Why You Shouldn’t Play the Lottery

by Lee Doppelt

Do you play the lottery in hopes of fixing your finances? Stop relying on this impossible financial fix. The real lottery winners are people who don’t play!

On March 27, 2019, a single winning ticket in Wisconson won the Powerball jackpot of $768.4 million. It was the third biggest jackpot in US lottery history.

Perhaps you played. If you’re reading this you probably weren’t the big jackpot winner or one of the 9 who got a $1 or $2 million cash prize. But there’s always a new jackpot to be won. 

The tremendous odds against winning a big lottery are just one reason not to waste your money on this legalized form of gambling.

Maybe you buy a lotto ticket weekly. What are the chances you’ll get that big return on your $1 investment? The odds of winning the lottery vary depending on which jackpot you are trying to win. But according to Lottery USA, the odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 292.2 million and 1 in 302.5 million for winning the Mega Millions jackpot. If these numbers are hard to put into context, according to CNN, you are 35 times more likely to “get murdered during a visit to the Grand Canyon” than to win a lottery jackpot and 65,530 times more likely to “accidentally suffocate in bed.”

Winning the lottery won’t be your financial or emotional savior!

Eliminating debt is often mentioned as a financial goal of a large jackpot winner. But statistics show that those people often ultimately end up in debt again.

A lottery win won’t fix intangible challenges in your life either. That feud you’ve had going on with your sister won’t magically disappear simply because you won a jackpot. And if your kids have unacceptable study skills, having suddenly wealthy parents won’t transform them into scholars. If someone in the family has some sort of substance abuse issue, becoming rich won’t fix that either. And, if you win some big lottery, don’t be surprised at all the new “friends” that want to become part of your world. You might develop some trust issues or want to simply hide in a cave.

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With a solid plan and some patience you, no matter how desperate your financial situation, can achieve financial goals without winning the lottery.

If you really want to get out of debt, you must change your spending habits, so your money coming in is greater than your money going out. It’s an amazingly simple concept really. In second grade, you were stumped when you tried to do arithmetic and somehow got a negative answer. It’s the same situation with accumulating debt!

When you see a news interview with a large jackpot winner, you often hear the “lucky person” state that they’ll use the money to buy a yacht or an additional home. A yacht, depending on where you live, may get very little use and can be a costly proposition when you calculate storage and maintenance costs and the potential stresses that come with owning more “stuff” that you don’t need.

If you currently own a house, you already know the headaches associated with keeping it maintained. Whether it’s a plugged toilet or something more expensive like needing a roof or furnace, homeownership comes at an emotional price. Would you really want a second home, one that possibly sits vacant some of the time, where problems like mold or vermin can surprise you when you’re away from this second home? It may be best to rethink acquiring a second home!

Helping family is an honorable thing to do, but there are more reasonable ways than having an extra billion or so in your checking account! Assist your family by babysitting their children, so they can go out to an occasional movie. Purchase larger quantities of groceries in bulk with them to save on food bills. Invite them over to your house for potluck dinners. Assist them in putting in a garden, so they can save money on food. These are just a few ways that you can help your family.

And, if you can’t put yourself on a plan to improve your financial situation, there are professionals who can help get you onto the right path to get out and stay out of debt forever, even if your income is not huge. It’s time to stop dreaming about easy fixes to a financially fractured life and become realistic with about how much money you have and how much you need and establish some specific financial goals.

Reviewed August 2019

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