Forget the Rolls-Royces, lottery winners - you're keeping your Chevys.
The news that 16 Ocean County, N.J., county workers are splitting a third of the $448 million Powerball Jackpot conjures visions of "The Beverly Hillbillies" meets "Jersey Shore," as the winners go on a Garden State shopping spree.
Snooki at a tanning parlor.
On a scale of richness, a few million doesn't get you even remotely in the vicinity of "Unbelievably Rich." You won't even be able to check the box next to "Fabulously Rich" or even plain old "Filthy Rich." The best you can hope for is eking your way up to "Frayed Leather Elbow Patches Rich."
No ponies on the poop deck
"In terms of dramatically increasing your lifestyle and providing all kinds of luxuries, that will be short-lived," warns Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, a certified financial planner who runs Capelli Financial Services in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
"If you're 35 or 40 years old and your life expectancy is another 50 years, that $3.8 million isn't going to go real far," Capelli says. "The safest way to look at it is as a cushion or nest egg, a terrific way to really alleviate a lot of worries."
(Funny Money Extra: "How to handle a windfall" at http://www.funnymoneyblog.com.)
Well, at least when you get up in the morning, you won't be faced with the agonizing choice between spending the day riding your multi-million-dollar dressage horse, sailing on your yacht or riding your multi-million-dollar dressage horse on your yacht.
The good news is that if you invest the money conservatively and make modest withdrawals, you absolutely can quit your job and be just fine. At a 5 percent annual return and withdrawals of 4 percent a year, you could get about $100,000 a year after taxes, beat inflation and live better than 88 percent of your fellow Americans.
But that means no shopping spree. At $6,000 a month, the payments on a new Rolls-Royce Phantom would eat up about three-quarters of your income, explains Gregg Fortune, a certified financial planner with Cedar Brook Financial Partners in West Bloomfield, Mich.
"People overspend immediately, so it's new cars, a new house, a major vacation," Fortune says. "On $3.8 million, in about six years they'll need to get a job."
So, lottery winners, I know it's sad to hear that raking in nearly $4 million won't have you scrambling Faberge eggs for your breakfast. But if you're crying in your beer, take heart: at least now you can afford the good stuff.
(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at email@example.com.)