Lotteries, Inflation and Education

In 1992, the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies released a song entitled, If I Had $1,000,000. In the song lyrics, the writers state that, should they have this great sum, they would “buy you a house” as well as furniture and a car. The song gets increasingly silly by the verse, with them buying “a tree fort,” “pre-wrapped sausages” and “Dijon ketchups.”

The song was fun and a big hit; reaching number 13 on music charts in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For me, the answer to what you would do if you won a lottery valued at $1,000,000 is a popular conversation topic. And, I have found that what people say they would spend the money on follows a rather consistent pattern, regardless of age and stage. (Except perhaps if you are under the age of 10, keen on splurging on a million dollars worth of cookies or the like!)

In short, it has been my experience that most people will treat themselves to an immediate gift, such as an exotic trip or a car, for example. Second, the person would try to provide a perk to an immediate family member (see above, “exotic trip” or “car”). Then, with the bulk of the money, the lottery winner makes a major “investment” for themselves or to help a family member (e.g., put their money into a savings or retirement fund or pay off a mortgage). And, then, most people also say they will try to help, beyond immediate family, to make the lives of people better (a large donation to a charity of some sort, for example).

I have three kids. All of them were fortunate to have attended and graduated from TCS. I received a scholarship (when I was 15) to enable me to stay at my independent school in Ottawa when my parents were going through a difficult financial time. I am forever grateful. It changed my life, certainly. My mother and father also started an educational fund (when their circumstances had improved) for their six grandchildren, including my three kids, when each of them was born; I too made annual contributions to a fund to help pay for their schooling. 

I am most grateful to my parents and the schools that have helped the Grainger family receive the quality of education we did. We are the lucky ones. And, I am confident that if we had won a million dollars, at least some of it would have gone towards education.

In these inflationary times, I am more aware than ever of the enormous financial commitment and sacrifices families must make in order to fund their children’s education at TCS and post-secondary schools. It’s not easy being a Mom or Dad.

The good news is that there is overwhelming evidence that investments in your child’s education are worth it. Of course, that data includes positive employment and future earning power potential for your kids. But, more importantly, education can equip your kids with curiosity, motivation and empower them to be lifelong learners: to be “Chief Executive Officer of Self”; in control of their future, their destiny.

The odds of winning a massive lottery purse are very small indeed.

The odds of your children being healthier, happier and wiser over their lifetime are much greater if they get the best possible education.

And, your kids might not fully appreciate your efforts and sacrifices now. But, they will.