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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Request That Comes in the Form of a Question

This week's special request comes from a regular reader who actually threw out four different suggestions to me last week when I was asking for suggestions on the official Facebook page. For today's blog entry, I've chosen one of these suggestions, but I may keep her ideas handy in case I get a week in which I don't have any requests for the week, because all of them are interesting and creative.

So, first things first, I'm going to offer a huge thank you to Katherine R. from Florida for the wonderful ideas.

And, secondly, I'm going to tell you that this entry might seem like more of a Thursday Diary type entry. But, that's fine with me, because Katherine sent along a message with her ideas, suggesting that she would like me to do more entries where I talk about hopes and dreams, and more personal stories. So, all of her suggestions to me were all topics that allow me to talk more about my own personal goals, dreams, and ambitions.

So, consider this the week where we have two diary entries. Hope you all don't mind this, but hey...when I give the power to the people for one day, you have to do what they say, right?

So, I suppose that you're wondering what today's topic is.

Well, as it so happens, I'm going to quote the very message that Katherine sent me a few days ago, and answer the question from there.

What would you do with an infinite amount of money - and what restrictions would you place on yourself so that it wouldn't be the 'usual' promises? Meaning, what frivolous, extravagant things might you do for yourself if you were unable (for whatever reason) to share the funds with others.

Quite the heavy topic, eh?

So, if I am understanding this question right, the scenario is like this. Suppose that the Powerball lottery (the American lottery that is known for giving out obscene amounts of money in one go) came to Ontario, Canada, and I ended up buying a ticket, only to match every single number on said lottery ticket. And, suppose that the Powerball jackpot was at the highest amount ever...say, billion dollars. What would I do with the money?

And, to make the decisions even harder, the restriction that I have is that I cannot share the money with anyone else. The money must be spent entirely on myself.

What would I do?

To be honest with you, the reason why I chose this suggestion out of the three or four ideas that she sent to me was because I knew that it would be the most challenging one. And, anyone who knows me well knows that I never back down from a challenge.

(Well, unless the challenge involves building a gazebo by myself. Then maybe I may wave the white flag of surrender.)

But it's an interesting question for me to answer because I've never really saw myself as someone who really wanted or needed a whole lot of money. So, therefore, it's very difficult for me to think of what I would even do with an infinite amount of money like that.

You have to understand a little about my own personal background before I continue with this blog entry. I grew up in a family in which disposable income was more than a luxury. It was an impossibility.

My parents both worked incredibly hard to support myself and my two sisters, and quite often, they went without so that we children could have things. My parents never ever owned their own home...they always rented. And, because the family income was very limited, the only places that they could afford were ones that had cracks in the wall, paint jobs and wallpaper left over from the 1950s, and ceilings that would become saturated with water whenever we had a heavy rainfall. It was a tough way to grow up, and I'll be quite blunt...that way of living was a really challenging thing to go through.

But my family survived it.

I guess when it comes down to it, we were all a lot stronger than we sometimes gave ourselves credit for. Mind you, during my troubled teenage years I wasn't exactly the kid that showed the most gratitude towards my parents, as trying to survive high school was more or less a full time job already. However, looking back on it now, I credit them for giving me the values and morals that my sisters and I were raised with. We are all people who know the value of hard work (even though there were and are times in which we may feel that it goes unnoticed), and we are all people who understand the value of a dollar moreso than the average person out there in this world.

In my family, money was always stretched so much to the limit that you'd swear that at our household, the standard form of currently was that salt water taffy that you'd stretch and pull into smaller pieces. So whenever we did get a little extra income, I was always one who was very, very hesitant to let it go. What if I would never hold that much money in my hands ever again?

In fact, I think that at one time, I had at least three piggy banks on the go filling it up with my loose pennies, nickles, dimes, and if I was lucky, the occasional quarter, just to save money.

(It was how I bought my own Nintendo when I was nine years old, after all.)

And, when it came down to spending my hard-earned money, I never used it to buy really extravagant things. When it came to myself, I was always the type of person who sought out bargains. You all know that I am a comic book addict of sorts, and yes, a lot of my comics were bought with allowance money, tooth fairy money, and money that I received as birthday gifts (of which I would take the change left over and stuff it in my piggy banks), but the vast majority of my collection has come from a used book store downtown that sells classic Archie, Jughead, and Betty & Veronica digests...books that were priced as low as sixty-five cents! What a bargain! I think that I even found Betty & Veronica Digest #1 there for something like a dollar when sites like eBay were charging as much as twenty dollars for one book! How can you not beat that value?

Even as an adult, I am the kind of person who always looks for bargains. I cannot justify spending eighty bucks on one pair of jeans when you can buy three pairs for the same amount of money and still have enough left over to buy a three-pack of socks! As far as brand names go, I say give me Wrangler and Hanes over Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein any day of the week.

(Although if I did see Ralph Lauren clothing at an outlet store or a clearance warehouse, then I would buy his stuff. Nobody has to know that I only spent ten dollars on one of his polo shirts.)

Now, before you go thinking that I have the “cheapskate” gene firmly embedded within my DNA, I just want to make this statement. I am very generous when it comes to giving towards other people. When it comes to Christmas, for example, I definitely don't spend a lot on really expensive presents...but with my budget, I do a lot of careful planning, and managed to pick up four or five gifts for the same price as one. And, I'm also very conscious of charity drives, and if anyone asks me if I will donate to their cause, I'll do what I can.

