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Personal Finance: Quick Riches

豆瓣ing 2010-07-22
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Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'll admit. I've had the dream.

I've had the dream of winning the lottery and leaving behind all my worries about paying off my mortgage or sending my children to college or helping relatives out of their financial jams. But then I wake up and face reality: the odds of winning the Powerball grand prize based on a $1 play 1 in 195,249,054. The odds aren't great for other lotteries.

Still, what if I did win? What if you hit the lottery? Would this be your lucky break or would it end up breaking you down leaving your
more broke than before you won?

In "Lucky," a sleepy but poignant new HBO documentary, we see how winning the lottery changes the lives of several winners. The film is directed by Jeffrey Blitz and will air on HBO through September.

The Post's Hank Stuever reviews the documentary and writes, "Blitz interviews several people who found themselves irrevocably transformed by big lottery wins. Some were smart about the money and some weren't (one squandered i...
仅供参考

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'll admit. I've had the dream.

I've had the dream of winning the lottery and leaving behind all my worries about paying off my mortgage or sending my children to college or helping relatives out of their financial jams. But then I wake up and face reality: the odds of winning the Powerball grand prize based on a $1 play 1 in 195,249,054. The odds aren't great for other lotteries.

Still, what if I did win? What if you hit the lottery? Would this be your lucky break or would it end up breaking you down leaving your
more broke than before you won?

In "Lucky," a sleepy but poignant new HBO documentary, we see how winning the lottery changes the lives of several winners. The film is directed by Jeffrey Blitz and will air on HBO through September.

The Post's Hank Stuever reviews the documentary and writes, "Blitz interviews several people who found themselves irrevocably transformed by big lottery wins. Some were smart about the money and some weren't (one squandered it all), but all in some way long for --even mourn-- the people they used to be. They've become alien life forms."

One Pennsylvania couple who won $110 million dollars in 2004 tried to live in their old neighborhood but as Stuever writes, "they had to go where nobody knew where the money came from." Another man, who won more than $16 million, spent himself into poverty. We're also introduced to a Delaware woman who spends $100 a day on lottery tickets. She's still hoping to get lucky.

Let's talk about the fact that 1 in 5 people believe their best shot at getting rich is winning the lottery. This week's Color of Money Question is: If you hit the lottery, how would this lucky break change your life? Submit your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com and put "Quick Riches" in the subject line.

Chat Today: Two ways to get your money questions answered

Join me online today at noon ET. My guests will be Paula Span author of "When the Time Comes," and Elinor Ginzler, co-author of "Caring for Your Parents, The Complete Family Guide: Practical Advice You Can Trust From the Experts at AARP."

If you are unable to join me live, send your question early or read the transcript later.

Afterwards, stay tuned for the first installment of my live video chat at 1:00 pm ET I will answer questions I couldn't get to during the online chat and provide commentary on some of this week's hottest financial topics.

Will Work

Will they or won't they?

So many of the unemployed have been waiting anxiously to see if Congress would extend unemployment benefits. It looks like they will.

A vote this week, first in the Senate and later in the House, could send the bill for benefits extension to President Obama, reports Lori Montgomery.

But even if or when an extension is approved by Congress and signed by the President, there are millions of unemployed folks who will still struggle to meet their basic living needs.

Post writer Michael A. Fletcher reports on the long-term unemployment crisis that is affecting many Americans and its devastating downward trend.

Since the recession began in December 2007, lawmakers have passed several extensions that stretched the normal 26-week limit for unemployment benefits to as long as 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. Nearly 46 percent of the country's 14.6 million unemployed people have been out of work for more than six months and this statistic may not improve anytime soon, Fletcher reports.

There are nearly five unemployed people for every job opening, according to the Labor Department.

But let me ask you about a quote from Fletcher's piece.

Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said: "Workers are less likely to look for work, or accept less-than-ideal jobs, as long as they are protected from the full consequences of being unemployed. That is not to say that anyone is getting rich off unemployment, or that unemployed people are lazy. But it is simple human nature that people are a little less motivated as long as a check is coming in."

I've worked with a lot of unemployed people. I've helped edit their resumes, prep them for job interviews and put my arms around them in comfort as they heard yet another "no" from a prospective employer - if they heard anything at all. Not a single person I've worked with stop looking or decreased their employment search because they were getting an unemployment check. If anything, that little bit of money was a constant reminder that they needed to look harder because they weren't getting enough to pay for basic necessities.

But that's me. What do you think? I want to hear from the unemployed or those close to the unemployed. Do you think getting unemployment benefit checks decreases people's motivation to look for work? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put "Will Work" in the subject line.

Money Smart Kids

If your child is making money this summer, I hope you are using this as a teachable money moment.

Money magazine's Linda Stern offers parents tips on how to educate their teenagers about successful money management. Here are some recommendations from her story:

-- Go over your child's first pay stub with him or her and explain the difference between gross versus net.

-- Research banking options for your child.

-- Let your child learn from his or her mistakes. "Let kids have space to make spending decisions, even if they'll end up with buyer's remorse," says Rob Gordon, a Coconut Grove, Fla. financial advisor.

Responses to 'Pulpit Profit'

I got an overwhelming amount of responses to last week's Color of Money question, "Should preachers be compensated for an increase in congregants?"

In Almighty Dollar, writer Ray Fisman reviewed a study by Chris Parson and Jay Hartzell, two researchers who wanted to investigate whether sowing spiritual seeds reaps material rewards.

Here are some of your responses:

"As a preacher's kid, I think this is a terrible idea," says Lynn Williams of Cincinnati, Ohio. "Many years ago, when I lived at home, I remember how my dad was on call 24/7 to help people who called at all hours of the day and night. In addition, he was always there to financially give funds out of his own pocket to help people in need. The Kingdom of God is not a corporate business."

"I am disappointed that pastors are accepting money based on the number of members in the church," says Sharene A. Cook of District Heights, Md. "Jesus would have been a millionaire if he had been on the compensation plan. I appreciate that pastors devote their lives to teaching people about our Heavenly Father and Jesus, but there has to be another way to determine their pay."

"Preaching is a spiritual calling, not a career choice based on the anticipation of financial gain," says Paul Ainsworth of Standish, Mass. "No one should be given financial incentives to do their basic job; especially one where earning money is not the primary goal. It would only be a temptation to pursue material gain instead of doing what's best for their congregation."

Missy Covington of St. Petersburg, Fla. believes preachers should get paid well.

"Even Christians of the highest calling have to live in the real world where money is a necessity," Covington wrote. "Pastors provide more than just the Sunday sermon to parishioners. They are also known to make home and hospital visits or offer counseling among other services. With this in mind, it would be reasonable to say that with the addition of church members the pastor's responsibilities would increase, so a raise in pay seems fair enough to me."

"I am a relocating pastor, however I have found that congregations generally pay what is reasonable and what they can afford," wrote Stanley Brown of Nashville, Tenn. "Congregations should provide what they can afford to their pastor. Sometimes that may be as little as $50 a week to a part-timer to perhaps $1,000 a month for a full time pastor."

Where do I stand on this?

Priests may take a vow of poverty, but pastors don't. Ministers have to pay bills, save for their retirement and send their kids to college just like the rest of us.

Upcoming Events

- Tune in as I join host Fredericka Whitfield on Saturday, June 24 at 2pm on CNN to discuss finances with your elderly parents.

Tia Lewis contributed to this e-letter.

You are welcome to e-mail comments and questions to singletarym@washpost.com. Please include your name and hometown; your comments may be used in a future column or newsletter unless otherwise requested.

-Michelle Singletary


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