Dollars to Donuts


Do you know what “dollars to donuts” means? I thought it meant “frittering” away your money on useless but yummy stuff — turning all your good money into donuts.

So then I started thinking, what if you came into a small amount of money, say 10% of your annual household income. How would you fritter it away? It could come from a minor lottery win, or a share of an inheritance, or a gift, or a work bonus, or the repayment of a loan that you had completely written off. Found money in other words.

What would you do with it? Let’s assume that you have no pressing debts to put it toward.

You could blow it all on one, big unforgettable trip somewhere. (Such as a never-ending trip to Mexico, for instance)

You could tuck it safely away in RRSPs or RESPs or add it to some savings account you’ve earmarked for something.


You could have fun here and there with it.  Get some box seats at a hockey game. A weekend at a luxury hotel.  Buy a piece of furniture you’d normally never be able to afford. Get a really expensive haircut. Get some Manolos. Any or all of the above.



Or you could just add it to your regular household bank account and have the luxury of not having to be obsessive about your budget for a while.


Or you could be very altruistic and give all or some of it away to a person or group who really needs it. (If all of you come back and tell me that’s exactly what you’d do with this found money I’ll never believe another word any of you say.


The expression “dollars to donuts”, by the way is just a way of expressing certainty in a bet. As in that you would put your valuable dollars against someone else’s lardy donuts. Which is really a stupid bet when you think about it because if you win all you get is some donuts, which you could have bought for yourself with your dollars.

On the other hand the expression, “liar, liar pants on fire” is thought to be a paraphrase of a William Blake poem The Liar. The last verse goes:

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

Of course that doesn’t make any more sense than the paraphrased version.


41 responses to “Dollars to Donuts

  1. I had never heard that expression until last week, when Unmitigated used it in a comment on Beth’s post in our blog. It is now, however, my favorite expression.

    [Nice post, btw.}

  2. Unfortunately, as my prosaic side pretty much always wins out over my spontaneous side, it’d probably all end up in the RRSP that I’ll probably die before I actually get to use.

    Of course I desperately need a new dining room table as well as a coffee table; both are (I am embarrassed to admit) vintage 80s melamine – yeah, home decor is not a passion with me.

    I loathe them both with a vengeance, but since I have to repaint the apartment next month, I’ll wait until after – and that being said, I’ll no doubt procrastinate and dither for a whole while longer before I fork out the dough (I’m cheap that way).

    I’m pathetic that way. Debt free and stuck in the 80s furniture wise. *shudder*

  3. I would buy a laptop so that I could blog from the comfort of my couch, or on my bed, instead of venturing down into the dark basement where I tap away on the keys while Max makes constant attempts on my life from the rafters.

  4. (Channeling Homer Simpson) Hmm..donuts! 🙂

    Only 10% Well in that case, I would have to do the sensible (ie. not fun) thing and pay part of my hubby’s next year of university tuition. But it would help free up some other income so maybe we could plan more fun activities! 🙂

  5. Ellie – Dollars to donuts or Pants on Fire?? Also, you didn’t say what you’d do with your windfall. I was expecting you of all people to blow it on a big trip.

    Jazz – I have very little interest in home décor, too. A table’s a table. As long as it’s not falling over you can always throw a cloth over it, right? But I’m disappointed that you’d stuff your money into an RRSP.

    Bandobras – Finally someone with a sensible plan.

    Alison – They have so many cute little notebook type machines now and they’re not that expensive. Have you seen those little things?

    Hannah – How boring you all are. RRSPs, household necessities, tuitiion. This is a windfall!! Is no one interested in blowing it on something crazy?

  6. I have someone very near and very dear to me who could really use a cash bump. Normally I am not so selfless, but it really pains me to see the dire straights this person is in, and I would not hesitate to hand it all over to him. I’m not sure my husband would approve though.

  7. i might also give some to alison to buy a laptop because i like her blog and if it meant more updates from her that would be great 🙂

  8. Assuming I could have a little more than 10% of my household income, I would buy a new iMac and a new full-frame camera with at least three quality, fast lenses.


    A two-week (at least) driving trip around the coast of Iceland.

    I’m totally selfish. But these are the things I love most. If I had a million dollars, I would be much more charitable.

  9. You are HILARIOUS! I almost spit my orange juice across the keyboard.

    I second the tiny little machine idea for Alison. I’m using a eeePC (amazon, $349) while traveling. This little notebook is light, scrappy, and quick, though I did switch to a higher memory card. I won’t mention its present location.

