What Winning the Lottery Teaches Us About Money

How many times have you joked about winning the lottery? The ultimate fantasy…being handed piles of money for no reason other than a $3 ticket and a random number. Suddenly life is good, and you never have to worry about money again–talk about living the dream!

You know there’s a catch, right? Ever heard of the so-called “lottery curse”? 

Many people who win the lottery end up squandering all that money, they get depressed, their marriages end–and some winners meet a tragic end.

There are countless stories of people wishing they had never won. (Seriously.)

The National Endowment for Financial Education estimates that around 70% of people who receive a large cash windfall will lose it within a few years.

WHAT IN THE WORLD?  So money…DOESN’T buy happiness after all?

It’s complicated. Sudden windfalls of that kind of money is a fantasy that the vast majority of people will never experience. If you DO experience it–and you’ve never had money before–your entire life changes in one second. As amazing as that is, it’s also something you couldn’t possibly prepare for. And while money solves some problems, it can also CREATE other problems.

Money buys freedom, which is an essential part of happiness–but it doesn’t buy a whole lot of other things that we tend to value in our lives. Money won’t buy love, it won’t buy a sense of purpose. 

Many lottery winners tend to spend big and lavishly, quit their jobs, and buy expensive homes. They start looking around at all the parts of their lives and wonder–do they measure up? Maybe the loyal spouse you’ve been with for 30 years isn’t looking so good anymore, now that you have money and you’re suddenly more “attractive.” Family members come out of the woodwork, wanting more and more from you. 

This is the most extreme example we can think of when it comes to the psychology of money– and what happens when someone has not done the emotional work to have a healthy relationship with their finances. 

We have to see money as a TOOL rather than a SOLUTION. A huge windfall, turns out, doesn’t solve all your problems, and it can even create some brand new ones. 

Your money mindset is running the show, not the money itself. When you have a healthy mindset around money, it becomes the tool you need it to be. You can stop placing these broad, unrealistic expectations on money and instead use it to create and live the life you truly want to live.

We’d like to believe we’d handle a large windfall better than most (and please, Universe, give us a chance to try!). In the meantime, we’ll be over here building wealth the old fashioned way 😂

What happens when you give a poor kid a credit card?

I was 18 years old when I got my first credit card. A company set up tables on our college campus and gave away free t-shirts to anyone who applied for a card. I’ve always loved a free…well, anything…so of course I applied. Within a week, a shiny new card arrived in my mailbox with a $500 limit. 

Of course, I didn’t register a “limit”…all I saw was FREE MONEY.

I was a poor kid from middle of nowhere Alabama, and at that point in my life $500 might as well have been $100,000. 

It was a fluke that I even ended up going to college–no one in my family did. I can’t remember what I thought I would do after graduating high school (maybe continue waitressing at JR’s Wings and Things?), but what I CAN tell you is that I went into utter shock when I got a letter in the mail offering me a full scholarship to my university.

My test scores apparently put me in a range where some schools were offering me money to come there before I even applied. Which was a good thing–because I didn’t know the first thing about applying to college!

And this, my friends, is how I accidentally ended up going to college AND how I ended up in major credit card debt before I hit the age of 21.

No one in my family talked about money, unless it was about not having any. My brother and I used to joke that our family motto is “Expect the worst, and don’t you dare hope for the best.”

The first part of my childhood was spent in a single wide trailer, then later in a small home on a piece of my grandparent’s land. We struggled, to say the least. 

I had no clue–ZERO idea–how to handle money, and this landed me in a world of trouble several times before I finally taught myself to manage money in responsible ways.

I not only completed that four-year degree, I went on to receive a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Once I moved away from Alabama and began working in the professional world, I dug myself out of the hole I was in through sheer will and a determination to learn as much as I possibly could about debt, savings and investing. I read every personal finance book I could get my hands on. 

And still, STILL, I made major mistakes. I was in a cycle of accruing debt, paying it off, and doing it all over again.

I could have read every personal finance book in the world, but until I dealt with my emotional spending, the psychology of money and the beliefs that were handed down to me from my own family of origin–I was doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m PASSIONATE about money, for one reason and one reason only–MONEY BUYS FREEDOM.

Money is just a tool–and like any tool, it can be used to build something sturdy and secure, or it can be used to destroy.

Having money–for me–isn’t about accumulating stuff, or taking big fancy trips. It’s about the freedom of CHOICE, the ability to make the most important decisions in my life based on my own best interests rather than fear and scarcity. And it’s about having the ability to be generous with others, taking care of my community. 

I’ve spent much of my adult life yo-yoing between extreme deprivation and reckless spending. I am so incredibly thankful that I did the work I did to find more balance in my financial life, to make money a useful tool that works FOR me and not AGAINST me.

If I can support you in creating a healthier relationship with money, it’s my favorite thing to so…so please reach out!


Are you a Seeker or a Finder?

Here’s a subject that’s come up a lot for me and Jen lately in our deep-dive inner world conversations  business meetings. What does it mean to be a seeker?

For those of you who listen to Glennon Doyle’s podcast, she talks about being a seeker–and that the nature of a seeker is to always be seeking, but not really finding.  In fact, there’s danger in a seeker “finding” something, because the attachment to that spiritual paradigm, or personality type, or whatever it is can become too extreme and then block the seeker’s own inner knowing.

If you’ve ever wondered how people become enmeshed in high-control groups (“cults”), it starts with being a seeker. (I confess that “cults” are my current hyper-fixation/obsession)

Every wonderful quality has a shadow side. Seekers are curious, open, see beauty and wonder in the world, and teach those of us who are NOT seekers about the magic of being a human being in this wild world.

The shadow side can look a couple of different ways. Seekers can seem fickle, not grounded in reality, and flaky. 

Seekers can also be more susceptible to a phenomenon I like to call, in all caps, THE WAY. They can so desperately want to make sense of the world within and around them that they can give too much of their inner knowing and authority away to some force outside of them, and then it becomes not “a way” but THE WAY.

Finders look for what is already there. They often say things like “the research says…” or ask questions like “what’s the evidence for that?” They’re more logical, more reality-based. They find INFORMATION, check the source, and that’s that. They are our truth-sayers, our grounding rods, the steady hands that guide us. 

And the shadow side? Certainty and rigidity…which then blocks curiosity, personal growth and magical mystery.

Isn’t that interesting? The shadow side for seekers AND finders can involve certainty, knowing THE WAY.

Most of us are going to lean one way or the other on the Seeker/Finder spectrum. But here’s the really cool thing–we can consciously grow that more underdeveloped part! We can practice tapping into the part that is less accessible, and over time it becomes MORE accessible and available to us.

And bringing this back around to your business (I do eventually get there 😉)…

Your business needs the seeker AND the finder. The balance is essential for the gifts that each of these types bring to the table. 

We need the grounding and the dreaming, the security and the risk, the logic and the magic. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a business partner or a team that brings all of these qualities into your business (this is probably the most amazing thing we discovered during our NLW planning retreat).

Or maybe you’re a solopreneur, and you can do more work within yourself to access both your inner seeker and your finder.

Either way, recognizing the value in both of these types and bringing their best qualities into your business could be the missing piece when it comes to growing your business.

Which type do YOU lean towards?

Amy (85% Finder, 15% Seeker)
Next Level Wealth Coaching