Personal Finance: Quick Riches

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, July 22, 2010; 10:06 AM

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 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

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