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The Magic and Misgivings of Big Money

Jessica Lanning

By Jessica Lanning, JD, CFP®

November 16, 2022


In the frenzy of a $2 billion Powerball prize, two phenomena came into sharp focus.  First, dreams about big money are a good thing; and second, big money is humbling.  Let me explain.


You Have Permission To Play the Lottery


Good grief.  If you’re a grown adult, you don’t need permission from me or anyone else to play the lottery.  You also have permission not to feel sheepish or shameful for doing so.


Where people get into trouble is when they rely on winning the lottery to meet financial goals (extraordinarily small chance of success) or where they become addicted to playing (which can kill financial goals).


It’s a game. As long as it occurs in your life as a game, go play!


Big Money Means Big Dreams


The best part about my clients playing the lottery is that it gets them to dream.  We often forget to play, dream, envision, be creative or be silly.  But some of our best insights happen there.


This is where we think about:

  • Where, on what, and on who we would spend extra money
  • What our values are around spending extra money
  • Where we are putting off spending money in our lives
  • Where our priorities have gone awry
  • What problems – both for ourselves and the world – we would go solve
  • What has heart and meaning for us as we spend money


These are important questions we need to ask ourselves regularly.  Most of us have worked pretty hard for our money.  We want to see that hard-earned money do good in the world, whether that’s for our families, ourselves, or causes that are important to us.


Our lives change as we get older and our values will, too.  For example, I watch many clients go from “we don’t want the kids to get money until we die” to “we want to see our kids enjoy this money during our lifetimes.”


There’s nothing wrong with changing our minds and living our lives in accordance with our values.  That’s a beautiful thing.


The Sad Reality of Big Money


Many of us are quick to believe that big money will solve all our problems or will give us the time to solve them.


The big “problem” with big money, though, is that money can only solve those problems that money can solve.


Broken car?  Not a problem.   Money fixes that.  Loved one killed in a broken car?  Not so much.


This has been a year where I have been regularly reminded about what money won’t solve.

Money won’t fix broken hearts.

Money won’t buy love.

Money can’t bring anyone back from the dead.

Money can’t fix many health issues.

Money can’t repair someone’s memory loss.

Money can’t change people who don’t want to change.

Money can only do so much.  In my practice, I often say that there are things in financial planning that are necessary – estate planning, investment planning, tax planning, etc. – but what’s important are the people, their desires and their wants.

So, have fun dreaming about what you’ll do with gobs of money.  Write those juicy nuggets down.  Then find your gratitude for what’s going exactly the way you want it without your spending a dime.  May your warm-fuzzies abound.

Should you come into big money and need to figure out the necessary and important parts of getting it managed, please reach out.


Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.