do You Want to Become Rich? on Street Smart Finance […]

[…] Street Smart Finance – Why Do You Want to Become Rich? […]

My aspirations for what I would do if I hit the big one are similar to Jim’s. My goal would be to put the government out of the business of welfare. I’ve always felt that the whole thing could and should be handled via private charities. Obviously I couldn’t replace the welfare system with one lousy jackpot. But, I could lead by example and start a movement by opening different charities and foundations and encouraging people to use those and get off of government welfare.

The best way to end welfare is to help small businesses thrive in America. Small businesses create jobs; no one in America should be dependant on government unless they are disable(physical or mental). Private enterprise is the solution to our economic problems!!

I think if I won that much, I’d keep enough to be comfortable and give the rest away. How much money does someone need? Not 200 million. Woudn’t it feel nice to pick your favorite cause or several and give them a million dollars?

Way to go!!

Interesting post!

I find it interesting that (in moderation), all three of your friends could work on these goals RIGHT NOW in moderation. If you follow the philosophy of Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi), becoming engrossed in this goal instead of having it placed at your fingertips is true happiness for many.

I need to read more on the philosophy of Flow!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joe!

This really is a good post. I think if people hav their head screwed on straight when they’re broke, then they’ll keep it screwed on straight if they strike it rich. But if they’ve got all the wrong ideas/values when they’re poor, then that will only get bigger if they get rich!

You’ve hit the nail on the head, my friend!

I would invest most of the money, and have a perpetual windfall. $5-6M a year allows for a lot of great things. I have no dreams of Mc Mansion, just a nice house to receive family and friends, and maybe a foundation for causes I believe in. Oh and I would never tell anyone I won.

You are very wise, Pauline!

[…] @ Street Smart Finance writes Why Do You Want to Become Rich – Have you ever entertained thoughts of striking a big jackpot to become rich and famous […]

[…] @ Street Smart Finance writes Why Do You Want to Become Rich – Have you ever entertained thoughts of striking a big jackpot to become rich and famous […]

That’s quite a bit of money. There’d be so many things I could do with it:

* Build up a software development company.
* Take care of close family and friends.
* Give larger contributions to the causes I really care about.

IMO there can never be too much money, I can find a use for all of it.

Can’t agree with you more!

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[…] @ Street Smart Finance writes Why Do You Want to Become Rich – Have you ever entertained thoughts of striking a big jackpot to become rich and famous […]

I do not believe being rich will make a great difference in the lives of most folks. Some kind of lifestyle beyond just meeting your basic needs is a positive objective. But who really needs a twenty 20 room home and 3 BMW’S. How many homes on the sea does one really need.