The Financial Page
Volunteer Budget Counselor
|Current statistics suggest that there are
six million compulsive gamblers in the United States today, and more
than one million of those are teenagers.
It is estimated that 46% of Americans play the lottery. That is nearly
half of the population of the United States spending money
on lottery tickets.
You are twelve times
more likely to die in a car accident driving to the store to buy lottery
tickets, than you are to win a gigantic jackpot.
Lotteries are basically just a way of getting money from people who are
desperate, greedy, lazy, ignorant, or any combination of these
traits. That may sound a bit harsh, but it is pretty much the
People who are financially desperate don't know what else to
they play the lottery hoping to win the big jackpot and eliminate their
current financial troubles.
People who are greedy play the lottery because they want to
without having to work for it. They want to be rich, but are not
willing to make any real effort to make it happen.
greedy people are also impatient and are not willing to build their
wealth over time--they see the lottery as a way of getting it all right
Lazy people are often motivated by the same things as the
person who is
greedy. Additionally, the lazy person refuses to read any
self-help books, won't go out looking for a better job, won't put any
money away in savings, won't increase their education or learn new job
skills, and usually blames others for their problems instead of making
the effort to fix them. Lazy people play the lottery hoping
the big jackpot will make up for all of the things they are too lazy to
do for themselves.
Ignorant people, which may also include many of the people
discussed, play the lottery because they just don't understand how the
lottery actually works and they don't understand the math
involved. Since ignorance represents the most common cause of
people playing the lottery, let's talk about the math behind the
When you play the average, big-jackpot, state lottery game,
of winning are often somewhere around 150 million to one.
Although in some lotteries the odds may be a bit better than this, in
many lotteries the odds are actually much worse.
that means that the only way to make sure you win would be to buy 150
million tickets. That's 150,000,000 tickets! If you
ticket per week, you would mathematically have to play for 150 million
weeks to be assured of winning. In other words, you would have to play every
for almost 3 million years. That's 3,000,000 years!
problem," you might say, "I buy 20 tickets at a time." Good
you, now you only have to play for around 145,000 years.
Yes, many times you hear about one or two people who win the
jackpot, but you have to think about how many people all over the
state, or the Country, bought tickets. For those one or two
winners, how many people actually lost? Do you have a chance
being one of those people who win the big jackpot? Of course,
mathematically you will not be able to pull it off within your lifetime.
The lottery commissions know this. That's how they
money. Millions of people buy tickets and only a few ever
win. After paying out the prize, the lottery commission gets
keep all of the extra money from the people who didn't win...week after
week...month after month...year after year! And to make it
worse, the prize is often actually paid out from the interest earned on all
the money the commission took in selling tickets, so they really don't have to pay
out any of what they took in. It adds up fast--for them
And as if all of this weren't enough, there can be some very dire consequences even if you do
win a huge jackpot. For one thing, if someone is already bad with
money, and bad enough that they're wasting it on lottery tickets, then
they are very, very likely to mishandle the proceeds from a large
lottery jackpot. More than half of the people who win a huge
lottery jackpot are actually bankrupt within ten years!
about this: if you suddenly came into that much money, how would you
know who your friends really are? Do people like you, or do they
just like you for your money? How many friends or family members
would want to borrow money from you, or want a hand-out? How
would that effect those relationships? And speaking of
relationships, the divorce rate for people who win a large lottery
jackpot is around 87%.
I've read stories of lottery winners who
had to put bars on the doors and windows of their homes to prevent
burglaries. I've read stories of lottery winners who had to
endure attempted kidnapping of their loved ones by people who wanted to
get their hands on some of the money. One guy I read about,
reported that he had to drive his kids to school each day because
people were trying to kidnap them on their walk to school. Here
are some little clips I took from some of the stories I've
Evelyn Marie Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice in the mid-1980s but still managed to lose the entire $5.4 million.
Virginia's Jack Whittaker, won $315 million on Christmas day,
2002, and five years later was blaming the money for causing his
granddaughter's fatal drug overdose, his divorce, his inability to
trust others, and the hundreds of lawsuits filed against him. "I
don't have any friends," he told The Associated Press in 2007. "Every
friend that I've had has wanted to borrow money or something and of
course, once they borrow money from you, you can't be friends anymore."
The lottery commissions also play on people's addictive behavior.
After a short time of playing the lottery regularly, you begin to fear
that if you quit playing, that will be the time that your numbers come
up. Remember, your chances of winning a big jackpot in the first place
are ridiculously slim, and even if your numbers do come up after you
quit, you're probably better off without all of the problems that come
with being a big lottery winner.
All right, now that I'm done with all of the warnings, here's something a bit more positive that you need to know--you can be
your own lottery and win every time. According to recent
statistics, the average lottery player spends around $25 per week
playing the lottery.
Let's be our own lottery by keeping our lottery ticket money
ourselves and see what happens.
If you were to put that $25 per week into a cookie jar and earn no
interest on it whatsoever, you would have the following amount:
In 5 years: $6,500
In 10 years: $13,000
In 15 years: $19,500
In 20 years: $26,000
In 30 years: $39,000
Even if you did this for only one year, you would still have
spend; and remember, this is with the money just sitting in a cookie
jar earning absolutely no interest. Now, let's do the same
but this time let's put the money in a good Growth Stock mutual
fund. Over the past 70 years or so, these mutual funds have
returned around 10% per year. Here's what happens now, and
remember that this is accomplished with just $25 per week:
In 5 years:
In 10 years: $20,484
In 15 years: $41,447
In 20 years: $75,936
In 30 years: $226,048
being your own lottery by saving and investing the money you would have
spent on lottery tickets is like winning a $20,000 jackpot every ten
If you are young enough to have 35 years until retirement,
have a total of $379,664 in your Growth Stock mutual fund at
retirement! If you played the lottery for those 35 years, you
would have spent $45,500 on lottery tickets and, according to the math,
never have won any big jackpots. From age 20 until retirement
age 65, $25 per week grows to over 1 million dollars! Being
own lottery in the way just described, you win every single time
instead of one in 150 million!
If you are buying lottery tickets, don't ever say that you
money to put into savings. You have it, but you are giving it
the lottery commission instead of saving it for yourself. The
lesson here, now that you know the math and are no longer ignorant
about how the lottery works, is to stop wasting money on a lottery
jackpot that will most
likely never happen (and likely ruin your life even if it does happen)
and just put the money into savings and
investments. In the end, you'll come out way ahead of all of
those desperate, greedy, lazy or
ignorant people playing the lottery.
learn a lot more about saving, investing,
eliminating debt and
becoming wealthy, please read the articles
on the Financial Page.
There, you will find a veritable treasure of what to do and
how to do
it...all for free!
Please know that all of the thoughts, information,
and techniques given on this site are nothing more than the author's
the matter being addressed. Do further research before making
This article copyright
© 2006 by Keith C. Rawlinson
(Eclecticsite.com). All rights reserved.
This article may be
copied for non-profit use including newsletters, bulletins, etc.
as long as you
first get written permission from the author and full credit is given
which includes the author's name
and the name of this website.