Arbor Wealth: Powerball, seasons as verbs, and Dolly Parton

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

“In Nevada’s town of Reno … Kentucky gambler planned to get rich quick.” — from “Kentucky Gambler” as performed by Dolly Parton

Joe Smith from Hob Knob, Wy., inquired recently about our managing his one million dollar portfolio. I congratulated him on a lifetime of saving and sacrifice.

“Hah!,” he said. “I didn’t work for or save any of it. This is all I’ve got left. Don’t you recognize me? I won the billion dollar Powerball lottery.”

“Well, forgive me for saying this, Mr. Smith, but why do you only have a million dollars left to invest?”

“Good question,” he said. “Well, first I gave $5 million to all my relatives. Boy, I had second cousins showin’ up and textin’ every hour … people I’d never heard of. But it’s hard to turn ‘em down.”

“Five million!,” I said. “I bet they were happy.”

“You’d think so,” he said. “But hardly any of ‘em speak to me today. No amount is satisfactory. They want cars for their kids and trust funds and I don’t know what all. Figure that with my bank account, $5 million apiece is chump change.”

“Well, I can understand how hurtful that is,” I said. “But you’d need a lot of relatives to go through a billion dollars.”

“You’d be surprised,” he said. He sipped his coffee. “Then I bought four huge homes. I wintered in St. Barts; summered in the Hamptons; spent spring in Saratoga and autumn in the Adirondacks.”

I marveled at how folks begin to express seasons as verbs when they rub up against money, but kept listening.

“And of course I hired a full-time staff at each place,” he said. “You can’t jet into your beachfront Hamptons estate and swim in a dirty Olympic-sized pool.”

I shook my head and commiserated. “I hate it when that happens,” I said.

“But what really did me in was the private jet and the yacht,” he said. “It’s not the initial outlay that gets you, although that’s substantial. I bought a yacht that was once owned by Jackie Onassis.”

“Well, at least you bought used,” I said, but he was too depressed to laugh.

“No,” he said, “what costs you is the staff and maintenance and upkeep. Storage, dockage fees, hangar fees. Bills were astronomical.”

“What was your first year’s tax liability?”

He slumped over like a boxer who had just taken a terrific body shot.

“Just under $600 million,” he said. It hurt him to say it.

“Well, what would you like this last million to do for you?” I said.

He smiled weakly. “Well,” he said, “I’d like it to provide some income generation for us in retirement. I’ve gone back to work. But please, find some conservative securities. My risk tolerance is awful low these days.”

Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, a syndicated economic columnist, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 —, a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin. This column should not be considered personalized investment advice and provides no assurance that any specific strategy or investment will be suitable or profitable for an investor.