Like many this time of year, I'm balancing appropriate Christmas shopping with a realistic "new normal" budget.
With one eye on the economy and the other on Santa's wish list, I doubt I will join optimistic shoppers who plan to spend more this year.
"Spend like there's no tomorrow," is the message this year.
I don't view that as a catchy holiday shopping theme. I sense it's more like Santa's Farewell Tour.
Let's hope I'm wrong.
Like millions of Americans -- and I mean literally hundreds of millions -- my holiday financial woes soon could evaporate.
Hard work? Nope. Honest toil? Nope. Sacrifice? Dedication? The can-do spirit? Nope.
The answer is Powerball.
Tonight a cool $500 million will make this holiday the best and brightest ever for someone.
Powerball is a game of random numbers aligned to one combination that will produce financial freedom.
But winning the Powerball lottery is about as likely as compromise in Washington, D.C.
Powerball actually is a perfect fit for our current federal policy -- get something by doing nothing.
And if this is the "new normal," count me in.
But let's be real. The odds of hitting tonight's bonanza are just above 175 million to one.
About the same odds as finding a Romney voter in Philadelphia. Or about the same odds as balancing the federal budget.
In other words, don't count your chickens, etc.
Let's put it another way. If the Powerball winner gave that big jackpot to Uncle Sam, it would run the federal government for about 15 minutes; or less if we have a second stimulus bailout of some sort.
Forty-two states offer Powerball jackpots, and after 15 consecutive non-winning drawings, tonight may finally produce a winner.
After the jackpot is reduced [if taken in one lump sum] and after taxes, the winner still will proudly join the 1 percenters and soon belly-up again under a new tax code.
Only in America. And just in time for Christmas.