very few months or so, Powerball grabs our attention. If enough time passes between winning numbers being drawn, the pot gets big enough to grab the national spotlight and turn us all into dreamers.
There is no better example than this past week, when the Powerball jackpot reached north of a half billion dollars. That's billion. With a "B." For some reason, we're not that intrigued by winning a couple million, or $100 million for that matter. That's peanuts, right?
This week's jackpot reached a level never seen before, partly because it now costs more to play - $2 instead of $1 - and because Powerball had rolled over for 16 straight drawings. All the more reason to not play. Or, all the more reason to play? Someone's got to win eventually, we tell ourselves.
When the jackpot gets this high we inevitably hear horror stories about past winners who either blew their winnings or were thrown into a lifestyle they didn't foresee and didn't handle very well.
Past winners talk about the greed they see emanating from their friends and family, all trying to get their hands on some loot. They talk about the emotional toll winning the Powerball took on them and how if you're not careful you can actually go broke after becoming a millionaire.
It's debatable whether or not money can buy happiness. What is for sure is that it can potentially buy misery, past winners have proven that - all the more reason to be careful what you wish for.
You could say it's more fun dreaming about winning than actually winning. Ask yourself: Would you be ready for a complete lifestyle change if you suddenly were a multi-millionaire?
The knee-jerk answer is "yes I am." Or, more accurately, "hell, yes I am. Bring it on." That doesn't make you greedy; I mean, it is incredibly fun to dream about what you would do with so much money, and then to actually be able to do it - quit your stinkin' job so every day feels like a Friday, pay off your mortgage, travel anywhere, buy anything, maybe become a philanthropist - would be the proverbial dream coming true.
Or it could a hellish nightmare. It's been said that lottery winners are encouraged to plan for their psychological needs as well as their financial strategy. That's saying something. Plus, The National Endowment for Financial Education has estimated that as many as 70 percent of people who come into huge sums of money lose it within several years. Is there anything more depressing than that?
Personally, I'd be more than willing to put up with a few hundred seekers of my money if it meant I wouldn't have to be perched precariously on my own fiscal cliff any longer.
Money can't buy happiness, and even though you sure can cash in on plenty of dreams with enough of it, it also might end up ruining your life. Just keep telling yourself that the next time the jackpot rolls over a dozen times.