    There’s a young woman I’ve recently met who’s raising a thirteen year old daughter in a house with no indoor plumbing. I would give half the money to her though I doubt she would use it for plumbing. School and food probably would rank higher on her list. There is so much need here in this place I’m visiting, that I’d spread the rest of that money around. You can’t be here and recieve a ten percent boon and think of spending it any other way.

  10. Meanie – Is it me? Am I the person you want to give some money to? No really, don’t. I’m okay. Please…you’re embarrassing me. Keep it. Really. Give it to your kids if you don’t want it. Or Alison. Let’s start a collection to buy Alison a teeny tiny laptop

    Meagan – Driving around the coast of Iceland, eh? That’s unusual. Why Iceland?

    Violetsky – I hope you’re keeping a list of all the stuff we’re going to do once we retire to that villa in France. Have you been to this Greek restaurant? And what makes it special?

    Laura – Was it fresh squeezed orange juice from the tree just outside your hacienda in MEXICO??? And yes, it’s hard sometimes to justify spending money on non-essentials when you see people without even essentials.

  11. Bandobras> You realize they’ll drive you crazy, they’ll drive you insane.

    Me, I’d take my wife back to Paris. And if there was anything left, maybe hop over to England to see a soccer game.

  12. Isn’t it hard to type on the keyboard of those teeny tiny machines? I was wondering about those and whether it would be difficult to type and move the mouse.

    I’m touched by the idea of taking up a collection, and thanks Meanie! Hey, would it be wrong to suggest a collection to have Alison update her blog more frequently from a teeny tiny laptop being used while at a restaurant in Greece? Or along the roadsides of Iceland? Just a thought.

  13. See, I actually carry around 5€ right now, which I found at the station, and which will go to the first homeless person I see. Honestly. 🙂

    Actual, real money? Probably try and buy one really nice thing (like furniture, indeed), then set the rest aside… and hope I won’t start scrambling for money the next time a large bill needs to be paid.

  14. I would like to think I’d so something altruistic—and maybe I would—after I bought myself a smoking pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. Sadly, I’m a little shallow like that sometimes.

  15. MG – That seems like sound advice. Except for the soccer in England part. I understand that’s quite dangerous.

    Bandobras – Aren’t we the world traveller.

    Alison – I’ve tried them and it’s not hard to type on them at all, surprisingly enough. We’ll see how much we get — I’m sure people will realize what a worthy cause it would be to have you blogging from a Mediterranean Island instead of your bedroom.

    Gila – So very sensible of you. Very very sensible. Not much fun, but sensible. Very sensible.

    Mo – Shallow is what found money is all about. Once you get the new smokin’ hot shoes you could give an older pair of less smokin’ hot shoes to someone who needs them.

  16. I’m traveling to Iceland for a week this summer, but simply don’t have the money to do everything I want to do. So if I had a windfall, I would do it all. Which would involve going all the way around it.

    And Iceland is spectacular. I heard a description once along the lines of “being in Iceland is like watching the earth be created” because it’s so incredibly primitive (geysers and thermal waters and volcanoes and ice and waterfalls).

    I can’t wait.

  17. On the other hand, were I at home when this windfall arrived, I might go to Greece with Alison. We can take turns using my teeny tiny machine. Her to tap out her blog, and me to leave annoying comments on yours while avoiding mine.

  18. Never been anywhere near Greece, but those islands look so damn inviting and I’m sure there are great restaurants there needing our patronage.

    Laura – are you planning on leaving Mexico, ever?

    We’d need more than 10% for that villa in France (yes, I’m making a list), this would be a sidetrip. For comparison.

  19. Hmmm… been thinkin’ ’bout this all day… toughie. Do I do something completely & happily self gratifying like follow the Leafs around the continent for a month?
    And tose dollars would buy a nice single malt.
    Mais… I have to revert to nice Trashy and would do the following:
    Buy a long weekend for my Resident Love Goddess, my eldest pain in the ass daughter and my youngest pain in the ass daughter. PLUS my mother-in-law and my Mom and sis. In NYC. Why not?
    Man, I have everything else. A few grand would be better spent on those I love.
    Yeah, sappy. Sunlight deprivation, I guess.

