The other night I stopped over at a friend’s place for her birthday. On my way over I got a birthday card, some drinks, and at the last minute, I stopped at the convenience store to buy a small stack of scratch-off tickets for her.
Scratch-offs are always a fun grab-bag filler gift that people enjoy. Partially because it’s an interactive gift where you get to do something with suspense, and partially because they get to go through the activity of imagining what they’d do if they actually win big.
Spoiler Alert: she won $6 bucks, so there was no life-changing going on. But everyone had fun, and she enjoyed her gifts.
Afterward, it got me thinking about lottery tickets, and how so many people turn to them in hopes of a better life.
A DOLLAR AND A DREAM: WHY WE PLAY THE LOTTERY
You’ve probably done it. I know I’ve done it. You sit down with some friends and talk about all of the amazing things you would do if you won the lottery.
“I’d travel the world!”
“I’d help all of my friends and family with their finances.”
“I’d start a charity to help xyz…”
The possibilities seem endless, especially with the crazy sums of money that are being paid out these days to lottery winners.
It gives you a jolt of energy and excitement to imagine the “what if…” After all, there is real power in dreaming, and even more power in dreaming BIG!
But as Antoine De Saint-Exupéry once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
And I hate to break the bad news to you, but playing the lottery does not classify as a “plan.”
A DOSE OF REALITY (STATS ABOUT THE LOTTERY)
I enjoy a good daydream as much as the next person, but you should never put much into a dream that is predicated on winning the lottery.
Not sure why? Just try googling “Lottery statistics” and see what pops up.
Here are just a few sobering statistics about the lottery:
- The chances of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1 in slightly over 292 million.
- The chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is 1 in slightly over 302 million.
- 70% of lottery winners go broke within 7 years!
So, the chances of winning are astronomically difficult, and even if you do win, there is a strong chance your good fortune won’t last long…
LOTTERY DREAMS TURNED INTO NIGHTMARES
As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”
If those odds of winning don’t deter you enough, then maybe the 3rd stat did.
“70% of lottery winners go broke within 7 years.”
How can that be?!
There is a phenomenon that many call the “Curse of The Lottery.” As the name implies, winning the lottery usually ends up being more of a curse than a godsend.
Edward Ugel, author of “Money for Nothing: One Man’s Journey through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions” interviewed thousands of past lottery winners about their experiences post-win to try and understand this phenomenon. He found that very few were happy about what transpired, and many wished they had never won.
Many winners deal with friends and family that hound them for money, causing rifts in their relationships.
Others deal with scam artists who try to lure them into shady deals and swindle them out of their money. In fact, one crazy case involved a woman who lured a lotto winner into transferring over his assets to her to protect them from his greedy in-laws. This was just before she murdered him and tried to take off with the money.
She is now serving a life sentence without parole.
So, as it turns out, all of those lottery daydreams of a different life turn out to be a bit more negative than you would hope.
THE LOTTERY IS JUST A TAX ON THE POOR
On top of the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to win, and a large portion of those who win regret it, the statistics show that the lottery is mainly played by poor and uneducated individuals.
In this article on visualcapitalist.com, he shows the breakdown of who is playing the lottery and where the money is going.
The bottom line, poor and uneducated people tend to play the lottery more, and feel it is a legitimate way to build wealth.
NEWSFLASH: It Isn’t!
CHASE YOUR DREAMS THE RIGHT WAY
I hope by now you are starting to realize that there is very limited benefit to playing the lottery. The only real benefit comes in the form of daydreaming about your future.
The problem with this is when you try and turn those dreams into a reality by buying into a rigged game designed to take your money. It just doesn’t add up!
The better way to go about accomplishing your goals and living out your dream life is to do the following:
- Think about your ideal life, and what you aspire to.
- Work backwards to figure out how you can actually accomplish this – think of specific actions and ways others have accomplished the things you desire.
- Put your time, effort, and money (especially any money you planned on using for lotto tickets) toward those better actions!
- Repeat the process until you get what you want.
While your friends are daydreaming about what they’d do with any lottery winnings, you’ll actually be moving closer and closer to your dreams. And if you really devote yourself to reaching those dreams, they might just come faster than you think.
As lottery commercials sometimes say:
“Hey, you never know…”