In the eight years since he won a $1-million lottery, Bill Clifford has enjoyed one aspect of being wealthy more than any other -- not having to shovel out his car on winter mornings. The Goderich man allowed himself few luxuries after winning a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. He continued driving the same car he had for another five years.
But he did buy a new home, something he had planned before the lottery win, a house with a garage that kept his car clear when it snowed outside.
"The garage would be the single greatest pleasure," he said.
"We were taught to appreciate the value of a dollar," the 65-year-old said. "I was brought up with outdoor privies and coal-oil lamps."
His frugality is typical of lottery winners in Ontario.
Few big winners go on a major spending spree or subject their winnings to big investment risks, according to a survey by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Of 260 people who won at least $1 million between 1991 and 2003:
- Only 14 per cent said they changed their lifestyle.
- More paid off their mortgages (37 per cent) than bought houses (34 per cent)
- Nearly 90 per cent put money in the bank, 59 per cent paid off debts and 95 per cent sought professional advice.
- Fewer than half -- 42 per cent -- gave up their jobs, went to school or opened their own businesses.
- Splurges were small scale: 56 per cent took a vacation and 63 per cent bought a new car.
Clifford, who was 58 when he won the lottery, continued to work for another five years as a real estate broker.
"We don't tell too many people we won and we don't flaunt it in any way . . . Money has never meant a whole lot to our family," he said.
When it came to investing the money, Clifford was better positioned than most -- before owning his own real estate brokerage, he had worked as a banker.
"We already had a modest investment portfolio, so we simply continued to add to it," he said.
He missed the tech boom and bust, using low-risk strategies, included buying bonds that mature at different dates, an approach called laddering.
"Last year, our return was between eight and nine per cent," he said.
He and his wife's nest egg is secure and their life a bit more comfortable, he acknowledged.
"Did it change our life? To say it didn't would be wrong. But I hope it didn't change us," he said.
Life has also changed little for a London couple who in 2000 bought a Lotto Super 7 and won $2.5 million.
Antonio and Theresa Maisano struck it rich in the June 23 draw that year, winning $2.5 million.
"I haven't changed at all," Theresa Maisano said.
Maisano said she and her husband still live in the same house and drive the same car.
Their win came after decades of hard work -- Theresa Maisano worked in a laundry for 30 years after coming to Canada from Italy in 1967.
"Sometimes, I had to get up at four or five in the morning to go to work," Theresa Maisano said.
The Maisanos retired before they bought their winning ticket at Frontenac Convenience on Commissioners Road. But life after winning $2.5 million hasn't been much different than it's always been, Theresa Maisano said.
Maisano said she's only bought "simple" things.
"I don't go high. I don't go low. I go middle class."