“When I saw that enormous amount on my computer screen, I did scream the house together. You sometimes hear that winning a big prize is a traumatic event for people. There are even meetings for fellow sufferers. Now I can imagine a million will turn your life upside down. Of course, my price is not an amount to quit your job – there was also a 29 percent tax deduction – but with over seventy thousand euros I was just very, very happy.
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I didn’t find out until five weeks after the draw, by the way. Our winning ticket was crumpled among the piles of drawings and crafts of the children. Sander always complained that I see a work of art in every silly scratch and therefore never throw anything away, but I have not heard him about it since that day.
My prize was a bit traumatic for someone else: the niece who gave me the lottery ticket for my 35th birthday. I have never taken part in a game of chance myself. To me, that’s like bringing an umbrella when the weather forecast predicts a zero percent chance of rain. Of course she realized that there was a minimal chance of a very generous gesture. But you really don’t assume that if you don’t want to come to someone’s party empty-handed and therefore quickly dive into the gas station for a ‘playful joke’ – as she described it herself.
Fortunately, it concerns a family member with whom we are good friends. My niece and her husband have a better income than we do and they give our family everything; I can imagine that the friendship with a non-blood relative will take a dent. That on holiday you curse that winning girlfriend when you are in a leaky tent at night and know that she is opening a bottle of champagne in her holiday villa at the same time. But still: the first large amount we spent was for my cousin: five thousand euros for a complete makeover of her garden, including a wooden garden shed in which she and her husband alternately sleep in after a broken night.
She’s said a thousand times that it really shouldn’t have been, so I’m assuming she’s not jealous or uncomfortable. I do notice that I avoid conversations about money and expenses with her. Also, I haven’t bought any really exorbitant, eye-catching things, a Chanel bag or something. I feel a bit too heavy for that, I think.
Bank account: Joyce and her husband throw money>
We have paid off our debts with the money. Five percent of our mortgage, so that our house is no longer flooded. A loan from my father of three thousand euros for the renovation of our house. And our Volvo, which we bought on credit. I don’t know if more money makes you happier now, but I do know that financial worries can weigh on your mind. Shortly before that beautiful day in November, my friend had to agree to a small salary cut because the architectural firm he works for does not get enough large orders.
I realize that we had it right without that price: at the school where I work, there are children who never go on holiday. Even so, we had never been able to build up the buffer that Nibud recommends before the price. There is now, and that is a burden off our shoulders.
From the four of us
When I talk about the price, I keep talking about ‘we’, although strictly speaking the money is only mine. Sander and I are not married, but I see the money as something that belongs to the four of us. When I did not yet have a permanent position as a teacher, I contributed much less to the household for a while than Sander. I was brought up with the motto that you should never depend on a man, so I had a hard time with that. With this money I buy off that guilt feeling a bit retroactively. I gave Sander a racing bike as a gift.
I reserve five thousand euros for Jack and Moon, which they will receive when they are eighteen, provided they do not smoke or drink until then. No, we have not told them about the price, we think they are too small for that. Jack would tell his friends we’re very rich and Moon will think we can buy out the whole toy store on the corner.
Meanwhile, the balance in our bank account is shrinking rapidly. Especially when we also buy a mobile home at a campsite on the North Holland coast. Something we have been dreaming of for years. I promised my niece that it will also become her property: she can always come and spend her holiday there. The champagne will be cold.
This article has previously appeared in Kek Mama.
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