Check out this piece from the Washington Post:
William "Bud" Post III, 66, whose $16.2 million in lottery winnings brought him debt, despair and heartache, causing the kind of trouble often recounted in country-western songs, died of respiratory failure Jan. 15 at a Pittsburgh area hospital.
"Everybody dreams of winning money, but nobody realizes the nightmares that come out of the woodwork, or the problems," he said in 1993, five years after winning the Pennsylvania lottery.
His problems included a brother who tried to hire a contract murderer to kill him and his sixth wife; a landlady who forced him to give her one-third of the jackpot; and a conviction on an assault charge, after Mr. Post fired a shotgun at a man trying to collect a debt at his deteriorating dream house in northwestern Pennsylvania. He went bankrupt, came out of it with $1 million free and clear and spent most of that windfall, too.
"I was much happier when I was broke," he moaned.
Ok, so we can dispel the "lots of money makes you happy" myth with this one, huh? ;-)
Seriously, if you know how to manage it, I think more money can make you happier -- up to a point. The main benefit to me of more money is that it can buy you time that can then allow you more experiences -- which ultimately make you happier. On a recent podcast of the Personal Finance Hour, Jim noted that possessions usually deteriorate with time while experiences get better (in our memories) over time. I think that's very true.
But I didn't really mean for this to become a money/happiness post, but wanted to highlight another instant millionaire who knew very little about managing money, made bad mistakes, was taken advantage of, and wished in the end that he never had won the money. This sort of result seems more the rule with lottery winners than the exception.
For once, I'd like to see how someone with a shred of financial literacy would do with $16 million. Maybe they do ok and we just don't hear about them. Or maybe they don't play the lottery in the first place. Interesting thoughts.
Anyway, to prove that winning the lottery isn't all bad, I'm willing to be the guinea pig. If each state lottery would kick in only $250k (a fraction of their marketing budgets) and give it to me, that would be over $10 million (wikipedia says 43 states have lotteries). I would then spend the money wisely and all the lotteries could market the fact that winning the lottery doesn't doom you financially -- that it's really the bozos who have won in the past that give winning a bad name. :-)
Or, another idea, make winning the lottery contingent upon accepting financial advice from me. For a small fee (maybe 10% of the winnings), I'd help winners manage their fortunes and stay out of money trouble. Sounds like a great idea to me. Any lottery executives out there listening? Do you like either of these ideas?
Ok, I'm signing off now since I'm having way too much fun with this topic...