A Contradictory Life

If I won the lotto and smart money habits


Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are. – James W. Frick

We have all played this game before: what would you buy if you won the lotto?

I am not much of a gambler – there is that (not so) famous story of the time Ali, Olivia and I frequented the casino with R200 each during a trip we  took to Sun City in first year. We carefully placed what was soon to be our spending money for the rest of the year into a machine, there was a lot of noise and flashing lights and *poof* our money was gone. We lost everything in less than three seconds. Astonished, off we went to find some boys to buy us drinks. Another time, after a celebratory dinner at Monte Casino for a birthday Wes‘s dad gave us each some cash to try our luck at the machines. We got so bored after ten minutes we went and spent ours at Sweets from Heaven or on ice-cream or something equally as important.

(A little #throwbackthursday to our bus stop photo shoot at Sun City in May 2008)

But, even though I know the odds are ridiculous, every now and then I play the lotto. An integral part of most South African’s lives approximately fourteen years ago would be gathering around the tv every Saturday night to watch Amor present the Lotto (an actual 30 minute show) with tickets tightly clasped in hand. Then things changed; lotto started happening on Wednesdays too, Lotto Plus got introduced and most people lost interest. The romance (?) of all of it was lost. Now, instead of carefully selecting a combination of numbers that are associated with special dates or lucky numbers if I buy a lotto ticket I grab a R20 quick pick and this probably only happens about once a year.

This weekend there was 40 million Rand to be won – which two people actually did; a total of R20m each. Wes and I had both bought a ticket and I sat on the bed carefully checking our numbers against the winning ones. We won a grand total of R10.5o which equated to 7% of our total spend. I sat on the bed and cried the ugly cry. The scrunched face-hyperventilating-sobbing-heaving-cry. I am sure I am not the only one who pre-spends imaginary money? (An aside: Emotions. Yoh. Need to check up on mine)

All of this did get me thinking though. What would I actually do if I came into a lot of money right now. I honestly do not think I would drastically change my current life style. I have heard that the lotto people/committee (whatever they are called) offer counselling for winners and although I don’t know if this is true I think it is so important. We know someone who recently inherited a fortune and in the last three months has bought himself two news cars, a boat, a new house, a cullinan-sized diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend and quit his job. He is going to plow through that money so quickly and it devastates me because if he practised good money management and cultivated smart money habits he would probably have been able to live a very comfortable life for many years to come whilst helping his community and probably future generations too.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people squander money.

So, some tips for if you’re lucky enough to inherit a fortune or to win a lot of money. Also, some of these should be practised even if that does not happen to you.

Don’t suddenly change your lifestyle

Obviously, it is only natural to want to splurge a little. Spoil yourself and your loved ones, within reason. Don’t quit your job, buy a massive house, a luxury car or suddenly start buying skirts that cost R30k when you used to be perfectly satisfied with a wardrobe from Mr Price.

I would most definitely plan a trip over seas. If there is anything that sends me into bouts of the worst depression it is the fact that I am not travelling nearly as much as I would like to. I would also take a long weekend as often as possible to travel this beautiful country we live in. I would give my ma, sister and Wes big chunks of the money to invest (or invest it for them). I would treat all of my girl friends to a spa day and a delicious meal somewhere. I basically never buy myself clothes or shoes so I would do this. I might buy a new car but I would probably just send my 1994 Mazda in for some of the repairs it is due for. I would buy blinds for my home and some pretty throw cushions and I would buy some new linen for the guest bedroom. I will eat out a little more.

Pay off your debts

The most important thing in life is to try and live as debt-free as possible. I am constantly astounded by the way people live lavish lives but they pay for them with debt. They are living a lie. I would pay off the little bit of money I have spent on my credit card and I would pay off my home. I would then be debt free. For every Rand you spend paying off debt, that is money you no longer owe. For every Rand you invest (wisely), that is money that will probably grow.

Get yourself a financial adviser

The world of money can be very confusing and over whelming if it is not the world in which you work every day. I am lucky to but I notice how ignorant my friends are with regard to the most basic of money and investment principles and these are well-educated intelligent individuals. It is important to smartly manage your money and it is ok, and advised, to ask for help.


Albert Einstein said “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understand it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.”  and once again, I cannot believe that people do not take this seriously. Read, and make sure you fully comprehend, this document that we put together at work on the “power of compounding”. The best time to invest is NOW. And for those of you who haven’t inherited or won a lot of money, every little bit makes a difference (as can be seen in that document). As I have said to all of my friends; what is R500 pm really? A big night out? A new dress? Getting your nails done? It is not a lot of money to start putting away monthly and will your dress be worth R40 000 in ten years?

Create and stick to a budget

Again, this applies even if you haven’t come into a lot of money. I will do a whole post on budgeting soon but the main principle is easy: don’t spend more than you earn. In the case of having a lot of money – don’t spend the principal, only spend the income generated via investing.

Help someone out

Donate some money to your favourite charity or even better yet – we all know a struggling family or person. Pay their kids’ school fees for a year, buy them enough PnP vouchers to buy groceries for a year, take care of their rent, set up a savings vehicle for them, educate them, help out in any way that you can but always remember that whole teach a man to fish thing.

What would you do if you won the lotto? I am interested to hear, please comment below and let me know!