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Would You Stay Frugal If You Won The Lottery?

Winning the Lottery


This is a post from regular contributor, Kyle James. Enjoy!

I recently read an article recently on the Business Week website about a guy name Jack Whittaker who in 2002 won the $314 million dollar PowerBall lottery and opted for the one time lump payment of $93 million. Pretty lucky guy, right?

Absolutely ruined him. Everyone wanted money from him. He lost his so-called friends. He couldn’t trust anyone. His wife left him. He hung out at strip clubs. Drank like a fish. Ugly stuff.

The interesting thing was that he was already a very successful entrepreneur before he hit the big jackpot. Speaks to the benefits of hard work and “making it” on your own.

So this made me think, “Would I remain frugal if I won the lottery?” I like to think I would.

Sure, I would upgrade some things. Pay off the car and the house. Maybe take the family to Europe in a couple years. But real frugality is a choice to conserve and seek out value, not done because of situation.

I know many people that started being frugal because of circumstance and stayed that way when they came out of debt because it provided intrinsic satisfaction. Priceless. I also believe if you have a disposition towards frugal living, charity, and helping others then you would likely remain that way even if you won a huge sum of money.

Winning a ton of money would seem to make you more of what you already are. If you are decent, humble, frugal, and generous, it makes you more so. The same can probably be said if you are irresponsible, immature, and wasteful.

With that said, I would welcome the opportunity to test my theory. I have a PayPal account. Any takers?

Do you think you would remain frugal if you won the lottery? I look forward to your comments.

About the Author: Kyle James writes daily at the Rather-Be-Shopping.com Blog about frugality, living

Kim’s Comments: I think there is a such thing as too much money. If you gave me $93 million dollars tomorrow, I’d pay off all my debt, keep enough to live very comfortably and travel in style for the rest of my life. I would help my family within reason, then I’d start a charity or scholarship fund with the rest.

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I’m one of the (perhaps boring) people who, although I would change my career, the money wouldn’t change my lifestyle in a considerable manner. I would still do the same things I do now, live in a similar house, etc etc. As I said, boring….! 🙂

  2. It’s always fun to think about, but since I don’t actually play the lottery I don’t have to worry about it. That said, I would definitely spend more time at home with my kids. 🙂

  3. My coworkers would play the lottery when there was a big jackpot and we would pool our resources. I always participated because I hated the thought of being the only one in the office who didn’t win. Everyone else would call in rich the next day except for me!
    So, whenever a big payoff rolled around, I would think “what would I do with the money?” I dream of paying off our student loans and buying a sweet house, then a vacation home in Maui 😉 We’d live off of the income and give each of my nieces and nephews $$ for college each year ($14k / year to avoid the gift tax, natch!) . Beyond that, and taking care of our parents’ needs, I really have no clue what to do with the money, so I hope we would continue to live frugally — but not as frugally as we have been these days!

  4. It depends what you mean by “frugal.” I would renovate and sell my current house and buy a much larger one…most likely renovate that as well. I’d travel quite a bit and probably buy some investment properties. Overall I think I would just have fun with it and buy/sell businesses and live a less stressful life. If that qualifies as frugal – assuming I have $93M – then yes, I would!

  5. I think I would remain somewhat frugal. But, I wouldn’t stress out about it anymore. There would be no point.

  6. I would still be frugal – those habits are just too deeply ingrained! But I would definitely be making a career change since I knew I’d have some sort of pretty much guaranteed income (because of course I would be investing and saving all my winnings). I’d stop worrying about the paying salary of a position and go for things I really wanted to pursue instead.

    • That is a great point Kali. The money would totally allow you to go after your “Passion” – it is interesting that the media only tends to report on the winners who have ruined their lives. I would love to read a story about lottery winners who have made a difference in the world.

  7. If you have RESPECT for your money and learn how to live a well balanced and fulfilling life, without spending like crazy, the huge windfall shouldn’t make such a huge difference. We’d probably move out of the country with our families (1. to not have others ‘ask’ for money and 2. since we already have a nice place we’d like to one day get a home and move to), get a small house there and move the money into the bank. It would allow us to live nicely and still make sure our child has enough to start her life. We’d also look for ways to invest and make the money ‘work’ for us, since we are not the type of people who’d sit all day and do nothing

  8. It is one of those strange life ironies that so many people play the lottery because they believe winning will make their lives perfect, only to find out later that a lot of lottery winners wish they had never won. I’d like to say that I would remain a mindful spender and not be wasteful. We would definitely travel more and maybe get that house on the beach because why not. 🙂 My husband would love it; he’s a surfer. Like Kim, I would also want to share my money with organizations I support. I’d love to have money for The Heavy Purse and expand my outreach since children’s financial literacy is my true passion. It’s certainly fun to dream about!

  9. Depends on if the lottery were a million or 300 million!

    Actually, if I won a huge sum and was able to stay anonymous, I would absolutely live frugally. I wouldn’t want anyone other than my parents and brother to know. I’d pay all their bills, buy my dad a wood shop, and send my brother and his family to school.

    Beyond that, I would try to live a fairly normal life so know one knows the difference. I suppose I would just blog full-time and eventually pretend I’m making $100k off that, but wouldn’t want to live any bigger than that!

  10. I would still be the same person because I value other things over money. Family, kids, faith, generosity – to name a few. I believe those things would keep me grounded despite the excess of money I would receive.

  11. If I won, I would not change a thing. I might move, but shop in a similar price range.

  12. i do start wondering about this, every time the jackpot gets ridiculous and i find myself dropping a couple of bucks on lottery tickets. i am sure my attitude towards money wouldn’t change dramatically, but i would certainly travel a ton more!

  13. I would put half of it away in a trust that would provide lifetime income stream that can’t be touched. I think I would piss away the rest.

  14. I think I would have the same approach as you. Upgrade a few things but otherwise keep my lifestyle the same. I think the key is to keep it a secret (if you can). That way people aren’t coming after you for money.

  15. If we won the lottery, I think we would accomplish the career goals we’re currently working on (our PhDs) before making any major decisions. We definitely wouldn’t be as frugal as we are now as we don’t make much money, but I hope we also wouldn’t choose to be stand-out-ish with that kind of money.

  16. It’s too ingrained in me. There’s no doubt that the value of my time would go up however. With that in mind there would be many day-to-day tasks that I would outsource because my time would be better spent on other philanthropic pursuits, beyond maintaining and growing my windfall.

  17. I’ve lived the first 30 years of my life relatively frugally, and I don’t think I’d do anything differently if I did happen to hit the lottery. I’d probably pay off my house, buy a rental property and take my family on a vacation. I’d also save for my future kids education and start a scholarship for a high school senior at my hometown high school.

  18. That’s why it’s so important not to take the lump sum if you can’t take people coming out of the woodwork to ask you for money. If you live in one of the few states who lets you take it anonymously, do that. And make sure you get a good accountant to you can get all of your money “tied up in investments” so you can’t be giving it out like candy.

  19. I’d like to say that if I won the lottery that I would be careful with the money and instead of spend it on a new house and quit my job or whatever, I would work on improving the things I already had and then have the rest as a sort of back-up plan after making an investment in my business or sites.

    However I can see why it would of ruined him. If I won it would be on the quiet but I can understand that the shock of winning may cause some silly life decisions to be made.

  20. My dream is to win the lottery, unfortunately I play since 1998 and never won! My friend has won $ 9000 and my brother won $ 500 last month.

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