My dad always used to say, for a dollar it’s worth it to dream once in a while. But now that Powerball costs two bucks, maybe the deal is off and it’s not worth buying a ticket anymore. The truth is though, buying a ticket for the lottery has always been a fool’s game unless you do it for the reasons my dad used to say (and even then, it’s not really worth it).
Here’s why buying lottery tickets is a sucker’s bet:
You Have a Better Chance of Being Struck by Lightning
Know anyone who has been struck by lightning? Congratulations – you know the one out of 3,000 people who potentially might have been hit by a bolt from the sky. Hey, it hurts but at least it’s mostly survivable, unlike winning the lottery (more about that below).
If you know someone who won the lottery though, you know someone who beat odds of 1 in 292,201,338. That means that maybe one person out of the whole population of the whole damn U.S. of A. Those odds are friggin’ ridiculous. Bottom line, sure, it’s nice to dream and for two bucks once in a blue moon, why not? But if you spend more, you’re playing a fool’s game.
It Will Ruin Your Life
The problem with becoming instantly wealthy in this country is that people come out of the woodwork looking for handouts. I can’t tell you how often I get emails here on the blog from people who think that we’re all about handing out money to people who are desperate. Sorry folks, that’s not what we’re here and if you think it is then you need a priest, not a financial adviser.
The fact is that the vast majority of lottery winners go on to regret winning all that money. It’s true – you don’t know how to be a millionaire and so you end up flashing the money every which way and then wondering why everyone is hounding you.
Lottery winners notoriously end up being kidnapped and held for ransom, dying of alcoholism or drug overdoses or being killed by their relatives for the money. If you didn’t earn it the hard way, by building an investment portfolio over time then you’re that much less likely to understand how to be smart about your money.
It also doesn’t help that most states insist that you tell the world that you won. It’s great advertising for them but it also means that every idiot you ever heard of and even some you never heard of will suddenly be at your doorstep scheming to get their hands on your cash.
It Can Ruin Your Life Even if You Don’t Win
Okay, let’s be honest – most of us can afford to waste two bucks to buy a ticket for the lottery. It’s not that big of a deal. But then there are those who invest everything they have hoping to win the jackpot. To say such people are silly would be too kind. It’s downright stupid to invest every penny you have to buy tickets because your odds of winning are so low.
There was actually a Go Fund Me request from someone who did just that and was asking the public to help them out of their tough spot. Hey, maybe they’re on to something – create a page about how you were so stupid as to spend everything on a ridiculous long shot and then maybe people will take pity on you.
Even Buying Every Ticket Combo Wouldn’t Work
Oh I know what you’re thinking – I’ll buy every single possible ticket combo and then still make money (that was what some of you were thinking recently anyway when the Powerball hit $1.4 billion, admit it – you did the math in your head and said, if only I had that $584 million to invest).
Sure, that might be true. If you could deploy an army of people to buy every single possible ticket combination. Of course, you’d have to pay them to stand around tying up a lottery kiosk 24/7 to buy the tickets and even then, you have to worry about a split pot. Never mind that it’s virtually impossible for one person to buy every winning ticket. Trust me, it’s been tried and it can’t be done.
Your Money is Better Spent on Investing
My dad was many things but a financial genius he wasn’t. Let’s say you invest $5 a week on lottery tickets. Hey, what’s the big deal? It’s just five bucks. I spend more on a latte every morning on my way to work.
Well let’s put aside the ridiculous waste of money on buying a latte every day. Let’s focus instead on just that five bucks you put into the sucker jar at the local lottery kiosk. Multiply it over 52 weeks and that’s $260. Invest that money instead of wasting it and it grows over time, eventually turning into thousands. Now that’s a real lottery windfall without the lottery.