Do you fancy your chances at the Lotto? Millions do because it’s a thrill, despite the fact your odds are slim to none. Still, for married couples, it’s sometimes just a thing you do. Whether you’re in the garage fueling up, or stocking up at the supermarket, the Lotto is convenient to buy.
Tickets are cheap enough that it’s worth a shot, and even if you don’t win, the cost of a ticket or two isn’t going to break your bank account.
Winning though, that just might do more damage than you’d think.
Claiming a $2.4M lotto win should set you up for life. Yet, what happened to Roger and Lara Griffiths was far from it.
Roger worked as an IT technician and his wife, a performing arts teacher. Between them, they earned around $100,000, which is a modest salary for anyone. Although it’s still not going to leave you financially independent and free from credit cards. They were grounded though, lived in a modest 4-bedroom ex-council house in Boston-Spa, West Yorkshire, UK and earned enough to meet the cost of living. Never in their lives had they missed a mortgage payment.
Winning a £1.83M prize on the lottery should’ve set them and their two young kids up for life.
Or so you’d think.
Then They Tried to Grow their Nest Without Financial Advice
The dreams of us all are to live our lives debt-free. The problem with winning the lottery is that to get debt-free, your capital soon diminishes. The Griffiths weren’t long to find that out.
The day they got their money in the bank, they were earning £340 per day, which is around $475 daily in interest. Enough to comfortably live on for a salary. But to get debt-free, it meant sacrificing £190,000 straight away to pay the mortgage off. That’s what they did.
Being intelligent, they knew their money wouldn’t last forever. They did both quit their jobs, but they also knew they had the money to invest in independent ventures.
Roger had, in his university days been part of a band. His dream was to hit the big-time. He wanted his band back together and set about to make that happen. He got the boys back together and even hired a publicist costing nearly $1500 a month in the hopes they’d make it big in the music industry. The dream was to land it big-time in the music industry and grow his wealth to five million.
The fatal flaw of that idea wasn’t the fact they only recorded one single costing nearly $30,000. It was that the recording was being done in an expensive area of London, where an overnight stay was costing around $340 per room per night. The Sanderson Hotel is a celebrity hangout where the band could network (and drink cocktails) with stars like Take That’s Howard Donald and Mark Owen.
Lara had her own idea about investing. She bought a salon in the nearby Wetherby for roughly $140,000. It was a profitable venture, then business slowed and the salon started hemorrhaging money to the tune of over $5,000 a month.
It was not sustainable.
How the Cash Dwindled So Fast
The millions the couple won didn’t go far when they began living the millionaire's lifestyle. The night they realized they had won, they only bought a bottle of Camelot Champagne and an Indian takeout to celebrate. That was a one-night-only deal. Within the first ten days, they’d blown through $20,000. A new Audi and a business class trip to Dubai with a stay in the country’s finest hotel.
When they returned from the glamorous trip, they were invited to appear on a TV show, Location, Location, Location, one of the UK's property shows. This episode was a lottery winners’ special though so only the finest of properties were on show.
The new home for the Griffiths family was selected. A were-near $1M dollar barn conversion.
With a plush new country home, you cannot bring the old furniture with you. It’s best of the best from top-of-the-line brands, adding up to a staggering $33,000 just on home furnishings. Then there’s that double garage in the driveway. The Audi doesn’t quite look the part, so that’s swapped for Porsche Carrera for Roger, and Lara went with the Lexus 4 x 4, costing nearly $75,000 for the two luxury cars.
Add to that the taste for globe-trotting the couple developed, with favorite destinations including New York, Dubai, Rome and Monaco, they were splashing through cash like there was no tomorrow.
The next venture the couple attempted was to try their hand at property development. They bought two properties in Harrogate costing nearly half a million. This was in 2007 when housing prices were low and could only go up.
Or so they thought….
Then the Lehman Brothers Happened
The collapse of the Lehman brothers in 2008 saw widespread financial panic globally. The UK was no exception. Banks were tightening their strings, loans were declined, people could not get mortgages, and so the half million Roger tied up in properties began to depreciate in value. As did the value of Lara’s salon and a further dip in revenue.
The couple had to tighten up with the cash. Trips to Dubai were swapped for Majorca beach holidays. The mini-fridges would still be emptied, but they’d be refilled with cheaper stock. Bottles of champagne in the evening became a glass of champagne.
The lavish lifestyle could be no more. It had come to an end.
With money troubles back in their lives, the couple were not prepared for going back to life as it was. They’d tasted the high-life, lapped it up and the pressure was mounting.
The couple would row about almost anything. The catalyst for the ultimate demise of the couple was an email Lara found of Roger asking his mate for another woman’s phone number. He denies there was anything going on, but it dawned on him that being bubbled away in his study with his guitars, and only arguing with his wife, wasn’t the life he wanted.
He packed up, left the family home and moved into his other property that couldn’t be sold because of the falling market price.
Lara still lives with her two daughters in the converted barn, but only eight years after winning the lottery, the only money Roger had in his bank account was just shy of $10.
The salon the couple had was sold at a loss, their other property was repossessed and the fancy cars have been returned. Because of the lack of careful financial planning and reckless spending, their two daughters have had to be taken out of the private school and no longer have financial security for their future, other than the family home Lara lives in. The only use that’s going to be is for collateral to get back into debt.
The lottery winning has officially left the family worse off financially than before they won. And in the process of blowing all that cash, their blissful family life was destroyed.
The Addictive Nature of Cash
The couple had given up their day jobs. Lara had the salon and was working 60 hours a week to keep it afloat, despite it losing money. Roger, feeling the pressures of financial woes creeping up, fell into a bout of depression. He became emotionally disconnected from Lara and the family. Locking himself away for hours in his study.
That led Lara to suspect something was amiss. After finding an email from him to another man asking for a woman’s phone number, that was it. According to Roger, it was the excuse he needed to tell Lara he wasn’t in love anymore and wanted to move out.
Lara would’ve taken him back. She loved him. She loved the family life they had, but he left her heartbroken when he said the words he didn’t love her anymore.
Depression is among the hardest of illnesses to beat. Money is no remedy for it, but having it sure as hell will lead to erratic decisions, emotional disconnect, rollercoaster like spending, with a heavy crash when the money’s gone.
Both Lara and Roger at times now wonder where it all went wrong.
It went wrong when they started spending the money before getting financial advice. A solid investment strategy and some patience before extravagant spending would’ve kept the kids with the best education money could buy and quite possibly, prevented running a failing salon, selling for less and now living in a house that’s on the market for sale and only used for collateral for more debt.
The lottery can be a curse. Ultimately Roger and Lara ignored the advice financial experts give to lottery winners.
Rule 1: Do not take a cash lump sum, Rule 2: Do not make it public, Rule 3: Do not quit your job!
Winning big rarely makes you happier, Bankruptcy is likely within five to eight years of winning, And if you're not disciplined with your spending, you will lose the lot!
Next time you play the lottery, know what you’re really playing for. The prizes are life-changing but only for the better if you can manage your newfound wealth.