Fine print, Living with credit, Protecting yourself

Dreams of Powerball winnings go beyond luxuries

Fred Williams

What would the editorial staff of do with something north of $1.3 billion in Powerball winnings?

We took an informal poll of the newsroom to see how our non-representative group of personal finance journalists would spend, invest, fritter away, or otherwise disburse the almost unimaginable sum.

Before taxes, the amount would pay off the average U.S. consumer’s credit card balance more than 235,000 times over. The typical student loan for 2015 grads would be erased about 37,100 times, and the average mortgage balance outstanding would be wiped out more than 8,300 times.

The lump-sum payout, after estimated 25 percent federal taxes, is only about half the headline figure. Still, it is safe to say that a jackpot will leave a lot left over after debts are paid. Your credit score can only go so high — 850 is the FICO maximum. So after taking care of business, it is possible to make your mark on the world.

“I’d maybe start my own rescue, or perhaps get a farm with the sole purpose of bringing rescue animals there,” editor Jamie Gonzalez said. She was one of the three in the nine-person department who said they would put their fortune to work saving at-risk animals.

Altruism wasn’t the only thing on our minds, however. After starting a home for homeless pets, editor and frequent flier Yasmin Gharemani said she’d buy a private jet, “so I never have to pay another baggage fee again!”

Reporter Sienna Kossman said she’d take a few months to travel around Europe, “making sure to indulge in all the food and drinks. After that, I might have to hire a personal trainer, but oh well! I could afford a good one in this scenario.” That’s in addition to opening a no-kill dog shelter, paying off student loans for herself and her brother, and buying a home near the shore. “Sandy feet and ocean views cannot be beat,” she said.

The shore also called to web editor Jeff Herman, though he would enjoy it without leaving the ranks of the employed. “I’d work from home as a snowbird,” Herman said, “with a small place in downtown Indianapolis (where you can walk so many places) and another small place with a pool near the beach in Florida.” That’s after setting up a foundation to help people in need. But after discussing his choices at home, he scratched Indianapolis as a residence in favor of apartments in New York and Toronto.

My own plans include buying my hometown newspaper in upstate New York and continuing to publish it daily. At least, until the money’s all gone. Otherwise, I’ll be checking my mailbox for invitations to my co-workers’ beach houses. Good luck guys!

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