Top 5 Ways to Spend a $300K birthday present.

birthday winning

Photo credit: BradPerkins via / CC BY-NC-ND

It’s been a family tradition for years for family members to send Ervin Smolinksi scratch-off lottery tickets and chocolate for his birthday. This year it paid off.

The 94-year-old man made the news when he won $300,000 in the Michigan Lottery. His daughter-in-law bought the winning ticket as a gift for the World War II veteran.

“I’ve seen a whole lot in my life, and I don’t get worked up easily. I think my son-in-law was more worked up that I was,” Smolinksi told the news.

The win got me thinking though, as I probably too often do, what I would do if I won the lottery. Considering I don’t often play the lottery, it’s really a ridiculous game to play in my head. Yet, I enjoy the mental game. So, because this blog is often about giving, let me give you my top 5 ways to spend lottery winnings:

  1. Travel the world. Truly. Buy a tour package that has a travel agent set it up for you to get to every continent and live it up in luxurious hotels along the way.
  2. Pay off (or if you’re renting now buy with cash) house. Think of the joy of having a home that’s all equity. Come time to sell it, or pass it on, you’re sitting on value.
  3. Build up the college fund. With just one kid it’ll be easier for me to top up the account with some of these extra dollars, but putting it in his account in advance gives my family the benefit of accrued interest.
  4. Throw a massive — and I mean massive — par-tay for everyone I know and love in a destination location and with me footing the bill for hotels and travel and all that. Sort of like a wedding party, but I pay for it and we don’t have to say “I do” again.
  5. Donate. Find a few causes that you truly care about. Do the research about their credibility and give, give, give.

Those who are good at math might realize something here…I’ve probably overspent the $300K. Especially after the government takes the taxes out. Still, it’s fun to imagine isn’t it? Do you have a different top five? I’d love to hear other suggestions.

Lucky Lottery Birthdays

Lottery birthday Fun Fact

Photo credit: Jeremy Brooks via / CC BY-NC

Many of us view our birthday as a lucky day. Some take it even farther and play birthdays to win big in the lottery!

  • A North Carolina man played his family’s birthdays to pick all five numbers and win $246,279 from a $1 ticket. “I’d used those numbers for a while and was about to pick some new ones,” Svedek said in the news coverage. “I’m so glad I didn’t. This feels really good.”
  • A Virginia woman won $100,000 when playing family birthdays on Powerball. She thought she’d only won $50K, but since she spent the extra dollar for Power Play her prize doubled and, according to her daughter, “she just about had a hard attack.”

Turns out, though, this isn’t actually the best way to pick lottery numbers. Sure, the numbers are easy to remember, but — yes, there is such a site — suggests playing “birth dates starts you out on a disadvantaged path.”

You are, after all, limited to the numbers 1 to 31. Plus, if you do win, there’s a “higher probability of a diminished return by sharing that prize pool…because so many other lotto players also use their birthday numbers.”

Of course another way to incorporate a birthday with the lottery is to buy the tickets as a gift. A 19-year-old received two Illinois scratch off tickets from her Dad on her birthday and won $4 million! (Guess her Dad’s feeling pretty set on birthday presents for his daughter for years to come).

Nevertheless, as I wrap up this blog, I can imagine my logic professor brother rolling his eyes at me for even remotely endorsing the lottery. So, I’ll remind you that your odds for winning the lottery are slim — whether you play birthdays or not.