Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Frittering Millions of Dollars Away

A teenage lottery winner in England is in the news for wasting away her winnings. She won $3.2 million at age 16. Among the highlights: she spent $400,000 on crack cocaine. Now she says “winning the lottery has ruined my life. I wish I had never won.” Since squandering the money, she has attempted suicide three times. Now she works three jobs just to make ends meet. Read a full description of her woes here.

$3.2 million is a lot of money to waste. Is there a way to prevent that from happening? Maybe governments could require lottery winners to meet with a financial planner after they win. That way they could at least go through the motions of planning out a future, and using the newly acquire wealth for long-term benefit. The person in this case could have been set for the rest of her life, and probably done the same for any potential children.

Of course, the whole situation is a product of our have-it-now consumer driven culture. People regularly charge the latest gadgets or purses on their credit cards. Most kids—and many adults—just haven’t learned good values like delayed gratification, and thinking long term with money. They weren’t responsible when they had no money. And they won’t be responsible when they DO have money.

Do you feel sorry for her?

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