Like you, I didn't win the $587.5 million Powerball, though, as a pragmatic woman who's been knocked around by life, I would've readily settled for a fraction of the jackpot. The loss didn't stop me from planning how I would distribute the windfall, however.
Over coffee, at the gym and on the phone, my friends and I not only spent money we would never get, but we also debated if we would continue on the 9-to-5 or tell our shocked bosses, 'Take this job and shove it.'
It's my way of carving out time for both the work I love to do and the people I love -- the age-old balancing act that seems to defy a permanent one-size-fits-all solution.
Most of us working stiffs believe that if we had more money, a couple extra K's a month, say, life would be easier. Maybe. Certainly there's a list of things I'd invest in if the cash came my way.
But at what price? What would I be willing to give up for that extra moolah? Money has to be earned, one way or another, and often at the expense of doing something more enjoyable. Which reminds me of that bumper sticker I see around Miami all the time: A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. Might be true, but let's keep in mind that you usually need the paycheck to do the fishing.
Right around the time the rest of us realized we were among the unlucky millions who hadn't purchased one of the two winning Powerball tickets, a study of 2,000 Americans by New York Life revealed a not-so-well-kept secret about how we want to spend our time. Though seven out of 10 Americans claim they'd be happier if they had more money, few are willing to exchange that for time with family. Even the promise of a 50 percent pay increase isn't enough of a reward for most Americans to give up time with their loved ones.
In a consumption-crazy society, where status is measured by what you own and respect is awarded according to the make of your car and the size of your home, this is heartwarming news. It restores my faith that we haven't lost our way, no matter how many ridiculous ads insist I'll feel better, look sexier and be happier if I just buy-buy-buy.
As I grow older, time -- time to do what I want with whom I want -- has become much more important to me than money, vastly so, in fact. It's a recognition, I suppose, that time has become a finite and valuable asset with every turn of the calendar page. Yet, that realization isn't just a function of aging.
More and more, I see my grown children and their friends weighing the career choices they make with the sacrifices these will exact. Some have declined promotions, rebuffed offers from bigger firms or turned down transfers that might guarantee them a more luxurious lifestyle. Like those in the survey, they prefer time with family over money. In my ledger, that concept is worth a fortune -- or at least the closest approximation to winning the lottery.
(Ana Veciana-Suarez is a family columnist for The Miami Herald. Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, or send e-mail to aveciana(at)herald.com.)