Simple math. We all know the odds, we know the chances are worse than one in a million. Yet almost every dollar that sits in the lottery jackpot was put there by somebody like us. And I get it, everyone wants to sit there and imagine what they would do with the $500 million jackpot- the vacations they would take, the cars they would drive, the awesome things they would own, the money they would give away. Most if not all of us have bought lottery tickets at some point, maybe dropped $20 on tickets the night before a large jackpot, joined an office pool, or picked up a couple of scratchers on the way home from work. As with most things in life, moderation is key so I won’t say don’t ever do it, I say pay attention to how you do it.
Lottery is entertainment and should be treated as such. It isn’t something that you pick up every time you stop by the gas station. It is a splurge, something you do once every few months if that often and one of the first things you cut out if you have debt or are trying to tighten the budget. Over the course of a lifetime most lotto players will spend lots of money on tickets and very few people will walk away with money. Image an extra $800 in your pocket at the end of the year or better yet, in one of your investment accounts actually making you money.
Gambling is a wholly capitalist enterprise. Like corporations, gambling outfits wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t make them money. Some gambling odds for wining are close to even like roulette in Las Vegas. The house still wins but you lose your money much slower. Lottery odds are no where near that yet they rake in billions of dollars a year. Gambling of any kind is paying for entertainment, the same as buying a soda. Fun for 20 minutes but then gone. At least with the soda you get to keep the calories. The lotteries brand themselves as making millionaires or having lots of winners when in reality they are selling the idea of wealth and a fleeting feeling of hope. Almost every dollar that sits in the jackpot was put there by other people buying tickets. So when the jackpot hits $500 million think of how many millions of people just like you dropped a $20 bill because they felt lucky.
If you love the lotto or scratch offs do yourself a favor. Write down all of your losses and winnings for 3 months. Extrapolate how much money you would have spent in a year. Think about that as a cost for entertainment and you might decided that cutting back that little bit of short fun will save you thousands in the long run. If you are not in debt and it fits in your entertainment budget then, by all means, snag yourself some tickets. Just make sure that you realize that a dollar here and there can end up being thousands if you lose track and the odds are not in your favor to get any back.