When I win the lottery...

In week 37 of the Great Wake-Up, our challenge was to write down everything we would do if we won fifty million pounds.

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So, Chris, have you got 50 million to spare? Happy to take it off your hands, although, even after paying the tax, it would be more than I could ever imagine how to spend, so I'd pass a lot of it on...

I've played this game before, and to be honest, it always seems to work out the same. Find a plot we love and build a house (not too big or anything, just with all the prettiness that I love, like french doors and cat slide roofs and dormer windows. Oh, and one of those stable doors in the kitchen. Bliss!) Try as I might, I can't seem to get over about a million, even at my most extravagant, with the prettiest finishes, lovely old furniture and squashy sofas, and a four car garage (plus workshop) for my petrol-head/bike-mad husband. To be fair, he would happily eat up another million filling those bits, the silly man, but as we're dreaming...

I could knock out another five million with investments to provide an income for both of us at the kind of level we earn now (because that's plenty!) just so we could have the choice of finding work we loved, but we both love working too much to settle for a life-long holiday. That's six (seven if we add the silly cars...) and I guess I could add flats in my favourite cites (Paris and London) and a cottage in Ireland, but that's mostly for the fun of buying all the furniture. I just love decorating... In practice, AirBNB makes so much more sense because then you don't have to worry about the maintenance, taxes, and wasted houses sitting empty... (See, I've really thought this through!)

I'd also give gifts to friends and family, although nothing too major. Pay for the kids' university (or a house deposit if university isn't their thing) and a lump big enough to be meaningful but small enough that they can still be frivolous with it for the adults. I think Alfred Doolittle got it right when he insisted on £5, and not a penny more, from Henry Higgens (here from 5:40 to 6:10, if you've not seen it)...

Still, no matter how I add all that up, gross up for tax, etc, I can't get over 10 million, and I have absolutely no idea what I'd personally do with the rest! So, I'd pick a charity and let them have the other 40 million. Something that makes a real difference, like Spana or the RSPCA. Or, I guess, if 40 million is enough I could put up a green electricity plant for my village...

This tells me a lot - and probably tells everyone else a bit too much... Basically, I wouldn't change my life (other than building a "perfect" house, which we aren't doing now because I don't fancy the six months plus living on site in a caravan if we sold our house to fund the build). I'd give myself some solid financial security (always my biggest driver) as a safety net for life, spread some happiness to friends and family, and then give away the rest trying to make a better world for nature.

What it really tells me is that I don't need the money (although I won't say no if it's going spare...)


cat lover, wife, designer, analyst (the spreadsheet kind...), friend, sister, daughter, writer, consultant, lover of beauty...


Go to the profile of Jacqui
about 5 years ago
Vanessa can I say your dream house sounds wonderful! I think we feel very much the same about the power of money. Too much can be just as destructive as too little.
Go to the profile of Vanessa
about 5 years ago
Thanks, Jacqui. I was nervous about this post (much more so than usual), I think because it exposes so much of who I am - always a scary experience . Your kind words (especially coming so soon) removed the "oh, god, what I have done" feeling.
Go to the profile of Chris Baréz-Brown
about 5 years ago
Ha! Well if I had fifty million to spare...great post and insight. C x
Go to the profile of Fiona Dolben
about 5 years ago
I think tbh mine will be very similar thanks for sharing and yes your house sounds lovely especially the squishy sofas! The wake up family could all come over for a paned :0)
Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
about 5 years ago
Vanessa, there's no need to worry about what others think in such a dilemma because if you had fifty million squid (yes I said squid for the comedy value) to spend no one should have a say in what you spend it on. I just admire you for being you and being honest. I would look forward to seeing you spend forty million pound on a garden of your own design though. I think it would be Anglo-American crazy! In a good way of course.
Go to the profile of Vanessa
about 5 years ago
Wow, Mark, a £40m garden would be a sight to see!