By Jamie Lewis

The New Lottery Question

by | Aug 1, 2021

If you’re a self-improvement junkie like me you will have come across people asking what you would do if you won the lottery. It seems as if life is about striving to attain that outcome, perfection in the eyes of the answerer. We ask this as a thought exercise to people in search of inspiration for our own answers. However, I think I have a better question. The lottery question is completely hypothetical as it is impossible to control and attain. So what if we were to answer a similar question but with a controllable outcome?

The question:

If you were given the UK average salary of £30K every year (or your country’s national average salary), and could not make any more than that, what would you do, where would you live and who would you spend your time with?

So why is this better?

First of all, it’s infinitely more realistic but also highlights the things we want to do under the realistic constraints of financial mediocrity as opposed to money no object. It’s actually plausible, achievable with just a bit of effort and a bit of time. The limit of financial progression very much allows us to focus on our personal goals as opposed to our financial ones. Limits on our money but not our time.

Not having that progression is arguably the biggest factor here. Not being able to accumulate your wealth or income limits our growth and why we do what we do.

30K is £1905 per month after tax and only £62.50 per day. After accommodation, travel and food not much of that would be left afterwards. One flight somewhere would take up three to five days budget depending on where you go. Much more if you go long haul. How would you manage your money?

I know some of you would travel, some would just do what you love every day. I would be tempted to just play golf every single day. I am lucky to have a passion for something that I could genuinely do for 3 hours every day without getting bored. Some of you might sit in coffee shops, watch TV or desperately find some way of keeping yourself entertained. Some of you may knit, read books, exercise or just live the high life going out with your financially free friends for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some of you will drink, a lot. Some of you will gamble and some of you will spend your time in the spa. The truth is some people would struggle without work as something to do. I personally know many people who would struggle to find things to do.

My answer:

Please excuse a little bit of selfish therapy here but you may also be interested in my answer as an example.

I would more than certainly travel. I am relatively young and very single which means I don’t have anything tying me down. I will rue the day when I am tied down and didn’t take this opportunity. So, travel. As I wouldn’t have to work for the money I could start small and build something that I can do remotely like a blog, a book, a YouTube channel, a Podcast, a business or anything because there would be no risk of no income. I’d still do coaching when I could. So that would cover any time where I feel I need progress or fulfilment. I would have a month or two skiing in the alps. I would go to some major cities and join a co-living space where I can meet fellow travellers doing the same as me and make some friends. I would also like to do some non-city travelling like Bali, China, New Zealand and Vietnam. Baring in mind that 30K is a pretty small budget for all of this. The reality is if you have a remote job that requires an individual skill you CAN make more than that. I would have a few months at home in the Lake District where I am from to spend with family, play a silly amount of golf (with a membership so as not to pay each time) and I would visit friends from all over the country. Jobs can tie us down to one place which is one of the issues but if we can affordably move around this has to be the answer. There will be lots of people who like the security of one place but that’s just preference. I would enjoy just walking and running around different cities, meeting fellow travellers and going for drinks after their day of work is over while I explore, write and find new and exciting hobbies. I would certainly like to document the process, plenty of photos, writing and maybe even videos. I would learn to play a musical instrument and join plenty of groups like running, football, music or anything I could think of that I would enjoy. Sharing experiences like that with like-minded people is one of the truly amazing things in life. So there you go. That would be my short term plan. I would probably do this for 3 to 5 years before settling down somewhere depending on how much I feel the need to. I may love it enough to keep hopping somewhere slightly less frequently like every three or four months. There are also some projects I would like to do as I go such as a movie/documentary, write a story or series, I would like to work on a business that changes the world.

Summary:

Having said all that, given the option to chose this 30K a year guaranteed and no more and a normal life I would pick the latter. Part of the experience of life is the challenge of making it ourselves and, to be frank, I think I could make more than 30K working part-time remotely eventually but certainly not in the short term. Life would be a lot better in the short term but arguably way worse in the long term.

If that’s the case… What can I do to get there? If normal life is indeed better than a guaranteed income, how can I create this life?