(And, I've been told that I am a rather generous tipper when I go out to eat. But surprisingly enough, I don't think I tip any more than the average person. If anything, the reason I may tip so much is because I am really bad at figuring out percentages and anything to do with math, so I overtip to make up for that lack of ability.)

So, when it comes to spending money, I'll happily use it (on a budget) to pick out perfect presents for my loved ones, and using it to help make someone else's life a little bit better.

When it comes to spending extravagantly on myself...I don't really know how to do that.

I suppose my background has a lot to do with it. Having grown up the way I have, I am very reluctant to spend any money on myself, because there's no guarantee that I would ever have my hands on it again. As well, I never really had the self-esteem growing up to justify doing anything nice for myself. I suppose when you combine those factors, my spendthrift habits make a lot of sense.

So, getting back to the question that Katherine asked me...if I had an unlimited supply of cash, and the only person that I could spend it on was myself...what would I do with it?

So, I thought about the things that I have always wanted to do, but always lacked the cash to do...and more importantly, I thought about the various things that I would do FOR MYSELF. And, coming up with a list was harder than I thought.

But I came up with a list of a half-dozen things that I would do for myself, and only myself. Things that I have always wanted to do, but couldn't. Things that would ultimately give me an easier, happier life.

So, this is what I would do with an infinite supply of funds.


You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don't want to live in a huge mansion like Richie Rich lives in. That would be way too much space for me. And, let's face it, nobody ever wants to get lost in their very own home.

No, I'd want something that is spacious, but cozy. The more I think of it, the more I think that I would enjoy a New York SoHo style art studio set up. It could either be in the form of an already built loft, or designed like a modest looking modern-artsy bungalow. It would be designed with soundproof walls so the outside noise wouldn't bother me, and have a sun-deck built somewhere outside so that I could connect with nature while I write, if I so choose to have that option. And, the entire place would be decked out in various shades of blue, purple, and green, as I have always preferred the cool colours located at the bottom of every rainbow. They're nice, calm, peaceful colours that always put me in the right mood to write.

Yeah...that's my idea of heavenly living right there without having to actually die and well...go to heaven.


Would you like to know exactly where in the world I've gone in my thirty-two years of my life? Well, I've gone to Ottawa, Ontario several times (and if I could afford it, I wouldn't mind living there full time). I visited Montreal, Quebec once. And, I've lost count of how many times I have visited Upstate New York.

And, that's pretty much it.

As a result of my upbringing, the closest that my family ever got to planning a real vacation was spending a day trip at Kingston's Lake Ontario Park (which was fine for me, as back in those days, they still had carnival rides). I have never really been on what many people would consider a real vacation out of the country.

And, that's something that I would change if I were given an infinite amount of money.

It wouldn't even really matter what I did on that vacation. If I wanted to run along the shores of Australia's Bondi and Manly beaches, I would make it happen. If I wanted to go on a luxury cruise in Europe for an entire month, I would make it happen (though, I doubt that I would be booking Carnival Cruises on that excursion given all the recent negative publicity surrounding the cruise line).

The truth is that there are so many places in the world that I would want to visit. London, England is one. Sydney, Australia, yes! Tokyo, Japan would be fantastic to see just once in my life. And, of course, I'm not ruling out American and Canadian cities either. New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Orlando, Calgary, and Edmonton are definitely on my must-see list. And, if I had all that money, I would see it all...while sitting in first class, that is!


You know...just in case I NEVER get my full driver's license (which I am absolutely afraid of getting). A guy's gotta get around somehow, right?


Actually, of all the things that I am listing on this particular list, this might be the most doable, as I am no longer chained to student loan payments. I've been saving money for the better part of two years in order to make that happen. I always had the regret of leaving post-secondary education before I received a degree (even though the reason that I left was valid), and if I had unlimited funds, I would be able to eliminate that regret and work towards something that I DID want to do. And, no honourary degree would cut it either. I would want to do the same amount of hard work that most everyone else did.


The most bizarre thing on my list for sure...but also the most practical. As you may well know, my feet have been the bane of my existence. I was a toe-walker for many years (which I have talked about before here), and I absolutely despise shopping for shoes, as I have one foot that is a full half size larger than the other one. Therefore, 90% of the time, I end up with a pair of shoes that are a perfect fit on one foot, and too tight/loose on the other. If I had unlimited funds, I would find the best footwear designer and have them hook me up with some custom made shoes that would finally fit each contour of my foot so that I would never feel any discomfort ever again. To me, having perfect shoes would be worth more than all the money in the world as far as I am concerned.

And, the last thing...


I'm hopeless in the kitchen. I reckon that I could blow up a microwave oven. So, I would want to feasibly learn how to cook at some point in my life, because let's face it...Subway can get monotonous and boring if I ate it every day. But I wouldn't just take lessons at a community college. I'd hire Gordon Ramsey, Rachael Ray, or Wolfgang Puck to teach me a thing or two. I think it would be fantastic to learn tricks from the masters of the culinary industry. And, hey, I think it might almost be cool to have Chef Ramsay call me a donkey whenever I make a screw up!

So, yes...I think that will make up my list of things that I want to do if I had unlimited funds. But, the one thing that I want to stress is that money does not equate happiness. Sure, if I had all of these things happen to me, it would be a wonderful thing...but material things shouldn't be the main source of happiness. It's learning by doing that will make all of us better people.

Because as you have noticed...with the exception of number three, perhaps, all of these things will allow me to learn something and help me grow even further.

(Well, unless I change #3 to learn how to drive!)

Thanks again to Katherine for the suggestion! Please keep sending in your requests, guys and gals! I love hearing from you!

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