"A person's life can be compared quite nicely to the four seasons of the year. This blog is from someone in the Winter of Life enjoying the fruits of his "Summer and Fall" and looking forward to assisting the growth and nourishment for the next generation.

My Father and Grandfather passed on their wisdom through their actions and their stories. This is probably be the most impactful way to pass on wisdom. But the written word can have an affect on lives that extends beyond the memories of a couple of generations. This blog is an attempt to reflection on my life experiences and pass these reflections to future generations of my own family as well as any others who might come across these pages.

Monday, June 28

If I had a Million dollars

With the Tennessee lottery, it is common for folks to dream about winning an enormous sum of money. Would you take the lump sum, or would you opt for the security of a guaranteed payout of the full amount for 20 years? How much would taxes cut into the amount? More importantly, what would you do with the money after all taxes are paid? Everyone, even the good Southern Baptist among us, have pondered these questions.

When my kids were young, we would play a game with them. “What would you do with a million dollars?” Their young eyes would light up at the prospect of, what seemed like, an unlimited amount of money. As they named the items they mentioned, we would put a value on it and subtract it from the total. First a new house for Mom and Dad, value $65,000 (remember this was back when $1 million was worth $1 million), a new TV, at least a 21”, and new bikes, and a new car, one of those new Vans. And so on the game went until they ran out of things to buy. We always gently reminded them to remember to give to the church and give to a charity. They gleefully agreed but only after they had “bought” all the other stuff as well.

We laughed about our “purchases” and moved on to the next task like real shopping, my personal favorite, ugh. Over the years, the items changed as did their understanding of the value of things. Things like prom dresses, a fantastic vacation, a computer, and so on replaced their earlier choices. I like to imagine what their “purchases” would be today with, say, $10 million. I suspect church and college funding for their children would be higher on the list than a new home for Mom and Dad, as they should be. It would be interesting to see how their values changed as their years and maturity levels increased.

It is a good indicator of the person to see how they would spend a gift of $10 million. Of course, everyone has different visions of the important things in life. What is important to one is foolishness to another. And the desires change regularly. As I write these, I have designed a dozen lists of how I would spend the money. Like a kids, I am torn between mature responsibility and childish selfishness. Can I have them both, I wonder? I am beginning to understand the dilemma of gifted athletes who are offered huge contracts of millions of dollars to play a game.

What would I do? Let me think.

$2 million: Set up a charitable trust. The intent would be to support those in need. I would love to set up a post high school college fund for ordinary kids. The best athletes or the best scholars or the best musicians always get the scholarship money. But there are a lot of ordinary kids who just need a little fertilizer to blossom into beautiful flowers. I would like to supply the fertilizer.

$1 million: Establish a fund for my grandchildren to pay for post high school education and provide a little “getting started” money after school. This is a tough one since I worked my way through school and started with virtually nothing and had no parental business to inherit or mentor to follow. In fact, my former mother-in-law was so concerned about my ability to care for her daughter, she gave my young bride $20 in case we needed grocery money during our first few months. I have done better than survive through these many years, but what would the possibilities have been with a little “getting started” money in my early years?

$1.5 million: Buy a new home and furnish it. Make it a home on a hill with a pool and a study and large closets and beautiful flower beds and a great kitchen and a guest house in back and some acreage.

$1.5 million: Buy a second home in Europe. I have always been interested in history, particularly European history. It would be fantastic to have a home in Europe that could be used as a base to travel and see the places I have only visited through books.

$4.0 million: Purchase municipal bonds. At three percent, this should give me enough tax free income to travel to that expensive vacation home. Plus it would leave my children a little nest egg when I am gone. And I could buy some trinkets like the corvette I have wanted since 1958, like a home with enough wide open space to finally have a horse, like take flying lessons, or travel to exotic places around the world or buy an expensive suit.

What does all that say about me? What would your wish list say about you?

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