What I’d do if I won the lottery …

As I am writing this, the Michigan Powerball Lottery jackpot is estimated to be at $750 million for the Wednesday night drawing.

By the time you read this, you will know whether you won or not. I suspect that, if you are reading this, you probably did not win, because your mind would likely be elsewhere.

But if you did win, congratulations! Spend wisely.

The question is always, “What would you do with the money if you won the lottery?”

That’s a tough question to answer for many of us, because most of us don’t have a realistic understanding of what can be done with that much money.

I do have a few ideas of what I might do with a fraction of the funds.

First, I would reluctantly give a massive amount of it to government through taxes, as would anyone who won would have to. I say reluctantly because I’d much rather decide where my money goes than let the government decide.

I would pay off my mortgage and renovate my house in all the ways I want to renovate it. I wouldn’t just sell it and buy something else because it is the first home I ever purchased, and I have a grand vision for it. I’d like to see the full vision come to reality.

I would also finish paying off my student loans. I would buy a new vehicle, or maybe two.

I would quit my job and pursue my ultimate career goal full-time. Don’t take that the wrong way, I love my work at the Chamber. It’s just not the career I will be retiring from. I would also likely purchase some new shoes. I realize that, with a jackpot of $750 million, this list doesn’t even begin to make a dent in that amount of money. Unless I bought an incredible number of new shoes, as well as added an enormous closet to my vision for my house.

In addition to those things that I would immediately do for myself, I would also be interested charitable giving. I would contribute to the memorial fund my brother-in-law started when my sister passed. I would research funding a new building for the Boys and Girls Club, and a new building for the Humane Society. After research, I would move forward with funding those projects, if it made sense. Children and animals don’t have a choice regarding their situations, and are at the mercy of adults, so I’d like to give first to organizations providing animals and children the best, most supportive experiences and environments. I always thought it would be interesting to explore the concept of putting the Boys and Girls Club, the Humane Society, and the Senior Center all in one space. I would also give to organizations that help people help themselves and improve their place in life. I would support organizations that support independent thinking and personal growth behaviors.

I’m guessing that, when I wake up this morning, I will learn that I did not win the jackpot. Bummer. Therefore, I guess I won’t be funding new buildings, paying off my student loans in one lump sum, or giving significant contributions to organizations who teach others to help themselves, any time soon.

Good thing it doesn’t take winning the lottery to make a difference.

Most of us will never win a substantial amount in the lottery. And, sometimes, when people do win large amounts, they don’t do much good with it, anyway. Even without a major lottery winning, we can still do some amazing things and make significant differences. I may not be able to build a new building for the Boys and Girls Club or the Humane Society, but I can volunteer my time. I can also donate needed items and supplies to those — or any — organizations, and it makes a difference.

We don’t need to wait until we have more money to make a difference. We can start right now. There are lots of ways to give.

My mom taught me one way that makes it affordable and easy. Every time you go to the grocery store for your own family, add one item that an organization might need. Put it in a box, and when the box is full, donate the entire box. It allows you to spread out the cost over time, which is easier for some (myself included) than spending a large amount all at once.

There will always be needs. If we wait until we can take care of the needs all at once, we will be waiting forever. If we all do a little bit now, we can chip away at the needs and make a significant difference.

Without ever even winning the lotto.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs biweekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.