  20. Travel. Definitely travel. I’m planning to go to Greece this summer, so if I get that mythical windfall between now and then, it’ll be a pretty amazing trip! If I get it later, it’ll be for the next trip. (Which, if PG has his way, will be to Germany to drive the Nurburgring in a Porsche. That’s it. The whole trip. Just driving around a very long racetrack. Around and around. Let the record show that he will NOT get his way.)

  21. Took me a while to think of an answer, but personally, I would send my Mom to Paris. I’ve never been and neither has she but I know it’s her cup of tea. She’s not really a travel bug, but has already been to Italy and loved it. Besides, I’m already planning a tour of Europe for the coming years.

  22. I would most likely do what I normally do with found money: Not really notice where it goes and then wonder about it a few years later.

  23. Over £5000 then I would take us all to Australia, under £5000 then I would take us to Thailand. Don’t even have to think about it- a trip away wins everytime. Most Scots spend their time trying to get or dreaming about getting away from their winter.

  24. Helen – Go now!! Why wait. Soon it will be too hot down there.

    Jobthingy – Give her a call. I think she’s on her way right now.

    Meagan – That’s a very interesting choice of places to go and reasons for going there. Iceland has never been on my “must see” list. Do you have a blog? I’d love to hear about the trip and see some photos.

    Laura – If you guys are going to Greece with a teeny tiny laptop, I’m coming with. I will not sit home again to be taunted by your exciting travels.

    Violetsky – I’ll have a fabulous government pension to live on, so you won’t even have to support me. Tuscany should be on that list as well.

    Trashee – Aw…geeze… I hope your love goddess treats you to a wild night of fantasy sex just for saying this out loud in public.

    Pinklea – Please take note that Alison, Violetsky and Laura are tagging along on this trip of yours. So shove over, eh…

    Jen – A whole tour? Of all of Europe? You should probably save some of your windfall for that. Is this a self-guided tour? First class all the way? What fun.

    Geewits – I hate it when that happens. That’s why I thought a plan would be good before it’s all frittered away.

    MisssyM – Canadians too. We’re further away from Australia and Thailand, so we just invade third world Caribbean and South and Central American countries and bring them trinkets so they won’t use our toothbrushes to clean the toilets

  25. There would definitely be some doughnuts involved. Part of me was hoping you’d made donuts and that you were sharing the recipe.

    It’s would be a toss up in this household. We’d definitely have to go somewhere… Ireland, India, Greece, Turkey but we also need a new roof and windows. God it would be a toss up.

  26. Oh I would definitely go on a trip and then taunt you with my travels! Ireland, I think. By way of a 3 day stopover in NYC. I love New York. Ohh or maybe take my son to Venice, he would love it there! How much did you say? 10%? Let me get my calculator and get back to you.

  27. I would do a Mediterranean Cruise with stops in the Greek Isles…and then a visit to a fat farm for the pound a day that I gained on the cruise

  28. Nat – Sorry, I’ve never made donuts in my life. Not a big fan, really. Go on the trip. The windows can wait.

    Kitty – Who doesn’t look good in high heels? Go for it. I did post those just for you, you know.

    Kimber – Aren’t they sweet?

    Charlene – Of course, YOU would have to travel. New York, eh? I haven’t been for a long time. Do you prefer NY over Paris?

    Deb – To hell with the fat farm, the Mediterranean diet is all the rage now and what better way than while you’re actually cruising by Mediterranean countries?

    Loth – You really need to move here. All those trips back and forth, think of your carbon footprint.

  29. Well, having recently come into a little unexpected money, I bought myself one awesome gigantic reading/blogging chair! I have been without a comfy reading chair for years. It was so satisfying to make that sudden, unexpected purchase. I knew INSTANTLY what I’d do with the money. So it was impulsive…but not at all.

    if a second little windfall came my way right now, I’d love to give money to the wonderful animal rescue organizations I’ve come across the past two years – the one I found Moses through and the other that helped me save Buster! So many animals need so much help.

    Great post! This kind of thing is always so much fun to think about.

  30. honestly, i’d put it in the bank and breathe easier. i’m into safety when comes to finances except my 401 k that i “usta” have 😉

  31. Lesley – I’m looking for a comfy chair to spend some of my money on too. Yours is gorgeous. I like the 2-seater capacity of it.

    leah – I’m a lot like that too. Much as I like to think of myself as spontaneous and devil-may-care, I think I’d probably stash most of it away as well

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