Patience paid off — to the tune of more than half a million — for a 58-year-old Singaporean man who regularly bets on Toto.
The day was Dec 16, 2017. I was on my way to work when I decided to stop by an NTUC outlet at Dawson Place to place my regular $1 Toto bet for the draw on Dec 18, 2017.
As I often bet (two times a week, for each draw), my habit was to check all my tickets at one go, once every two months.
Fast forward to February 2018, I decided to dig all my bets out and check them online. Now, I don’t exactly remember which day it was, but it was close to 11pm when I had just two or three slips left.
I was about to go to bed but decided to finish checking them out anyway. When I matched the first three numbers, my eye widened in disbelief and my heart started beating faster. When the fourth and fifth number matched as well, a sudden rush of excitement came over me.
‘Are my dreams of hitting the jackpot coming true?’ I thought to myself as I scanned the website for the sixth and final number. Lo and behold, it was a perfect match — I had officially won the top prize of $572,571.
I was very lucky to have checked my ticket on time, because prizes must be claimed within 180 days (including weekends and public holidays) from the date of the draw.
I collected my prize just a few weeks shy of Chinese New Year, one month before the deadline.
Bought numbers with special and personal meaning
The key is consistency. I usually buy numbers that are important to me, like my car plate number, address and birthday.
The winning number was a broken down combination of my birth date into day, month, year and age.
First time winning such a huge amount of money
Over the years, I’ve won small amounts but never this big of a windfall. I couldn’t believe it. I quickly woke my wife up and asked her to double-check my slip in case my tired eyes were playing tricks on me. The next morning, I frantically called the outlet to confirm my winnings.
Reality only sunk in the day after when I was on my morning jog and realised that I had achieved my dream of winning big at Toto. I suddenly had extra bounce in my steps and life seemed like a fairytale.
Collecting my winnings at the Singapore Pools HQ
Together with my wife, we had a simple breakfast of kopi and kaya toast before walking over to the Singapore Pools HQ.
We waited calmly for my queue number to be called before going to the counter and producing my IC and winning slip. The clerk handed me a cheque with my name on it.
The entire situation felt like a dream. Through it all, I was particularly happy that all my financial worries such as paying for my daughter’s education were settled.
When we left, I kept telling myself to act normal. As I can be quite reckless with money, I handed the entire cheque to my wife and returned to work after that.
The first thing I did with half a million dollars
The first thing I did after getting the cash was to give $10,000 to a few of my closest family members as a small token of appreciation. I was firm not to let the rest of my relatives and friends know as I did not want any attention or requests from them.
I also wanted to return the good fortune in a small way. I decided to pledge $5,000 to help local charities. Besides donating to underprivileged children, I gave part of my winnings away in the form of ang paos and lunches to a nursing home too.
Invested the rest
As an ex-banker, I was concerned with inflation eating away at my money. It also didn’t help that bank interest rates were so low when I won the lottery.
With that, I put the rest of my winnings into two types of investments.
I bought a retirement insurance plan worth about $150,000, with a projected return amount of $350,000, 20 years from now.
Next, I purchased $50,000 worth of Singapore bonds and DBS shares.
On the side, I made a $350,000 downpayment for a condominium. While this was not specifically for investment purposes, the property purchase was to ensure the remainder of my winnings are parked in an asset to control my spending.
Here’s a breakdown of how I used $572,571:
- Retirement insurance: $150,000
- Condo downpayment: $350,000
- Singapore bonds: $50,000
- Family: $15,000
- Charity donation: $5,000
For all past, present and future lottery winners, here is my advice — it is easy to be sucked in and overindulge in an unnecessary lifestyle, especially after winning big.
Instead of buying a luxury car or branded goods, invest and plan for this money to grow so that it can help you retire comfortably (if you win young, that is). Don’t let inflation eat into your winnings.
This article was first published in SingSaver.com.sg.