Exponential Possibilities

February 19, 2013

Two Hundred Dollars 1

It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last, I spent way too much time thinking about what it would be like to win the lottery. It’s funny how just a couple extra zeros added on to my bank account balance would alleviate a lot of stress (and create a whole new kind). Such thoughts lead me in other directions as well, like just how drastically my life would change with a sudden infusion of cash, however small. I’d like to explore that. Here’s what would I would do if the respective amounts of money came to me with no warning. Believe me, I’ve put far too much thought into my “what if”s.

What would you with…?

Buy a lottery ticket

Overspend on lunch, perhaps picking up a piece of cake or pie, and considering I broke even.

I probably wouldn’t go overboard with this. An extra hundred in my bank account could be used to pay off my credit card, but should a sale or opportunity arise, it’s possible I might blow it on food or clothes.

No question now. Straight into the bank account to pay off my credit card. No indulgences.

Part of this would be used to pay off debt, then I’d book a round trip ticket to Japan in time to see the cherry blossoms for 2013. I’d toss out most of my wardrobe and just buy what I needed over there. ~$5000 would be more than enough to enjoy a somewhat indulgent two months in Japan, assuming I’d stay with friends every so often and took the bus instead of the shinkansen. I’d fly back into Chicago in May to attend my brother’s wedding, and work things out after that. Shortsighted, but fun.

Probably the same plan for the 10k, but instead of taking all my possessions with me to Japan (utilizing the coin lockers in the previous scenario), I’d put down a deposit on a flat in San Francisco and take only what I needed, leaving the rest in an empty unit, the furniture and decor to be decided upon my return. Instead of being thrifty in Japan, I’d stay at hot springs ryokan whenever possible and treat fellow gaijin to rounds of drinks. I’d send my Canadian friends enough cash to pay off their student loans, because no one should have to deal with those. I’d invest in a guesthouse in Sri Lanka my Aussie friends want to start. I’d donate $1,000 to Eat Your Kimchi and fly into Seoul for a night of karaoke before returning for the wedding. When the wedding is finished, I’d treat myself to a crazy 31st birthday night and fly back into San Francisco to continue the job search. Less pressure this time, but I know I could not survive indefinitely on 100k… I’d continue applying for jobs, but take more time to train for a barefoot marathon with the essentials already met. Perhaps hire a personal trainer and a career counselor. Buy an iMac in addition to a new MacBook Pro. Finally get health insurance and dental.


The big one million. We’ve all thought about it. In my case, I don’t think I would be too likely to drop everything and go travel at first. I’d most likely choose where I wanted to have a base of operations for the next few years, put down a deposit on a flat, and make myself comfortable there, while gathering all my childhood belongings from storage, finally having the time and space to choose between keeping them or tossing them out. I’d remove everything I didn’t need from my flat and pay a cold storage place a three years’ advance to keep it out of my way. I’d work with a conglomerate to invest in real estate so I could have a reliable source of income. I’d spend more as I became used to a higher standard of living, and worry less. Again, I’m not set for life, not unless I want to retire in Thailand or die at the ripe old age of 40 or 50. However, it would be extremely unlikely that I’d continue searching for work in lieu of having this money work for me. I’d see to it that my parents were comfortable in their remaining years, but I wouldn’t have enough to buy them a new house in Dallas, or treat them to too many vacations.


Ten to the power of seven changes everything. With ten million, I’d have enough to buy a house anywhere I wanted outright. I wouldn’t need an investor group to deal with property; I’d start my own. My parents could enjoy a new place and as much time abroad as they wanted. Even if I were to ignore simple investments and savings accounts (and I wouldn’t), I’d probably be set for life without too extravagant a lifestyle… still might indulge in luxuries like $1000 ice cream sundaes:

My clothes would be all custom made and designer. My friendships would change as the money would start to affect my outlook on life, and their perception of me. Romantic relationships would grow to be less about common interest and love than public perception and the maturity to deal with wealth.


Only a few things are beyond my reach at this level. If I wasn’t the 1% before, I am now. I could spend a million dollars a year for the rest of my life and still have a hefty inheritance for my non-existent children. In addition to houses in Austin and San Francisco (possibly an apartment in New York), I’d buy one abroad, perhaps on the beach in southern Thailand. Instead of relying solely on real estate for reliable investments, I’d seek out potentially risky innovations for the purpose of financial gain and to learn what’s coming. I’d fly out of the country first class if I were having a particularly stressful day. I’d take the time to get at least one homeless person off the cold streets and into a stable job and place to live. I’d finally feel like I was in the position to make a major contribution to humanity, one that would last the test of time; whether that means starting my own company or commissioning someone else to give form to my ideas, I’m not sure. My inspiration would be different than before; writing a book may still be a possibility, but my travel memoirs as they stand now wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t be the same.


Buy my own island. Buy a private plane. Do everything I mentioned for all the other levels. Invest in a private mission to Mars and see that I’m on that spacecraft, the first to touch alien soil in 2025.

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