by John Darer CLU ChFC MSSC CeFT RSP CLTC
The sensational headline "Lucky Woman has Big Plans for $5,000 prize" caught my eye in the airport newsstand checkout line. Apparently "gutsy" Virginia Mae Grunder, 62 of Schwenksville, PA won $5,000 in the National Enquirer's cash giveaway.
Here is a list of Grunder's "big plans" for the $5,000 as reported by The National Enquirer:
- Pay some bills
- Have some surgery she needs but couldn't afford
- Then blow some money on fun things
- "I've always thought I'd love to spend some time at an expensive 5-star hotel that would cater to all my whims-including nice meals from room service. Now I can afford to check in at the poshest place I can find!"
Wait, there's even more!
"She vows that there will be some special treats for her two pet cats Jasper and Smokey
Can Virgina Mae Grunder do everything she dreams she can with a Total Budget $5,000?
Step 1: Pay off Bills-let's assume $1,300
Leaves Balance of $3,700
Step 2: Buy Treats for Kitties. Virginia can go crazy for $200
- Friskies Indoor (with Real Chicken Flavor) 1 year supply $87.88
- Cosmic Catnip $6.49
- KONG Hugga Wubba Cat toy $5.99
- Petlinks Twinkle Chute with Lights Cat Toy $20.59
- Play n Squeak Ball of Furry Fury Toy $8.99
- Leaves a balance of $3,500
OR: Buy a Cat Genie. Upgrade the kitties' "can" for $329 and buy a years' supply of Friskies at $87.88
Source: CatGenie.com (Cat Genie 120 Tabby Package). Note that will also need $111 annually for replenishment granules.
Leaves a balance of approximately $3290
Step 3: Surgery This is where the budget starts to break down
Cost of various types of surgery (just for the surgery, not room, x-rays etc.)
- Appendectomy $1,700
- Colonoscopy $3,150-$3,884
- Decompression Back Surgery $24,000-$29,850
- Gastric Bypass Surgery $28,640
- Hip Resurfacing Surgery $18,600
- Partial Wrist Fusion $23,400-$30,000
- Cardiac Catheterization $40,264
Source: Surgerycosts.net October 18,2009
Step 4: Set aside money for taxes on the winnings-speak to accountant
Step 5: Can Virgina Mae Grunder REALLY "afford to check in at the poshest place she can find"?
Sampling of cost before meals* and transportation:
- Cost of most expensive hotel room in USA-Palm Fantasy Towers in Las Vegas $40,000 per night so we'll rule that out.
- Cost of most expensive room in New York, Ty Warner Penthouse at the Four Seasons $34,000 per night. We'll rule that out too!
- One weekend night at 5-star Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia $377.87/night with taxes (special bed n breakfast rate). Includes bed, breakfast* (room service!), valet parking. fitness center, complimentary bottled water, coffee and tea service in the lobby. Anything else has a cost. Source: Four Seasons Philadelphia- author's call to concierge
Depending on the type of surgery and what activities she plans on doing at and around the hotel, Virginia Mae Grunder has a slim chance to eke it out. Clearly the surgery is a very high priority and should be paramount.
Estimated time to blow through the $5,000...less than 6 months.
Keep Things in Perspective
I think it's important for The National Enquirer to keep things in perspective when spotlighting sweepstakes winners. Financial illiteracy is a big problem, and The National Enquirer can do its readers a service by stepping up to the plate and help by writing responsible financial stories. The way they highlight Grunder you would have thought she won $5 million dollars instead of $5,000.
It's OK to dream as if money had no object. That's the fun part. But in doing so, it also may be helpful to work with a financial transitionist to help sort through and prioritize in a non-judgmental way.
Virginia Mae Grunder of Royersford, PA, passed away peacefully on Wednesday August 3, 2016 at Park House Providence Point, in Upper Providence Twp, Pa. She was 69. May she rest in peace [ Source: Legacy.com]